Friday, December 30, 2011


One day in about 2001, I'd been cleaning up the studio after a day of sculpting.    There were scraps of stoneware on my table I picked up and pounded into a ball.   I thought I'd have a little fun and played with an elfin face, enjoying the freedom that comes when there's no pressure to create for the public.   This one would hit the scrap can in a few minutes before I would close up for dinner.   The clay betrayed me and became the most charming old woman in no time.   I rolled some more clay on heavy canvas, creating a kerchief for her head.   This was one of those moments when the sculpture begins to practically create itself, dragging me along!   I wrapped the head in plastic and left it for the night.

The next morning, she looked at me so lovingly from my hand, I couldn't help hollowing her out, smoothing the details and beginning a streamlined body form that harmonized with the spontaneity of her expression.   Wanting a form that seemed more a shadow silhouette distorted on a wall than a 3D human outline, I sketched several small shapes before the right one appeared.   I enlarged it with a grid to cut out a template for the body slabs.   Once the soft clay slabs were cut, a series of old towels and foam indentations held them while an elephant ear sponge stroked and coaxed the clay into it's curves.  Once stiffened with a hair dryer, the edges were seamed together with clay coils and slip, a stiff rubber rib compacting the problem areas smooth.  At that time, I was still playing with Dragon Ribbons carved on the surface of some of my forms, and this one gave this female a sense of motion without elaborate costume folds.   A suggestion of dance.

Once her head was positioned, she told me her name was MaryAnn.  I didn't ask why.   Before long, the foundry had cast a beautiful bronze duplicate, and my patina artist, Adam Fah, evolved the perfect patina to showcase her attitude.   She became one of my top three bestsellers.   Many women exclaimed I had recreated their mother.   I assumed that was a compliment, as they were purchasing her for too much money to want to throw darts at.

Art On The Boulevard in Vancouver, WA, has a MaryAnn on display.   If you are in the Portland area, go by and check her out.   She's one hot Mama!

Monday, December 26, 2011


Sorry about the amateurish photography, I had shot this myself on my back deck after Waterbearer was finished being painted.   Still, the sun was muted by clouds, and she came out well enough.   This sculpture, made of off-white stoneware clay, is about 21" tall.   She holds in her hands a water jug that is painted to look like the earth.   I used some of the last of the clay (this sculpture was created in 2004, I think) that for years had worked so well for me, and accepted the oil paint washes very nicely into the surface.   Within a year the same clay from my source in Tacoma had changed, and was very difficult to use.   Thus the recent experimentation with the low-fire white stoneware, used to create the small, acrylic painted sculptures in the first several postings of this blog site.   Waterbearer sold at Trios Gallery in Solana Beach, CA., several months later.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Major "Innocents III and IV"

At one point, not long after I had begun casting bronze in 1999, I created a pair of small, stylized people, I called the "Innocents".  First I made the male, and thinking I was creating a buddy, I began on the second one.  He seemed shorter, though I weighed the clay carefully.  As I progressed, "he" pretty much looked much more like a "she", and the first Innocent was grinning down at her with much pleasure.   They were only about 10" or 11" tall, "Innocent I and Innocent II".   It was a pleasure to see them cast in bronze, and I sold quite a number of the edition easily.   And in my strange, upside-down way, I have not posted those sculptures first.   These pieces are actually an enlargement of that Innocent male and female, sculpted and cast in 2004, I think (I'll have to check my records).   They are about 34" tall, and weigh about 65 lbs each.   Now that's a little too big to carry in my purse on a cold night in the city!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Back when I sculpted "Whetherbird", the clay original, he was the younger (and littler) brother of "Guidance".   I was in love with the idea of milestones, or even monuments, that observed and informed passers-by.   The "hieroglyphs" came spontaneously out of my head.   I have no idea what they say, but they looked important and meaningful.  The "wood" perch that the owl sits upon is painted clay.   The whole affair is perhaps 29-30" tall and maybe 8" across the base.  The sketch is my initial ideas for the eventual sculpture.

 When my husband died, there were two close friends who were truly superhuman in their dedication to getting me back on my feet, financially and emotionally.   They helped me avoid bankruptcy with skillful consolidation of debt payments, and did most of the dirty work of helping me price and sell tons of "stuff", and would not accept compensation for their efforts.   I gave them "Guidance", as they are bird lovers and art lovers.   As eventually happens with all of my work, "Guidance" found his appropriate home.

