Tag Archives: Sculpture

Weekly Art Challenge: FIRST

Hey folks!

This week’s theme is FIRST!

RJ – Dream, Pen and ink on paper –

 RJ’s piece is based on a recent and vivid dream he had. A beautiful, colorful dream with a volcano tiled by cows and bulls, spilling milk and honey into the sea. A statue of a woman holding flowers and looking out toward the water, twisting trees and Russian Architecture. He didn’t have time to color the piece, but I love the image he presented. When he was describing the mosaic tiles, all I can do is imagine the scene created with thousands of tiny mosaics.


rj first


Dylan – Poseidon (Theatre Mask), Variform and Paint –

 “The first mask that I was paid to create was made for Carolina’s Actors Studio Theater (C.A.S.T.) in the production of “Metamorphosis” for the character Poseidon. The actor would swim up from an underground pool inside the theater to enter the scene so I was challenged with making the mask waterproof and durable. Looking back there are things I would have done differently but, overall I am pleased with the execution of craftsmanship and the nod to classic Greek art traditions.

Does anyone else want to wear this beautifully made mask and run or dance through city streets shouting lyrics? I’m thinking ‘Sinnerman’ by Nina Simone or ‘The Origin of Love’ from Hedwig and the Angry Inch.





Karri: Constant Prayer, Papermache

“This week was a week of firsts. I had been so busy this week that I nearly forgot about this project. As the week came to an end and I realized I had fallen behind, I thought “oh no” it’s because I taught my FIRST art lesson to my homeschooled nephew and because I had to study before teaching my FIRST Sunday school class. In the midst of all this I had also been working on a sculpture. Not my FIRST sculpture but it was my FIRST attempt at a large sculpture and my FIRST attempt at portraying a human figure out of paper. It is also my FIRST religious sculpture. My submission this week “constant prayer” is in its FIRST stages but is starting to take shape.

Karri’s sculpture reminds me of a modern dance performance. I am waiting for the figure to slowly rise, stretch out her limbs and silently express her prayer through graceful but intense body movements. I can’t help but imagine that her prayers are cycling through her mind to a rhythmic beat.  I can’t wait to see this when its completed!

Constant Prayer

EmilyFlower, oil paint on paper –

“I was Inspired by Karri for trying out something new last week, my entry for ‘First’ is my first attempt at painting with oils, a flower, I tried!”

I love that Emily took inspiration from another in our group and explored a new media! That is what this challenge is about; exploring new materials, ideas and having fun along the way! The simplicity and flow of the leaves remind me a lot of sumi-e’s Bamboo brushstrokes and I like the use of sgraffito for the grass.  I think with more practice, Emily will soon be painting fields of flowers 😉



AmberThe First House (When Imaginations Run Wild), Pen, ink and graphite on paper

For my piece this week, I wanted to illustrate myself running from my wild imagination before it got ahold of me, as it so often does.

I was inspired by my first experience exploring an abandoned house in rural North Dakota. This was the experience that set me on the path to document Rural Decay, you can read about it HERE. Below is an excerpt from the post .

When I walked onto the property I felt like I crossed into another dimension. The air grew stale, sounds were muffled and time seemed to slow. The front door was wide open and almost beckoned me to come closer; but, mostly because of my over-active imagination, there was no way that I was going to walk inside and explore the interior.

Every horror movie I have ever seen was flashing before my eyes. They all seemed to start with an innocent looking home, like this one, and carefree characters, such as myself, going about their day like it was any other day with nothing to fear. That is, of course, until IT happens. I knew that by going inside I would become THAT girl who should be running away at the first sign that something was even remotely wrong, but instead naively walks upstairs alone to become the next victim of a serial killing blood thirsty werewolf zombie who freshly escaped from an intergalactic mental institution with an ax and a vendetta against Jersey girls. No, I could not and will not be THAT girl. Not this time at least.


First House



Next week’s Challenge: CHANGE!


Weekly Art Challenge: Repetition

Hey Folks!!

This week My fellow artists and I tackle the theme Repetition.


RJ: Repetition Rabbit,  pen on paper – Whether he knows it or not, I honestly believe that RJ is a natural printmaker. His rhythmic lines and marks always have that linear woodcut quality about them. I look at that rabbit head and I can see it printed multiple times and beautifully matted. His little rabbit silhouettes are precious and characteristically spot on. RJ used the theme this week more as a practice exercise and study of rabbits. The piece as a whole reminds me a lot of those beautifully drawn scientific studies of plants and animals in old encyclopedias. It shows his ability to pay attention not only to visual details of a subject, but to the nature and character of the subject too.

