Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter, etc.
I watch the model, I feel the tension of her movement in my own body. With my knife I make bold cuts in the block of clay, trying to capture the essence of the pose. I have to work fast, keeping the energy flowing, and when I start to see some life emerging from the clay, I feel alive too…
I draw a few lines, quickly, sometimes with a couple of watercolor strokes. I do not think, just keep my focus on the model, enjoy the freedom of my hand moving, and the contact of the charcoal on the paper. Then, once in a while, the drawing is alive and I can feel the movement and the mood of the model, and I see that I have nothing to add to it and that if do, it is going to ruin it…
My main focus is on figurative sculpture and drawing. In my drawings I like to combine charcoal, ink and watercolor, which allow me to work quickly, my main interest being to capture life and energy in as spontaneous and raw a manner as possible. I draw almost exclusively from life, my preference being very short poses. I do not try to tell a story, as much as to capture the moment, the pose, the movement, the mood. I enjoy carving once a while a stone or a beautiful piece of wood, but I create most of my sculptures in clay, either from life or from my life drawings. I then cast them in bronze, which is time consuming but very rewarding.
I spend now my time between my studio in Los Gatos (CA), various life drawing sessions in the Bay area, the West Valley College foundry and teaching life drawing and sculpture.
What are your biggest challenges in creating art?
Finding a good balance between the time to create art (practice, thinking about it, researching ideas, developing projects) and everything else which is important but secondary to making art, such as PR (Website, Instagram, Facebook, etc…), developing one’s network (customers, other artists, galleries, etc…).
And not getting distracted once it is time to create art. This requires discipline, and dedication to practice… and there is still room for improvement there!…
What is a day of working like in your studio/creative space? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
I create a lot of my work from live models, which means that I go several times a week to various studios/school/Art places to draw or sculpt with other artists. So my ritual is just to get there. Once I am in front of the model, I do not have anything else to do but to draw or work my clay. Nothing to distract me from that.
Back to my studio, it is very rare that I retouch my live drawings, but it is different for my sculptures. I have to finish them (take the clay off the armature, and prepare it for the firing for example). Then, if I want to cast a piece in bronze, I have to do all the work to make the mold, cast the wax (which I can do at my studio) and cast the bronze, do the chasing and the patina (which I do at the West Valley College foundry where I am a teaching assistant). This means often long hours when I want to finish a piece. However this is easy. Just hard work.
Getting in the “zone” in my studio is more challenging. I need to get an idea which excites me and gets me started.
When I am not working on a project or actively looking for an idea, I try to spend a couple of hours a day just practicing my drawing skills. I have a pad in front of my computer and practice from photos, which I do not really like to do but find very helpful.
I can also spend a couple of hours every day on my computer to organize my work (I take photos of all my drawings and sculptures, which I need to edit, sort, select), to communicate with the artist community, to look for and respond to call for entries, to maintain my website and Instagram (which I update often with my latest work), to prepare the classes I teach, to search for information (about materials, shows, artists, etc…), to order material and equipment online… And when a show is coming up I have to prepare for it, which sometimes can be very time consuming….
And whatever I do in my studio, I do it with the music on (I listen to all kind of music, depending on my mood).
When you are in need of inspiration are there particular things you read, listen to, look at or do to help find that idea or fuel your work?
For me, inspiration comes from a lot of practice from life. Back in my studio, I often look at other artists work online. However, most of the time, when I am not in front of a model and I need an idea for a sculpture I browse my drawings (I have thousands of them on my computer).
I am looking for an expression, or a gesture, which can trigger my excitement. What I do not do enough is just to relax and think and dream…
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I have been practicing Aikido (Japanese martial art) for over 45 years. One of the side benefits is that it really helps me to be grounded and relaxed when I am drawing from life.
What advice would you give others just beginning their creative careers?
I am at the beginning of my career and here is the advice I try to remind myself over and over: Do not be a control freak… Let things happen, do not focus on the result but enjoy the process. Do not judge the outcome until you are done with it. Do not look for perfection but for progress, And most of all, do not fear mistakes, because they are the root of progress and growth, and of many discoveries, especially in art. And practice, practice, practice.