Friday, December 2, 2011


This gentleman is about 21" tall and sold at Art On The Boulevard more than a year ago.   He was years in the making... three years, roughly.   I had finished sculpting him and fired him in the kiln in 2006, but finished painting him, I think, in 2009.   When I began sculpting "Foundation", I needed a resource for well-developed male shoulder and back muscles, so I went to a drug store and raided the muscle-man, body-builder magazine section, leaving the store hoping no one I knew would see me (it's a small town and I was a widow lady... I'd never live it down!).   I tore bits and pieces of the photos of rippling, glistening shoulders and biceps and arranged them on my counter top in the corner of the studio, referencing them often while working the clay.  One day my sort-of-boyfriend Jim came by to see what I was doing, and noticed the magazine clips.   "Is this your beefcake corner?" he asked....  every inch of me blushed beet-red.   We still laugh about that.

"Foundation" isn't the first sculpture I've done that explores a stone/human metamorphosis.    There was a piece, tall and narrow, titled "Clifftop Innocent", that sold in 2002, and of course, my first blog photo, "Bones of the Earth".

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Silver Crescent Moon

This is one of my silver pendants, and maybe one of the first 
pieces I'd created after learning how to do the silver clay in 
 2009.   The moon surface texture was carved in plaster during the course of a couple hours.  Once completed, I made a silicone rubber mold of it, so the silver could be impressed into it.   The face was made from a mold I'd already carved before in a little block of plaster, then blended with the silver crescent moon I'd domed and carved out.   It was harder than I make it sound!   Waiting for the kiln to peak at the temperature that sinters the silver particles into a solid was only an hour, but felt like an eternity.  I opened the volcanic interior and removed the orange, glowing silver piece and plunged it into cold water.   "CHEEEEEWWW!", it steamed, and scared the cat.   Very dramatic, and very rewarding.   After the scrubbing, patination, and polishing, I had the most exciting piece of jewelry I'd ever seen!  I wonder what it would look like with a dangling star sapphire in place of the silver star?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Metanoia II (plus sketch)

This ceramic clay sculpture is about 21 inches tall, and was sold to a retired professional couple who have been a wonderful influence on my outlook in life.   Metanoia II was inspired by a vision I had one day of a species of intelligent beings that had evolved from a more feline history.   My daughter had already drawn a picture of a woman that was based on some sort of supposed contact a friend had with another visiting species that was a more feline-appearing body.   Her picture is different than my sculpture, but I had a vision of this woman even before I saw my daughter's drawing.   And having cat companions I caroused with, it wasn't a far stretch to study my Siamese cat's head structure and elaborate on that.

My reasons for creating this piece had nothing to do with alien species, it was more symbolic of the different layers of ourselves.   Perhaps the feminine conscious and the subconscious.   After my previous husband's suicide, I sought therapy with a wonderful Jungian psychologist, who took me in hand and explored my rich and amazing dreams through the window of symbolism.   I could not afford to pay him his fee at that time, and it turned out he was in love with my sculptures, so we worked out a deal for two years.   It didn't take long for either of us to realize the exciting symbology inherent in the sculpting I did professionally but was unable to explain to others.   Perhaps it was not my job to do that, my therapist surmised.  Maybe I am the messenger, and others are the translators.   And so it has been for years since then.   I invite anyone who views these postings to try your hand at interpretation with commentary.   As I have found through conversations at gallery openings, there are so many out there who offer the last puzzle piece, and no one's offering is anything less than synchronous and appropriate.   Doesn't that fish look happy?


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wisdom and Knowledge

The title of this small bronze pair has always bothered me, as the names are reversed from the characters in the photo.   Knowledge is on the left and Wisdom is on the right.   They don't seem to mind, however.  They ignore my dilemma and continue their discourse through eternity.   These diminutive monks are only about seven inches tall, and, being solid bronze instead of hollow, weigh about 3.3 pounds each.   They fit nicely in the fist and are a must-have for women walking to their car from the office late night in a dark city parking garage.  Don't leave home without them.

