Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sculpture From Zimbabwe

There was another nice article in the Loveland Reporter-Herald today on our local Zimbabwe sculpture park and gallery, and the curator Roy Guthrie.

Unfortunately, the section of the paper (The Valley Window) where the article ran is not available online.

If you have not yet checked out the Chapungu Gallery or the sculpture park, be sure to go to some past blog posts--Roy is a wonderfully knowledgeable and giving man and the art work his gallery carries is of the highest quality. You could become a collector--Prince Phillip of England is, so you would be in fine company!!!

Here is a link to a post about the Sculpture Park
And click here to read about the Gallery and Warehouse!

You can also go right to the Chapungu website by clicking the link in the sidebar to the right, in Sculpture Sites I recommend!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Making Time for What Feeds My Soul

Yesterday was an awesome day...the first day in a long time that I actually went into the studio.

Don't ask why. There are lots of "reasons"...but no good justification for it.

I kept telling myself that I was too busy. It takes a long time to carve a stone and I "didn't have time"... I had to focus on other tasks that were "more important"...what I was forgetting was that keeping myself happy is one of the most important things I can do in this life.

Lesson to self: remember to feed your soul and you will be fed for the rest of your life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"African Bazaar" , Sculptures and Stone Available

I heard from my friends at the Chapungu Gallery today...for all the stonecarvers out there, they have Springstone available in sizes up to 200 lbs.

For the first time in over two years, most of the Warehouse Gallery sculpture and all African Bazaar items are marked down by 25%.
This includes some beautiful work by Dominic Benhura, Amos Supuni, Arthur Fata, Royal Katiyo, Bernard Matemera and many other world famous artists.

Other items include batik products, beaded wire baskets, beaded Ndebele dolls, semi-precious stone eggs and paperweights as well as smaller stone sculptures in all of the beautiful stones of Zimbabwe starting at $5!

This offer is valid until December 19th for Warehouse Gallery items only.

Visit the warehouse location which houses the largest collection of Zimbabwean stone sculpture in North America. (1052 N. Boise Ave., Unit B, Loveland, CO.)
They are open 9-1pm M-Friday or by special appointment times, call 970-461-8020 to make appointments.

If you don't live in the Loveland area, they will send you images of these one of a kind sculptures to assist in your purchase.
For additional shopping, visit their online Gallery at

Photo courtesy of Chapungu Warehouse Gallery

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gorgeous Sunrise

This morning's sunrise was so gorgeous...rose clad clouds raced against a turquoise sky, past the fingers of evergreens and reflected in the icy ponds below.

Made me consider taking up painting!

Even then I don't know that it could be captured. Captured. That sounds like caging a wild thing...

A skilled painter perhaps could reflect the essence and bring the awe...For me, better to soak it all in and appreciate the beauty of it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hope for Change

Do You Maquette?

As a sculptor, do you make a maquette before moving to your final piece?

I know many sculptors who do...and just as many who do not.

For art lovers who may not know what I'm talking about, a maquette is a miniature version of what the piece will ultimately turn out to be. This miniature gives the artist an opportunity to work out in 3 dimensions poses, the flow of the piece...basically the composition of the work. Maquettes are frequently made from clay, even if the final piece is to be carved from stone.

Some sculptors will even have a maquette be clear, a maquette is not the same as having a small sculpture that the artist then chooses to enlarge.

Some sculptors make their maquette in full detail. Others make only a rough model, enough to give them the composition details.

Personally, when carving stone I rarely create a maquette. I was taught a drawing method...I will actually draw on paper and directly on the stone. For me this allow a more direct relationship with the stone and the flexibility to work with the stone as it is rather than forcing my maquette vision upon it.

That being said, there are times when I grab some clay in order to work out a particular flow or shape...but my maquettes are not things of beauty! They are more like gesture drawings...just enough for me to get the feel of where I want to go with a piece.

I'd love to hear from other sculptors if they do or do not create maquettes, why, and to what level of finish do they take their maquettes!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stone Sculptor Ellen Woodbury

I met Ellen Woodbury almost 3 years ago at a workshop taught by Collen Nyanhongo, a master stone sculptor from Zimbabwe. It was fun to get to know her and to see her work on her first stone.

Ellen is a fascinating, energetic, expressive person and her work reflects that. It also reveals her background as an animator for Disney, a position she held for 20 years! Ellen started her sculpting while still employed as an many sculptors she worked in clay.

So, while Jan. 2006 may have seen Ellen's first stone sculpture, she was no "newbie" in the art world. And it shows!

Ellen's work is simple and complex at the same time. Her pieces tell stories and engage the viewer.

We are fortunate to have Ellen call Loveland, Colorado home...come see her at the Sculpture in the Park show. She has exhibited there for the last two years--showing her stones--quite an accomplishment for a new medium!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Connecting with Other Sculptors

Sculpting, for me at least, is a rather solitary experience. I typically am in my small studio by myself--me and a lot of rocks, that is!

So it was with great pleasure that I got a phone call inviting me to attend a meeting of a group of stone sculptors from our region.

It was a social event, and I got the opportunity to meet new people and catch up with friends I rarely see. We talked about lots of things--stones, tools, tips, studios, and even some topics not sculptural at all!

Check out your area to see if you have a group that you can meet with from time to time. It may be a group that is very specialized, like this one, or it may be broader to include all sculptors, or it may be a group for artists of all media. Any of these types of groups can be helpful for idea exchange, inspiration, tips and pointers, and friendship!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sculpture In the Community

More and more developers are discovering the value of including sculptures in their projects.

Recently I mentioned a local artist who has been commissioned to create sculptures for a project in Kansas.

Closer to home, Thompson Crossing, here in Loveland has created their own scupture walk. The area encompasses 40 acres of open space. The walk itself is 1-1/2 miles and runs through the neighborhood and down along the natural area, including the Big Thompson River.

The sculpture walk features 25 pieces of stone and bronze. Rather than sculptures of wildlife, Gary Hoover, president of Hartford Development Corporation, chose pieces that evoke thoughts and emotions. He combined the art with quotes which are engraved in stone with the goal of further provoking thoughts or touching the viewer.

In addition to the sculpture area, the walk has its nature area where the artwork is the flesh and blood wildlife that frequents it, such as fox, coyotes, ducks, geese and wild turkeys. Additionally there have been placed large boulders for seating so one can contemplate the river and enjoy the scene and sounds of nature.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bruce Campbell, Creating Art from Discards

Bruce Campbell is one of my favorite local artists. He never fails to impress, amaze and inspire me with this talent, creativity and unique approach to life and art.

Not only is Bruce a talented sculptor and painter, he combines these skills with a unique way to reuse old items.

