Process of Procrastination

This is how I spent the better part of my afternoon yesterday.

Photo by Jennifer Butler Basile

Actually, it’s how I spent the better part of the last few years. Or should have.

If you are the one person who happens to notice the bottom corner of my blog, where I post which book is currently on my bedside table, you might have been wondering what the hell was taking me so long to read The Process of Sculpture by Anthony Padovano. I’ve actually been reading it longer than I’ve been advertising it.

This highly informative tome of the processes of sculpture was loaned to me by an artist generous of her time and talent – and trust. My aunt took me to meet her friend, Sarah Blair, years ago, at the origin point of the trajectory I’m still on to write the young adult novel of Dmitri, the seventeen year old who desires to eschew the family tradition of plastering for sculpture. This sculptor was the subject of my very first interview as an author. I felt so official, doing research, for my novel. She happily answered all my questions, showed me her work, and sent me out the door with a text she’d studied in art school.

I wonder if she knew how long it would be before her book came home?

The book sat, pregnant with possibility and inspiration, in my rolling writing office at my old house, and on the writing desk I’d graduated to after we moved. It held the scratching and scribblings of my interview notes and beginnings of detailed notes on its contents. It waited when I’d lost forward motion on the project. It taunted when I picked the project back up and had no excuse not to crack its cover. It inspired me with its epiphanies that could be applied to sculpture and life. It lulled me to sleep at night. It awoke new insights into Dmitri and his story.

After mining its surfeit of information, I blessedly, rejoicedly finished it!

And yet, I couldn’t take it off my bedside table. I had yet to transcribe the nuggets marked by myriad sticky tags, rippling their rainbow tongues at me from the edges of the pages. I should be moved on to the next book. I should be typing a new title into the little corner of my blog. Alas, I had unfinished business.

After days of putting off the seemingly tedious task of transcribing quotes and notes about the practical and procedural side of sculpture, I sat down and realized Anthony Padovano spoke about a lot more than just sculpture. He spoke of artistic process. He spoke of life philosophy. Of beauty. Of meaning. Of right and wrong. Of finding one’s voice and when and when not one should use it. Of how to use it.

Yes, he and Sarah Blair taught me what Dmitri needs to know as a sculptor, what I might find him doing on any day in his studio, but also about the artistic process all around me. Of the importance of art and the valuing of it, in our world. How it shapes and defines our lives.

The book’s rainbow tongues had transformed into technicolor teeth on my computer, as I filled the edges of the screen with each completed point. Light from the windows behind transfused even the opaque white parts of the tags with a brilliance. Soft, gentle, but brilliant. The sense of accomplishment I felt upon closing that book with a solid thunk was brilliant. A job well-done. Finally.

Now I can write my book, armed to the technicolor teeth with sculpturing knowledge and a better understanding of what makes Dmitri tick. I could, in theory, build an armature with materials from the hardware store and mix my own plaster with which to mold it into life. I definitely can return Sarah’s book to her in good conscience and thank her wholeheartedly for sharing the process and molding the shape of my book.

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