Au Courant: Who inspires you and why? Where do you find inspiration for your work? Jim: I have always admired and been inspired by classical Greek and Roman sculpture. Like these early sculptors, I am motivated to sculpt the human form. I get great pleasure from the challenge of staying true to the likeness of the subject and presenting the subject in an artistic way that appeals to me and (hopefully) to others. My all-time favorite sculptor is Gian Lorenzo Bernini. His technical skill, craftsmanship and ability to capture human emotions and gestures are incredible.
Au Courant: Do you believe artistic creativity is innate, generally and personally? Jim: I feel that creativity is innate and possessed by everyone to varying degrees and in different ways. Some are artistically creative while others show creativity in other endeavors.
Au Courant: Would you describe the general path you take to start on and complete a piece? Jim: My sculptures generally originate from ideas, images, or experimentation with different art forms. My medium of choice is working with clay. The tactile experience of manipulating clay is extremely rewarding and a great way to release the stresses of everyday life. Once I come up with an idea for a figurative sculpture, I then look for a model that best fits the theme of the piece I wish to complete. Frequently as I work with a model, I am inspired to change course based on the model’s interpretation of a pose, their limitation in holding a pose, or ability to enhance or exaggerate a pose; to make it even more interesting than I had imagined. Once a sculpture is completed, I carefully and patiently start the drying process. Once it has dried sufficiently, it is bisque fired. The clays I use fire to a beautiful white color, and after firing I hand finish the piece to enhance the white, marble-like texture and color. However, I also occasionally use paints and other mixed media materials on my fired pieces to give them a bronze or other interesting texture or look.
Au Courant: How do you like to work, in terms of number of hours? Do you like big blocks of time, or a little every
day? Jim: I direct the Raleigh Sculpture Group which is devoted to the artistic interpretation and exploration of the human form through the medium of clay sculpture. The sessions are normally 3 hours long, which is an appropriate amount of time for a model to pose and seems to work well for the energy level of the participants. I work on my own sculpture while assisting and instructing other participants. When I work solo without the group or a model, I tend to like a large block of time to work. I frequently get very involved with my sculpture and lose all track of time and frequently sculpt 8 to 10 hours at a time.
Au Courant: Is your work informative, introspective, or purely for aesthetics? Jim: My goal for many of my sculptures is to create a work that is visually and aesthetically pleasing. I also enjoy doing works that have a humorous touch, show contradictions in human nature, illustrate Greek and Roman mythology or historical events, or emphasize characteristics of being human.
Au Courant: How do you know when you’re done working on a piece? Jim: I totally obsess over detail. It is difficult for me to decide that a piece is finished and that I should stop working on it. I frequently do what I think is the final and finishing touch only to step back, look at the piece, and then end up spending several more hours on a small detail.
Au Courant: If you get to spend 15 minutes with an artist dead or alive, who would it be and why? Jim: I would love to spend 15 minutes with the sculptor whose work I admire the most and never get tired of seeing: Bernini. It would be great to ask him about his techniques and what basic principles drive his approach to sculpting.
Au Courant: What would you like to be best remembered for? Jim: I would like to be remembered as a sculptor who created works that others enjoyed and appreciated.
Au Courant: Is there anything else that you'd like to share? Jim: While I have received training from several different sculptors and feel that I gained something from each one of them, the internationally famous sculptor that I studied with for 4 years, Martine Vaugel, had the most impact on my technique and method of sculpting. It is her technique and method that I teach to beginners and experienced artists who participate in the Raleigh Sculpture Group. I find working with people—some trained artists and others with no training who just enjoying doing sculpture—very fulfilling. It is especially rewarding to me when participants make great progress in their ability to accurately and artistically create a sculpture that is not only pleasing to them but also to others. I also frequently get inspiration and ideas from observing the interpretation and approach that others take in creating a sculpture.
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