My art is created using various combinations of welding, carving, painting and engraving on salvaged industrial forms. I've diverted countless tons of material from the waste stream, and hopefully I'm helping people see the beauty and value in so-called "junk". As an artist, I benefit from the unique shapes and odd details produced for functionality (my process is a collaboration with unknown people who were unaware they were creating sculpture) which are often improved by being dented, gouged or partially crushed. I also love the gorgeous surface patinas and textures created by the forces of time, the gradual reclamation of nature.
Walking around Bruce's studio is an eye-opening experience. Old fashioned washing machines sport new faces, huge tanks become kings and queens with curls fashioned from parts of water heaters.

Old wooden gates become mystical wall sculptures.

Figures seem to appear and disappear, morphing from one image to another.

Much of Bruce's art is conducive to outdoor display. Whether due in part to scale or because of the materials, exposure to the elements can further add to the works.

By combining "found steel" and other found objects with welding, engraving and painting, Bruce brings new life to items that otherwise would find themselves either in the landfill or recycled into some new gadget.

Bruce does more than keep thing out of the landfill and save our resources...Bruce catapults everyday items into fantastic sculptures that are sold and exhibited around the west.

Photograph "Envision", Sculpture and Photograph copyright Bruce Campbell

Friday, November 21, 2008

Phyllis Walbye

It is with sadness that I report that Phyllis Walbye of Loveland, Colorado passed away this week.

Phyllis gave to her community for more than 3 decades. She and her husband George were part of the cornerstone of the arts community here.

Phyllis worked for the Loveland paper as the Arts and Entertainment Editor. She was also a writer and editor for the Valley Window magazine. She reviewed plays, movies and art events -- sharing her opinions and imbuing the readers with new appreciation for the fantastic arts we have here.

A founding member of the Loveland Visual Arts Commission in 1985 Phyllis was instrumental in developing the guidelines for the public art projects that now grace our city.

Now a permanent part of the community arts culture with an annual Rialto Theater film series inspired by her columns. The series began in 2001 and continues to this day.

But her opinions were not just appreciated by the local community -- even the LA Times was known to call for her opinions about upcoming Oscars.

Condolences to George and family. Phyllis made a huge impact on our community and she will be missed.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Students Make Bowls to be Filled

I recently wrote about artists giving back to the community through the Empty Bowls program. Since then I have learned more about the program here in Loveland.

Several teachers contribute to this project, including art teachers Becky Fuchs and Anne McManus and French teacher Torie Fox. About 250 bowls are made by students at our local elementary, middle and high schools. In addition, professional potters contribute bowls.

All the bowls are auctions as a fund raiser for the Larimer County Food Bank.

In addition to this project, another elementary school's art teacher Tom Studholme says his students make 150-200 bowls. Van Buren Elementary holds an annual Empty Bowls soup dinner. They have been making bowls as a fundraiser for the Loveland non-profit House of Neighborly Service for 14 years!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Love Art But Can't Create It?

I've talked to lots of people who love and appreciate art but say they just can't do it. "I'm not creative" is a phrase I hear quite often.

Phewy...not sure how to spell that, but you get my drift...

We are all CREATIVE, just in different ways! So if you love art but think you can't do it consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe you never gave yourself a chance.

Have you tried but never taken any lessons, just thought you'd be able to do it without any training? Did you try, maybe even with a good teacher, and expect to be a master at the first attempt?Or did you try a long time ago and think that because it has been so long, and you weren't "that good back then" that you are beyond hope? Or do you think that "art education" is only for full-time students, housewives or retirees?

None of those are true. If you really want to learn to be a better artist (and the wanting is key here) then take a class! And give yourself a break! You didn't learn to drive in a day, did you? Hmmmm, maybe that explains some of the folks I see on the roads lately!

And if you still are convinced you cannot be an artist (and who says you have to be "great" to enjoy it???) and/or you love art and want to participate some how--look to your city. Many cities and towns have programs that buy art as part of the cost of public buildings.

Contact your local government and see if they have a board or commission that has citizen members. I know in our area, the members are made up of a cross section of the citizenry. There are artists on the board, but most of the members are art lovers who may or may not be able to "draw a straight line"!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

At Phipps Garden Center, a sculptor teaches working with marble ...

At Phipps Garden Center, a sculptor teaches working with marble ...

There are other places to learn to work with marble, but it is always good to learn of places that teach and encourage working with this beautiful stone.

One beautiful place to learn about carving Marble is in the town of Marble, here in Colorado. The Marble Marble Symposium takes place every summer in this small town not far from Aspen.

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, November 17, 2008

Salzburg Stone Sculpture Symposium

I just read about a sculpture symposium in Salzburg...

This blog by one of the sculptor participants, Martin Lyttle, has some great photos. Check them out and see what a quarry looks like...and what sculptors look like (!)

A nice album of the experience including what people created as a result.

Think it would be nice to jet from one symposium to another, don't you?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Artists Start Young

It is good to remember that a lot of artists start young. In our community where there is a lot of terrific art and talented artists who help support art in our youth by giving money, time and energy.

We see the benefit through increased creativity in our youth. Creativity has many different outlets, sometimes it is directly through these young people producing nice works of art themselves.

Sculpting is not a common medium for young people to pursue however. It is time-consuming and hard to teach in a typical high school environment. Here we are fortunate to have several schools offer courses that allow students to gain experience in this fantastic art form.

One shining example is a young man named Austin Weishel. Keep an eye on this young man. He is just 18 years old and has already been a participant in one of the big sculpture shows here in Loveland. Austin works in clay and also has done some pieces in stone.

Ironically, even though Loveland is home to many art foundaries, Austin was first exposed to the metal casting process while visiting his Grandparents in Prescott Valley, Arizona! Sometimes we have to leave home to actually see and appreciate what we have around us!

Keep up the good work, Austin--and to all the other young artists here in Loveland and around the world!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shona Sculpture Exhibition in New Zealand

The wonderful stone sculptors of Zimbabwe are having their 3rd annual exhibition at a winery in Hawke's Bay, New Zealand. A gorgeous spot for exquisite work.

Louise and Bruce Stobart are originally from Zimbabwe and have created a special gallery, called Birdwoods Gallery. This gallery opened in 2005...and my visit to New Zealand was in 2000, so I have not actually been there, but the website tells their story and it looks like quite a nice place.

If I were nearer I would definitely pop in...somehow a flight from Colorado is not in the cards at the moment, but perhaps some of my Kiwi friends will go check it out and give me a report!

