Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Myth #5: I Should Collect Lots of Pieces by the Same Artist

There are several theories to art collecting. Some collectors choose to collect based on a theme. Some choose by style. Others select a period. Still others are patrons of a particular artist.

There are no "right" or "wrong" ways to choose how to collect. However, as a beginner, I encourage collectors to start with a variety of artists. In fact, I prefer a beginner to collect based on what they like, rather than any other criteria. Later, you may wish to further define your collection. Or on the off chance that you decide you no longer wish to add to your collection, you at least have pieces that you genuinely like.

The danger in collecting lots of pieces by the same artist include buying a popular artist or fad. These artists lose favor and your collection will be worth nothing. Worse, you may quickly tire of the artist and not enjoy your own collection. Another temptation when collecting by artist is to buy reproductions to increase the size of your collection. Yet another risk is buying work that isn't that great, or that you don't love, because it will "round out" your collection!

If you are tempted (as a beginner) to buy a third piece by the same artist (or even the second) consider your real motivation for buying it. Get another, independent, opinion. It is possible that you may have hit upon a great artist, or even if not great, one that you will enjoy for a long, long time. And that is the ultimate goal. However, if there is ANY thought that you are collecting this artist because having more pieces by him or her will make your collection more valuable, then do NOT buy that latest piece without serious consideration.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Myth #4: Art is Expensive

While art can run millions of dollars, most of us do not currently have that amount of discretionary income. That does not mean that art is out of our financial range.

Depending upon your taste and where you live it should be possible to find art that costs little more than framed posters and knick-knacks.

Rather than having a bunch of "stuff" cluttering your home, find something you really love and buy that. It is better to have a few quality items than a bunch of over-priced items that you will eventually dump at a yard sale! A good piece of art is something that you will love for a very, very long time.

By purchasing from lesser-known or unknown artists you can sometimes get a real bargain.

Sometimes you can buy 2 dimensional art unframed. It may seem like a bargain to buy it unframed, but in the long run it might not be such a deal. Generally I recommend you buy it framed when possible, unless you don't like the frame. As long as it is a sturdy frame, you are good to go, and your new purchase can immediately be displayed.

Especially for a new art collector, I do not recommend spending a lot of money matting and framing pieces if you can get them from the artist that way. You will be surprised at how expensive it can be to properly mount your new piece, and it is important that it be properly done--both for the beauty of the display and also to protect the piece.

If your new acquisition is a sculpture, depending upon the size of the piece, you might need a place to display it. Many sculptures are free-standing and do not require a special pedestal. Just be sure to put them in a spot where they can be enjoyed and not knocked over!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beauty in the Garden Year Round

I went to the Denver Botanic Gardens on Monday. It was the day after our first snow of the season. Here in Loveland we had slushy rain and snow fall, but nothing stuck to the ground. This was not the case in Denver where about four inches fell. There was still snow on the sidewalks where the sun hadn't hit.

Even still, the gardens were amazing. I will return in the spring to see more things in bloom since flowers are some of my favorite parts of gardens. There were some plants in bloom, some unique plants I'd never seen before, and the palette was fairly muted over all which is attractive in its own way. What was so beautiful about the garden now was the textures.

The boulders stood out more. The shapes of the leaves were more visible. The grasses were pronounced in their variety of feel, color, shape and size. The architectural backgrounds were revealed and appreciated. Even the walkways shone with their distinctive patterns of pebbles, flagstones and rocks. All of this was more evident because there was not the competition of more obvious eye candy in the form of colorful flowers.

The Chapungu exhibition of sculptures is also a fantastic addition for this time of year. So many of these pieces have been in crates for the past several years, it was as if you could hear them stretching at the room and breathing in the fresh air.

My friend Agnes Nyanhongo was not there. She had flown to California to visit with some friends. I did have the pleasure of meeting her brother, Brian, however. One look at the face of the gentleman walking toward me and I knew it was he. All the Nyanhongos I have met (and there are many more whom I have yet to meet) have a similar shape to the face and the same great smile.

It looks like I will be making a second trip to Denver soon as Agnes leaves for home next week.

If you haven't been to the gardens, go soon--and meet Agnes while you have the opportunity.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Myth #3: I Don't Know Enough About Art to Buy

There is some truth to this myth, but the good news is that it is easily remedied.

I suggest starting small and locally. Most towns have a gallery and or a museum. Check them out. And do it in little "bites". I suggest an hour for a real beginner as a maximum. Later you can build up to longer periods.

Do not treat this like a college course where you have to memorize tons of information--unless you enjoy doing that. Just go for a stroll through the place. Stop and look at the pieces and ask yourself a few basic questions: do I like it? why or why not? The answer to the last question might be "I don't know" and that is okay for now.

Starting to notice what you like and do not like is the first step because I believe people should buy art they like.

Some galleries and museums have tours available where you can learn a lot and ask questions. I especially like the staff who are natural teachers, who love sharing the information with you and helping you learn more about their artists and art in general. I find that most places are great if you have questions, so please ask. If you are some place and they are not open to your questions it could be they are very busy, they don't know themselves, they are only wanting to talk to serious buyers, or maybe they are just having a bad day!

Return to the same places when they have new exhibitions. And even go back to exhibitions, especially if they are large, you will be surprised at some of the things you didn't see the first time.

