Matinicus Island, Maine

Two nothern pike sculpturesTwo Paintings - Two Styles

     I painted the top Northern Pike in watercolor and acrylic paint on paper in 2013 and carved the bottom one from wood, applied metal and covered it with acrylic paint last month. I consider both paintings equally successful.

     Every work of art develops from a series of intellectual and physical decisions. Each requires planning, effort, equipment, practice and a consistent stream of decisions. The carved pike began with the subtraction of material from a block of pine, followed by the addition of metal and color in patterns that grew to represent a specific fish. Painting a pike on a flat surface involved applying paint to a neutral ground in an additive process that continued until a satisfying relationship between all the parts was realized.

     The Cushing artist Bernard “Blacky” Langlois (Visit his site for samples of his work) said that one of the reasons he moved from traditional painting to painted sculpture was that “paint is too sophisticated, too removed. When I work(ed) with it the distance between my hand and the canvas, the distance the brush represented, was too great. The balance was wrong. Painting is ninety percent intellectual and ten percent physical. “ (When) working with wood, the balance is “closer to even.”

     Shaping wood with hand and power tools requires specific physical skills in service of a plan which first identifies parts and patterns that visually define a specific creature and then how to reveal them by removing material from a block of wood of a size and strength to support your original three-dimensional design. When you start to carve you need to know where the curve of feather will emerge from a smooth surface and whether that curve will emphasize the wingtip or return it smoothly to the overall design. My carvings are rooted in reality, but the process of design, carving and coloring often push them into the realm of the possible. The tail and wing feathers of one duck are layered and twisted sheet metal that capture the softness and delicacy of feathers with edges sharp enough to cut your finger - an artistically exciting choice that was a constant from the initial design.

     The doors of HighWater Studio will open and paintings, carvings and prints will be on exhibit by the time the island apple trees bloom in a few short weeks. I hope you will stop by the next time you wander the southern end of beautiful Matinicus Island. Until then, my work can always be discovered at dsearsart.com.

Onward and upward,
Cushing, ME

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