Posted: 1/30/2009 10:57:16 PM |
… Sometimes that’s the hardest lesson.
I'm not sure I've ever discussed this here, but before I started collecting coins there were 2 subjects that I had truly loved over the course of my life. They both contributed to me becoming a coin collector. The first was history and the second was art. Art taught me a lot of things over the course of the years. Patience is certainly one of them. It’s hard for some people to comprehend spending hundreds of hours over the course of long months working on a single project. You take as long as it takes - until the job is done.
One of the things that I think every traditional artist (an artist that works with non-digital media) learns given time is that you have to know when to stop working on something. No artist I’ve ever known (that was any good) looked at a work and said “it’s finished and I’m completely happy with it.” In most cases it was more like, “I’m not very happy with it but I can’t do anything more about it.” What you envision is never what gets produced by your hands. What's more, every change in traditional art comes at a price. Every mark with a pencil or sweep of the eraser wears away at the paper, ruining it by increments. All changes are permanent. There is no undo button. Once you erase something or paint over it, it’s gone. If you don’t like what you replaced it with? Too bad. You’re stuck with it anyway (much like dings, scratches, and bad cleaning jobs on coins). No matter how hard you try you’ll never paint, draw, or sculpt something exactly the same way twice. Ultimately, you reach a point where you know that the work isn’t perfect, but the risk of trying to “fix it” is simply too great. If you change even one more thing then you might as well fold the picture up and put it in the trash. It’ll be permanently ruined anyway. I’ve seen more than one work get completely abandoned and left half finished because the artist could not come to terms with the flaws in the work, but knew that they couldn’t be fixed. All that work, and we just toss it aside. It's depressing really.
I’ve been thinking that I might need to revisit that lesson these last few days. I’ve been working on a particular registry set, and I’ve been tweaking and changing things on a daily basis. In many cases I keep changing the same things over and over again trying to get it “just right.” The only problem is (the lessons of art again), it will almost certainly never be “just right.” So at what point do I just make myself say, “It’s good enough. Stop changing it.” I begin to wonder if I’m actually improving the presentation of the set, or just changing it. But that question is so subjective that there is no answer. Fortunately though, the presentation of a registry set is a completely digital project and I will always be able to undo a change that I don’t like. So maybe, in this case, that old lesson doesn’t really apply. I’m not entirely sure.
I would encourage every coin collector that has never done so, to try traditional art. Trying and experiencing for yourself the acts of drawing, sculpting, painting, etching and engraving will teach you an entirely new appreciation for the works of art that we adore so on these little pieces of metal. I have always been in awe of the precision, exactness, and commitment to excellence of the engravers at the BEP. I would never match them in a thousand years of trying.
On a bit of a side note, on the second to last day of the month, I added the first new coin to my bullion signature set for the new year. I've also added two additional new slots. One is for a coin that I just placed an order for, the other is for a coin I'm really hoping that I can win at auction tomorrow. Thank you to anyone who's following its progress or just glancing at the set. The view count is gradually rising higher so I know someone must be out there.
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