I've often been surprised at what couples choose these sculptures for purchase.   Usually one member of the spouses or partners believes they are the one monk, and that their spouse/partner is the other.   My reason for creating them back in 1999 was to help me have a caricature representation of the difference between Wisdom and Knowledge.  You see how Knowledge grips his doctrine (or law or scripture) tightly to his chest, expounding it's virtues to Wisdom, who simply listens intently.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

David Finds His Soul

One day several months ago, I had a new line of sculptures I wanted to create for the upcoming September show at Art On The Boulevard in September.    It had been awhile since I'd sculpted clay, as the last couple years had mostly been devoted to learning to work with my line of jewelry.   The stoneware clay I'd used briefly the previous year was stiff and a little dry, so I began gradually hydrating and working it, coaxing it toward a pliable state I could use.   I needed Jim's help, as I am now older than  when I used to slam 25 pounds of clay on the table regularly.   Jim, being tall and muscular, lifted and pounded the clay on the heavy table over and over, nearly shaking the house off it's foundation (or so it seemed).   I sliced slabs off of the reconstituted block and worked them over and over to refine them.  Watching the chunk of clay elongate more with each rotation, and seeing the surface define itself in sensual facets, my excited Muse took the opportunity to fill in the visual blanks.   Using my heat gun, I stiffened the surface enough for the form to stand on it's own.  By the time I came back from lunch, it was ready for me to split the thing in half like a squash, ready to bake!   I hollowed the interior to within a half inch of the surface, then slipped the two halves back together.   At that point I could sculpt a head and shoulders to blend naturally into the rhythm already naturally created by the facets.   And of course, as often happens, he brought his own name.  David.   He seemed as though he'd found that which few of us achieve in life..... David found his soul.   His bliss extending and blurring the physical boundaries.

David Finds His Soul was the first of the series I've blogged on this site up until this point.   An organized and intelligent creature would list him first, I suppose, but I follow a natural order of creativity that knows it's own flow, and I don't question it too much with my mind, as I would truly screw it up.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Music of the Spheres

The bird perched on the sphere painted on this man's chest is a Mourning Dove.   Since I was a little girl riding my backyard swing in the dry Denver evening air, the quiet song of the Mourning Dove has been like notes from a Divine source.   Here in Western Washington those birds are less populated than in Colorado (or maybe there are generally less birds than in the 1950s), so when I hear one in the distance, my ears strain hungrily to pick its notes from the cool evening breeze.  I came back to the studio to begin this sculpture after such an evening.

Originally I had applied copper leaf to the sphere, a time-consuming and difficult task.  The next day the copper leaf came off easily on my fingers... the adhesive had acted as a solvent for the underlying enamel.  When all was cleaned up and dried, I used Interference acrylics to create a green iridescence that picked up the light nicely.  The sad part was that the copper leaf had actually reflected "Music's" hand.  It was stunning.  But I like this nearly as well.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Venus de Vertebra

Okay, so it's a cute title, and I've never done a cute title before.   In actuality, my name for this piece was the ho-humdrum "Abstract Torso", but my husband Jim likes to name a lot of my pieces, and does a great job of it (as well as shooting the fabulous photos!).   He really liked "Venus de Vertebra", as the piece is based on bone-like segments.  It stuck.  Out with the boring title, in with the cute title.  She is truly different than anything I've done before, except for the tiny version that was a maquette for this larger one.  Unlike the full-form Venus, the maquette has a head and face.  If I can find a photo, maybe I'll post it eventually.  And as are all of the pieces in the photo postings I've listed on this blog so far, she is camping out at director Kevin's lovely gallery, Art On The Boulevard, in Vancouver, WA.   Venus is 9.5" tall, and lovely to hold and stroke.

Monday, October 24, 2011


This gentleman is the third and last of the original pieces that include Approach and Faith.   While I was creating him I heard old radio program private eye music and narration in my head.   I envisioned him within the aura of a street light, watching the city scape that seems to encompass his body, or to define his identity.   The metallic copper "windows" on his form pierce the muggy, smoggy dusk with warmth and hope.  Periodically I will sculpt and paint pieces whose forms reflect the world or identity that defines them.  I'd like to do more of those.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Another one of the original three from a couple years ago, Faith is perhaps an unintended self portrait.  But then, aren't all of artist's works self portraits?  Somehow she even looks like me.   I'll let you fill in the symbolism on this one.  Faith is also my husband's favorite piece.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


This lady was one of the three sculptures first done of the newer, lower-fired clay I was experimenting with a couple years ago.   The voluminous sleeves indicate the (emotional) baggage we often carry with us when we approach a new situation.   At one time women used their baggy sleeves to carry essentials in, but with Approach, you have to essential are the contents of her baggage?

