Whittling my skills down to size

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ARTISTIC ABILITIES: Perhaps I was selected for greater things?

I am an art lover. Not because I am knowledgeable or that I have an appreciation for any particular subject matter. No, it’s just that I envy those who are able to pick up a brush or palette knife and convert a blank canvas into something that is pleasing to the eye.

Many years ago, an artist acquaintance – who was then of the abstract school – asked me if I liked a particular piece he had produced. I confirmed I did, but admitted I did not understand it.

It is not about understanding, he admonished me, it is about how it makes you feel. And I have always remembered that.

My Dad was fairly artistic – drawing, painting and making useful stuff – and I have wondered why I inherited none of his talent. Was I a foundling discovered by my parents on the doorstep one morning? Am I in fact the milkman’s son? Perhaps I was selected for greater things? In which case I am still waiting.

Dad was a good whistler too, and I have never been able to do that.

I did have a go at sculpting in my younger days, and although I usually ended up with something I was quite proud of, it bore no resemblance to the original planned piece. I had to work my 10-pound clay lump to such an extent – carving off chunks here and modifying bits there – that my intended sculpture of a unicorn, for instance, finished up looking like a chihuahua. But a nice looking chihuahua.

I have seen a sporty set of wood carving tools in a small local ferretería and I am very tempted to give it a go.

Okay, I might not know the difference between a piece of oak and a sheet of chipboard, but I am going to look pretty darn cool showing off my artesan tools to my friends.

And I have high hopes – after all, as a kid, I was expert at whittling chunks of tree down to useful pointy sticks.

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