The Stobarts have no connection (as far as I know) to the director of the Chapungu Gallery here in Loveland, Colorado. I have met several of the sculptors and the director, as you know from earlier posts, and we have the wonderful gallery and sculpture park here to showcase this fantastic, expressive work. I'm pleased that the Shona work is having so many opportunities for exhibition around the world!

And if the treats for the eyes are not enough, you can get treats of another sort at the neighboring Summer Sweet Shop!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gifts by Artists

I get a wonderful catalog in the mail called Gaiam. They offered a special section in the copy I got in today's mail that is all about Fair Trade Gifts.

What an awesome way to support artists in other parts of the world--maybe from India or Bali...

No matter where these artists live by supporting them you can bring some beauty into your home (or give some to your loved ones) and you can be assured you are providing a fair price to the artisan!

And I found a way for you to save some money if you order by December 2!
Order presents and get free shipping! Click on the image and it will take you to the Gaiam online catalog! Look for the Free Trade section...they'll even take payment by PayPal now!, Inc
Or if you prefer, here's a coupon for 10% off your order--and it is good through Dec. 15!
Either way, happy shopping and save some money!, Inc

Sunday, November 9, 2008

New Sites to View

I ran across some sculptor friends on Facebook (I'm new to this whole part of the internet)--I've added them to my recommended sites list but check out their work.

Stalin Tafura
is a native of Zimbabwe. He comes from a family of stone sculptors. I have had the privilege of working with both he and his mother, Agnes Nyanhongo. Strong, elegant lines that at once reflect and break away from the family style. This young man is proving himself an excellent craftsman as well as unique artist.

Lorri Acott-Fowler
works in clay and in bronze. Long legged images that provoke feelings of exploration, peace & harmony. Lorri brings a thoughtfulness to her work which is often filled with joy and light--not to be confused with being unsubstantial!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Appreciating Beauty in the Moment

This morning gave me a wonderful gift--a gorgeous sunrise. It (almost) made me wish I were a painter!

Bands of pink and blue spread out over the pasture and ponds, filtered by the pine trees.

Thank you world/Universe/nature/God for giving us such beauty, and for the gift of being able to appreciate it!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Artists Give Back through Empty Bowls

Empty Bowls events happen around the country and are a great way for people to help the less fortunate.

Proceeds typically go to a Food Bank, soup kitchens or other source of food for people who can use a little help.

What makes these events different is that there are actual pottery bowls given to those who attend the event. The bowls are made by local artists, students and professionals. It is away for them to help bring awareness to the needs of others.

By making and providing the empty bowls, they give others the opportunity to fill them.

So check out the non-profit group Empty Bowls and learn more about their efforts to end hunger. This project started in 1990 and has since raised millions of dollars to help feed people. Find an Empty Bowl event near you--and take home a bowl!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Artist-in-Residence Program

Rocky Mountain National Park is a gorgeous place just down the road a bit from me. Today it was announced that they are accepting applications for their 2009 summer Artist-in-Residence program.

Applications are due by Dec. 1, 2008.

Painters, photographers, sculptors, composers and poets are among the artists who have participated in this program.

The participants give two public presentations as part of the program. They stay for two weeks at the William Allen White cabin. In exchange for the privilege of staying in the cabin, artists are requested to donate a piece that is representative of their stay. The piece is to be donated within one year of participation.

Sounds like a wonderful experience!

To read more about the program or to download a brochure and/or application, go to the Rocky Mountain National Park website.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Love Horses

And sculptures of horses!

I recently read about Pat Kennedy, another one of our talented Loveland, Colorado sculptors. He created a sculpture of 6 horses galloping through the landscape at the entrance to a development in Kansas City, Kansas.

Matt Adam is the developer of the project and he is convinced that the sculptures have enhanced the project greatly--even during this economy the lots are selling ahead of schedule.

Because of this, Matt has commissioned Pat to create another piece featuring horses. This piece represents a mare and twin foals.

The pieces are gorgeous and reflect the love between animals and the freedom and joy that we feel when we see horses--and we at least imagine that they feel!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Horses are Back

I live across from a hay field. It is so beautiful and quite inspiring for an artist. There is a small pond where the birds like to congregate. I enjoy watching the farmer work the land.

My favorite time is when the horses are here. They come down from the mountains to spend the winter. Well, my friends are back.

Driving down the road and seeing 30 or so horses grazing near my house with the glorious Rocky Mountains in the background--what a blessing that is. It really does take my breath away.

So, this may not be an "art" post, it is certainly a post of gratitude and inspiration and that is what leads to my art in the long run!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Environmentally Friendly Art

Being environmentally friendly is important to a lot of industries.

For one artist, his steel sculpture which is petrochemical and VOC free, not only is environmentally friendly in and of itself, it symbolizes the changes made in the industry that commissioned the work.

Mark Leichliter took two years to create a 25 foot tall sculpture that represents classic symbols for electricity (lightning bolts) and water (rain drops). These two pieces now adorn the City of Loveland's Service Center--the home of the Water and Power departments.

The artist admits there were other options that would have been even more environmentally friendly, but they would not have stood up to the strenght and durability requirements that are also emblematic of water and power.

In addition to the sculptures, Xeriscape gardens will be planted and portland-cement-based stucco for finishing the walls that embrace the sculptures, all designed to lower the impact on the environment.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Art Education Helps Students Learn

The Colorado Council on the Arts commissioned a study recently to assess the impact of arts education on students.

What they found may surprise people who think art isn't important for academics or for success in careers later.

In fact, students who study art do better on tests such as the Colorado Student Assessment Program in reading, writing and science. Students who take arts classes are also less likely to dropout.

Classes in the arts teach students to think creatively--and talk to the folks in Human Resources at companies and that is exactly the kind of employee they are looking for!

Bottom line, arts education has a positive effect on students overall, while in school and later in life.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Artistic Realization Technologies

I read about this in the Hometown Hero, published in American Profile. It is such an incredible story it gave me goose bumps!

Tim Lefens visited a residential rehabilitation center 16 years ago in New Jersey. The purpose of the visit was to show his art to the residents. What happened changed his life and the lives of many of the residents.

These residents have limited control over their limbs, but upon seeing the excitement in their eyes, Tim was determined to teach them how to paint.

Out of this visit and Tim's determination, Artistic Realization Technologies was born. This non-profit organization now has more than 20 programs in the US and provides instruction and assistance to artists with severe disabilities so they can create paintings, sculptures, photography and music. Part of the initial funding was provided by artist Roy Lichtenstein.

The artists have an assistant, called a tracker, who actually applies the paint to canvas, directed by the artist who wears a headband with a laser. The artist directs the laser on the canvas and the tracker then applies the paint. The artist also indicates the colors to be used, the type and amount of texture and the size and shape of brush.