Branch out, too. If you have many galleries in your town, try to see one or two each week. You will soon get a sense of the ones that you like best. Don't discount a gallery just because you don't like the art on first look. Sometimes art is like broccoli, an acquired taste!

Consider this the information gathering phase...look at lots of different styles and media. Go to museums. You can even gather postcards and things there of styles you like to create a reference book for yourself if you want. Have fun, ask questions, and do not buy art, not yet!

When you find something that you really, really, really love and you want to buy it, get some information about it and take that home. Go back another time and see it again. I usually suggest you look at a piece at least 3 times before buying. If the exhibition is closing, find out if it is going elsewhere. Keep in mind the gallery will want you to buy through them so they get the commission. If the art is staying locally and you can see it again (it might be back with the artist, or in a storage facility, or on loan) great. If not, see if you can take photos and ask if you can buy it after the exhibition closes if you decide you still want it.

In a nutshell, start small, take frequent little bites and savor them. You have a lifetime to feast.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Myth #2: Art is a Good Investment

While it may be true that art can be a great investment, I cringe at the idea of most people buying art for that reason. Let me tell you a true story to illustrate my point.

Many years ago, when I was a struggling student, I heard about an exhibition of prints by Marc Chagall, who had long been one of my favorite artists. I drove 200 miles to see this exhibition as it was the first time it was anywhere close to me.

I was enthralled. I spent hours there. I'm sure I was drooling. The gallery was wonderful; the pieces exquisitely lit.

While I am enjoying my own private heaven a man came in with his young son. I overhear wasn't difficult due to his volume...telling his son that this is a great artist to buy! I start to smile, thinking I was in the company of another Chagall lover. I expected to hear him speak of the stories in the work, the emotion, the depth, the symbolism. Instead he says to his son, "this is an old man who will die soon and then the prices will sky rocket...buying now we can make a lot of money!"

I visible shook my head as I continued to drool over one print in particular... a print that cost as much as a small house I had considered buying before deciding to return to school.

Suddenly an elderly woman was ushered into the room. She must have been "somebody" as there were not one, not two, but three salespeople with her! The were busily showing her around the gallery and talking up the pieces, their value, the depth, lots of true and good advice. She however was not impressed. As they walked by a storeroom where another salesperson was getting something I heard her exclaim, "oh, now that one I like!". Curiosity got the best of me and I had to see what got her so excited, when none of these masterpieces had, and in the storeroom was a poster in garish bright colors from a much lesser artist.

I remember thinking at the time "some people do not deserve to have money." But you know what? At least she knew what she liked. For her, buying art probably isn't a good investment. Based on the little I saw, the works she likes won't go up much in value, so she should put her money in stocks, bonds, or real estate.

Buy art because you love it. Not because it might (there are no sure bets) go up in value. Then, if you buy it, love it and enjoy it AND it goes up in value, you have an added benefit. The icing on the cake, so to speak!

Buying investments is always tricky. And salespeople in galleries are just that--salespeople. They have a vested interest in your buying what they are selling. Now, the good ones will help educate you and steer you in the best direction for you, your finances and your collection. They can help you to know what might be a good purchase and what is probably not. Never let yourself be talked into buying a piece of art by a salesperson.

If you are buying for an investment purposes, it must be an original (a print is considered an original if that is how the work was created--as opposed to a print which is a reproduction of an original painting) and it should be authenticated if possible. Even then it might not be a great investment.

Sometimes people think an "up and coming artist" is a great investment. That is only true if the up and comer has some staying power, and you have time on your hands.

Yes, there are people who find million dollar paintings at garage sales for a few bucks, but those are very few and far between--which is why we hear of them! There are far more people who overspend on reproductions by a "name" artist, buying into the notion that they will be worth a fortune some day.

Here's a rule of thumb for you...if a product is a reproduction it probably isn't worth much, and if it is mass marketed it is worth even less down the road.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Myth #1: Everybody Should Buy Art

While it is true that anyone can buy art, whether everyone should is a different matter.

Art comes in a variety of types and sizes, for our purposes we are talking about 2 or 3 dimensional art. Paintings, prints and photographs are examples of "flat" or 2 dimensional art. Sculpture and pottery are examples of 3 dimensional art.

Art also comes in a wide range of prices. Yes, it is possible for anyone to afford a piece of art.

Since art comes in sizes ranging from tiny to gigantic, prices from under $100 to well over millions, there is an opportunity out there for anyone interested in purchasing art.

So why shouldn't everyone buy art? If you are going to decorate your home (whether it is a modest apartment or magnificent mansion) art is a great purchase to make. Art can also make a wonderful housewarming gift. However if you are one who insists that your new home be 100% decorated when you first move in, rather than letting the decorating grow with you, then maybe buying art isn't for you.

