Friday, October 29, 2010


One of the special things I do for myself is post quotes around my work space that either inspire me or remind me of the person that gave it to me.  By the way friends are the gifts you give yourself and friendships are like gardens they need to be worked tenderly and frequently.

The creative mind plays with the object it loves. Carl Jung

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong. Joseph Chilton Pearce

Every problem is a possibility in disguise.

Fear of failure will absolutely destroy you.  You walk down the middle of the street.  You never take chances. You never go down the little side streets that you look at and say, "That looks interesting. But I don't know that street.  I'll stay right here and just walk this straight line." Eugene Griessman

What you do speaks so loudly no one can really hear what you say.

Failure? I never encountered it.  All I ever met were temporary setback. Dottie Walters

Experience is not what happens to a man.  It is what a man does with what happens to him. Aldous Huxley.

Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right  Henry Ford

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. Henry Ford

and my favorite!

He who works with his hands is a laborer.  He who works with his hand and his head is a craftsman.  He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist. St. Francis of Assisi

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena...who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.  Theodore Roosevelt

Some of the things I hang on my walls are cartoons or pictures of inspiration of either human or animal origin. There are days when we all need to realize that we are not alone, need a chuckle or need to restore our faith. Good luck in decorating your space, make it personal, creative, funny, inspiring and even throw in an occasional funny shaped rock or beautiful wind/water created driftwood...let it be you. All work and no play.........

Friday, October 22, 2010

Organizing your paperwork

It has taken me years of doing and undoing to get everything where I can lay hands on anything I need and I still find myself confused and digging.

I have found that in the beginning I was dealing with a lot less and it was so much easier.  My original plan was to keep everything on index cards in a small file box.  I had tabs that included each piece broken down in expenses, dimensions, problems, patrons and shipping.  Then I had my tab for services I use full of business cards.

I quickly out grew the file box and began saving all information on disc (but I also printed out a paper copy for quick references). Therefore my file box became a standing five drawer metal file.
I also learned to deal with financial record keeping, what to save and what is needed to back up your business.  Considering the number of years you must keep information it is often overwhelming if not organized.

My photography (both my research pictures and my body of work)  began to get out of control.  In the beginning I was required to send only slides as entries to shows or studios portfolios.  Eventually everything went to digital and even sending your art work entries was done online.
Another lesson I am learning is that the stark white background with no shadows required by most juried shows years ago are not acceptable photography for online.  So therefore begins another lesson in redoing all sculpture shots.

My personal suggestion to all beginning sculptors, take your own photos and get the equipment in the beginning that is necessary to take excellent pictures, even take a class. It will benefit you and that will be one more of the facets of sculpture that you won't be paying someone that does not care  about your work to do.

 (Little suggestion, even taking your own pictures during clay work will show you errors sooner than just looking at the's jump out at you).

My research is busting at the seams in a multi-fold file but this is something that you can not do without and you constantly add to it.

Your body of work photos are more important (for your portfolio or as handouts in the form of postcards or yearly mailings.  They have to be kept gently, flat, accessible and ready to grab for a show.  Make sure they are stamped on the back side with all contract information. You are right in thinking that it is a given that some people just like to go to shows and collect pictures and that is a waste but you never really know when a real patron that is interested but doesn't want to approach you until later may be taking a picture to remind them of your lovely work.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Once your work is welded and repaired to perfection so that it is a replica of the clay you originally began with you will want to patina the surface, not only to give it life but to protect the surface as well. The best advice I can give you is find an artist skilled in doing patina's and explain to them the look you want for your piece.  Be honest if it is not what you saw or envisioned (you are paying for it.) Nothing can not be redone!

Patinas are done by heating your bronze with a torch and spraying or dabbing with a brush of acid on your piece until you get desired color. Often it is done with mixing and layering different acids.

Some people (both artists and patrons) prefer just the standard old fashioned bronze look.  Others can patina a bronze to copy either true colors of an object or even have  bronze look like stone or wood.  They are truly artist in themselves. All artist have to remember if you are out of your comfort zone learning a process in sculpture or you treasure the time you have to just create in clay, so be it. Some artists do it all, I am not one of them.

Add caption
Keeper of the Sacred Spirit
13 1/2 w x 10 x 9
only five left in this edition
available on oval wood base and polished stone also
pictured sandstone

  Just a little side laugh in the old days of early bronze artist would invite their guest to go out back and pee on the latest work. "Acid is Acid"!

Each piece has a story so here is the story with Keeper of the Sacred Spirit.