These artists have the vision and with A.R.T.'s help they have the ability to bring the vision to fruition. Tim compares their experience to those of an architect who comes up with the design and then directs the builder so the end result meets the architect's vision.

Many of these artists exhibit in major galleries and sell their works--the former Governor of NJ Christine Whitman has purchased a piece by one of the ART artists.

A.R.T. has been featured on the news and is partnered with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Tim has written a book, Flying Colors, about creating A.R.T. Go to the A.R.T. website and check out the work.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Chapungu Gallery Update

The Sculpture Park is still at the Promenade Shops at Centerra, however the Chapungu Gallery has consolidated and moved to their warehouse location.

Visit the park when you are east of Loveland and see the fantastic monumental pieces from Zimbabwe. You can even arrange for guided tours by calling 970-461-8020 or emailing

The gallery also has a new number, call 970-624-0000. The warehouse and gallery location is 1052 N. Boise Ave, Loveland, Colorado.

At this new location which is much more spacious you find the largest collection of hand-carved stone sculptures from Zimbabwe to be found in North America. Tools and stones to carve are also available for students and experienced carvers.

Roy Guthrie represents over 300 Zimbabwean sculptors in his gallery. Their mission is to promote the beauty of Africa through art exhibitions, workshops, sales and documentation.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Daniel Glanz Sculpture

Daniel Glanz is a wonderful sculptor of nature. His bronzes run from domesticated animals like the family dog and horses on the farm to birds, bears, "big cats" and other wildlife.

I like how he captures the essence of the animal without getting caught up in copying every single hair. So while the work is definitely realistic, it is far from taxidermy! Rather, it is a beautiful, moving, sensitive representation of the feeling of the animal--their mood, personality and movements.

Like many artists, marketing is not his favorite thing. He hopes that people will "discover" his work. It is worth discovering. See his portfolio on his website. His pieces vary in size from tabletop to monumental.

Glanz will do works on commission--and he could be just the artist you are looking for to memorialize your four legged family member.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another Talented Artist

I met Eugene Tanski at the big Loveland Sculpture Invitational several years ago. A retired plastic surgeon, Dr. Tanski now focuses on artwork.

Not that he started after he retired--he actually started drawing as a child during a bout of polio.

This artistic talent was a great benefit to someone in his field. I would certainly want my plastic surgeon to be an artist--if not in painting or any of the traditional "plastic arts"--at least at mending my body and minimizing scars.

Gene is an independent artist, not feeling he has to ascribe to any one style of medium. His pieces often resonate with a deep spiritual side.

His photography and sculptures are often very abstract. Even his more traditional, realistic shots have an abstract quality to them. He is influenced by cultures around the world. In some pieces a strong Japanese influence is evident, in others pieces more of a Native America or African or modern European bent is present.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Art on Loan

Many people are familiar with art on loan to a museum. There is typically a nice sign by the piece or exhibition, citing who has generously lent the piece. The lender may be the artist or, more frequently, a collector.

Artists can often lend their art to their community as well. This is a win-win situation for both artist and community as well as the citizens.

This sort of program saves cities and towns money because rather than buying the works, they typically pay for moving the piece(s), set up and insuring the work. This is a benefit to the artist because their work is viewed by more people, and they get the sense of pride of contributing something to their community. And the citizens benefit because they get the opportunity to see pieces they might otherwise miss.

My city of Loveland, Colorado is considering a sculpture loan program which would be administered through our Visual Arts Commission. I'm looking forward to this new addition to our wonderful City of the arts!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Stone Monuments

I've long been a fan of cemeteries. Even before I ever carved a stone, I enjoyed looking at the different headstones and monuments.

I was fascinated by the stories I read on the headstones, and those I imagined, and in awe at the incredible carvings out of stone.

Don't overlook your local Monument Works as a source for beautiful art. Many will create pieces for your home, not just your burial plot. We have a company in Greeley (The Greeley Monument Works) that has been in business for over 100 years and they have an entire portfolio of pieces they have created for gardens.

Whether you want a piece to remember a loved one who passed or just want a nice piece for your garden, keep these craftsmen in mind when you are looking for options.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Glass Art of Kathy Bradford

Kathy Bradford carves glass. Not with a hammer and chisel like I carve stone, but it is indeed carved. She uses sandblasting to get the depth, detail and beauty in her work.

Just like carved stones, each piece is unique. She does not utilize any computers to aid her. She draws each design and carves them all by hand--and sand!

This Colorado artist is nationally recognized. She is commissioned on a regular basis by builders and architects who want to use her art in their structures.

The famous Stanley Hotel has a door which boasts Bradford's carved art. New York City's Russian Tea Room features 10 panels etched by Bradford in the ballroom with dancing bears and another panel on the main floor featuring Moscow.

Carved or etched glass is not the only work she does--she works in glass in just about any way you can imagine. From stained glass to slumped and fused glass, she can take this fragile medium and make exquisitely beautiful art from it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Marble Sculptor Claire McArdle

Claire McArdle currently lives outside Longmont, Colorado and is a fantastic sculptor. She works in a variety of media, but I particularly like her marble pieces.

The Old Firehouse Art Center, 667 Fourth Ave, in Longmont is featuring McArdle's work in an exhibition called "Myth & Mystery" which runs through Oct. 18.

McArdle began working large scale in marble after visiting Italy. Three of hre large marble pieces will be in this Longmont exhibition.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chapungu Sculpture Park Tour a Success

Last Saturday, Roy Guthrie gave a nearly 2 hour tour of the Chapungu Sculpture Park. This is the first permanent collection of the Zimbabwean sculptures in the United States.

About twenty people listened as the Chapungu founder and director told stories of the stones, the artists and the at movement in Zimbabwe.

There are eight sections to the park, only a small portion was covered in the tour. The park is designed so that you can stroll around the entire garden enjoying the stones and the environment, or you can focus on one or two areas and come back another time to see the rest. Benches are available for resting.

The stone sculptures are all created by hand by a wide variety of artists in a broad range of styles.

The sculpture park is located by the Promenade Shops of Centerra and makes a nice break from shopping. Many of the pieces are visible from the restaurants on the east side of the center.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sidewalk Chalk Art

Sidewalk chalk is not just for kids. Harkening back to the days of Mary Poppins, street artists have used chalk on the sidewalk to create some incredible pieces.

Remember when Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews popped into a chalk drawing and were suddenly in a world of animation? How fun was that!

Chalk art festivals are popping up all over the world. Some feature fantastically 3 dimensional pieces that defy our brains--"trompe l'oeil" or "fool the eye".