While there are no hard and fast rules about who should or should not buy art, keep in mind some common sense guidelines and ask yourself a few questions.
  1. Are you settled in one spot or transient? If you are in the stage of life where you are going to be moving a lot, there is increased risk of art being damaged with each move. You will want to be sure that you have appropriate insurance and packaging for any art. Don't let this alone dissuade you from buying a piece that you love, just keep it in mind.
  2. Do you have the discretionary funds to purchase art? Let's face it, if you aren't current on your mortgage or rent, you probably shouldn't buy art. Similarly, if your kids need new shoes (I said need, not want) or are going hungry, it goes without saying. Other than those sorts of concerns, if you have a little discretionary money that you can put towards art, fantastic!
  3. Do you have insurance coverage? When starting, this probably won't be a major concern, but be sure to keep your insurance coverage up with your collection. If you can't afford the insurance, you can't afford the collection.
  4. Do you live in clutter, or do you have a spartan environment? Generally, people who buy art do not have a lot of clutter around. They are proud of their pieces and want them to be seen. If you have a lot of knick-knacks around and really love them, you might not be ready to collect art.
  5. Do you think a poster from the Museum is art? Sure, it is a beautiful picture, but a poster is not the original and it is not art. If you are in the poster phase it is time to learn more about art, what you like and don't like and build up to buying some real art.
  6. Do you have a place to safely display your purchase? Will it be kept clean, out of any of the conditions that could damage it? If it is going to be damaged by food, chemicals, smoke, oils then you need to protect it appropriately and then display it. If you can't protect and display, don't buy.
  7. Do you know what art is? If you don't--that's great! Time to learn and then decide if you want to be amongst those who purchase art. If you think you do know what art is, and haven't purchased any yet, perhaps it is time to broaden your horizons a bit and explore some other art concepts.
  8. Do you have some money and somebody told you art is a great investment? Hold on to your wallet! This will be covered in more detail later, but to start, become a student of art before you spend a penny. You might discover that you do want to buy art, or you might decide to invest your money in stocks, bonds, or real estate!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Art Buying for Beginners

One of the questions I frequently get is "Should I buy art?"

The short answer to the question is "Maybe".

As an artist and art lover, you'd think I would shout from the rooftops "OF COURSE, EVERYONE SHOULD BUY ART!" For me to say that would be as irresponsible as a dog lover saying everyone should have a dog.

Over the next few days, maybe weeks, I'll talk about the reasons a person should, and shouldn't buy art. We'll cover some of the myths and misconceptions about art collecting. Maybe we should call them Mythconceptions!

To name just a few...
Mythconception #1 Everybody should buy art
Mythconception #2 Art is a great investment
Mythconception #3 I don't know enough about art to buy it
Mythconception #4 "Art" is too expensive
Mythconception #5 I should collect lots of pieces by the same artist
Mythconception #6 I don't like "art"
Mythconception #7 Only rich people collect art
Mythconception #8 There is no place near me to buy "real art"
Mythconception #9 My designer told me to buy this, so it must be art (AKA "Designer Knows Best")
Mythconception #10 I have to buy pieces that go with my house (or sofa or whatever)
Mythconception #11 If he's dead, it must be good (replace "dead" with "famous", it still is a Mythconception, AKA, I hate it but I was told it was a good deal )
Mythconception #12 My house is old/modern/period therefore my art must match
Mythconception #13 My collection must have a "theme"
Mythconception #14 I'll buy it now and put it in storage until I have the room to display it
Mythconception #15 The person at the gallery told me that it would be perfect for me
Mythconception #16 I have to buy the piece the first time I see it
Mythconception #17 People will think I'm cool/smart/sexy/rich because I have art
Mythconception #18 I can buy anything as long as I like it and it will be art

You get the picture (pardon the pun)--there are a lot of mythconceptions about buying art out there. We'll tackle these one by one. Not necessarily in the order above--we creative types like to mix it up a bit you know...don't want to become too predictable! We might also throw in some other best breed for your lifestyle (continuing the dog-lover theme, in case you didn't get that), and care and feeding for your art.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Night On the Town

Day after tomorrow is going to be the 2nd Friday in October. 2nd Friday is one of my favorite days of the month. 2nd Friday is a time for me to get inspired and learn from other artists.

In our town, it is quite an event. Because Loveland is so arts oriented, 2nd Friday is like a celebration all year long, called "A Night On The Town".

There is usually a band playing downtown. Galleries and stores stay open until 9pm. People walk the sidewalks, window shopping and chatting. You see neighbors, and friends, and strangers. This event has become pretty well known and you can read more about it by clicking here.

Cowboys spill out of one venue as families stroll past and corporate types frequent another. There truly is something for everyone.

The challenge for me is that each gallery has a new show up every month...and I want to see them all! It is easy to get into a rhythm and see the same galleries month after month. This month I am making a conscious decision to go to a different one. It is a bit out of the way, so I haven't been there before, but it has lots and lots of sculpture--so it is about time!

Come join me this Friday--you know where I'll be--having a night on the town!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Stone Sculpture Viewing in Colorado

We are so fortunate in Colorado to have numerous opportunities to view fantastic stone sculpture.

Currently at the Denver Botanic Gardens, a 23 acre paradise, there is currently an exhibition of stone sculptures by wonderful sculptors from Zimbabwe.

This exhibition is on through Feb, 2008, so be sure to go and check it out!

To get directions, hours and info go to the gardens site.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Taking Inspiration Where it Comes

I have been sketching more lately...some physical issues and time constraints have kept me out of the studio. Stone sculpting is not something that one can easily do for an hour or so! Too dusty for one thing. A shower is always in order after a carving session, no matter how short.

I have more ideas for pieces than I can possibly finish. Especially since I am always influenced by the stone and it may dictate an entirely different image than I have originally sketched out.

This time of year gives me so many inspirations--the colors, the feel of the air, the shapes of the leaves as they glide through the air, the geese flying in for winter, the doves feeding, the swirls created by fish, fowl and wind on the surface of the lakes and ponds.

