My Approach to Working with Clients on Commissions

A fun approach to commision work is to see it as a joint project. I especially like the idea of checking out the works the client already owns and letting that influence the project .
Sounds like a blast….

gary scott's sculpture blog

happyclientI do love it when someone enjoys my work enough to want to invest in it at a gallery or exhibition – it gives you a kind of affirmation I guess; but for me there is no greater joy than being commissioned to undertake a bespoke sculpture.  The client will have seen my work and feel inspired enough to want to have one of my sculptures made specifically for them and usually situated in a particular place.detail

Commissioning leads to a special relationship which I not only enjoy but influences me and takes my work in unanticipated directions – after all no two briefs are ever the same and of course the locations differ enormously.

Rhythmic Form2I always go into a new commission with an open mind and look to respond to the site specifically and also to draw upon the tastes and aspirations of my client – what style is their home, what artists do they admire and what do they have on their…

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Experiments in Color

Anyone who has ever taken an art history class is likely to know that the ancient Greek sculptures originally had been painted. Our modern expectation is to appreciate the beauty of the stone “unadorned”.

Sculptor David Worthington’s current exhibition show cases a series of designs called ‘Experiments in Colour’. Mr. Worthington’s sculptures are of marble with color applied using paint that is more commonly used on custom cars.

“What I wanted to do with the colour was to de-stabilise the stone so that it is no longer purely a marble stone object – there is something else going on.”


Sculpting in Cardboard

Any material can be used as a medium for sculpture. So far, diamond and plutonium have seen limited use.

Numerous people have and do work with paper. Not sure what is was about Bartek Eisner’s work that caught my eye but I thought I’d share what I have found.

I really like that he kept the raw cardboard edge in this one:

The tree branch with the raven in it might be my favorite:

Bartek Eisner is a freelancer out of Berlin who does other work in addition to sculpture. One item that got me thinking was a foosball player he created. Makes me wonder if a 3D printed item would be fussed solid enough to stand up to being used on a foosball table?

Source/Mr. Eisner’s web site:

An Underwater Museum

Learning how to dive is one of those activities I wish I had made time to pursue. In addition to being able to be up close with amazing aquatic wildlife, swimming through old shipwrecks  always sounded like a lot of fun.

Now, imagine being able to swim through interesting works of art as well. Referring to Jason deCaires Taylor’s seabed sculptures as a museum may be a bit of a stretch but I bet it is a blast for divers.

Do you think it would be even more of an adventure if you have no hint about what the works are; before your dive?


Conversations in Stone

I discovered Kevin Donegan via an announcement promoting his a new show. I think what caught my eye was the name of the exhibit. The show is named after the title of one of his pieces.

Often a lot of thought goes into the naming of a work. I know for me, that one of the hopes I have is that the name I assign will be thought-provoking; along with reflecting the spirit of the piece. Mr.Donegan’s solo exhibition is called “Lock is Key and Other Conversations”. Not sure why but the show name got my mind wandering and I found my imagination’s juices getting started. So, of course, I had to check out some of Mr. Donegan’s work.

I’m not sure how it got started but these days every artist has to write an Artist Statement. I haven’t yet gotten to the point where I can write mine. How does one sum up your personal take on art without sounding hokey or pretentious? I thought the last half of the artist statement that Mr. Donegan wrote, to be well said:

I have a deep connection to stone.  It speaks to me both brazenly and intimately through form, sound, smell, and feel.  I value it for its integrity and character and consider every sculpture a collaboration.  The classification of stone as inanimate (or lifeless) seems to me unfair, if not a complete fallacy.  I believe it is alive.

Here some other examples of Mr. Donegan’s work in stone:


Kevin Donegan’s web site:

Sculpture That Focuses on the Negative — Space

Incorporating the surface a sculpture is mounted on, into the composition of the work itself is hardly original. Surely you’ve seen examples of half a car, or other objects, mounted on the outside wall of a building.

