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Artist Spotlight

Artist Spotlight - Ken Barnes

Happy Accident  
by Ken Barnes

Not quite the one you'll find on a beach. Liberated from a basalt end cut, $100 at Marenakos. Sat in my sketchbook for 7 years; originally an appendage of a planned bench. I have had a hundred bench ideas, a couple of them even good, but I just don't seem to be a bench person. 
I sketch for them, and even buy the stone. Still, I'm benchless in Seattle.  Ken Barnes Tests the Load Bearing Capability of his New 20 Ton Crane

When SouthEast Effective Development (go to: asked that I propose an installation for their Rainier Court Pocket Park I pitched a three stone grouping that fit neatly within their budget, complete with plaster maquettes. I sensed there was some play with the budget, so I also offered a photocopy of my sketchbook page, bench cut out, and suggested that if they found more money I could add the clam. Not a great sketch, but it conveyed the character. They demanded the clam, while I raised the budget. My initial blocking out was done too hastily, and I missed the curve I thought I wanted.

However, the striations along the clam body saved me, really making the curve come to life. Another Happy Accident.
"Clam" Part of Igneous Emsemble", Basalt, 30" High

I depend upon the Happy Accident in my work. Serendipity. You must have a prepared and open mind to receive the Happy Accident. In fact, on pieces where there is no Happy Accident, where the piece turns out looking exactly like my visualization, I dislike the sculpture. Not enough surprise? Not enough interplay between me and the stone? Maybe I carve stone for the resistance, and if stones give in without a fight it's just not enough challenge? Do I dislike the outcome of my work if I have carved without a prepared and open mind?

Artist Spotlight - Lloyd Whannell

Silent Words #7
by Lloyd Whannell
I’ve been working on several series of tall slender figures with limited edition bronze heads on various one of a kind stone bodies, and enjoying the effect of combining different materials. I’ve noticed a number of fellow sculptors combining stone with metal, glass, bronze, and wood, with wonderful results.
 Lloyd Whannell, "Silent Words #7"
This last winter I started carving a piece of Texas limestone for another bronze and stone figure, only to find that the stone had a large, ugly, soft void running thru it that ruined the piece for me. I almost threw it out, but I had so much time already invested that I decided to try and save it.

Timing is the wonder of wonders. Since I was also working on some encaustic pieces for the first time, and always willing to experiment for a good cause, I tried coloring the stone with epoxy pigments thinned with denatured alcohol to cover up the ugly area. Then, I covered those areas with bee's wax to fill the voids and mellow the colorings. A little color, a little wax, back and forth, and I had a new sculpture. I was very happy with the end results and plan to continue the experiment on other pieces.

The wax has a melting point of 140º f so it should hold up outdoors, but I'll wait for my test pieces to go thru a full year before risking the sculpture. I like experimenting - but with a little caution on the side.

I encourage everyone to try something new. Maybe it's been done before, maybe not, but if you haven't done it, it's new for you, and you never know what will happen till you try.

Artist Spotlight Meet Betty Sager

Meet Betty Sager

SNW: Tell us a little about yourself. Betty_Sager
BS: I was born and grew up in central British Columbia, raised two lovely children and worked as a bookkeeper for many a year. My husband Wayne and I moved to Abbotsford when the kids where teens and we’ve enjoyed the Fraser Valley ever since. I’ve recently been blessed with my first grandchild, and am enjoying all that he brings to my life every day. I’ve kayaked for many years exploring this great west coast.
SNW: What key life experiences affected your direction in art?
BS: I took up carving wood 10 years ago when my husband requested that I help him with a Christmas gift project, which needed a bit of carving. It was fun and he loved that I was spending time with him in the garage/shop. He then bought me some bass wood, which is a soft wood, and a few more chisels. Little did he know we would eventually need both his woodworking shop and a studio for working with stone.
I loved carving right from the start and it soon became an addictive passion. I joined the Central Fraser Valley Woodcarvers Association, a wonderful group of folks that were very helpful.
"Fantasy in Flight"  27" high x 20 wide Purple Pyrophyllite Red Deer Community College had one week carving courses available every summer, where very talented artists taught and introduced students to many styles of carving. When I saw Chris White’s book, Parables: Wood Sculptures, 
I knew I needed to try and work that style, which is very stylized and flowing. It was then that I realized I needed to learn realism in order to carve stylized animals; I needed to know what it should look like in order to “Let it go.”
I continued to take courses, studying and learning under artists like Harvey Welsh, Barry Dennison and Chris White. However, it’s been Chris White who has influenced my style the most and I feel honoured to have worked with him. 
"Parallel Lives"  22” x 22”  Purple Pyrophyllite with quartz veins
SNW: Describe your art in your own terms – focusing on your stone carving.
BS: I’m now working on a series called “Birds in flight,” which I’ve been making more and more delicate with lots of negative space, and parallel lines, trying to find a balance between simplicity and grace in flight. The carved contrails give flight and speed to the birds. This series has been a great joy to produce and and may continue for a while.