I am learning to be gentle with myself. I sculpt because I love it. If I don't get in the studio that is okay because I am enjoying the world and life and gathering inspiration from every corner.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Art in Nature

I went out for a of my favorite things to do in the down...wind in my hair...

As usual, I was amazed and completely blown away by the beauty of our "neighborhood". The textures, colors and shapes create the most phenomenal sculptures imaginable.

Red rocks thrusting out of the green hillsides. Blue skies for backdrops. It is so beautiful as to not to be believed. Yet, it is real. I am humbled by the art I see in "everyday things"...

It is good to get out and remind oneself that the world is more than just the studio. Or the office. Or whatever place we find ourselves in most of the day!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Stepping Out

Every month most of the galleries and other businesses downtown stay open so that patrons can view the fantastic art there.

Actually, this is a tradition held by several towns in our area. The only unfortunate thing is that not only does one have to choose which galleries to go to, it is also necessary to choose which town's event you will attend, because for whatever reason, several of the events happen on the same night, and it is just not humanly possible to get to every place.

While by my nature, I am inclined to stay at home, I love going out and seeing what other artists are doing. It helps me grow. I get to see something from someone else's perspective. It doesn't matter the medium, I can gather information from all of them. Sometimes, I see something that helps me with a challenge I am currently facing. Other times I get to appreciate how someone else sees the world in such a completely different way. I have the opportunity to drink in the energy and skill of so many artists every month. What a blessing that is.

Some times the thought of having to choose where I am going to go is too much and I feel I should just stay home. This is when I have to push myself just to take the first step.

Thanks to the businesses who stay open these nights, for helping me to step out of my comfort zone.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Never Assume...

A lady said something to me the other day that I quietly took offense to. It doesn't really matter what she said. What is relevant is that I chose to let it bother me.

Frankly, my ego was bruised. I tried to not let it show, but it irked me that this woman assumed something about me, and my art, without even knowing anything about me other than I sculpt stone.

You know what they say about assuming...well I was pretty sure she was an a....nnoying judgmental jerk. And of course, that I was innocent, misunderstood and unappreciated.

I chose to believe that, and I chose to let it alter my a less than positive way.

Wow. Assuming can really be bad.

Know what I realized this morning?...maybe you are ahead of me here...I have no idea if she was judging me, or making an assumption about me! She made a comment that I chose to ASSUME was an assumption. So who is the a....nnoying judgmental jerk. That would be, moi.

Once I figured this out, it no longer mattered to me what she said. It might be true. Or not. Maybe if she knew more about me and/or my work she wouldn't have said it...or maybe she would have. Maybe it was a comment about her and her work and not about me really after all. (Gosh, you mean the world doesn't revolve around me?)

I allowed my emotions to be controlled by an imagined slight! I am freed by the knowledge that it is not relevant what she said, or even what she meant by what she said! I can choose to be pissed off or hurt, or I can choose to move forward, quite happily, with my life and my work, in my own way, at my own pace. I have decided to choose the latter!

Oh, and don't get me started on presuming versus assuming!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

To Messy Creations

I went to a wonderful artist's reception last night. A sculptor I know just opened a studio. It is an incredible space. And last night it was incredibly clean. That was one way we knew it was brand spanking new! A working studio is not a clean studio--creating can be a messy process.

This sculptor has created a wonderful space for painters, photographers, ceramicists and sculptors to create their art. The energy in the space was not just the people there to congratulate him--the space itself had great energy. You knew it was a labor of love. It showed.

Many, many artists were there. And there were friends and family from all walks of life. And the neighbors. Everyone turned out to wish this man well.

It was a fun evening. Lots of talk about art, life, philosophy. There was music and dancing, especially by the children.

Ron--congratulations on your new space, best wishes for much success, you definitely deserve it! And may your studio see many, many happy and messy days ahead.

Friday, September 7, 2007

To Touch or Not To Touch

Some artists don't want you to touch their work. Oils in skin can damage some works. So, before touching, it is best, and certainly polite, to ask first. And please, don't let your jewelry touch the works. Many sculptures can withstand the gentle touch of skin but can be damaged by even fingernails, much less rings and bangles.

Typically, sculptures love to be touched. Now in a museum if everyone touched the sculptures they would be damaged. Perhaps it is possible to love something too much!

Have you seen some of the "good luck" spots on public pieces? The continuous rubbing by masses changes the color of the piece and can actually wear down the material.

That said, I love going into a gallery where they encourage you to touch the sculptures. Some have special displays for just that purpose. Many were originally started as displays for the visually impaired, with a variety of textures and materials.

When wondering, "can I touch this sculpture or not?", just like crossing the street, the first thing to do is to look. Look at the sculpture. Caress it with your eyes. Is it really asking you to touch it? How does the piece want you to touch it--loving, gentle pats, or big bear-hugs? Then look around the sculpture. Are there signs that either encourage or discourage one from touching? If there are no signs, is the artist or owner present? With permission, touch away! And don't be shy about it--if the piece is calling to you for a hug then, by golly, give it a hug!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Other Activities of a Sculptor

Today I worked on photos from the Sculpture Invitational.

Cropping photos, adding backgrounds, it all takes longer than I think it should. A friend took this photo of me at the show. I have been able to modify parts of it to use for my website (which is still a work in progress.)