This Saturday, Loveland, Colorado is having its own sidewalk chalk art exhibition with a new event "Feet on the Street". There will be music beginning at 10:30am at Thompson Park, in the heart of downtown.

The event starts at 10 and runs until 5pm on Saturday, Sept. 27.

At least 10 artists will be creating temporary masterpieces. There will be an area for the kids to join in, too.

Even if you aren't interested in the drawings, be sure to go, there will be sales (sidewalk sales, of course) at numerous stores. It's all happening downtown in Loveland thanks to the Association of Downtown Merchants.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kent Ullberg Wildlife Sculptor

Kent Ullberg is a resident of my town, Loveland, Colorado. A native of Sweden, Ullberg is a top flight wildlife sculptor.

Ullberg's beautiful works combine the realism of wildlife and abstract shapes inspired by natural forms.

"Canyon Watch" is a lifesized portrait of male cougar. I love how the big cat has his haunches on a large tree stump while his lower feel rest on a lower root. The circular pattern that is created is as beautiful as the animal itself. One of the edition of 20 has been recently been dedicated in Los Alamos's North Mesa area.

The theme of circles and wildlife continues with Ullberg's piece, "Ring of Bright Water" which features two playful otters and the solo otter in "Laid Back II"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Testing Stones for Carving, Part 4

Today's test is specifically about softness of the stone.

This is important for the beginner especially. With limited tools and experience, you want to start with soft stones.

To test for softness, it is best if you have a point or chisel and possibly a rasp with you. Before you take any tools to the stone, be sure to ask. Most reputable dealers will say okay, but you haven't bought it yet and you will be scratching it up, so I ask.

Take your rasp or file and rub it across the stone. Does the stone yield easily? Either flaking or creating a powder? That indicates it is probably a soft and workable stone.

You can also take a chisel or point and hit a small corner of the stone. If the stone chips off easily it is soft.

On the other hand, a stone that appears soft, may be too soft--or have other issues.

White marbles that have been outdoors in the weather can become "sugary". I learned this the hard way. It is a distinctly different thing than being "soft." When the rasp runs across the stone if the powder is like powdered sugar...keep testing! Take your chisel to a bit of the stone. If the stone feels like it is disintegrating, pass on that stone. It will literally dissolve while you work!

If the stone is not a white marble and you think you like it, wet a small area and run your finger nail across it. If your fingernail can scratch it, it is an extremely soft stone--in the neighborhood of soap stone. These can be beautiful stones, but the scratch very easily and so it will be more difficult to have a finished piece without any unwanted scratches.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Testing Stones for Carving, Part 3

We covered a basic visual test and then the hearing test. If your stone passed both those tests, it is ready for another visual test.

Wet the stone with water. The entire stone. Some people just squirt the stone a little, but this really just gives you an idea of the color of the stone, not the quality. So, this is not dab a little water on part of the stone and see how pretty it looks...

With the stone wet, look for any dark lines--typically thin and fairly straight.

I'm not talking about color variation like veins in marble. Look for lines that seem to go through or around the stone. This usually means there is a crack in the stone, or a layer of different material that will probably cause your beautiful stone to break into two or more pieces.

Tomorrow we'll talk about testing stones for softness!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Testing Stones for Carving, Part 2

Yesterday we covered the initial visual observation "test", today we will move on to a test involving a different sense--that of hearing!

Keep in mind that no test is 100%, that said, here goes.

This is the first test I was taught--I take my point and tap the stone lightly all over. Some people use a hammer, the theory is the same. Listen to the stone as you tap it. You are listening for a bright, clear sound. If you hear more of a "thud" or if it sounds kind of hollow, you don't want that stone. We call it "dead."

Try the tapping technique on several stones and listen to the differences.

This is good a time to mention that you should ALWAYS listen to your stones. Know what your stone sounds like when you start and listen to any changes that occur as you work it. You may be coming up on a hidden flaw that could destroy your piece if you ignore the sound change!

Your stones literally "talk" to you as you work. Part of your job as the sculptor is to listen.

Tomorrow we will talk about one more visual test for our stones.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Testing Stones for Carving, Part 1

If you pick up "any old stone" and try to carve it, you could be setting yourself up for more troubles and heartaches then if you take a little time and test the stone.

The first "test" is to visually inspect the stone on all sides for any imperfections. Imperfections include cracks and soft spots, veins of different materials (harder or softer than the main stone.) These flaws can lead to the stone breaking or perhaps challenging the sculptor due to the differences in tools and techniques required.

Look at all sides of the stone for obvious imperfections. Because stones are natural, there will be (naturally) imperfections. Some will be hidden inside and you won't know they are there. Others will be glaring.

Some imperfections add "personality" or "character" and you may be tempted to work around them. These imperfections include imbedded crystals and fossils, and stones with big holes or pockets in them. While these may be beautiful to look at and could possibly be worked into an awesome piece by an advanced carver, they indicate that the stone has different levels of hardness which makes carver more of a challenge.

For a beginner, it is recommended that you have as few imperfections as possible. A stone that is consistent throughout in grain and character will be much easier for you to carve.

Tomorrow in Testing Stones for Carving, Part 2 I'll teach you the first test I ever learned!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Glass Sculpture with Volcanic Ash

Yesterday I mentioned metal sculpture. Today I'm talking about another extreme--glassblowing as sculpture.

I've long admired glasswork and have talked about taking classes for years, and somehow have never done it. Hmmm, that will have to change!

One of the things that appeals to me about working with glass is similar to the appeal in stone--dealing with a natural element that has a lot to say about the finished product. Sometimes we can create exactly what we envision, but it is always a give and take between the artist and the medium.

I recently read about a glassblower in Washington State who incorporates volcanic ash from Mount St. Helens in his work. The ash gives the glass a unique color. I remember when the volcano erupted--and standing outside in central California and getting "snowed" on with ash. This memory makes the Washington artist's work more intriguing.

For those of you who are under 30, Mount St Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. The ash was spread across 11 states, including where I was living at the time. The Original Mount Saint Helen's Volcanic Ash Glassworks was founded as a result. Little over a month after the eruption the first products were marketed with the volcanic ash. 28 years later, the company still exists and tourists can watch the glass pieces being created.

If you are going to be near Mt. St. Helen's--stop by one of their studios, one is at the Hoffstadt Bluffs visiting center (only 15 miles from the edge of the crater), the other is in Centralia, Washington. If you have never seen glassblowers in action, it is a really "hot" experience!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

David Norrie Metalworker and Sculptor

Metal sculptures are not all cast. There are sculptors who use a torch to meld pieces of metal together to create their work.

Metalworking can include torches, welders, and forging tools. Yes, forging, as in anvil and hammer and the old blacksmith.

