Nature Teaches

With my treks out in some of the natural preserves in our area, along with my daily observations of indigenous animals and plants around our home, I am reminded of how nature teaches us lessons, if we pay attention. These lessons vary from the more obvious about basic survival, to the less obvious-and interpretable- about beauty, movement and humor. The beauty of light and shadow and the tints and shades of growing things, as well as the scale of space itself tends to inspire art ideas within me. The humor comes at spontaneous moments, like when I watched a family of quail chicks following their parents, quite suddenly deviate their direction to instead follow a jack rabbit who was headed in another direction! Natural observations help clear my mind of tedious nonsense, and that leads to inspiring thoughts.

Crossbedding of sand in a river bank.

New 20KLUS Illustration

As time rolls on and the inspiration points me, I add to my group of 20KLUS (“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”) illustrations, Here is a new one I finished a few months ago. I decided that this one needed some color to give the water a little more cooling affect. I will be framing this piece as part of the series of mixed media drawings that I refer to as my homage to Jules Verne and will be exhibited in my one person show at the Robert Graves Gallery in Wenatchee, Washington this fall; September 20- October 19, 2017. I will have more information on that show as we get a little closer to the installation.

The new number 7 in Tom’s “20KLUS” series.


“Coexistence,” is the current title I have for the new stone and stainless steel sculpture I have been blogging about lately. It is complete, or, at least, as finished as I’m going to make it. This combining of stone and steel components is not new for me, but goes back to the “Steel & Stone” piece I created in 1979 for the City of Bellingham, WA, where that piece remains in the public community to this day. This new sculpture is a more horizontal design than the Bellingham piece. It does pick up where I left off in the 70’s, and so there is continuity. It is like picking up a conversation , after many years absence, with an old friend. More news soon.

“Coexistence” by Tom, alabaster & stainless steel, 8 1/2″ x 17″ x 8 1/2″

It Takes Time

Boy, does it take time to create art! This is one reason art takes so many varied styles in development. Often, my work takes months to create one finished piece, not just because of the technical needs, but also the design content. Of course, the large scale public pieces I have done over the last 40 years, have taken a great deal of time due to their complexity, both technically and conceptually, with a team of artisans involved. Some of my smaller works are slow in maturing, as well. For example, the new stone and steel piece pictured here. It is still in a sketching stage, but it is coming to fruition, and will be completed soon. The combination of the two elements has to be just right for me, and I think I’m close.

Stone & steel sculpture in process


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