Last year my wife and I were able to attend the Navy SEAL Foundation's fundraiser in Denver. I donated a bronze eagle sculpture titled "Above the Clouds" that can be seen on the commissions page of my site. Being there at that event was a supreme honor. Both my wife and I refer to it as a "spiritual experience" that edified us. We left better people for being with such noble, good and amazing individuals. This organization is one of the best, taking care of the families of those SEALs who paid the ultamite sacrifice. I've been in contact with them about the donation of my newest eagle sculpture, "Defending Liberty" and so far is sounds like everything is ago for them to use it. What an extreme honor to be of something so worthwhile. It's a small thing I'm doing, but grateful to do it none-the-less. Please research them and consider giving to them.
The messy side of bronze sculpture
Bronze sculpting is messy. It really doesn't matter which part of it you do, it's a mess from start to finish. Although many of my sculptures are cast at an art foundry and they do almost all the work, we have to, too often, do some of the gritty stuff here at the studio. That's where I've been the last few days; in a room, literally grinding away at bronze, wearing heavy leather clothes, a dusk mask, massive thick gloves and so forth, for the protection of both the inside and outside of my body. It's hot, hurts and tiring. I'm not complaining, just stating the facts.
I only sculpt what I am inspired to create...unless of course it's a commission and then the work / pay needs to be the inspiration. The survey ideas on the home page are ones that I want to sculpt. Even so, what people like is always not what I think they'd like. It's a surprise to me that the idea of a running strong buffalo is winning. I'd love to create such a theme as a bronze sculpture. The idea get's to my inner-most artist, but it's not what I expected those visiting my site to like. You never know.
The phone rang recently and I was asked to perform at two different events here in Colorado. If you live out of state... come on down! Otherwise those in the northern Colorado area will get a chance to see me July 2nd and July 13th. In the picture here you can see the preparations I'm making to get ready, obviously for another performance. I don't have to get ready this early. My face is the only part I "paint" as the clothes and accessories are all ready painted and permanent. Summer heat takes a toll as does the paint on my baby face. For more information about what it's like to "perform" as a living statue go to this page of the site.
My newest piece, a bronze eagle sculpture titled Defending Liberty, has arrived from the foundry. They sent me pictures of it completed but seeing it in person is that much more fulfilling. If you haven't watched it's process, below I've somewhat chronicled the evolution, or process of this eagle sculpture. The patina (color) isn't too crazy but still adds to the piece. I'm happy.
Bronze sculpture process...what's next for the elk sculpture? Creating the mold.
This picture is not one of my pieces, but it helps show the next stage that my elk sculpture will go through. In the image you can see the "green" of the rubber, usually a high quality silicone rubber that captures the detail of the clay. The the outside is either plastic or plaster to keep the shape. Now that the foundry has the original clay, they will apply liquid rubber with a catalyst, then allow it to set. After enough is applied and it is firm, the outer shell will be created. Once finished the mold becomes the important thing and the original is discarded, or kept by the artist for future reference or memories. The mold is then what liquid, melted wax is poured into. That wax is then used in the lost wax casting process that will eventually create a bronze sculpture, and in this case an elk bronze sculpture. For more info about the casting process, go here. I have confidence in the foundry to create a good mold and complete the piece. We should see it sometime in early Aug or late July.
Being artists, specifically bronze sculptors, my father and I enjoy good press in all it's forms. We've had the chance to be featured in a PBS show, several magazine articles, and even radio broadcasts. Recently Art World News magazine did a nice article about the 25th business of my father's business and called for an interview. I was able to contribute a few quotes to the article and enjoyed doing so. Marketing is different than it use to be. Now you have more than just a few premiere art magazines. There are Linked In art groups, Google + groups, face book and so on and so forth. You have to be everywhere and each one hits various markets / audience. When any outlet such as AWN magazine will do a write up, interview, profile or press of any kind, we take advantage of such an offer.
Before starting the countdown on the camera for the official picture, this image was snapped of the (nearly) entire Hopkins clan working quick to get in place, wipe the dirt off the cheeks, fix the hair, stop the crying and smile. Family reunions are "fun" and crazy. For the last few days we've all eaten too much, especially ice cream, played outside until dehydrated, stayed up too late and attempted to stay happy in the process. 19 kids is a serious handful. I'm that big head in the far top right corner. Luckily my beautiful wife is covering this ugly mug.
The foundry called and needed instructions for patina on the new bronze eagle sculpture. It was unexpected and made my day. Seeing hard work come full circle and finished is the fulfilling part of the process... well, then of course finding good homes for the work as well. However, it's kinda a "Christmas morning" feeling when the work is in it's final stages. By the end of the week, "Defending Liberty" should be here. It's only my second eagle sculpture I've ever done and I think it will be one I'm proud of. Now we shall see how it's received by the public.
Elk sculpture finished... almost
My newest piece, an elk sculpture commission, will be on it's way to the foundry in a few hours. I have a few minor things to finish on the piece and then it's done, at least on my end. The client came this morning and we discussed a title...probably "Mountain Monarch". This has been a tougher piece to do than I expected. Sometimes I'd "feel" it and other times I didn't. It's been fun and taught me a few things. Truthfully I think seeing it completed in bronze, with the patina it needs, will satisfy that nagging voice in my head that it needs a little something more.
(Update) - Piece made it to the foundry and all is well.
These updates are written by Eli Hopkins.