Reflection

Sometimes it’s a good thing to reflect on some older works that I have created to learn new or review past experiential lessons. Such was the other day, as I reviewed some digital images of art I made while living in Bellingham, Washington around 1979. I was working on a series of “spirit catcher” forms that were inspired from ancient Native American artifacts I viewed through museum collections. The abstract concept of capturing some sense of the natural environment and the emotions it evoked in me was very inspiring, not only at that time in my life, and still does. Although, I would approach this same subject matter differently today, the basic concept remains the same. I think I’ll play around with that for a while, and see where I go with my ideas.

One of the "Spirit Catcher" series by Tom ,1979

One of the “Spirit Catcher” series by Tom ,1979

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Percolating

While my mind is percolating on new ideas for both sculpture and drawings, I am rebuilding an older piece, originally entitled “The News!” The concept has been going through numerous changes in my mind and on paper for a while, ever since I created the bronze and copper original about 11 years ago. This sketch piece was never really finished, so the current reworking makes perfect sense in the evolution of a concept originally intended as a large scale public art piece. I’m toying with a title which better describes the new configuration of the figure and other elements. It has to do with the history of human communication. As soon as I get the sculpture sand blasted, I’ll patina it and then it will be “finished,” although, I would still like to see it done on a larger scale. Pictures will be forth coming.

Tom working on a sculpture by Barney Bright in Kentucky 1984

Tom working on a sculpture by Barney Bright in Kentucky 1984

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“Successful”

I am often asked whether or not I am successful as an artist. In almost all cases, whoever is asking wants to know if I have gained fame and fortune in my career as an artist. As a matter of fact, I have had some “fortune and glory,” along the way. “Success,” for me means that I have successfully completed a given project and have succeeded in whatever artistic experimentation I was after when I started. I have certainly had my share of monetary famine through the years, and have had to rely on other skills to pay the bills, but, with all of that, I am still experimenting in the studio, completing commissions, exhibiting and selling my work. I don’t make art because I want to. I make art because I have to. It is an addiction and a passion, and not a hobby.

Detail from "Bone Circus" by Tom McClelland

Detail from “Bone Circus” by Tom McClelland

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The Universal and the Personal

I often speak of the “universal” and the more “personal” in my art-making. What I mean by this is: ideas that are reminders of our collective humanity,or those big concepts that make us “human” are universal, and those experiences that come directly from my own life or my interpretation of them are personal. I like to combine the two as I work out the design of a piece. A lot of this conceptualizing occurs in sketch form before I commit clay or bronze to it, but much of this interplay unfolds during the actual physical processes of building the sculpture or finished drawing. My bronzes are as much about fabrication as they are about casting, and much of the design work occurs as I determine the final assembly of various component parts of the sculpture. This dynamic helps to keep the work fresh and constantly changing right up to completion.

Only the general idea of agriculture was set when I began building this piece.

Only the general idea of agriculture was set when I began building this piece.

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The Hook and the Hold

Detail of "Moving"

Detail of “Moving”

When I refer to the “hook,” I am talking about certain qualities or characteristics of art that grab the viewer from a distance and then reel him (or her) in to see more. These characteristics are generally such qualities as: the overall form of the piece, the implied movement of the shapes and forms within the composition, a sheen to the metal surface or some other generalized color. The “hold” has to do more with details of the piece that hold the attention of the viewer, so that they look… and look… and look. These characteristics, in my work, at least, are such things as: color choices for smaller forms within the overall composition, textural differences, facial expressions or other details of a figurative component and subtle shifts in the patina as light moves across the surface of the sculpture. I refer you to the “Moving” piece to help illustrate the idea here.
The twisting movement of "Moving" by Tom

The twisting movement of “Moving” by Tom

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Christmas Time

HAPPY CHRISTMAS…HAPPY END OF YEAR…HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE…MERRY TIMES TO ALL! I try to remember our collective humanity at this time of year, and act accordingly. Celebrations of life can be in the small things as well as the big.
More art coming soon!P3010027-copy

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Central Washington Artist’s Exhibition 2013

I have been out of town for a while doing my carpentry thing, so, here I am catching up. The Central Washington Artist Exhibition at the Larson Gallery is an annual competitive exhibit of all media, and is just finishing up this Saturday. The “Elocution” sculpture I created recently is in this show, and I have been pleased by some of the responses to it. (Of course, I’d be even happier if it sold.) I have enjoyed being a part of this exhibit over the years and look forward to the next time around. It’s a chance to see new art by old faces as well as art created by new faces. I have new ideas percolating in the studio and remodel work to get back to in Yakima, so…onward!

Ann with "Bone Circus" at the CWAE at Larson Gallery.

Ann with “Bone Circus” at the CWAE at Larson Gallery.

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A Goodbye to Anthony Caro

Sir Anthony Caro passed away a couple of weeks ago at the still productive age of 89. Although I never met him in person, Caro’s work was among a relatively short list of artists who influenced my development as a sculptor. His intuitive understanding of space and how to both displace space, while, at the same time, embracing it, is a lesson I will take with me for the rest of my productive life. I was first introduced to his sculpture work while I was a student at Western Washington University and studied his piece entitled “For India.” That sculpture was a revelation to me as to how it had (has) such a sense of monumentality and yet delicacy. It was like poetry in steel.

"Lone Fencepost" mixed media drawing by Tom

“Lone Fencepost” mixed media drawing by Tom

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Sculpture…Sculpture…Sculpture!

As October leaves us, I will be taking down the show at The Gallery By the River (Allied Arts, Richland, WA.) having sold one piece, with another in the 58th Annual Central Washington Artists’ Exhibition at Larson Gallery in Yakima, WA. (Nov.2-Dec.7, 2013),and three others will be on consignment with a new gallery. The new gallery (new for me) is Oak Hollow Gallery at 5631 Summitview, Yakima, WA. Josey Fast, owner and manager of Oak Hollow, was at the reception at the Allied Arts show, was impressed with the work, and invited me to put the pieces in her gallery. www.oakhollowframes.blogspot.com
So…ONWARD! Oh, and I’m going to go listen to Orson Welles’ broadcast of the “War Of the Worlds.” It’s Holloween time, after all.

Untitled stainless steel sculpture sold at the Allied Arts show.

Untitled stainless steel sculpture sold at the Allied Arts show.

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Fall is Here!

The weather is finally out of the 95-105 degree mark and we have the crisp sunshine and colors of fall here in the Tri-City area. The reception on last Sunday for the exhibit at Allied Arts was well attended, and everyone had a good time. It was fun to see old friends whom I had not seen in a while, and to talk to potential patrons about my work and creative philosophy. I have been in many exhibits over the past 40+ years, but it’s always a joy to view my work all together in a grouping with the gallery lighting, and certainly with Thelma’s paintings on the walls. The sculptures seem to be communicating with one another!

The show

The show

Thelma and I next to "Poet"

Thelma and I next to “Poet”

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