One local sculptor, David Norrie, uses both hand and pneumatic forging hammers--over 150 of them altogether.

He first learned about the art of blacksmithing at 18 in Canada, where he was born. Like most of us, he thought blacksmithing was about creating functional items, and so that is how it all began.

His viewpoint shifted at a conference in 1978 where he learned about metalworking as an art form. He still creates some functional pieces, like staircases, but also creates pieces that are purely aesthetic. While the forge was his first love and he still uses it for the majority of his work, he likes to push the limits and try new things and see what he can make the metal do.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sculpture Tours to Put on Your Calendar

Here are two tours you will want to have on your calendar if you live in the Loveland, Colorado area:

1. Benson Sculpture Park Tour, Saturday, Sept. 20, 11am. The park is at the corner of Aspen Drive and Taft Ave, across from the high school. The tour will be conducted by George Walbye--one of the founding members of the Sculpture in the Park show. The group will meet at the Pavilion. There is now a bathroom at the park, which is a nice benefit.

2. Chapungu Sculpture Park Tour, Saturday, Sept. 20, 1:45pm. This park is near I-25 and Hwy 34 in the Promenade Shops at Centerra, the address is 5871 Sky Pond Dr. The tour will be led by Roy Guthrie who is the curator of the exhibition and also of the parent sculpture park in Zimbabwe. The tour will start in front of PF Chang restaurant. This is a beautiful park right at the edge of a big shopping center, with bathroom facilities as well as restaurants for after the tour.

For both tours be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Art in Your Community

Check to see what is happening in your community in the world of art. Most cities have a museum, or gallery or two. Take some time and see what they have to offer. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Several of our neighboring towns have events called "Studio Tours" where you can actually see artists working in their studios. It is a great opportunity to meet the artist and see where/how they work.

If there is no museum or gallery where you live, see what is nearby. You probably don't have to go to the "big city" to find art. Talk to your neighbors, shopkeepers, people in your government or Chamber of Commerce. They may know of someone in the area who makes fantastic quilts or sculptures.

Keep your eyes open for what is happening locally and you might just find a great piece for your collection!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Governor's Arts Award

Loveland one the 2008 Governor's Arts Award and was named the top place in Colorado for use of arts to "enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of the community." The award was actually bestowed upon our fair city in June, but the celebration is happening this month, September.

The Governor's Arts Award was bestowed from 1969-2002 upon artists and organizations and community leaders for their contributions. Dormant for a few years, it was reborn in 2007 with the new focus on the role of arts in community development.

A series of events will be taking place around the city. Many arts disciplines are featured in these events. This is fitting because Loveland being a big sculpture town is just one reason we were selected for the award.

If you have questions about the Governor's Arts Award, contact Elaine Mariner, 303.892.3802,, or click here to read the press release, available at the State website.

This Saturday, Sept. 6 starts the celebration when a new sculpture "Whirl*Pool" will be dedicated at Loveland's new Fairgrounds Park beginning at 10:45am. Other events occur winding up with a tour of the Chapungu Sculpture Park on Sat. Sept. 20 at 1:45.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Athletic Inspiration

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympics. Being a former swimmer and diver, some of my favorite events were in "The Cube." Although I was never at the level of these athletes, it is a pleasure to watch them and I can better appreciate their efforts having been in the water myself a time or two!

The divers were inspiring for their athleticism and their strength and I am finding myself wondering just how can I capture some of that sport's unique qualities in stone.

At first, it seems like such an unlikely pairing--stone to represent diving. I have made sketches for sculptures inspired from Ice Skaters and other athletes, but have never attempted a diver before. It definitely deserves some exploration.

Exploration and risk taking is part of the artist's life. If we only did what was done before I think it would not be fulfilling for the artist. Sometimes the viewer likes to see that however. It can be uncomfortable for the viewer if the artist takes risks and goes beyond what is expected of them.

I like to work out my ideas in sketch format. Then I typically go directly to the stone. I know some sculptors like to make maquettes and while they can be useful for working out some details, I prefer whenever possible to have the stone communicate to me what is the best way to resolve the challenge.

So I will draw some and sit some with some stones and we'll see what I come up with! Will it be a 10? Or will it be a miss? Like diving, we won't know until it is all done.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How Hard is that Stone to Carve?

People often wonder how hard a stone is to carve. Of course, there are two meanings to this question. One being, how challenging is it to carve anything? Most people seem daunted at the prospect of the subtractive process of carving (as compared to the additive process of building up a sculpture from clay, for example.)

Today I'm going to address the other meaning behind that question. Literally, how hard is that stone? Some stones are actually pretty soft and can be scratched with your fingernail, making them about 1-2.5 on the Mohs scale. Soapstone is a good example of this soft stone. Soapstone comes in a wide variety of colors, depending upon where it is found. It is easy to carve. Again, it scratches quite easily, so keeping it looking good can be a challenge, especially if it will be handled a lot.

The Mohs scale is the scale of hardness for all stones.

Pretty much everyone knows that diamonds are about as hard as they get and it takes very special tools (and skills) to work with diamonds, a 10 on the scale. Most stones used for sculptures fall somewhere between those two extreme--between 4 and 7 on the scale.

The numbers are deceptive, they really don't go up in an easy progression. Each number reflects a significantly harder level. Granite and some marbles are quite hard and are typically worked using diamond or carbide tipped tools. Other stones use a basic tool--and are a lot easier on the body to carve when using handtools.

So if you have the proper tools, even a hard stone on the Mohs scale can be carved. If you have the wrong tools, carving that same stone will be next to impossible.

One of the challenges is that since stone is a natural medium, the stones are not pure...I've carved many stones in the 5 range on the Mohs scale that had bits of iron and quartz in them. Quartz is officially a 7 on the scale. When I ran over the iron and the quartz bits I totally ruined my standard file. When using a carbide or diamond file on the softer stone it is overkill. Getting both components to be even level and looking good is a challenge and an awesome result when done well.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sculpture Show Goes Green

Loveland is a big sculpture town. We have sculptures and sculptors all over town. It is really great to be a part of a place with such an appreciation for sculpture. The world's two largest outdoor sculpture exhibitions both take place in Loveland, and this year they went "green".

These exhibitions take place in August, typically on the hottest weekend of the year. There are of course food and beverage vendors at the shows and smart people are drinking water all day to stay cool and hydrated.

For the first time, it was actually possible to recycle your water bottles at the show!According to Bruce Philbrick, Loveland Solid Waste Division superintendent, attendees recycled almost 3/4 of the waste from these two shows and the Art in the Park craft show. That kept about 19,000 pounds of waste out of the landfill.

