Chisel away


Photo credit: Taken at Tsuruga, Lake Akan of a sculpture by Ainu artist, Hokkaido.

We met the late artist’s wife, the muse for this wooden sculpture.  The beautiful serenity on her face, embracing the sun.

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.


By sculpture I mean that which is fashioned by the effort of cutting away, that which is fashioned by the method of building up being like unto painting.

Michelangelo in a 1547 letter to Varchi, summed up the distinction between sculpture and painting. Sculpture, like editing, chisels away at the unnecessary, in pursuit of the truth and beauty within.

Painting, like writing, is the process of adding layer upon layer to a flat surface until there is something where before there was nothing. (Nils Parker)


Marie Kando too is someone who made a career out of removing excess. Her brand of house cleaning – thank the object for its usefulness. Keep only what “sparks joy”. Remove what no longer brings joy so we can breathe better.

Alex Honnold, the free solo climber chiseled away the unnecessary, including living out of a van, to focus on what gives him joy – climbing. He visualised free soloing El Capitain for 6 years before doing it, he reminds. Imagine. An athelete without a coach, yet his brain goes to mental gym every day.

What do you have to chisel away in 2019 to let joy come through?

玉不琢,不成器 (Yù bù zhuó, bù chéng qì)

I have to chisel away at my negative emotions, fears of other’s opinion, pride.

How can I make weakness be my strength? Can it?

What do you spend most time thinking about?

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things …

and the God of peace will be with you”

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