Look at what came out of that block of stone! I have much more than a pile of chips. I am now taking some time to play around with the arrangement of the new stone form, and a possible steel form to compliment it. If they come together conceptually, I will wind up with a two-part sculpture, with a combination of stone and stainless steel. I have been working off and on for many years with ideas that combine steel and stone in different spacial arrangements, and, in fact, created one of these as a public sculpture installation for the City of Bellingham, Washington back in 1979, entitled, of all things,”Steel & Stone.” More later. Stay tuned.

Snail shell form in alabaster


So, the story goes like this: People watched the sculptor carve a big block of stone for days; the pile of stone chips getting larger and larger. One day, after a few weeks of carving activity, they noticed that the chip pile was very large, and, in fact, all that was left of the stone block. One passerby asked the artist: “What happened?”
To which he responded: ” Michelangelo told me that the form was trapped inside the block, and I couldn’t find it.”
I am currently carving on a small block of alabaster, which, I am happy to say, has a wonderful form emerging. I am planning on a two sectioned sculpture, with one form made of the stone and the other made of steel. I will have more to say and show about this piece soon.

the beginning; an alabaster block.

New Directions

Since I promised “new directions” in my last post, I need to go there. I am working on some new directions, but they haven’t quite gelled as yet, as far as the content of my artwork. The good news is that I have taken the first step that direction, which is to clean out the old to make room for the new. I guess you could call it spring cleaning! A lot of my energy is also involved, right now, with repair and remodeling of the commercial building that my wife and I own and manage. The Roxy building is going through some changes along these lines, and I need to keep my creative juices focused accordingly. I do have-as always- new ideas for art percolating as I write this, so stayed tuned.

Spring blossoms at the McClelland studio/home

Finished At Last!

We survived all the snow and bad weather, got the remodeling on our commercial building done, and I was able to finally get the patina work done on the two newer sculptures I have been blogging about lately. So, here are photos of those two, “Go Figure” and “Migration Theory.” I am pleased with the coloration on both. It took a couple of days, off and on, because I’m picky about the colors on my work, and I didn’t like the results of the first round of patina effort. I am planning on both of these pieces to be exhibited in my one-person show at the Robert Graves Gallery in Wenatchee later this fall. Next time: new directions! Stay tuned.

“Go Figure” by Tom
“Migration Theory” by Tom

Migration Theory

All the talk and posturing about immigration these days has hooked into my anthropological/archaeological studies, as well as my interests in cultural studies. For thousands of years,it has been the nature of human beings to migrate all around the globe, usually looking for the “greener grass:” either escaping from environmental conditions, some form of social oppression, or to find a better place for their descendants. My own Grandfather left Ireland, immigrated to Canada for a new beginning, just prior to which, he served in the Canadian militia and was in France during W.W.I. Immigration can bring about cultural diversity as well as a rich mix of new ideas, and helps to prevent stagnation in any society.

“Migration Theory” by Tom in process
The title will be engraved into the bronze.

It’s Cold Outside!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EACH AND ALL! As I write this, the outside temperature is around 10 degrees with snow on the ground. I have been working on a new piece entitled “Go Figure,” finishing up the welding and tooling. The sculpture is composed of bronze and steel, and I think, is my response to the general state of affairs in this country, with more divisiveness and confusion within the populace than I have witnessed before in my lifetime. I refuse to give in to any kind of defeatism and will continue to move forward in creating the best art I possibly can. I will blog soon on that piece of sculpture, once I have sandblasted and finished the patina work.

A small snow drift at our home

“Go Figure”

Now that Christmas is almost here, Happy Holidays to all of you out there. While the north wind blows, and the temperature hovers around 18 degrees, and the chill factor drops to around 10, I am kicking around concept ideas with another new sculpture. The figurative element of the design is the same one I used in the “Migration Theory” piece, and has suggested to me a “Go Figure” attitude, so I am inclined to follow through with that idea. I think this direction is my response to, not only the last presidential election results, but also a general state of confusion in this country and much of the rest of the world. I should have this piece together in the next week or so and ready for sand blasting, then patina work. Onward!

“Go Figure” under construction in the studio.

Thanks, Mark Di Suvero

I was fortunate enough to interact with internationally recognized sculptor, Mark Di Suvero, while I was an undergraduate student at Western Washington University, in the 70’s. He was building and installing the “For Handel” sculpture on the campus, at the time, and I learned some important lessons from him. Aside from experiencing abstract sculpture on a truly monumental scale, Mark helped me understand how to open up my own sculpture to create a more lyrical approach to form and get away from the more monolithic forms I had been making for years. Of course, like all good lessons, they took some time to learn, so it was a few years after Di Suvero left Washington that they came into focus for me, but I have never forgotten this artist’s influence, and have applied those lessons to my explorations with the human figure, as well as more abstracted pieces.

Sculpture by Mark Di Suvero at Paula Cooper Gallery
Sculpture by Mark Di Suvero at Paula Cooper Gallery

Migration Ideas

I am working on new sculpture pieces with ideas centered around human migration/ immigration. I want the designs to reflect these ideas with a broad brush stroke, rather than limiting their communications to a narrow contemporary news focus. When I think about immigration, I reflect on the ancient history of human migration all over the world, starting when humans were a different species, and including modern peoples as we are today. Above and beyond politics, humans have always migrated from one area of the globe to another, for all kinds of reasons. I’m not sure just where these ideas will take my art, but the image included with this blog is a glimpse into it. I am still working on this piece, and one other, with titles in the works, as well. Here, also, is a shot of the finished George Jones commission piece. More later!

Migration idea by Tom in the works.
Migration idea by Tom in the works.
Finished George Jones piece
Finished George Jones piece


As I finish up on the Jones commission, I have two newly cast figures, as part of a new series of sculpture pieces in the making. I spread parts out, including recycled forms from earlier sculpture work and prospective bits and pieces for consideration in my design ideas. As I start to put two or more parts together, the ideas begin to take shape. Of course, ideas have been in my noggin for some time, and I sketch out rough drawings to help formulate some concepts, as I bang away in metal. This approach to art making, helps to keep the conceptualizing fresh and vibrant for me, and, thus, ranges far beyond the tradition of reproducing a completely predesigned form into bronze, which can get too caught up in technical tedium. It’s a strange and wonderful journey.

Parts to be assembled and some to be discarded with the figure at the center of it all.
Parts to be assembled and some to be discarded with the figure at the center of it all.