"Keeper of the Sacred Spirit" was actually done using a neighboring buffalo ranch where I could go and take my pedestal and work.  The bull I used was named Aspen and even though he was powerfully built you could actually scratch his nose.  One day as I set up my clay to begin work as I had done before I reached over to give my morning scratch and Dave (the owner of Aspen) hurried over to inform me that the one I was approaching was not Aspen.
Needless to say I learned a lesson that day that all animals must be treated as though they are potentially dangerous. Also, that a lot of buffalo look alike but don't necessarily have the same temperament. Many years ago I remember hearing of a female artist being trampled by a buffalo.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The transformation of clay to bronze or any metal is magical in my mind. This is one part of the process where an artist has to find a foundry they are comfortable with and like letting go of a child, trust.

You deliver your cleaned reconstructed wax to the foundry and in a months time a ceramic shell is formed around the wax leaving sprues and vents for escaping gases and cups for pour holes.

The shell is formed similar to breading a piece of fried chicken (see I am showing my southern roots) you start with fine almost sand and repeat coating layer and layer until you have your finished mold. The last ends up looking more shell like than sand.

The mold is then laid in an oven for the melt out process where all the wax is removed leaving the negative in the mold.

You are then ready for the pouring of the molten metal (at 2300 degrees) done usually by two people carrying a crucible and poured into your mold sitting pour spout up in the sand ready to accept the hot metal. This is very exciting to watch because the foundry people are so talented, (they are also clad in protective gloves and aprons to protect from the heat and possible splash) I use Madd Castings of Berthoud, Colorado and have never had anything strange go wrong...very talented people and artists themselves. I know there are also foundries in Loveland, Colorado that take your clay from start to finished piece and do all the work required. (Anyone that goes to the Loveland Sculpture Invitational in Aug.  would enjoy the tour that one of the foundries gives, Art Castings).

Finally the mold or ceramic is chipped away exposing your work in its tangle of vents and cups often not even recognizable to the piece you gave them in wax. All the excess material must be removed or "chased" as it is called.  The bronze is worked much like the wax was to refine the surface and repair blemishes except with a grinder, saw, welding torch or tig.  Again this is where horns, ears or legs possibly get welded back on your piece. Also this is where hardware gets added to the base of your piece in order for it to be connected to the chosen base.


This might be a great spot to have input on bases for your piece. Bases can be chosen either when the piece is in wax for size comparison or after patina is in place for color comparison or to compliment a certain patina.

I have used three separate bases on the buffalo piece "Keeper of the Sacred Spirit". The original was sandstone, then oval wood base was requested on one edition then a highly polished stone another. 
Each patron had their own preference, it is important to listen to them. In fact due to one of these patrons buying this particular piece in Wyoming I have not since placed my name plate on the base. He made me think, what is important here the beauty of the piece or a brass name plate (I include my plates when I sell a piece now and leave it to the patron as to whether they place it on the work or not). Your name and copyright, edition number etc. is on the bronze itself anyway (usually in a discreet area).

Note:  This edition "Keeper of the Sacred Spirit" only has five remaining copies and once these are sold mold will be destroyed.

I usually take a wax on its way to the foundry by the base shop that I use and discuss my options and look at them while I have the paper pattern in hand. You also consider the edge you would like and also the thickness to compliment the work.  Sometimes as you can see on some of my pieces I have actually combined stone and wood for an amazing look.

One particular piece (the first I ever created) was a tribute to a man who had been in the beef industry for quite a while and was stepping down.  I created three different breeds (just the heads) looking through a pipe fencing over into a feed bunk.  The feed bunk was the base and was created out of a piece of walnut shaped like a feed bunk and made the piece pull together as a unit.

So sadly the base can either make or break a piece of sculpture...think of it as the final addition to your edition.

Friday, October 1, 2010


One thing it took me a while to realize is that artist don't see things the same as non-artist, I see things in layers or textures and colors, shades and movement.  They all influence my work.  Patrons have to respect an artists interpretation of something as much as artist must honor their interpretation.  We should not have to explain why or how we arrive at our interpretations.  That is as varied as trying to explain emotions...on the other hand artist have to respect a patron that finds our work not exactly what they are looking for based on what their minds eye is thinking. Life is diversity and we should accept the fact that people view things and often along the way there is conflict of opinion but that is what makes us all unique.

There was an interesting discussion on LinkedIn about whether it is ok to produce cute or pretty art or is that taboo now days and unacceptable.  I think that like I said above so many people have different interpretations of what they consider buying for art to represent what they want to say in their home or office that it is hard to say whether a picture of a flower is pretty and not considered an artistic interpretation or it is just the thing a person needed to project that look in that particular room.

Whether a person collects abstract paintings or wooden baby chairs it is up to the patron to choose not for the artist to worry about whether or not they will be accepted by other artist because they do representational art versus interpretive.

Diversity, diversity, we find it in life, love, passion and art....leave it alone and don't be so quick to criticize another fellow artist.