"Art that captivates and draws in the audience
exudes not only energy, but raw emotions
and feelings and that does not come from lasers and CNC machines, that only comes from the skillful
and careful hands of an artist." ~Mick McDonough.
My approach to art really emanates from my approach to music.
As a young musician I came to the conclusion that while you can spend years perfecting all of the scales and modes in the world and only wind up playing like a machine or what some else has written. I felt it was limiting to play what I am supposed to be playing. This scale goes with that chord and so on. I wanted to play from my heart, and capture what is rattling around in my subconscious. I am constantly experimenting with alternate tunings and anything that can give me a unique opportunity to create something new and exciting. Sometimes it flows like a river and other times it’s as if there is nothing coming through. When that happens I just practice mechanics and come back to it later when I’m more in tune.
I approach the creation of Yantras and Mandalas the same way. I’ll sit down with a blank piece of wood and build upon an idea and try very hard not to put limits on that creative process. I also am starting to use old reclaimed wood. Wood that has its own story, its own energy… I love being able to give it new life as art. It is more stable with regard to moisture content as well. There’s a definite tangible quality to old wood.
People will approach me at shows and inquire about all of my fancy tools and ask about what software I am utilizing, assuming I use computer controlled saws and the like. Absolutely not, they are missing the point entirely. I cannot help these people. To me, that process is not art and I am not a “woodworker” in that sense. I am an artist who works primarily with wood and many other materials as well. Machines are the destructors of creativity in my opinion.
Like these very complex 36 piece frames that I have become known for. Each frame for the unique shape of a yantra takes about a week to complete. I cut and shape the stock mostly by hand and work to within about 1/64” of accuracy constantly checking the fit and re-fitting. That seems like a high degree of accuracy but really it’s not. Multiplied over 36 mitered joints that is 72 cuts x 1/64” margin of error or cumulatively more than 1” when combined. So many pieces simply get discarded in the process. I have a simple philosophy -- if it isn’t the best I can do it doesn’t go on the art.
I connect energetically with each piece of art from the very conceptual process. Lofting each sculpture out in full scale a skill I learned building wooden boats. I will devour as much information as possible about the ancient Vedic diagrams and then draw my own conclusions based upon all different writings and my own intuition. If you are on the right path the sculpture will guide you as to how it wants to come to life. Especially if you listen and pay attention not only with your eyes but also more importantly with your hands. I will hand sand for hours upon hours but it is that feeling of the shape taking form, which is critical.
© 2014 mick + pamela mcdonough