Michael Patrick Smith
“Art is a part of us all, as we are exposed to it on a daily basis. I was profoundly affected by art when I was young. I was drawn to its mysticism, and its ability to inspire thought and provoke emotions. I wanted to be part of that world.
“I spent three years at the University of Cincinnati, School of Design just before I moved to Hawai’i in 1981 at the age of 21. It was 20 years before I reconnected with art again. It was my experimentation with pyrography (textured wood burning), which brought me to wood turning, using the turned wood as my canvas.
“Some people may refer to my work as a bowl, vase, or vessel with some embellishment. For me it is all about the pyrography. Turning wood requires a studio with a lathe, and other equipment; acquiring the wood, learning to understand the wood, and gaining the skill to execute a turned piece. However, the burning work is by far the major bulk of the time I invest in creating my finished pieces. I sometimes venture out and create sculpted work, but I always come back to turning with pyrography as my focus. I consider myself a pyrographer much more than I do a craftsman wood turner.
“My process starts by using a soft lead pencil to layout the basic design. I then use the burning pens to cut and texture the wood. There is no room for mistakes. A dropped burning pen or a momentary lack of concentration would render the piece unusable, as there is no way to erase or paint over it. It is a slow-moving process, requiring deep concentration and a meditative focus of texturing the wood. It may require days of burning to complete one piece. I prefer to use designs that can be recognized when seen from across a large room. Most of my pieces will come with and upright stand to further allow the appreciation of the artwork at a distance.
“My work has gained recognition in both local and international art shows. Several of my pieces have been purchased by the State of Hawai’i, and some by celebrities.
“From time to time, I think about what I am doing; not specifically pyrography or sculpture, but about making something that people will look at and hopefully appreciate. We artists and craftspeople are a continuum of what humans have done for many thousands of years. Our mind sets and reasons might be different today, but the essence of the creative force is very much the same. If you have read this, it is because you have some interest in my work, and for that alone, I thank you.”