Next year perhaps the food and beverage vendors will use recyclable containers for their goods, thereby reducing the landfill contribution even further.

I say congratulations to Philbrick and his organization. By having high-profile events like these demonstrate the importance and ease of recycling we can make our world a better place...and maybe, just maybe, by taking up less land and fewer resources for trash there will be more room for art!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sculpture at the Olympics

In addition to all the great athletes to watch in Beijing, there is also great art. Part of the Olympic celebration is a fine arts exhibition, Olympic Fine Arts 2008. Artists from China and around the world are participating in this exhibition.

The International Olympic Committee first held the art contest at the 2000 games in Sydney, Australia.

This third Olympic arts festival, with the theme "China and the world", will last nearly a year with the intent to continue the spirit of the games. Works are in all media, with over 800 works on display. That's out of over 10,000 that were submitted!

The exhibition opened on Aug. 11, 2008 and is scheduled to remain up through Sept. 17th, however the preparations and festivities started in January of this year. The plan is for exhibitions to travel to other countries around the world.

Unfortunately the much promised web presence has not turned out--at least I haven't been able to find it. There are lots of articles confirming the opening, and even a few photos of people at the exhibition, but not the gallery of the works that I was hoping for.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sculpture Withdrawal

It has already been a week since the Sculpture Invitational started...I'm suffering from withdrawal! Withdrawal of seeing sculpture and talking about all things sculptural, from shows to sales to techniques to stones, my brain was filled last weekend.

I did get a quick fix when I was walking in my neighborhood on Monday morning and saw a beautiful marble bear in the back of a trailer...I recognized the bear and then the sculptor walked up. Turns out he was visiting some old friends before he headed home. He and I had been tent neighbors last year. We had had only a few minutes to catch up at the show. Now I got to hear some more details about what he has been up to and how the show went.

He told me about a new show that he was in that is in South Dakota and some of the great contacts he has made. Of course he also gave me a bit of a hard time for not being in the show this year. So we made a pact--we'd see each other next year, both as exhibitors. So there you have it, my first public commitment to be in the show next year. Guess I'd better get cracking--I mean carving!

That is one of the great things about artists. Some people would think we are "competing" for customers and therefore we shouldn't encourage too many other artists to participate. What we understand is that art is so subjective that there really isn't competition. The customer who loves my work might not like his at all, and vice versa. Oh, there will be customers who love work by more than one artist--I sure do, but even if the collector decides to buy one person's work over that by another artist, it still isn't a competition. We also know that by having more artists with a variety of media and styles, we encourage more collectors to come!

Another great thing about artists is there willingness to share what they know with other artists (and lay persons, too.) Whenever I go to a booth or studio and see something that I admire, I ask lots of questions. I let the sculptor know that I'm a stone sculptor and the conversations are just awesome. I have asked opinions on polishing, tool preferences and how someone got a specific feel on the stone. I've also asked questions of sculptors far more experienced than I am about a problem I've been having. I always get great responses. I really appreciate the teachers that I have found this way--even if the lesson is only five minutes! I enjoy teaching others, too, and find the openness and sharing is fantastic--it really helps offset the fact that we spend so much of our time alone in our studios. Maybe that's why we like to share when we have the chance!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Art Still Selling

With all the folks bemoaning the economy it is easy to believe that no one is buying art these days. Well, that is just not true.

A painter recently told me, it is all about knowing your market. True in any business. He found where people are buying art and contacted galleries in those areas, and he is selling.

The Loveland Sculpture Invitational and Sculpture in the Park shows, which were held last weekend, are like huge, outdoor, temporary galleries. Sales happened there, too. Figures haven't been released yet for the Invitational, but the Park show has been holding steady at about $1 million in art sales for several years. Not bad for a 2 day show! 2 days of active showing and lots of months of preparation before that.

One of the reasons so much sculpture sells at these shows is the reputations of the shows. People come from around the world to both exhibit and to buy sculpture. Collectors know they will find a variety of quality art at these shows and they will be able to see it all in one place, in one weekend.

So if you want to sell your artwork, do a little homework. Getting into a gallery is good, but is the gallery selling? Are the staff members real sales people or are they just keeping the building open? Does your work fit in well with the gallery and the community? Is this your target market? If the answers to these questions are no, then it is time to find a different gallery--even if that gallery is in a different city or state!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sculpture In the Park Continues Through Today

Celebrating it's 25th year, The Loveland Sculpture in the Park show opened Friday night with the Patron's Party and to the public yesterday. Another fantastic show, this year blessed by cooler temperatures and some gentle breezes, the show continues today.

Sculpture in the Park started in 1984 and hosts almost 200 artists. Last year more than $1 million dollars in sculpture was sold at this show alone. A percentage of the sales is taken by the Loveland High Plains Arts Council which runs this show with the help of 500 (give or take) volunteers. The funds raised buy sculptures and make improvements to Benson Park Sculpture Garden.

Loveland is indeed fortunate to have enough caring volunteers to put on this show and the show across the way, the Sculpture Invitational. While the majority of the volunteers are put to work during and right before the show, volunteers are needed all year long to pull these shows off!

For more information about the show, click on the title and you will be taken to the Loveland High Plains Arts Council's website.

Sculpture Invitational Opens Tomorrow

Almost 300 artists will be participating in this show. It is estimated that over 4000 sculptures will be on display!

Tomorrow (Friday) is your chance to go for only $3 since the show closes early. The Patron's party (special ticket is required) is in the evening.

About $800,000 worth of sculpture sold last year. Artists pay a fee to be in the show. Those proceeds are donated to local art programs and also toward donating sculptures to the city of Loveland.

Most of the artists come from the US, but last year I met sculptors from Africa and Europe as well.

Click on the title and you'll go to the Loveland Sculpture Group's website about the show for more details.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Art in the Park Festival

This event has been going on for 44 years now. It is free to the public. It is not one of the big sculpture shows, but if you want to see other art and craft items, this might be the show for you! Paintings, jewelry and other items are available.

Location: North Lake Park
Dates/Times: Sat, Aug 9, 10am-5pm
Sun, Aug 10, 9:30am-4pm

Loveland's big art weekend has something for everyone!

Loveland Sculpture Invitational Show & Sale

This is the 17th year of the Invitational. It is across the street from the Sculpture in the Park (the "senior" show). Another awesome show to see lots of great sculpture.

Location: Loveland High School
Dates/Times: Friday, Aug 8, 10am-3pm (discounted rate of only $3 for Friday)
Sat, Aug. 9, 9:30 am- 6pm, $5
Sun, Aug 10, 9:30am-4:30, $5

It will be hot and humid under the tents, so wear your coolest outfit. Bring water, and money to buy some more--you'll want it! Keep hydrated so you can enjoy the show. And take lots of breaks. There are shade tents with chairs, so take advantage. You'll be glad you did.

