I awoke one morning to find I had my father’s hands. We often hear others say, “you have your mother’s eyes,” or, “your father’s nose”. But this was different. Having my father’s hands meant much more to me. My father was an interesting man, he was hard-working and he was passionate, and he liked working with his hands. He was not the artist that his sister was, but all the same, he was creative. He was always tinkering on the cars, a lawnmower, or working on the house. I can remember him once making a BBQ pit from a clothes dryer; best damned BBQ you’ve ever had.


My father worked for an oil corporation 7-5 for 45 years, but once a year, every Christmas, he would have the opportunity of real expression. He would leave for two weeks for Houston to decorate the beautiful homes of River Oaks, festooning them for the Holidays. He always looked forward to this time, for I think it was the only time that allowed him an outlet for his pent-up passion.


I look at my hands and I remember the hands of my father from my childhood; sans the many scars from his battles with carburetors and lumber materials, they are the same. I think of his creative energy when I paint or draw- sometimes drawing until my fingers are numb. How much of his life-of his creativity, are in my hands; does a part of him guide them today in my work?


When I work with a mason or an ironsmith, I think of their fathers’ hands. Was their talent passed down generation after generation, or is it there latent, waiting for the opportunity of expression? Just as a daughter may capture her mother’s laugh, does the inflection of the sculptor’s stroke come from those who came before him; does a painter choose a brighter pigment; does a musician feel for the tune of his cello?


I think about the continuum of our art, our architecture, our culture, and I think of the many hands that came before us, and for all those that never realized their dream of creating something permanent, something lasting, that maybe there are those who will follow and bring their dreams, their touch, into our lives. It comforts me to see my father’s hands. It makes me smile knowing they will always be with me, and they will always be a part of everything I do.

Carving of an Acanthus Leaf by Matt Johnson

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(Published on Dec 2, 2012. Matt Johnson carves an Acanthus Leaf for a modified Corinthian Capital. The material is West Texas Cream Limestone. Learn more at: http://www.facebook.com/bartlettstone… . Music: Shadows by Au Revoir Simone