There is no question about it; I am no good at art. There are many different forms of art and based on the most common definitions, I am not any good at any of them. The first things that come to mind when I think of art is any form of painting, sketching, drawing, music, dance, architecture and sculpting. All of these things require a certain set of skills, of which, I seem to lack. The signs were obvious and started long ago; my old art projects from elementary school were forced efforts that resulted in a colossal mess of clay and paint. The truth is this: I can’t draw a picture to save my life. Playing a musical instrument other than Hot Cross Buns on a recorder wouldn’t end well. Under the influence of some beer and good bourbon and I’ll dance and sing the night away but, my guess is that I won’t impress anyone. The written word and photography, I’m still working on.
On a recent trip to Europe I had the opportunity to view some of the worlds most well-known and renowned pieces of art. I was able to see a wide variety of sculptures, paintings and architecture that comprised the birthplace of the renaissance, the world’s greatest empires, floating cities and everything in-between. I stared up at the Sistine Chapel, climbed to the top of the Duomo, gazed at David, walked through The Pantheon and viewed and experienced many other unbelievable pieces and structures that truly define history. The vast work left me in disbelief of the skill-set needed to create these works of art that have been well preserved and continue to be functional after hundreds if not thousands of years. After the trip I am still contemplating how the likes of Michelangelo, Raphael, Brunelleschi were able to accomplish the things they did.
It seems that these days most people disregard the things that they don’t understand instead of trying to understand the skill set associated with it. When traveling, I witnessed many people who were more interested in getting a picture or proof that they had visited a popular destination rather than contemplate what exactly went into the creation and history that happened around it. These days, tagging yourself and posting it online as fast as possible seems to be most peoples main motivation for going anywhere. They throw it online get a few Likes and completely waste the experience. Other people are able to see the finer details in activities that others simply cannot. I’ve been to ballets and cannot find what is so appealing about them. I will concede that the athleticism needed to participate in such an activity is well beyond my capabilities, and I can appreciate that. The people who enjoy ballets probably can’t watch Lefty Kreh with the same wonder and imagination that I do as he flawlessly controls fly line like it is an extension of his body. It gets down to the point that anyone who hones their craft can be considered an artist; it is up to those who cannot perform or create in the same manner to find an appreciation for the end product.
One day as I was reading Gray’s Journal, a published celebration of both written and visual art forms, I noticed an image that for some reason intrigued me more than the others. After a little Googling, I was able find the artist’s website and view more of this work. As it turned out he was from the Twin Cities area, and around the same age as myself. I had an art project in the back of my head that I wanted to get done for quite a while but didn’t posses the necessary skills and had no idea where to start – Josh DeSmit would be the starting point.
After seeing and viewing his unique style – there was something that drew me to his work. While I cannot adequately put into words what makes it so unique, I think that the main attraction is the focus of his work that differs from most other outdoor art. Most previous outdoor pieces that I had seen appeared to be focused on landscapes and an entire outdoor scene. Josh is able to focus on various aspects of fly fishing, upland birds and waterfowl where there was a distinct respect given to the beauty of the animals in which he pursues; this is something I had never seen before. Because I pursue the same game, it made it easy for me to appreciate the colors, textures, structure of the animals in which we call our bounty. All I knew was that it was something that I needed to have.
I contacted Josh to get a better understanding of what a commission piece would require as I was as ignorant as they come on the subject. We agreed to a price and I did my best to describe the main aspects of the image that I wanted. With Josh being the expert, one of the most important aspects for me was to let him do his thing and create an image from the artist’s perspective. Time came and went and through emails found out that Josh had made the ultimate leap to pursue art full time. Gray’s Journal’s would find their way into my mailbox with his images taunting me within the pages, knowing that soon enough I would have my own. Soon enough the email had came with the final image saying that it was ready to pick up. After meeting Josh at a local brewery and getting to know the artist behind the work and having a few too many beers, I had the piece for my own and met a pretty cool guy at the same time.
When I got home I hung the piece in the office and took some time to dissect it. Not knowing where to begin I took some good time to simply look at it. The immediate impact of viewing the piece of art is image of Dalton. To most it might just look like another black lab but to me the resounding image could only be my dog. Nestled in the background is a pothole surrounded by cattails. This is where so much time is spent chasing ducks and geese throughout the year and so many memories have been and will continue to be made. I also wanted Josh to capture everything good about a Duck Hunting Sunrise. The faint sunrise glows as I step back and look at the piece. The feeling of hearing whistling wings and seeing ducks filing into a pothole before shooting hours makes me look down to check my watch as if shooting time could begin any minute. How it was all put together, I don’t know exactly and I am ok with that. I’ve got some progress shots that help me imagine but I lack the know-how of putting it all together. The good news is that I will have a long time to appreciate it and try to figure it out.
I never really understood and still cannot explain the pull that art has on a person. I am not able to dig deep into stylistic aspects of one piece versus another. What I have is an appreciation for a piece that will never leave my house. It will last long after Dalton is gone and will be a great reminder of the early mornings and telling him, “Eyes Up, Ears Up” and seeing his brown eyes staring up at the sky looking for the next flock. It will take me back to certain times and places, evoke memories and emotions. If I know anything about art, it is that when you see something that grabs a hold of you for one reason for another, you’ve got yourself some good art.
Take a look for yourself and check out some of his work and if you feel the pull of a piece, don’t be afraid to get some. www.joshdesmitart.com/