SNW: Is it representational and/or non- representational?
BS: I’ve been told that my “Birds in Flight” series is called contemporary realism and could be classified as a “cross over art style.” These are abstract sculptures which flow from the recognizable forms of birds. I hope this recognizable part helps folks transition from enjoying realism to enjoying the abstract with its flow, movement and negative space.
"Soaring Spirit"  30" high x 15" wide Yellow Pyrophyllite
SNW: How do you get your ideas?
BS: I get to know the stone while preparing it for carving, observing it’s various attributes,; I then mould some clay shaping it as though it were my sketch pad, working and reworking it until I like the shape and it works with the characteristics of the stone. I start carving with the beak and then let it go (take flight) from there.

SNW: What are you trying to express?
BS: Great question! I try to capture movement, dance, and grace, I like round flowing parallel lines, negative spaces, simple form and balance. How delicate can it be? Can I entice the viewer to walk around it or turn it?
 "Ghostly Songbirds" 18” high Alabaster
SNW: Do you work part or full time as an artist?
BS: I have the luxury of working as much as I would like or as little as I want, but even when I work at it full time, I don’t consider it work because it’s my passion and so enjoyable.

SNW: What stones do you prefer?
BS: I am currently enjoying Pyrophyllite as it has great colors and seems to be holding up fairly well to my delicate style.
SNW: What is your working process – do you do one piece at a time or do you have several in process at once?
BS: I generally don’t allow myself to go on to the next piece until the last piece is complete, as I’m afraid my studio would be full of abandoned partially sanded pieces. I find that the sanding process awakens my creativity for the next piece, or perhaps I just enjoy design, rough-out and the refining stages much more.
"Little Buddy" 18” x 13”  Yellow Pyrophyllite
SNW: What tools do you use?
BS: Ah! Tools – when I started carving in wood, I started with chisels, but before I became proficient with them, my husband bought me a Foredom tool and away I went into the land of power tools. What great fun, and it’s been a journey of discovery ever since. In the first few years, every time I struggled through trying to carve, sand or somehow work a troubled spot… my husband would look over my shoulder and say “ Hmmm perhaps I have something that may help you,”, then proceed to his woodworking shop and bring me the perfect tool for the job. To my delight this process continued for the better part of the next year until he finally showed me his entire collection of tools. Now, years later, I can (on occasion) show him a fabulous tool or two.
I now use air die grinders and electric angle grinders for most of my work, although I just recently bought an air hammer and a few chisels. I was told that if I didn’t carve stone with an air hammer and chisels that I’m missing half the fun, so I‘ll give it a go.
SNW: Where do you exhibit your work?
BS: I currently exhibit my work at 3 galleries here in BC: Rendezvous Art Gallery, in Vancouver, Art Gallery in Vancouver, Abbotsford Art Gallery in Abbotsford and QB Arts in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.
SNW: Do you teach?
BS: I have taught stone carving at the Shuswap School of Woodcarving and Arts, in the Shuswap Lake recreational area of south,central BC. They offer a one week course each year. I hope to help the wood carvers that are used to using a pattern to design with clay then direct carve.
 "Jonathon & Friends" 30" high  Carrara Marble on Alabaster
SNW: What scale or size do you work in, and do you have a favourite scale?
BS: I like to create pieces that are from 15-36” in height. Would that be coffee table art? They’re all indoor art, so far.
SNW: How is your work area set up?
BS: My studio is a converted room in my home directly behind the garage. We changed the electrical, plumbed for water c/w sump, made it water proof and plumbed the compressor and huge dust collector in through the wall. I have lots of light and look out at ground level to our garden.
SNW: What have been your satisfactions in your life as an artist?
BS: I enjoyed the reaction from my parents when I carved busts of each of them; they felt honoured. The busts were my first human form carvings, and continue to be treasured and enjoyed. Since then, I found out that it’s always a good idea to first carve a few human forms where you’re making up the expressions and faces, before tackling realistic sculptures of loved ones.
SNW: What are you looking forward to?
BS: Isn’t carving all about the next piece? I enjoy the creativity and the anticipation of seeing the completion of each process take shape before my eyes. Perhaps one day I’ll sculpt classic human form style of sculpture. I look forward to giving ageless pieces of stone a chance to shine and be the centre of attention, admired, stroked and enjoyed.
"Gliding in Unison" 27” high  Serpentine or perhaps Nephrite Jade
SNW: Any final words?
B.S. Thank you to NWSSA for introducing me to a whole bunch of kindred spirits. I look forward to many more interesting discussions about design, techniques, philosophy and much more.