The blog Everything With a Twist caught my eye with a post that included a few photos of the work of Matteo Pugliese. I checked out Mr. Pugliese’s web site and found he has produced a sculpture series called “Extra Moenia”; in which his work is seen to be struggling to be released, or bound by, the wall it is mounted on.

I wouldn’t describe Mr. Pugliese’s work as playful but it is fun, and striking to the eye, to imagine the continuation of his work into the wall.


Matteo Pugliese’s web site:

Stonemasonry and the Craft Versus Art Debate

I’m not a fan of the Huffington Post but they post on such a wide range of topics, invariably I end up reading some of their work. Lately, I have seen a few news items about Thea Alvin and the stone sculpture-landscape she is installing at Duke. You have got to give the Huff some credit, they are the ones that made the editorial decision to focus their reporting of this event on the tension between the craft of stonemasonry and the art of sculpture.

The item has a succinct quote from Hellen Diaz and Mike de Palma, of New Castle Stoneworks:

“Stonemasonry is one of the earliest crafts in civilization’s history. … Stone installation is an intricate art; the mental aptitude it requires to endure a project for two or three years and turn simple stone into a beautiful and truly unique piece of art is enormous.”

Mr. Chameides’ post starts off with some links on stonemasonry and the craft vs. art debate. I’d like to highlight a couple of quotes from the related material he points to.

From the ART TIMES, Sept/ Oct 2009; By Donald Windsor:

Art is craft that leaps into a metaphor. True art evokes meanings and emotions far beyond what the viewers observe. Craft remains the underlying basis of art, but no matter how well done, is merely what it looks like.

From the Tate blog, 13 October 2011; By Kirstie Beaven:

Perhaps intention makes the distinction. If a maker intends to express something perhaps that makes it art.

However, I asked a few makers at a contemporary craft fair last week, and they often felt that it was the material they worked with that made it craft – textiles, ceramics, glass seem to fall into the craft category, never mind if their intention as maker might be an artistic one.

Perhaps it’s how a maker learnt their skill. As an apprentice coming through a process of learning a skill, hand to hand, as it were? That’s craft. As a fully formed genius honing an expressive talent? That’s art.

Perhaps it’s use. Something wearable or useable – jewellery or furniture for example – seems to fit neatly under the craft label, while something that has no clear practical purpose might be called art. However, this doesn’t take into account the decorative crafts, nor the artists who produce practical items.

As for Mrs. Alvin – from what I’ve seen her specialty is dry-laid stone arches. Mr. Chameides describes her work this way:

This extraordinary woman uses her bare hands and a whole lot of muscle and creative energy to build amazing rock structures that curl and twist, undulate in ways that delight and amaze and challenge.

Here’s Mrs. Alvin’s take on the art in stonemasonry:

But to Alvin, respecting the craft alone “does not make art.” To make art as a stonemason, she says, you must “speak to the stone … see the beauty in the stone.” She clearly sees it as a mystical experience to create a structure that is “perfect in its expression of imperfection.”


Thea Alvin’s web site:

Apple Picks a Statue to Remember Steve Jobs

Apple ran a competition, with over 10,000 artists participating, to design a statue of Steve Jobs; to be installed in front of their headquarters. Man, does the Huffington Post hate the piece Apple selected; calling it “unfortunate”.

Anyone who’s ever owned an iPhone or Mac, or who’s even just seen those things, knows that Steve Jobs was into sleek lines and bold colors, when it comes to design. Radenovic’s winning statue is none of those things

MacRumors posted a translated description of the bust from the sculptor Dragan Radenovic:

I wanted to present some of the recognizable Serbian motifs such as a letter Ш which is the last letter of the Serbian alphabet and Apple rather liked the idea. I’ve also placed the Latin letter A and binary code 0.1 too. I’ve wanted it all to represent a sort of “magnet”.