Not only do we have to have photos for websites, but we also use them for print. Whether it is our business card or promotional information or press releases, there is always a need for photos. And they all require different formats. That can keep a sculptor busy outside the studio!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Fall is in the Air

Fall is indeed in the air here. Kids are back in school, temps are cooler, especially at night, and it is Labor Day weekend already. Time to relax and get some sculpting in!

Driving by one of the hay fields today I was struck by the beauty of our mountains, as I frequently am. We live at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, near the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. I rarely see that sight without being so very grateful!

Today while admiring it, I was struck at how painters can capture the scene and I pondered how a sculptor might also. We tend to capture other scenes, rather than a landscape. Then I remembered as a child in Japan learning Bonkei, and that is a way to create a landscape "sculpture". Although designed to be temporary, I recall creating mountains, valleys, rivers and lakes, with various textures and colors. Perhaps this recollection will lead me to a new series!

Fall in the air--and perhaps in stone!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Odds and Ends

Home again. While the beach was great and visiting family was wonderful, it is fantastic to be home. My own bed. My studio--even if I didn't get down there today.

Today was mostly getting unpacked, groceries bought and other errands that have been ignored for about 3 weeks. I did mail off sculptures and certificates of authenticity, so pieces are finding their way to their new homes.

Didn't have time to really organize much before I left, so we have sculptures around the house, not in the best display. That will evolve over time.

Final odd bits to do for the show, including sending in the sales tax. Amazing feeling to be grateful for paying tax--it really means that someone bought your work!

Then I will get back to work on the website so it is up and running since many people took my card at the show!

Monday, August 20, 2007

What Does A Sculptor Do While On Vacation?

What does a stone sculptor do while on vacation? Right after a big show? In oppressive heat?

Well, this sculptor has hit the beach!

On Sunday, August 12, we loaded up the remaining pieces at about 5pm. Oracle went home with a new owner, Rock Turtle and Spinner will be shipped to their new homes when I return to Colorado. I sold 3 pieces at my first time exhibiting at this show, so that is good. I also made some incredible contacts, and had loads of fun.

And, we were incredibly tired!

So, we packed our suitcases and flew to the west coast. Here we are visiting family, working in the garden, swimming in the pool and the ocean and all in all having a great time. The change in visual stimulation is excellent for an artist.

While in the ocean a Harbor Seal popped up within 15 feet of me...he looked as surprised as I felt when our eyes met. Another of my favorite beach critters are the pelicans. At home we have white pelicans. Here they are brown. The original Jedi fliers...tight formations inches above the water in the channels created by the waves.

When I got too cold in the water, I took a break and warmed up on the sand. I get quickly bored if I sit still with nothing to do, so I started sculpting in the sand. I had no tools, just my hands, so it was a different experience. The sand is so soft and sensual, it was a lot of fun. First I created a dolphin, about 5 feet long. That was fun. Even when the water came in and started to dissolve my work. It all felt very natural, like the tides had come to claim one of their own.

Later, after another dip in the water, I created a leg. Just one. Mid thigh all the way to the toes.

The temporary nature of working with beach sand has pros and cons. For me, this was a lark. Very quickly done and quickly lost. Not sure how I would feel about losing the pieces to the sea if I had spent days or even hours creating them. But going into it, you know they are only for a short time. So very different from creating pieces from stone, which, barring an accident, will last long after I am gone. Like everything in life, they each have their place and purpose.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

16th Annual Sculpture Invitational is Over

What a great weekend!

Hot. Busy. Lots and lots of people. Incredible sculptures of every shape, style, media, subject matter and size. Wonderful networking opportunities. New friends. New fans.

The people watching alone was amazing! It really helps you realize the diversity in the faces and body shapes that can make up a human being! Some of the people are such characters that if me created a sculpture of them people would accuse me of making them up!

We talked to countless sculpter lovers. Some were sculptors who were either on a brief break from their booth or who didn't exhibit at the show, others were locals visiting for the first time or the 16th, and lots of others were visitors to our town who came to Loveland specifically to see this show. Many return annually on an art prilgrimage--some to buy, some just to appreciate the incredible talent and energy that fills the air.

We were fortunate to be in Tent #1. People tend to start there and work their way around to Tent #8. By then, the sheer volume and heat have lead to glazed over eyes and brain overload. For the most part, the visitors were still fresh and inquisitive when they came by our tent. It was so much fun talking to them. With heat in the 90s and 100s, fresh and inquisitive doesn't last too long!

Our good fortune also put us on the north side of the tent. That meant we had only a little direct sun, and even that was mostly avoidable. Where we sat was a good 10 degrees cooler than the people in the center of the tent!

The variety of people at the show extended past the superficial. Sure there was that too--babies to senior citizens, all colors and shaped. There were those who asked lots of questions and those who preferred quiet contemplation, and others who weren't interested in my work at all.

Being a stone sculptore in a sea of bronzes was like a breath of fresh air for some visitors. Others seemed to think I was a waste of their time. That is one of the great things about this show--there is literally something for everyone.

One thing that also set me a part was I brought some of my tools. Since many people have a basic understanding of how clay and bronzes work they were very interested in learning more about the subtractive process of stone. Being a natural teacher I had a great time explaining and showing them some of the basics.

I met so many wonderfully talented people, and ran into old friends and acquaintances. Lots of friends came specifically to see me and my work. Others happened by and had no idea I was a sculptor. It is fun to expose a new part of oneself to a person who thinks they know you.

