FF: The Stone Sculptor

Happy Friday!  Today as our guest we have Jason Nelson, stone sculptor extraordinaire!  Jason has lots of great ideas, inspiration and tips for us today.

1. Why are you passionate about sculpting?

I started my art career as a painter.  I had some commercial success in several genres, including landscapes, wildlife, portraits, sacred geometry, fantasy and abstracts.  However, by my early twenties, I was becoming bored with creating 2-D artwork and I realized that the art-form I am most passionate about is sculpture.  In particular, a love of sculpting stone has led me to work almost exclusively in this medium for the past 12 years. I like stone mostly because of its inherent natural beauty; there are so many colours patterns and textures to choose from.  When selecting a stone, one usually has an idea of what it will look like, but, its colour, patterns and translucence are often not fully revealed until it has been polished; this voyage of discovery is always interesting for me.  Also, I like working with stone because of the long history of this traditional medium and its durability/permanence. When I work with stone I feel a close connection with both nature and with all of the great artists throughout history that have enjoyed working with this medium.

2. How did you get started with sculpting?

It has been said that all artists are attention seekers, lol.  I remember painting and drawing with my mother and at school as a young child… people seemed to think that I was good at it and I suppose that this attention made me want to keep creating.  Later on, in high school art history class, I was inspired by the fabulous marble sculptures of the Classical, Renaissance, Baroque and Neo-classical periods. By this time I pretty much knew that I would try to be a professional artist.  It’s not easy scraping out a living by carving rocks; sometimes I question my career path (especially when doing my income taxes), but, I know that I need a creative outlet to be happy.

3. Do you have a favorite piece?

I think that my personal favorite piece that I’ve carved  is “Wild Blue“, a Blue Whale cow and calf sculpture.  It is the largest of my sculptures, so far.  I put more time into this one than any other (about 180 hours).  Both whales were carved from a piece of marble from Turkey that weighed 606 lbs.  The base is yellow/green brucite (a type of stone somewhat similar to marble) and I made their eyes from black tourmaline.  This was a commissioned sculpture.
I’m also pretty fond of my “Veined Octopus“, sculpture, which is currently in my personal collection.  It was carved from a piece of “Raspberry Red” Alabaster that weighed around 80 lbs and its eyes are hematite.

4. What exciting future plans do you have for your work?

I am really excited to begin work on my next major project, which is being partially financed with a Northern Arts Grant from the Ontario Arts Council.  In my studio is a piece of translucent, white “Statuario” marble that weighs 2600 lbs.  It is from the legendary quarry located in Cararra Italy; this has been the stone of choice for master sculptors throughout history.  I plan to sculpt a figurative sculpture of a man and woman joined together in a yoga pose.  It will be carved at a scale of about 2/3 of life-size. I expect to spend in the neighborhood of 1000 hours on this sculpture. Finding this time will be the biggest challenge; unless I am able to sell items from my personal collection, I will need to work on making other things to pay the bills in the meantime.

5. What tips and inspiration can you share?

For those considering a career in the fine-arts, I have this advice…
1. Be prepared to work a “day job”, perhaps for many years.  Even if you are very talented, it takes time and a lot of hard work to establish yourself as a full-time artist.
2. Learn business skills.  Many university and college art programs neglect to equip their students with business and marketing skills; these are essential for success as an artist.  Other skills that may be helpful include photography, framing & mat cutting, website and/or blog design and maintenance, general people skills, social media marketing/networking, grant and proposal writing and public speaking.  For sculptors in particular, it is good to be able to use, maintain and if necessary repair power tools and equipment and to be able to do studio maintenance, repairs and upgrades.
3. Challenge yourself.  Try new things.  Don’t be afraid to make “mistakes” (they are only mistakes if you don’t learn from them).

You can learn more about Jason, as well as see more of his gorgeous sculptures at his website, and you can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Fine Art America, on Flickr, and Blip.fm.

Thanks Jason!  I always look at rocks outside and know they’ve got potential, but I don’t know how to get them there.  So thank you for doing what you do and it’s so inspiring to see how you do it!

What’s your favorite piece of Jason’s?  Share your favorites below!

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2 thoughts on “FF: The Stone Sculptor

    • Hi Sarah! I do too! It was hard to not go outside and find a rock to go chip away at myself! But, I think things like that are better left to those who have the talent Jason does!

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