We so often admire the complex and then seek out and appreciate the simple. The examples I have chosen to show are small carvings from post-war occupied Japan. Both feature a popular theme in Japanese art; Mount Fuji.
The simplicity of the creative technique is central here. The entire subject gets rendered with no more than the bare required cuts, and for that matter, the bare number of tools. Although the artist makes multiple cuts, the amount is minimal. We can also see this at work in brush calligraphy techniques where the subject is composed and executed in one continuous stroke.

To be effective in this requires two things: a thorough knowledge of the capabilities of your tools; and mastery of your tools. As one of my senseis says, “and that’s all there is to it.”
One mentor of mine once knocked out about a foot and a half of fancy molding out of what was scrap wood. He cut all the cuts needed from one tool, moved on to the next, and so on in succession—the complexity of the finished piece derived from the repetitive simple cuts he made in the correct sequence.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I can tell you that I am still working on this, and probably will be until it’s time to put away my tools. Like so many creative endeavors mastering the complex depends on learning the very basic.

6 Replies to “Create”

  1. I love the idea of simple movements producing a piece that captures the essence of the artist’s concept. Very interesting examples, do you own them?

    1. The two pieces are family items picked up in the post-war period by a member of my wife’s family. They were kind of ignored until I made a fuss about them.

      1. Awesome! My mom was in Japan during that time; I have a coffee set that has the “occupied Japan” label.

    1. That’s the irony of it. Almost no time for a person who knows, and lots of struggle for the student. To some extent, it’s a matter of muscle memory built up by lots of practice. You hear the term “depth of practice” bandied about.
      You love to bake. I bet there are many recipes that you almost automatically do; I’d struggle through them. the nice thing about this is that you find it all over everyday practice – think about walking. It takes a coordinated effort by groups of muscles and joints to keep the body upright, moving forward in what is, in many ways, a controlled fall. but, you don’t even think about it on a conscious level.

      1. Ooh, good comparisons & I totally get the controlled fall analogy, as I continue to recover from ankle surgery. I have had to relearn how to walk, not easy!!!! Yet everyone made it look so easy, I remember feeling jealous that my husband could just get up & move.

        Great post!

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