I am so grateful to all the volunteers without whom a show of this magnitude would not be possible. Also to the fantastic "neighbors" who took me under their wing, and the other new sculptors we met.

Over the next few days, as I catch up on my sleep, I will update this blog and my website and include some photos of the event. You really can't imagine the environment!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Almost There

The show is almost here. Today I spent a good amount of time working on the display items, other than the pieces themselves. The little details that are easy to forget!

I also did work in the studio. Putting on final touches to the pieces. Tomorrow is minor touch ups and bases. All in all things are looking good.

Only one day left, then it is set up and SHOW TIME!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Yes, Stones Break

One of my stones must have also felt the stress of only a few days remaining before the big show. As I put my chisel gently to it I was suddenly, unintentionally, the proud owner of 2 pieces of marble rather than one.

Things like this happen when you choose to carve stone. Sometimes there is a flaw that runs through the piece that you just didn't catch. Other times we push the stone further than it wants to go.

My philosophy is that it just wasn't meant to be. Perhaps one day I will have 2 nice sculptures instead of only one. Probably they will be better individually than they would have been as one piece because obviously the stone didn't want to be least, not that one!

For now, I have put them on the shelf. I look at them. Surprising even myself, I am not saddened or shocked or angry...resigned is the best description. I know that this is a gift.

Stones are like people. Sometimes, no matter how gentle you are, it just doesn't work out. Some people also have huge cracks running deep inside them, and they do such a good job at covering them up you don't realize it is even there...

So I moved on and worked on a different piece. I realize now that gift in the first piece breaking is that I worked with this other stone. While I was working on it, I had the most incredible energy and calm. The stone and I had a great communion. It was a wonderful day.

Life is grand, broken stones and all.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Loveland, the Mecca for Sculptors and Sculpture Lovers

Loveland, Colorado is abuzz this week with art, artists, and art lovers from around the world!

The world's largest sculpture shows are happening next weekend and the prep has been going on all year. Now, things are at a fevered pitch as people arrive and last minute details are ironed out.

The Loveland Sculpture Invitational and Sculpture in the Park are two separate shows. Each show houses incredible artists from around the world, displaying work of all sizes, media and styles. It is the ideal place to learn about sculpture, find wonderful pieces for the new collector and for experienced collectors to find new artists and reconnect with old favorites thereby expanding their collections.

I suggest planning on two days, one for each show. That allows time to not just walk the many tents, but also gives you time to actually talk to the artists.

One of the best parts of the shows is meeting the creators and learning about their inspirations, their lives, making new friends. Most of us really enjoy talking to people who love our art--and those who are just curious. Don't be shy or feel like we only want to talk to you if you buy our work. I, for one, am honored and pleased to share my work and philosophy, so please say hi!

That being said, realize that many artists are shy by nature. More comfortable in the studio than on the "sales floor" they may seem aloof. Don't let that deter you. Generally a warm smile is all it takes to break the ice! And we all love to hear that you like our work!

Artists of all medias come to this show. In addition to the exhibiting sculptors, you will find other artists who come to get inspiration or who love learning what other artists are up to. The energy in Loveland this time of year is incredible, so come just to get a Rocky Mountain High from all the positive vibes flying around!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

One Week to Sculpture Invitational and "Flashes" of Brilliance

What is going on in the life of a sculptor right before a big, big show?

This week on the schedule are issuing press releases, finishing one last piece, polishing four otherwise complete works, creating bases, creating literature to hand out, testing my credit card procedure, pumping up the tires on my transport cart, getting my display props accumulated, getting all my materials gathered to safely transport the stones (stone may seem hard, but it the polished surface is subject to scratches if not protected appropriately.)

I have my sales books. My business cards arrived. New laptop computer is here.

Fortunately, we had a bit of a break in the heat. This made it easier to work. Whew! Keeping my fingers crossed that it will remain below 90 degrees for another 2 weeks.

I have been in the studio a lot. I found a new source for stone (one can never have too many stones!) And talking with other people who love stones is just so much fun! I learn something from everyone I meet. Many of these folks know lots more about the stones than I do (I basically look at a stone, it either speaks to me or doesn't...I don't necessarily know what it is called!) and I appreciate their willingness to share their knowledge with me.

One of the big steps I have is designing and creating bases for my pieces. Some of my works don't have bases, since they aren't necessary and for some pieces they are more effective without a base. In that case a little felt to protect the surface the stone rests on is all it needs. Other times, the base helps to give a sculpture a formal, finished appearance. And in other cases the base is actually an extension of and integral part of the sculpture.

Of course other parts of one's life don't stop just because the artist has a big deadline looming! Computers still crash, requiring replacements and all the work that entails. Since I had been considering acquiring a laptop, and the old computer was really old, this is not entirely a bad thing. However, I'm not sure I would have consciously chosen this timing! But the Universe knows better than I it seems! With the laptop I will be able to process credit card orders at the show much more easily!

Then there are my emotions. wow. I am nervous, excited, scared about having my biggest show in several decades. Having lost 4 friends and family members in 4 months has also had a toll on me. Compounding that is I happen to be right in the throes of menopause! So watch out for the crazy artist with chisel and large hammer! "Flashes" of brilliance, ha!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Testing 1--2--3

Well, I am having trouble again today. I started with the greatest of intentions of spending time in the studio.

My friend and neighbor, Frank, died yesterday.

I salute him, and the others I and the world have lost before him--and those since and in the future.

