Blogs, new artwork, and other updates from sculptor Douglas W. Merkey

Musings on art, beauty, culture, aesthetics, and the spiritual life by wood wall sculptor Douglas W. Merkey.

Woody’s story: how I became a sculpture.

Hi y’all. My name is Woody. I grew up in Southeastern Georgia on a huge sustainably-managed tree farm (hence the Southern accent). You probably know me as artist Doug Merkey’s delightful sculpture Beautiful Blue Wave. That’s right. I’m the actual piece of pine he transformed into that beautiful work of art. To verify that it’s me, just look carefully at the crest of the wave. It has three grain-steaks in it. Do you see it? Well, that’s my birth mark! It’s really me!

Growing up on the farm, we all knew that The Great Forester had given each of us a special purpose. In fact, we regularly dreamed of what we might become. In the stillness of the night, after our caretakers went home and the stars started glittering and the crickets started singing, we’d whisper to each other about our futures. “I wanna become the baseball bats that children use to discover baseball.” “I wanna panel a room that a family fills with laughter and joy.” “I wanna be a set of Adirondack chairs that invite tired souls to sit and enjoy a majestic view of the mountains.”

As much as I enjoyed my friends’ dreams, nothing excited me as much as my own dreams for the future. My needles and pine cones would tingle with happiness at the thought that I might someday actually become a beautiful piece of art that brings joy and happiness into the world. Anticipation grew – as did I, quite literally – through my forest-years as we all waited for the next chapter in our stories.

My next chapter found me relaxing in the lumber rack at Lowe’s. Well, sort of relaxing. Tingles of anticipation still ebbed and flowed as people would come by and pick lumber for various projects: trim for the eaves, bookshelves, windowsills, and more. I admit that I had bouts of anxiety. What if I got picked by the wrong person? I didn’t want to become a baseboard (not that there’s anything wrong with that)! I wanted to become a piece of art. It was my dream.

After about a week on the rack, I scruffy-looking fella came by. He reminded me of one of my caretakers back on the farm. Compared to all the other lumber-seekers, I could see that he was different. Instead of just grabbing one of us without thinking, this guy looked carefully at us. He’d trace our grain with his fingertips and whisper to himself. It was if he was looking for a story within. He was so careful, I dared to wonder, “Maybe this is an artist.”

Finally, he set his eyes on me. As usual, he ran his fingertips over me and started whispering to himself. It was like he was asking me, “How are you, my friend? What’s your story?” Then he carefully lifted me out of the rack and lined me up to his eye. I quickly straightened out as best as I could, for I was guessing that he was looking for a good, straight board.

I’ll never forget what happened next: this scruffy fella gently laid me in his cart. He chose me. I bristled with joy and excitement. I still didn’t know if he was an artist or not, but I had a feeling… he just seemed so different. Then he paid for me (imagine that, he paid for me… I’m so valuable that he paid for me!). Then he took me outside and carefully arranged me in his car, padding me with towels. I felt like one of those majestic Redwoods that seem to get all the honor in tree-dom. But here I was, little Woody, being treated like royalty.

After a plush but short ride, he unloaded me at what I assumed was his own forest (his “house,” as I’ve heard people call it) and gently carried me down some steps. All the sights and smells were so fresh and new, like the morning dew and soft sunlight in the forest on a new day. When he carried me into his house, I knew. I knew he was an artist and I wept as only a dream-gifted piece of lumber can weep. Inner tears of joy streaked my grain as I took in all the beauty around me. Everywhere I looked I saw my kin already transformed into amazing works of art. My dream was coming true.

Over the next few weeks my scruffy new owner carefully crafted me into a piece of art. It was great spending time with him. The way he worked made me feel special – like he was honoring me and my story as part of the artistic story he was trying to tell. I sensed that his was a labor of love, not obligation. And I was the recipient of that love. 

About two weeks later, I was born. Reborn, actually, as a piece of artwork. It’s hard to describe, really. The original me is still here, but I’m also new. Better perhaps? More beautiful? Complete? As a simple piece of pine, I don’t have a huge vocabulary, but even if I did, I’m still sure I couldn’t describe my feelings. I am Woody and I am Beautiful Blue Wave. And in all of this, I am so glad that The Great Forester created me and then gifted and gave me my dream.

Beautiful Blue Wave, full.JPG
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