Frank Howarth lives in Portland, Oregon where he explores his creativity using wood and video. You would have to have been living under a rock to have missed his recent viral video, Lawn Chair 2, a stop-motion epic which has been viewed over 400,000 times since he posted it on YouTube two weeks ago. It is destined to become a woodworking classic, and no human appears in it.
Visit Frank’s web site, Frank Makes. And be sure to check out his other videos and subscribe his YouTube channel.
This article is also available as a printer-friendly pdf.
Birthday presents and happy accidents
What I find fascinating about making certain kinds of art is that there can be a satisfaction in the separation of the initial, mostly mental work and the resulting physical piece. One begins a project as a mental exercise that is a lot like a scientific experiment. A process is then run to get to the physical outcome that results in an abstraction of the work one did at the beginning. The end result is hypothesized, but unknown until the piece is finished. When painting you are seeing the final outcome as you produce it. Each brush stroke is in plain sight; each brush stroke can be modified, but it is modified in the same way it was originally created. There is no separation from the original thought and the physical existence. There is no surprise. However, if one were to create a paint by numbers picture from scratch, starting with the mental puzzle of drawing shapes and placing numbers in them, thus seeing the outcome in ones mind but unable to create it, this is what is inspiring. This is what draws me to woodworking, filmmaking, and photography. It’s making a birthday present for yourself, yet not knowing what it is.
head and just snap pictures, trying to separate the image of the final outcome from the mental exercise at the moment. This same thing happens when making a stop motion animation. The mental experiment of planning and then moving the set pieces has no physical similarity to the final film. I have to see the final piece in my mind and translate that into moving set pieces over an expanded time interval. This is what makes the monotony of making a stop motion animation exciting. There is a setup with an uncertain outcome. I have to think through the making of a work of art without any feedback until the frames are strung together to make the final scene, which is almost always better than I had imaged.