I have my first exhibition in over 20 years coming--it is in less than 1 month now. I struggle with creating while grieving. I have now lost 4 loved ones in 4 months. I am choosing to focus on the positive, but I confess that I struggle with that from time to time.

I decided today that I will have for this exhibition what I have. If I feel like creating something that is "different" from what I would otherwise create, that is okay. If I do not create anything new, that is okay. If I wake at 4am it is okay to go to the studio and work. What is, is. What will be, will be.

I am so grateful that I have the freedom and flexibility in my life to life, sleep, work as I choose.

Thank you to all the wonderful people in my life--those on earth and those beyond.

Celebrate life. Love. Laugh. Live.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Art Therapy

Can we create wonderful when we are sad? Should we even try?

These are questions that I am contemplating today as I got the word that yet another close friend is dying. This will be the 4th month in a row when someone close to me has died. I have never experienced such a string before.

I've had experiences with death in my life--more than some, less than others. The first I remember was a horrible accident that took the lives of several acquaintances when I was a child. This string is different partly because they are all individual experiences, and all "natural".

This string started with the death of my father in April. I spoke to him on Wednesday afternoon. Less than 24 hours later I got a call from my mother than he was gone. "Gone? Gone where?", I thought. Did he go for a walk and get lost? It took a moment to sink in. He did not seem ill. He was pretty energetic and happy, at least in our visits. There was no car crash or other accident...he just died.

Then a neighbor died. I saw him one afternoon. He told me a joke (a very bad, dirty one, as was his standard!). The next morning I was with his widow at the hospital. He just died.

Then next month, a very talented artist I know died. Hers was not a sudden death, in that she had cancer and we knew it was coming. But hard to lose a beautiful spirit either way.

And now, another neighbor hovers on the edge. I am grateful that we recently spent an evening sharing a glass of wine and stories. I will miss his smile, the twinkle in his eyes, and the way he coveted my little sports car!

The reason I mention all this is that I have had difficulty in creating lately. So have the other women involved who are artists. How does one grieve and create at the same time? And should we even try?

While some may be moved to paint or sketch or pound away when grieving, I felt so numb and physically weak that it wasn't possible. The chisel weighed more--not to mention the hammer! I didn't want to imbue my work with the sadness that was in my heart.

When the deepest grief of my father's death passed, I found myself in the studio once more. At first the feelings that came up while I worked surprised me. They weren't of my dad or my friends who died. They were of anger at another "dead" friendship. Perhaps my psyche could be mad at her, but not at them. After all, they died, while she chose to poison our friendship. When I became aware of my feelings I made a conscious choice. I decided my sculptures deserved to be born in love, not anger. I chose to think of only the positive things in my life--my partner, my good friends and family (including those who have died), the beauty around me--and let go of everything else.

Likewise, my friend, the recent widow, went painting yesterday for the first time since the death of her husband of 32 years. Until then no cajoling could get her into the studio or out in the field. Yesterday, she too, made a conscious choice. She chose to be engaged in her life--and it felt good.

If you are an artist, or you have a friend who is one, and he or she suffers a loss, know that we don't all go immediately into our studio and enter a "Blue Period". Some of us have to work through our feelings internally. Yes, our art is a blessing to us and it is part of who we are and how we relate to the world. Yes, we will get back to it. Yes, we might need a little encouragement. And yes, it might take us a while to accept it. In the meantime, love us, hold us, and let us express our emotions in whatever way is the right one for us--it might surprise you the direction it will take us and you might see a side of us never displayed before.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Seven Wonders of the World?

The day that the results for the Modern Seven Wonders of the World were announced I was disappointed that Angkor Watt in Cambodia didn't even make "the finals". Talk about incredible sculpture!

Later that day, I was working on a small piece in a soft alabaster. It started off wonderfully. Inspired by my friend, the incredible sculptor Agnes Nyanhongo, it was bust of a woman. Along the way, a crack suddenly appeared practically splitting the piece in half vertically.

Normally I work with cracks and broken bits by adjusting the composition. I figure the stone has an innate knowledge of what does and doesn't work and it is my place to work as a translator, not dictator. But a crack from neck to top of head--how do I deal with that?

I had to laugh when it occurred to me! Lo and behold, this bust resembles one of the ancient heads I recall seeing as a child in the jungles of Cambodia. Now I can create "banyan tree roots" spreading over the face, appearing to cause the cracks and simultaneously holding the stone together and pay homage to one of my favorite memories--seven wonders of the modern world designation or not!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I Thought Marble was Hard?

Wow! I've worked on a few pieces of marble before and they have all been extremely hard. Yesterday I was working on a piece of Colorado marble and it is not that hard at all. I know stones come in hardness ranges but this really surprised me.

I prefer to work with hand tools. I like the proximity I get with the stone that I just don't feel working with power tools. That's one reason. The main reason is the noise! I just don't like all the noise. And the heat. I get hot enough protecting my lungs and eyes...I don't want to have more body parts covered with big heavy things!

So, I work with hand tools as much as possible. It can be slow going with harder stones. So I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up this piece of marble and took a gentle swipe at it (no matter the stone, I always start with a gentle swipe!) This is going to be fun!

Off I go now to work on my marble piece! One more piece that will be done for the big show in a month!

Friday, July 6, 2007

When is the Loveland Sculpture Invitational?

This is the 16th year of the Loveland Sculpture Invitational Show and Sale. As always, the show is the second weekend in August. That means this year the dates are August 10, 11, 12 (Friday-Sunday).

