Process: Reaction and improvisation

For the foreseeable future I’ll be working 50 hour weeks — more depending on freelance work — most of the time being spent at a desk in front of a computer. It’s all good work with good people that I’m very thankful for after a couple of very lean years.

Lately I’ve wondered how and if this job situation will effect my sculpture. I think it will. I envision bringing more energy to the process in comparison to the past couple of years where I’ve focused more on refining my craft, working more meticulously. My craft is not where I want it to be yet, but after long days at a desk I want to expend physical energy. I want to move around, be active. It seems to me this will translate into more expressive sculptures, especially when I’m working in clay (compared to when I’m working with wood).

In college I was told, in my first ceramics class, I worked like an expressionist. A grad student observed that I worked quickly and followed the will of the material to a large degree. I haven’t forgotten this critique, even though I don’t think my work in general looks much like that of the Expressionists — despite a similar process.

In relationship to working more actively and expressively, I’ve also been thinking about improvisation. I don’t know what prompted the thought, but listening to a Helen Sung station on Pandora earlier this week I heard a piece with Lee Morgan that furthered the thought (can’t find which song offhand). It contained a beautiful and improvisationally inspiring trumpet solo.

So we’ll see where the work goes in the next few months. I want to continue with the figurative works, the heads, but storm season is approaching. I won’t be able to suppress the inspiration that is the billowing storm over the Tallgrass Prairie.

Adding: My wife and I recently cruised through the first seven seasons of NCIS, marathon style. While we watched I took note of how Gibbs goes home to his craft, to building his boats. This might have been where the thought for this post originated.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

2 Responses to Process: Reaction and improvisation

  1. Kirsten says:

    It will be interesting to see what you produce! Glad things are going well for you. In Boston on April 30th will be a training on Art in Missions by an artist and a missionary partnership….thanks to you for letting me know about Marge!!!!

  2. Yeah, it will affect your work. I have always found my work schedule and other activities greatly affect my own.

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