Art is my life, but in between my art – like I suspect many people need to do to survive – I have done other jobs, and put my hands to use where I can, or where they are needed.
I have been a farmer, worked in bars, painted houses, and did some industrial cleaning. I have been in dangerous situations, as a soldier, and a security officer, and while helping during the 2010 earthquake while I was in Haiti. But for me, working in construction is among the most dangerous jobs ever. I think it may be more dangerous than being a police officer.
There is an art to building something. Construction is needed to provide shelter for people, buildings for businesses, entertainment, worship and protection, as well as roads and bridges.
The planning, the details, the design, and the construction process are all part of a greater art. However, the men and women who actually do the work, especially on the site, around moving machinery and heavy equipment, can find themselves in trouble if they are not careful. A construction site is dangerous to be if you are not careful, not prepared and not aware of what is going on around you. Safety is the number one concern. Workers must be aware of the location of machinery, and be knowledgeable about how they function, as well as what to do to reduce the risk of injury on the site.
I have great admiration and a lot of respect for people working in construction, from the helpers to the engineers.
My painting process is a bit like construction. It is necessary to have a good idea and good planification, and it is important to know how to start, and how the project will end. When I get a commission, the ‘building plan’ is based on the client’s needs and budget etc, and then I can get to work. Depending on the work and location, I must protect myself with gloves, glasses, boots, etc.
Working in construction I have learned discipline, teamwork and the need to focus (measure 2-3 times before you cut). These lessons I apply to my everyday life and to my art life. Every non-art job that I do – because not every day I can sell my work – I learn something new that helps me be a better person and a better artist.