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Original Whetherbird

This is the original.   Completely made of ceramic clay, painted with oils.   My deceased husband, Neil, and I decided after having the little guy on the market for a year, that we loved him too much to send him into the hands of strangers.   We made an executive decision to keep him in the artist's collection.  He IS precious!   Unfortunately, Neil didn't live long enough to see Whetherbird's next incarnation in bronze and concrete.   He would've loved the new version, I know.   Neil was the one in 1999 who pushed me to cast in bronze, his intuition told him it would be a great move and a success story.  It was.  This is Neil's photo of Whetherbird:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Helping Him Make Up His Mind

This sweet little anthropomorphic owl cast in bronze from the original ceramic sculpture created in 2000 has gone through a few changes since his beginnings.   I'm not sure if I have an old photo on file of the original, but the casting of the bronze has divided the little bird's new medium from that of his pedestal.  The first bird was solid ceramic clay from the top of his head to the bottom of his milestone-based pedestal. It was all one sculpture.  Now, the bird is bronze, the pedestal is concrete....a substance I've recently discovered the magical utility and versatility of!
The first photo is of the Whetherbird's first concrete perch, which is also made from a mold of the original clay pedestal.   I packed the silicone rubber mold with white Portland cement colored with an ochre dye, and after it was cured, ragged it with acrylic paints.

The second photo is of the hand-sculpted concrete version.  Much smaller.   The cement was hand-pressed onto (and into) an armature I made of 1/4 inch hardware cloth.  Tricky!!  The weight of the wet cement kept pulling it off of the wire mesh!   It took another day's troweling of a second coat (without the perlite aggregate) and much rasping and sanding to make this little perch for him.   The drilling of holes for his bolts that hold his feet securely was also tricky, but done within 24 hours of the creation of it made it easier.   We really don't want this valuable little critter flying away, now, do we?

  The Chinese character I carved on the facade means "Clarity".  The Whetherbird has spent the last 11 years trying to decide "whether" to rain or shine (you'd have to see his wings to understand), so I finally gave him a little nudge with that character.   That version of "Whetherbird" is 10" in height.   The pedestal is hollow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Found Her Face

Okay, I did a bit of searching and found Wind In The Tree's face on view.   The Alkyds and Acrylics I've been using on the surface has been a challenge for Jim to photograph, but I'm loving his growing techniques.

After all these years, I still find the handprint more effective than a sculpted hand.   It's a haunting echo of hand that doesn't interfere with the rhythm of the sculpture's surface.   It has been particularly appropriate on the planed surfaces of faceted pieces, but a little more difficult to place on a curved piece without it seeming to be "stamped on".  But you know me.... I love a challenge!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wind In The Trees

This is the backside of "Wind In The Trees", who is approximately 12" high.   I seem to have misplaced the face-on view of her, but when I do find it, you'll see how serene and sexy she is.   The leaves that spill from her delicate head have a slight iridescence to them, and were created by pressing the ceramic clay into the silicon rubber molds I made for the leaves of my silver and bronze jewelry out of young leaves in our garden.  It took the better part of a day to carefully monitor the dryness of the ceramic clay leaves, delicately nudge them from the molds (sometimes they tear), and place them carefully on her head with slip (a more liquid version of clay) when sculpting the piece.   How could something so small be so intense?

I will post her face-on view when I manage to dig up that photo.   My desktop ate it, I think.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

More Photos of Latest Work

I received a comment from Marian wanting to see more of the latest sculptures of the Art On The Boulevard group, so, Marian being one of my favorite artists, I'd be happy to show some!  I'd planned to do so, but have been out of town for awhile, and blogging being a new and intimidating tool, it takes someone asking to get me motivated to post again.   Thanks for the thumbs up, Marian!  This blue lady with fine silver inset stars is called "StarGazer". She is 13" tall.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Learning To Do Other Stuff

Bones of the Earth
Okay, I think I've discovered how to import a photo from other files and pop it into my posting.   This is stretching my very little left brain!

This photo was taken by my much-loved husband, Jim Arnold, a professional photographer, of one of my recent sculptures in clay.  Her title is "Bones of the Earth" and reminds me of the very sculptural great columns of basalt harvested and sold for landscaping purposes.  She is diminutive, however, only maybe 13 inches tall.   She and her family can be seen currently at Art On The Boulevard Gallery in Vancouver, WA., where Fay Kahn, a gifted painter and batik artist and I are featured through the month of September:

First Attempts at Blogging

This is my first blog entry, being inherently a technobozo, I'm stumbling my way through it without friend's help.   I've resisted this option for quite awhile, even though I see many other artists using this marvelous tool, 'cause this stuff scares me!   Not sure yet how to put photos in, but I guess I'll figure it out as I go.