Artist Spotlight - Michelle Burlitch

Michelle_headshotNestucca River
by Michelle Burlitch
Nestucca River Spirit
by Michelle Burlitch
Stone has played a large role in my life for the past 22 years, albeit not by way of sculpture. As a teenager, I learned to rock climb on the solid granite domes of Tuolumne Meadows on a family trip. Since then, I’ve been climbing all over the US and the world on all types of rocks.
Mountains, rivers and stone are integrally connected. When I picked up a hammer and chisel a year ago, I felt like I’d come home. Now when I wander the wild passages, I return to daily life at peace and enriched - and with a backpack full of rocks. The Nestucca River Spirit is the first piece I’ve completed in a series of river stone carvings.

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Artist Spotlight - Dave Haslett

Yesterday Begins Tomorrow

by Dave Haslett
“Yesterday Begins Tomorrow”, High Cascade Granite on Tenino Sandstone, 70” X 22” X 10”
‘Yesterday Begins Tomorrow’ Now there’s a title for you! It makes a statement and then answers its own implied question. Hopefully that gets you to think – to stop and look at the sculpture. Not an easy thing to pull off in a public setting. This extremely hard stone, with what I hope is some strong artistic merit, did stop people and make them ask questions on installation day. There is something about being in the presence of the sculpture, as opposed to a photo, that has such good energy.
This piece is done in human scale because I find that people react well to something that is about the same size as they are. With touching and then interpretation, a bonding occurs, helping them to ask themselves, “What exactly is going on here?” Good stuff.
Getting people to stop and think was my battle cry going into this piece. I worked at it for about 6 months very casually as I had many other projects going on. It was nice to continually come back to develop and refine the form. The stone just wanted to go this direction and I followed its lead. The surface is polished to 600 grit which keeps the stone subtle, yet gives a fantastic reflection as you move around it.
Dave Haslett on Orcas

If you find yourself in Lake Oswego, Oregon sometime in the next year or so, go down to 2nd & Evergreen and pay a visit. With that I bid you all the best in creating and exploring new form, and I thank the hard working staff that invited me to be included in this issue of Sculpture NorthWest.

To see more of Dave's work check out his website

Artisit Spotlight - Dave Haslett

smYESTERDAY_BEGINS_TOMORROW Dave_on_Orcas "Yesterday Begins Tomorrow"

Now there’s a title for you!It makes a statement and then answers its own implied question. Hopefully that gets you to think – to stop and look at the sculpture. Not an easy thing to pull off in a public setting. This extremely hard stone, with what I hope is some strong artistic merit, did stop people and make them ask questions on installation day. There is something about being in the presence of the sculpture, as opposed to a photo, that has such good energy. This piece is done in human scale because

Read more ...