Posted by: woodbeecarver   in BEE Buzz

AGONY AND ECSTASYThe WOOD BEE CARVER has discovered over the years of carving a creative tension that is both “agony” and “ecstasy.”  Experiencing this tension almost every time with any new carving project led me to come up with the following rule: “CARVING IS AGONY AND ECSTASY, BUT ECSTASY ALWAYS FOLLOWS THE AGONY .”

Because wood carving is a “learn by and while doing” and one’s subconscious is at work in the creative process, there is a certain amount of tension (as in  the stretching of a rubber band and an inner power as the rubber band is released and returns to its former state) and in this tension there is a certain inner power at work.  This creative tension can be called the “agony and ecstasy” of the carving process. 

Agony is a struggle of the inner being of mental anguish while ecstasy is an explosion of joy and of being overcome with euphoria. The agony part comes into play when the carver comes up against a “creative block or mental block” or a sense of “inadequacy” of not seeing one’s ability as being able to accomplish a desired result.    The “agony voice” says, “why did I ever start this project, it is not going to amount to anything, I don’t know where I am going, I might as well throw this away, I never will learn how to do eyes, etc.”

Even though this phase of the carving process may be painful and agonizing, yet that is not the end of the experience.  As the carver continues to struggle with this creative tension, at some point the agony  turns into an ecstasy of doing better than  the carver ever thought would be possible.  This “agony and ecstasy” experience happens to every creative person and those who have experienced “ecstasy” in the past continue through the “agony” phase  knowing that ecstasy will come.

Agony may occur when a carver takes a carving class and finds it difficult to  “get it”or understand what the instructor is showing or explaining.  Agony comes whenever the carver is trying to learn a tricky maneuver or a new procedure.  Agony comes when the  carver experiences a block in the creative process of not knowing what to do next or how to turn the rough form into a more refined form in order to finish carving in the details.   Agony may come in the middle of a carving project that questions the carver’s ability and motivation.

Moving towards ecstasy may involve putting into practice the old saw of “practice, practice and practice,” since some agony is self induced by not allowing oneself to grow in experience by honing one’s ability through practice.  As the carver stretches and grows in carving experience with more challenging carving projects, the creative tension of “agony and ecstasy” will repeat itself over and over again.

When it happens, welcome it as part of the process of the dance of the soul to step to the music of creativity.  Ecstasy can never occur without first experiencing agony, but agony is never the final word because ecstasy is just around the corner awaiting to be discovered. ” CARVING IS AGONY AND ECSTASY, BUT ECSTASY ALWAYS FOLLOWS THE AGONY.”

This entry was posted on Sunday, February 10th, 2008 at 8:43 pm and is filed under BEE Buzz. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment


Nice post Don. I agree completely. Almost wish I could find me an illegal alien to do the rough stuff so I can concentrate on the good. I’d sure keep him busy!

February 14th, 2008 at 5:48 pm

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