Repetition Rabbit


Dylan: The Study of Human Decomposition, Mix media (Clay, styrofoam wig base (deconstructed) tissue paper, various glues, and Great Stuff expanding foam) – I have known Dylan since college and she has always had a fascination and appreciation for the raw beauty of a bruise. While most people would be put off by the sight a discolored skin, she would love every bruise and bump on her body as if they were a gift. So when she sent me her images for this week’s challenge I was not in the least bit surprised. I think her words best describe the thoughts and process behind her current work created for a local theme park..

“I absolutely adore repetition and asymmetrical balance!

In my study of human skin decomposing, I found that many things had to be taken into account such as humidity, placement of the body for blood gathering, and how long the corpse had been a corpse. Upon doing a two year death in very low humidity, I assumed the body would look like this. 

The repetitive channels and the rippling form of the flesh convey an symmetrical pattern yet have unbalanced symmetry from the direction of the small channels and lines. I am eager to study the two week, high humidity form next. It is amazing the beauty that can be found anywhere if you look through an artist’s eyes.”


Study of decomposition


dylan rep 4






Amber: The Cycle, Pen and graphite on Paper – I am about 3/4 finish with this piece. All week my mind was running through several ideas that reflected the concept of Repetition. First an image would spring to mind, I would mentally play with it until my thoughts about the image would lead me to another idea and so forth with the cycle. Eventually I began to see how there was a creative repetition to my thoughts. An idea would slowly formulate and bloom until the inspiration began to wane and roll over to a new idea. It’s a cycle that can easily consume an artist.

While I was playing with ideas that would fade into new ideas, I was also doodling randomness in my sketch book with pen and pencil shadings. I have always loved my doodles that combined pen and pencil work and at some point I knew that my final image for the piece was going to be my old favorite, the beautiful dandelion, combined with my preferred doodling technique.

The continuous life cycle of the dandelion seemed to naturally fit the complex creative repetition that occurs in my head every week when faced with a new art challenge.  I am currently debating adding a hint of color to the image, but I def plan to work the background so that the image pops a bit more and shading in the leaves. Thoughts?


The cycle


That was this week, hope you all enjoyed the work. Next week’s theme : PARADISE!

Woman Artist: Deborah Butterfield

Deborah Butterfield – American sculptor (1949 – Present)


Deborah Butterfield received both her BA and MFA from the University of California, Davis. She is primarily known for her prolific series of horse sculptures created in an array of sculptural material, some traditional like steel and others less traditional like driftwood, found objects and the remains of old buildings.


I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to travel across the United States for the last seven years and during my travels I have been fortunate in my ability to visit many great art museums. Sometimes it seems as if every museum in the country has in their collection their own wonderful Butterfield Horse. Once you are familiar with her horses you can easily recognize them on sight and yet it’s impossible to be bored by them because each one feels like a different animal. Though the horses are not realistically represented they do represent actual individual horses. Butterfield’s skill with material and her ability to capture the truest character and essence of the horse is extraordinary, one would half expect them to show signs of life when approached in the gallery. One, mostly I, would wish that they would.

Butterfield’s knack to creatively invoke the spirit of the horses into sculpture no doubt comes from her extensive experience with horses.  She has even claimed that her obsession for the majestic animal stems from her birth on the 75th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby. While still in college she purchased her first horse.

“I ride and school my own horses and feel that my art relies heavily upon, and often parallels, my continuing dialogue with them,” – Deborah Butterfield

Butterfield and her artist husband, John Buck, divide their time between a working ranch in Montana and a studio in Hawaii. Butterfield schedule consists of working on her sculptures only during the winter season while in Hawaii and then spends the rest of the year studying and working with her horses on the ranch in Montana. Because she tends to limits herself to creating her work only in the winter it can sometimes takes 3-4 years to complete one horse thus leaving a growing list of eager collectors waiting a long time.

For more information about Deborah Butterfield and her horses I recommend checking out the following links

University of Texas at Austin

Equitrekking – Visiting Deborah Butterfield’s Horses

Woman Artist: Edmonia Lewis

Edmonia Lewis – American Sculptor (1844?-1907?)

I had never hear of Edmonia Lewis until last year when I clicked on a MS blog link from my Facebook page. MS was dedicating a blog post each day throughout Black History month to honor the accomplishments of many black women that history has forgotten, Edmonia Lewis being one of them. This series by MS was the main inspiration for my posting a bit about a woman artist each day this March.

Edmonia Lewis

Details about her birth are unclear. There are accounts that range from 1840-46 and in either Ohio, Newark, NJ or near Albany, NY. What is clear is that she was the daughter of an Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freed black, possibly from the West Indies, father. Her parents died when she was very young and older brother went west to earn his fortune in the gold rush, leaving her in the care of her mother’s family and tribe. She claimed that her given name from her mother’s tribe was Wild Fire, free and untamed.

