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Luckily the collector who commissioned the elk sculpture isn't in any rush or put a deadline on me.  However, sometimes clients need their sculpture cast in bronze and finished by a certain date and you feel the pinch.  Pressure can dampen the creative juices.  So if the client didn't put a deadline on this, why do I feel it?  Well, we are having a family reunion in a couple weeks.  My sister and her family from out of state are taking this for me to the foundry near where they live.  This saves the cost of shipping as well as better treatment during transit...hopefully, and it will be in a A/C cooled mini-van instead of a hot semi on the open highway.  I realize the deadline is self imposed and I could avoid it, but I'll use it as a motivator.  Truth be told, I need a motivator.  For some reason I've yet to figure out, this elk sculpture has been a pain in my side.  The details are coming, yet it remains a frustration to me.  The antlers need to be donesoon and are extremely important.  They scare me.  

 
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Off on adventures they go.  Our children (pictured) are off in the distance to find excitement and fun here at the studio.  Luckily my father's home, also where the studio is located, has lots and lots of land around it.  Now that they are out for summer vacation, my wife, who manages the business for Mark and I, brings them to the studio.  Hopefully they will create memories that they will have for years.  I already spent too much time today scouting out a home for a new secluded tree house, finding supplies for homemade slingshots and everything else kids can imagine.  My fun memories from childhood are many and I hope that I can balance the demands of being a bronze sculptor and that of being a good father so they also create such memories.  Now back to the elk sculpture commission...

 
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To often we forget.  
This Memorial Day I thank those who have served.  Those who have bled, hurt, suffered and died on the fields of battle.  I'm grateful for you selfless acts to save your brothers-in-arms, others, to defend our nation and the cause of liberty.  I honor and reverence heroes that didn't think of themselves or their well-being but ran towards the fight.  Your acts will not be forgotten.  I thank you.  

 
Artists need reference.  When one works only from memory there's always need for help.  I know artists who travel far distances to study their subjects and some who must have live models for their work.  I appreciate that need and often am humbled at how much reference material I actually use.  Today I learn from a "social media" website that there are several elk just down the street from the studio!  Of course it's perfect timing as I'm working on an elk sculpture commission.  I jump in the car, run down and am able to see them resting in the shade of a tree, playing around and having nap time.  What a great opportunity.  Two images I snapped are below along with an updated image of the clay elk nearing completion.  
 
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Selling a sculpture is rewarding.  Today a local collector visited the studio. He had previously seen "Torso (Female)" a few weeks ago when he visited but came back to purchase it.  It's a bronze sculpture of the female figure I did a wile back. You can read more of my thoughts about this piece on the sculpture page. When someone enjoys your work enough to purchase it, there is satisfaction for the soul.  When one is touched by a piece of art you created to the degree that they want it to decorate their home, the sun shines a little brighter.  The reasons artist create is as diverse as the people.  However, I think for most of us, at least this sculptor, we create what inspires us, what we enjoy viewing.  Then sharing what we've made is key to inspire others, but selling what we've done allows us to continue doing it.  I'm grateful to have sold a piece today. Now, back at it. 

 
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Friday night I met with a painter, gallery owner and friend.  We have toyed with the idea of doing a combo project for some time.  I'd sculpt and she'd paint.  Some final ideas were tossed around and we came up with the idea of going with the raven theme.  There is a mystic with the bird, an appeal and fascination that many have for it.  I will create a smaller bronze sculpture and she will do a painting that works with the sculpture.  They will NOT be the same thing, it's not a painting of the sculpture.  They will compliment each other and work as a pair.  Keep checking for updates.  Problem is that I have many other things on my plate

 
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It's no secret that in order to keep sculpting, you have to sell what you create.  This is true for any artist.  Granted I could create on my own time, but to do this professionally my bronze sculpture needs an outlet, a way to be purchased by public.  These "outlets" are often art galleries.  A new gallery in Park City, Utah now has some of my work and sent this attached picture (seen is "Full Force" that is on the Sculpture / Painting page).  Working with galleries is a balance.  Do they represent your work well, are they passionate, is it just an "employee" who sells the work and lacks enthusiasm for it?  These are all things that need considering.  Artists need galleries.  The relationships are symbiotic, we work with for one another's benefit.  It's a great day when you develop a relationship with a gallery, they enjoy your art and both of you do well.  

 
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It's too easy as an artist / sculptor to get frustrated during the later stages of creation.  When you first come up with a concept and "play" with an idea, it's new and fun, exciting and you enjoy that messing around portion.  Then the work starts.  You can see the basic elk body emerging in the picture of the clay I previously posted.  However, in that sketch, the imagination makes up what might not actually be seen.  Then the detailing and need for reference material really starts.  You scan books, look at pictures, google it, change this, tweak that. It can become overwhelming especially if you're not in love with the piece yet.  This (soon to be) bronze elk sculpture will eventually be finished...it has to...the client liked what he saw and we made the agreement. Don't mistake my words, I enjoy what I do and eventually I'll "see" the piece with different eyes, get it where I want it and really fall in love with it. I'm just not there quite yet. (In this image, the body is clay, the antlers are wax) 

 
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So there I was running on the trails in the nature preserve behind my home and saw a heron, actually several of them, fishing and chilling in the spring air (I also saw some crazy bit fish literally jumping out of the water constantly).  Seeing herons fly makes me want to sculpt one. Seeing them in pose makes me want to create another heron sculpture.  I want to sculpt an egret to match "Grace" small.  However according to the survey posted on the home page, it's not what the market wants.  Then the question remains, sculpt what I want or what other's want? The current elk sculpture I'm working on is a commission.  It's what someone else wants.  The survey is there out of curiosity more than anything, but it does give good insight into how to proceed.  "Something Whimsical" is in lead.  The debate over marketing vs. art will continue.  As my father says, "I don't sculpt aardvarks cause they wont' sell".  However, when inspired by something and a new bronze sculpture is created a market can present itself.  For now the elk sculpture takes my attention and what inspires my heart will follow...and hopefully be enjoyed by others. 

 
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A nice local collector of our sculpture came by the studio yesterday.  He wanted to purchase a full bodied bronze elk sculpture that we didn't have one. So after a few minutes of discussion, he had me start something.  This image of the clay I have thus far is the beginning of a potential art commission.  Due to some upcoming deadlines and other projects, time is short.  However that will not cause any loss of quality.  The struggle I'm having now is how to make this elk sculpture different from so many others.  The client wants it bugling.  That's fine, but this needs to be an "Eli Hopkins sculpture" too, not just another elk.