The show is sponsored by The Loveland Sculpture Group, a non-profit corporation dedicated to expanding opportunities and appreciation for sculpture. Proceeds from the Invitational are used to purchase and present sculpture to the City of Loveland for public display. In addition, $18,000 was donated in 2006 to support art education in Loveland area schools!

There is a silend auction Saturday and Sunday where you can get some great buys. There is also an "Emerging Artists" tent with local student artists from 2nd - 12th grades. The Suppliers Tent is a favorite for sculptors--exhibitors of both the Invitational, Sculpture in the Park, and other artists not exhibiting.

Hours of the show:
Friday Aug. 10, 10am-3pm, admission $3
Saturday Aug. 11, 9:30am-6pm, admission $5
Sunday Aug. 12, 9:30am-4:30pm, admission $5

For more information, call 970-663-7467 or check out the Loveland Sculpture Group website.

Remember, there are two HUGE sculpture shows across the street from one another. The Invitational is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Sculpture in the Park is only open Saturday and Sunday. Both shows are on 29th Street between Taft and Hwy 287. The Invitational is on the south side of the street, at Loveland High School. Sculpture in the Park is on the north side of the street in Benson Park.

Come early and plan to spend the day. Ideally, I recommend a day for each show. Come to the Invitational on Friday, the Park on Saturday. Then Sunday you can go back and revisit your favorite artists.

Take time, enjoy, meet the artists and ask them questions--we love people who appreciate our art!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Happy 4th of July! I will be enjoying the festivities tonight with friends. As I do so I will be reminded with every sparkle in the sky that I am very blessed to have this wonderful life--and that I get to pursue (and find!) happiness every day.

Happy Carving!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Loveland Sculpture Invitational Only 5 Weeks Away

The Loveland Sculpture Invitational is only 5 weeks away!

I am busy preparing for the show. If you have never participated in a show like this then you have no idea of everything that is involved--this has been quite a learning experience for me!

Of course, you must have plenty of pieces ready for the show, that is obvious. That involves lots of sketching, contemplating, carving, polishing and creating bases or buying them and mounting the pieces to the bases.

In addition to that you have to have a sales tax license, display tables(s) and any cloths/fabrics you want to cover the tables and any display stands so you can vary the display height.

Then there is your advertising--submitting press releases, having business cards, creating a website (this is not a requirement, but I think it is a great idea.)

That being said, I am learning how to put up my first website! We'll see how that goes and I will post when the site it up. I am becoming more and more computer literate as this goes on. My first blog (this one) and then my first website!

Back to things you need--how to accept payment is a big one! I plan to sell many, many pieces. The group sponsoring the show will process credit card orders for us, if we don't get our own system in place. I plan to have mine all set up. I have the system, I am just missing one tiny component and that should be resolved by next week.

The count down has begun! I am excited and look forward to a successful show for Success In Stone!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Agnes Nyanhongo Coming to Loveland Colorado

My friend, the wonderful Zimbabwean sculptor, Agnes Nyanhongo will be coming to Loveland,Colorado this July. Agnes will be participating in the Sculpture in the Park show August 11 & 12. Agnes' work is so beautiful. The peaceful expressions she achieves and the appearance of softness is exquisite out of this hard medium. If you haven't seen her work, stop by the show and say hello!

If You Haven't Been to the Show Lately--

If you have never been to the sculpture shows in Loveland, or if it has been a while since your last visit, you definitely to make this a priority!

I have been coming to these shows for years and the changes have been phenomenal! The variety in styles, media, scale is incredible. Whether your preference in sculpture is traditional or modern, realistic or abstract, figurative or animals, simple or complex, natural materials or hi tech--you can see it all in one place, over one weekend!

There are actually two separate shows and each has an entry fee of only $5. If you LOVE sculpture, plan to attend both. You will want to allocate a full day for each show!

Sculpture In The Park is, as the name indicates, in a beautiful park: Benson Sculpture Park. The Invitational is across the street on the grounds of Loveland High School. There are great free shuttles from lots of places in town, so don't worry too much about parking.

Some of my friends are exhibiting at Sculpture in the Park and others of us are at the Invitational...come see us all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Laurie Tossy of Loveland, Colorado will be featured in the 16th Annual Loveland Sculpture Invitational Show and Sale, the largest outdoor sculpture show in the world, on August 10, 11 and 12 in Loveland, Colorado. Together with Sculpture in the Park, the Loveland Sculpture Invitational Show hosts over 500 artists from across the globe. Thousands of patrons, gallery owners, collectors and art enthusiasts come to admire the vast variety of sculpture the show has to offer.

Sculpture ranges in size, style and medium. The show exhibits miniatures to monuments, realistic to abstract, wood and clay to bronze and stone, and everything in between. There is something for everyone to enjoy at the beautiful outdoor venue located on the shores of Lake Loveland.

The Loveland Sculpture Invitation Show and Sale was established by the Loveland Sculpture Group (LSG), a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding opportunities and appreciation for sculpture through communities and education.

The LSG is pleased to present sculpture to the City of Loveland and make financial donations to the art departments of local school districts each year. Since the show’s founding in 1992, 30 pieces of sculpture have been presented to the city and over $228,000 has been donated to surrounding schools.

For more information, please call the Loveland Sculpture Group at 970-663-7467, or visit