Sometimes artists get these ideas that drift around inside their heads for years before they finally make it out. The flying pencil was one of those ideas that was kicking around in mine for many years before I finally put pencil to paper.
Ideas are Like Puzzles.
Each idea is like a puzzle. You turn it over and over in your mind until you’ve figured out how all the pieces fit together. Sometimes you get lucky, and all the pieces just fall into place. Sometimes it’s a long hard slog, and nothing seems to fit. The pencil falls into that second category. I tried all sorts of configurations, but it seemed the idea was always better than the execution, and for whatever reason, I couldn’t quite get it right.
Bigger than Life
When I started doing these large-scale wood panel paintings, I had one goal in mind. Bigger is better. I didn’t want to be timid with this series in any way. I wanted to make a bold, unapologetic statement with each new piece.
My canvas is actually a 4-foot X 8-foot sheet of 1/8-inch birch ply (which, surprisingly, is cheaper than most stretched canvas). I planned to use as much of that space as possible. Go big or go home, as they say. So that’s exactly what I did.
The flying pencil you see in this post eluded me for years until, one day, an idea popped into my head. Reclaiming the old sketch from the blue sky folder as a springboard, I quickly scratched out a new direction. This time the results were closer to what I had envisioned. It was much looser, lighter, and more fun than my initial approach.
The pencil now sits on the wall next to my desk as a reminder to never hide behind my art.
I made it giant to remind me of another thing so important even I couldn’t overlook it. For many years my art has helped many amazing clients bring their dreams to life. Seeing their joy warms my heart. They have provided me with a fantastic living that most people only dream of. Don’t get me wrong, I love working with ALL my clients but the one thing missing from that beautiful life, however, was the celebration of my own personal work.
Because there were only so many hours in a day, many of my ideas were quietly filed away. All the things I had put off to make other people's dreams come true were quietly waiting for me to give them the love and attention they deserved. You'll see them all, here in this and the posts that follow, as I slowly work my way through the folder. Some of them date back to the very early days of my career. Some are more recent. I often think about what things might have looked like if I had followed through with some of them earlier. What would my career look like today if I had taken the time to develop them? Well, as my old man used to say, "There's no use crying over spilled milk."
The Big Giant Pencil
This 4.5-foot X 4-foot pencil is a big giant reminder to me (and all my friends out there who have put off realizing their own dreams) that there's no time like the present. The pencil now sits about a few feet from my desk as a giant reminder that my dreams are important too and that if you spend all your time making OTHER people's dreams come true, yours never will. This pencil also represents finding that fine balance between getting your work done and allowing yourself enough time for play. Each time I get busy and begin to think maybe my dreams can wait, I look over at that big giant pencil, and it whispers to me. Do you want to know what it says? It says...
“Hey Bob, your dreams are important too. You need to make time for those dreams, big boy, because never is no longer an option and if not now, when?”
So this is where you come in, kind reader. I could have kept this all to myself, which would be just fine, but I plan to share each and every new adventure with you here on my blog. I could have continued to play it safe, hidden behind my art and kept it a personal thing, but I chose not to. It would have been a whole lot safer if it crashed and burned with no witnesses, and no accountability. I could just back-burner it again, let it quietly disappear, and nobody would be the wiser, but that wouldn’t make me happy. I don’t want to reach the end of my career and look back and think about what could have been if I'd just taken the time to slow down a little and find some time for myself. I think too many people reach a stage where they find a big part of their life snuck past them, and now it's simply too late. For me, the time is now.
So when my big giant pencil looks over at me now and whispers, "When?"
Do you know what I do? I whisper back. And do you know what I say? I look that big giant pencil back right in the eye, and I say,
“Now! Big Giant pencil, the time to dream big is now!”
Oh hey, before you go.... and speaking of big, did I ever tell you my big giant fish story? I didn't? Well, I'm glad you reminded me because I think that's a story that needs to be told once again. Join me for the next post and my big fish story: The Boy, his grandfather, and the Giant Marlin. You won't want to miss it