25th Annual Sculpture in the Park

Sculpture in the Park is only a week away! I drove by the venue today and the workers are busily getting things prepared.

You don't want to miss this show!

Location: Benson Sculpture Garden
Dates & Times: Sat, Aug 9, 9:30am-6pm, $5
Sun, Aug 10, 9:30am-4pm, $5

Advice from a seasoned visitor: where plenty of sunscreen, drink lots of water, carry a fan! And talk to the sculptors and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Enlarging Sculptures

Many sculptors will create a piece at one size and then decide that they want to make it larger.

There are options for that sculptor. Of course, it would be possible to just create a new original at the new size.

Another option is to take advantage of technology and have some computerized help along the way. The computer can scan the original and digitally enlarge the piece. Then digital image is transferred to another medium for a 3 dimensional enlargement of the original sculpture.

This can work quite simply for some pieces and some enlargements. It isn't always so easy, however. Depending on the artist's style, the size of the original vs the enlargement and where the enlargement will be placed, some modifications may need to be made.

That is one reason it is important for the artist to be involved throughout the process. The sculptor may choose to add some detail that was not needed at the small size, in fact may have made the small piece too busy, but could really help the larger piece.

If the piece is a commission and you have the luxury of knowing where it will be placed, that can be very helpful as well. The viewer's perspective on the piece can lead the artist to make other modifications.

So the technology is helpful, but it is only a tool. A great tool that makes life easier for the artist, but certainly does not take away from the sculptor's involvement in the finished piece.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mold Making & Editions

Mold making is a step in the process of being able to make multiple renditions of a sculpture. This allows the sculptor to create one master, typically of clay, and create an edition. The pieces in the edition are usually numbered. In a limited edition the artist sets the number of pieces that will be created from the mold. Once that number of sculptures has been produced the molds are then destroyed.

This process is most frequently used for bronzes or other metals. It can be used for other materials as well including some stone or stone-like materials, as long as the material can be poured into the mold and will solidify.

This is how you can see "The Thinker" by Rodin in Paris, France, Kyoto, Japan, and Kansas City, Missouri all at the same time. Well, if you could travel fast enough you could at any rate!

Compare that to Michelangelo's "David", which has one, and only one, original. This piece is hand-carved from marble and lives in Florence, Italy. It would be possible to make a mold of "David" and reproduce it in another material, even a marble composite, so that it looks like the original, but it would always be a copy. With the bronze, the actually creating of the bronze is part of making the original.

The mold-maker is a skilled craftsman in his/her own right, working with the sculptor to create a piece that fulfills the artist's vision.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Walk in the Park

If you live in Loveland, Colorado or are planning a visit here, be sure to stop by Benson Sculpture Park--even if you've been there before! July 12 brought the dedication of seven new pieces to this fantastic park. Now the park has 123 sculptures on site.

The park is a beautiful place to take a walk. The sculptures are of a variety of media, styles and subject matter. There are pieces to appeal to everyone, regardless of age or taste. There are big turtles and other cool animals at easy reach to little hands. There is a sculpture designed to be sat in. There are modern pieces along side very traditional ones.

This is no stuffy museum. There are ponds and grasslands that frame and embrace the sculptures. A great place to take a stroll even if you are with someone who isn't an art lover! Kids can run around and do cartwheels while you chat and enjoy the art.

I found a cool interactive map so you can actually see the sculptures in the park:
Sorry I haven't figured out how make this a link, so you'll have to put it into your own URL, but it is pretty cool!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Keep the Dream Alive

Sometimes it is easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day routine and forget about our dreams and goals.

Don't let "life" get in the way of the dream. Whether your dream is to be an artist or to buy art, or just to enjoy looking at it. Do something every day to help move you forward towards that goal.

Sketch, be sure to really look at and see things that are around you--those are some of the best daily activities any artist can do (of course if you can daily paint or sculpt, or do whatever you medium is, that is all the better!)

The art buyer and lover can read on-line or in a traditional magazine. Find an article about a different style or different artist. Expand your horizons.

None of this takes a lot of time and it all helps keep the dream alive.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cost of Oil Affects Sculpture

Whether you are an artist or art buyer, the price of oil could affect you. Not only will it cost you more in gasoline to get to the gallery, but it could drive up your costs to create, or purchase, your next piece.

Many sculptors use a casting technique. I won't go into detail on this now, that is a long article all by itself. Suffice it to say, this is how they are able to have more than one copy of the same piece, called an "edition". Some of the materials used in this process are petroleum-based and therefore are subject to the same sort of fluctuations that you experience when going to the pump for your automobile.

Large pieces, called "monumental sculptures" because they are, well, typically monuments, are generally purchased by corporations, museums or other large organizations which might not feel the pinch as much. At least not yet.

The smaller collector, who doesn't have a grant, a 1% fund or deep pockets, is usually purchasing smaller pieces. As prices go up on materials (not just the oil-based materials are going up) these smaller pieces will likely see an increase in price. This could drive sales down. This puts the artist into the tight spot of absorbing some (or all) of the increase in order to make sales.

There are some options that artists can use to help control costs, but sometimes the artist can't do much to control the cost of materials. You can't skimp on the raw materials! If the material is consumed during the process then it is just gone.

As an art buyer, be aware that the artist is not making money off these increases. These are raw material costs that he or she is incurring when making the finished product that you love.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Juried Shows

A friend of my was recently juried into a show that was at a Denver gallery. It was her first time in a Denver gallery, so of course we wanted to go and support her.

The show was excellent--an exhibition of Plein Aire paintings. The variety in styles was fantastic. I had two other friends with me, neither of them in the art field. It was really interesting to get their perspective as well.

One of them posed the question to me as to how the jurors decide which paintings win the ribbons. I confess to not really having an answer to that one. I know that a good juror can be more objective than some of us, but so much of art is personal taste. I've been to lots of shows where it is apparent that personal taste had more to do with assigning of ribbons than did mastery of the medium.

How do you decide between pieces of such wide variety of style and subject matter? Most of the pieces were very traditional in approach...and mostly that was what was rewarded. Did that make the more modern approaches any less good?

If you go back in art history, you will learn that many of the painters we view as plein aire masters today (think the Impressionists, for example) were not considered of value during their day. Mostly because they were "different".

So, if you are an artist, don't go for the ribbon. Go for what is in your heart. The market is big out there. I believe that if you paint what you love, and you continue to improve your skills, there is a market there for your work. Your heart will guide you and you will have great pleasure in what you do. That is worth more than a bunch of ribbons.