Lewis’s brother, Samuel, became very successful in Montana and was able to financially support her and send her to obtain an college education at Oberlin College in Ohio – the only college at the time that permitted both women and African Americans to attend. There was an incident where she was accused of poisoning two white women living with her, but she was cleared of any charges and continued her education at Oberlin, but did not complete her degree. She decided, with the financial assistance from her brother, to head East to Boston and pursue her education as a sculptor from Edward A. Brackett.

Forever Free

Shortly after her arrival in Boston her reputation as a talented sculptor took off. She drew inspiration for her work from Native American and African heritages and of the heroics from the abolitionists and Civil War heroes. Her most famous work of art during her lifetime was Forever Free and Old Arrow-Maker and His Daughter. Both sculptures reflect her values and influences.

Old Arrow-Maker and His Daughter

In 1865, after the Civil War ended, Lewis made enough income from her work that she was able to follow her dream of living and working in Italy.

She eventually settled in Rome and became very close with other American artists in the area. Her sculpture was highly sought after and she enjoyed a very successful career.

Eventually in the 1880’s the popularity of her style of sculpture waned and a more modern aesthetic became the vogue. She still enjoyed some success, but slowly became forgotten about by the public and eventually the history books.


Not much is known about the last years of her life. Her death seems to be as unclear as her birth. There are accounts that she died in 1907-1911 in London, America and Italy.  Where she is buried is unknown.

What I find so amazing about her is her determination to be known and her celebration of both her Native and African heritages in a time when women and non-whites were expected to be quiet.  She was truly a unique and gifted individual.

Most information for this post came from the Lakewood Library in Ohio. check the page out for additional information about Edmonia Lewis.

Death of Cleopatra

Edmonia Lewis in Rome

Porter Sculpture Park

This month I am working in the Eastern Dakota region of the states and while taking a long winding detour from Sioux Falls to Fargo I discovered a fabulous little sculpture park off of I-90!

I was driving West toward Hwy 81 with the hopes of exploring some rural decay that I had made note of earlier in the week when out of the blue a ginormous, dare I say Sexy,  bull head broke appeared in the horizon. There was absolutely no doubt to argue with, I was gonna get off at the next exit and get up close and personal with this Bull head!   Seriously, what kind of art loving curious drifter would I be if I just passed by? Not a very adventurous one, for sure.

My heart dropped when I got off the exit and saw a sign that the park was closed for the season. I had to see it. So I continued on and thought that maybe there is a house or a contact number or something that I could contact and get in.. There was nothing! No signs, except CLOSED, and no information that I could find. But luck would have it the gate was not completely closed. I immediately parked Teddi, my car, and walked the  half mile dirt stoney road that lead to the park itself.

The day was gorgeous with its blue skies pressed against golden grasses, it was absolutely perfect for an outdoor sculpture adventure.

The park itself was small but loaded with a variety of sculptures. Many pieces, like the vulture with a mallet or Pandora’s jack-in-a-box, had a comical horror quality about them while others, like the goldfish and dancing muses, were more whimsical and surreal. It was obvious that the artist, and at this point I correctly assumed it was a single artist – Wayne Porter – that created this artistic prairie oasis, had a sense of humor and made pieces that reflected his own need for art and ideas of beauty.

I spent about an hour walking among the colorful pieces, photographing them against the almost barren landscape and partially wishing that I was home and creating work of my own. Some pieces I responded to more so than others and a few will become a source of inspiration for my own work later when I return to my studio space.  My favorite sculpture was of course the Bull head that I spotted from the interstate. The size, the detail, and quality of work was amazing. I’m a Taurus and can not deny that I have a bit of a fascination for Bull images in art and culture. They are bold figures that evoke strength, stubbornness and focus determination along with an indulgence for personal comforts.

Another favorite was the Golden woman – unsure what the actual title is – sweeping golden square pieces into a bucket. My take from the piece is about falling apart but having the endurance to still pick up the pieces. Lately this year I have felt somewhat lost and a bit despondent; and this piece reminded me of my own path towards regaining myself, picking up the pieces.

Anyway, the park is a quirky little artist space that is definitely worth the stop during the summer season, especially if you are on an epic American road trip and love to support local artists. The open landscape surrounding the park adds this otherworldliness to the experience, at least it did for this Jersey Girl.

When I made it back to Fargo I immediately looked the park up and found this website:  Porter Sculpture Park you can read about artist Wayne Porter. I highly suggest checking it out and making plans for next Summer!