Art, Life, and a Horseshoe Nail

by Sharon Bechtold

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Art reflects life. Art teaches life. Art is life. Art is the horseshoe nail.

I have been teaching artmaking since 1987. During these years I have learned at least as much as I have taught if not more. Throughout this time I have distilled my teaching approach and based it on what I term Triadic Artmaking or the Tripod principle.

The Tripod principle is based on balancing the three elements of the artistic process in order to best express an idea or experience. The artistic process is seen as a reflection of life itself.

The three elements present in the artistic process are as follows…

1. Art: Surface (the wood or paper) – Life: The environment (such as home or workplace)

2. Art: Medium (woodburning or watercolor)- Life: How we relate or communicate

3. Art: Artist – Life: The Self

Each of these elements has rules, restrictions, strengths, and limitations. Each element should be studied and mastered. Only when all three elements equally bear the weight of the endeavor is solidity and balance achieved. Our society is proficient at teaching mastery of two of the three elements, Environment and Relationship/Communication, but has overlooked the third element of Self.

One reason for this, is the inability of anyone outside the Self to truly know the Self. There are however ways of exploring the Self and interacting that can illuminate and educate in order to achieve balance. All too often however it is the Self that is required to “change” to conform to an artificial “norm”. In order to achieve balance however there can be no substitute to “Knowing thyself”.

Spirituality is the Apex of the Tripod, where all three are connected. It is optimal that Spirituality (not to be confused as religion) be infused in all three elements and be the center of all endeavors.

And so we create art to explore the dynamics of the Tripod, to learn about mixing the elements, and most of all to learn about our Self, in a safe and non-judgemental environment. Workshops are based on these principles to help students find their points of balance in order to grow to their full potential. Whether they consider themselves artists, hobbyists, or mere curiosity seekers, the workshops are geared to provide a clear reflection so that students can then make choices in order to create what they desire.

It is the purpose of my workshops to help students achieve an appreciation of their strengths, the tools to make adjustments for areas of limitations, and most of all to achieve true joy and happiness which becomes possible when balance and harmony are achieved.

Only when people are joyful and happy do arguments cease, wars end, and the spirit of love, tolerance, and cooperation prevail.All this from a simple art workshop? Yes, it is usually the smallest things that cause the biggest consequences. Remember… All for the want of a horseshoe nail?

This is the purpose of Triadic Spiritual Artmaking.

As a third generation artist Sharon Bechtold grew up around a variety of art materials, tools and the encouragement that have been instrumental to her development. After completing studies in commercial art, fine art, and photography, Sharon worked as a graphic designer in the family business. Her oil paintings, watercolors, and pyrographs, have won numerous awards and been represented by galleries throughout the Chicago area. Since 1988 she has taught art both at the adult level and children’s classes. Since 2000 she has devoted herself to Pyrography, developing her own unique style, based on classical art principles, in order to render a realistic image guided by inspiration.

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