Here’s what the Huffington Post made of the magnet concept:

During his lifetime, colleagues described Jobs as having a “reality-distortion field” that swayed coworkers and audiences to his way of thinking. That’s the best explanation we could come up with for the magnet.


Marilyn Monroe is Moving to Hamilton, NJ

Grounds for Sculpture is getting a new statue. Moving from Palm Springs, to her new home in New Jersey, is “Forever Marilyn” a 26-foot-tall, 34,000-pound statue based on the 1955 movie “The Seven-Year Itch”.

Not really sure what is going on with the fire hose in this picture. Having spent some time in the Palm Springs area (29 Palms to be exact) I’m guessing that the statue can get pretty dusty after a while.

The Monroe sculpture is part of a series that sculptor Seward Johnson created called “Icon Revisited”. Some other pieces in the series are a sculpture based on the famous picture of a WWII vet kissing a nurse when the end of the war in Europe was announced and a sculpture he did based on the famous Grant Wood painting “American Gothic”.

Recreating popular icons in three dimensions is sure to be popular with the general public. The concentration of so many kinds of sculpture at Grounds for Sculpture makes it a very cool place to visit. Hopefully adding “Forever Marilyn,” to their collection, will bring them lots of new visitors.

Another thing I learned from this news item is that some of the sculptures at Grounds for Sculpture are replicas. I’m assuming that helps lower their acquisition costs and replicas certainly can widen an artists exposure. I guess I’ll have to visit Grounds for Sculpture again to see how transparent they are about the reproductions; I don’t remember them highlighting which pieces are replicas when I was there the first time.


Mr. Johnson’s web site:

Drawing Freeform Metal Lines

Dutch designer Joris Laarman has developed a version of 3D printing utilizing welding that also incorporates a robotic arm. The result is that he is able to print metal lines in mid-air without the need for any support structure.

Following on from the machine Laarman developed last year that used a quick-drying resin, this method of printing makes it possible to create 3D objects on any given surface independent of inclination and smoothness. The technique can be used to print with metals including stainless steel, aluminium, bronze or copper.


Retrospective of Richard Deacon

I read a couple of reviews of the new exhibit of Richard Deacon works at Tate Britain. I have to say, his use of form is very intriguing.

Perhaps we should have pity on the poor writer faced with trying to describe these sculptures in words. Here is what a couple of Guardian writers came up with:

Richard Deacon’s sculptures turn and twist and coil and flow. Sometimes they are solid ceramic geometries, whose weight and density can almost be felt with the eye. Others you can see right through, as if they were lines drawn in space, or the carcass of an animal, or a boat stripped to the ribs. They can be like physical X-rays. Some are like body parts or shells. Others are more like a place, somewhere you could crawl into and hide.

I think Adrian Searle did a better job when he admitted how fruitless his task is:

There are forms here that almost escape comprehension, and which feel like spacial conundrums. In his work movement and stasis, volume and gravity, openness, closure and conjunction come together in all kinds of inventive, unexpected and surprising ways.

Here is Rachel Cooke’s description of one of the works:

Tall Tree in the Ear (1984), in which laminated wood is joined by galvanised steel and blue canvas, suggests the shapes thrown by rhythmic acrobats as they prance across the competition mat – an analogy that is, perhaps, less fanciful than it sounds.

Fortunately the Internet supports the inclusion of some pictures:


Mr. Deacon’s web site (it is a bit laborious to use but full of interesting work): (check out his series called Art for Other People; which are works on a scale that could fit in a living room)

Sculpture for Underprivileged Communities

Just read an item about the Glasgow-based sculptor Andy Scott. A key aspect of his portfolio is the work he has created for various housing associations to provide sculptures for regenerated housing areas.

It sounds like these pieces often become icons for the communities where they are installed.

“I like to base my sculptures on what influences the community. And try to take my inspiration from the people and history of the area.

“I’ve found that artwork gives communities a sense of pride – they want to look after them. And it also gets kids interested in art and design, which is a huge bonus.”

If I understand correctly, Mr. Scott’s current project is a sculpture for the entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal at The Kelpies in Scotland. The piece is very attractive but the fact that it also moves in conjunction with the working of the lock is very cool.

Standing 30 metres tall, The Kelpies features two horses’ heads that rock back and forwards, displacing water from a lock to let ships in and out of the canal.


Sculpting With Geometry

There seems to be quite a few people who use math to aid them in their 3D modeling; for their artistic pursuits. Just read an interesting piece, written by David Pescovitz, about the Berkeley professor Carlo Séquin; who has been using math to influence his art for quite a long time.

In the last two years, inexpensive desktop 3D printers have been hyped as a transformative manufacturing and “maker” technology, but these machines started out large, expensive, and clunky, demanding finicky software for designing the objects. Séquin, Wright, and their students developed algorithms to simplify each step: creation and manipulation of 3D objects on the screen, sharing the designs online, and printing better 3D models. For product designers, CAD tools and 3D printers became a boon for rapid prototyping. For Séquin, the technology was a bridge from bits to atoms. Finally, the complex geometries he imagined could be made tangible.

Another quote from the article highlights the potential, to stimulate variations on the theme, when starting from an algorithm:

“Once I have a simple procedural geometric form in the computer, I can change some of the parameters and make 20 or 30 pieces on the 3D printer that are in the same family,” he explains, grabbing various models to illustrate his point or, if one is not in reach, twisting his hands and arms to represent the forms.

Towards the end they quote Mr. Séquin on his outlook on art:

“Art and science really have the same origin,” Séquin says. “They are often both about intense observation and abstraction to obtain a deeper understanding of complex ideas and systems.”


Kevin Mack’s Art

Discovered his work via Boing Boing. He creates both digitally created sculptures that have been 3D printed and 3D renderings of digitally created sculptures as 2D prints. I think that makes a lot of sense. If you take the time to make a nice rendering, to help sell your sculpture, why not sell prints of the renderings.

Here is an example of a rendering print:

Here is an example of one of his 3D prints:

I also like how he adds some whimsical thoughts to the descriptions of his prints. Mr. Mack clearly has a great sense of humor:

There have been no published clinical studies that prove this sculpture can’t grant wishes.

The piece deals with the power and the illusion of boundaries and control. It offers an antidote for the irrational fear of annihilation and void. It contains everything necessary for enlightenment.

The piece is intended to inspire imagination and contemplation of the self.


Kevin Mack’s Shapeways page:

Sculpted Egg Shells

I had seen pictures of Brian Baity’s work floating around the internet a while back and was amazed. However, now I look at these egg shell  sculptures through the frame of 3D printing. While constraining himself to working with a thin layer of material (an egg shell), his work shows the power of negative space.

Mr. Baity even manages to add texture to the already thin shell.

Another thing to take away from his work is the choices he makes in the stands he places these sculptures on (just as important as the correct frame for a painting).

I can’t begin to imagine how he transports his work. Insurance on his pieces must be crazy expensive.


Interview with Sculptor Sandy Stoddart

I’m not familiar with his work. He is described as “the go-to-guy if you should want a great man from Scotland’s past memorialised in bronze”.

Some of Mr. Stoddart’s thoughts on art:

He has spoken sometimes about the “anaesthetic” and “narcotic” quality of art, the way it can ease the pain of both the artist and audience and offer a temporary release from a suffering world. When we first met he showed me a small clay figure of Hypnos, god of sleep, and explained that he had been feeling very glum and squalid until he made it.

He likes the idea of his work being lost within the grand tradition of classical sculpture, so that it cannot easily be identified as being by his hand. He is not attempting to express anything about himself in his statues, but his choices of whom to sculpt do, of course, say something about what sort of man he sees himself as being and what he values. He wants to celebrate intellectual rather than physical achievement, which is one reason why he has never made a statue of anyone from the world of sport.