alabaster

The "Hotel Series" is Complete by Mike McCarthy

“My Heart” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Alabaster

“My Heart” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Alabaster

So what do you do when you are stuck out of town for work? More importantly, when you are there for several weeks at a time? Do you watch a lot of movies, go for walks, workout at the hotel pool or gym? All of those are fine ideas. But what I think is a better one is to bring along a piece of stone and do a little carving! That’s right, I said bring along a piece of stone and carve away.

“From the Beginning to the End” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Indiana Limestone

“From the Beginning to the End” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Indiana Limestone

“Masquerade” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Soapstone

“Masquerade” - Part of the “Hotel Series” - Soapstone

This does take a little planning and thought. For instance, stone is heavy. So, the piece you choose to bring along has to be a small enough piece that it will fit in your luggage and not make it weigh too much. You also need tools. The only tools I think travel well, don’t make a mess, and don’t make too much noise are rasps. However, rasps can not be carried on a plane, so you have to check a bag. Be prepared to have your luggage checked by the TSA. I typically get one of their love notes in my luggage saying they have inspected the contents. Finally, you have to prepare the room you are going to work so you don’t create a mess for the cleaning staff. I typically use a towel laid out that I can then shake into a garbage bag or can.

Thought it all through? Good, you are all set. Think of the great dedicated carving time you could have when you are stuck in a town where you don’t really want to be. Bring along a stone and some tools and create some beautiful art!

The three photos in this article are all pieces I worked on over the last month while out of town for an installation. I only did the rough out then brought them back for the final sanding, polishing and basing. Bringing along some stone is a great way for me to not hate having to travel for work.

What Is Your Favorite Sculpture by Mike McCarthy

I am asked sometimes, "What is your favorite piece you have done?" I typically answer that I really don't have a favorite piece. Partly, it is hard to remember all of the pieces I have done. I have been carving stone seriously for about six or seven years and I can be prolific. My former college professor used to answer that question; "The next one." I would have to agree. I think most artists are not satisfied with their work. We tend to see all of the problems and focus on them. It is always best if I have a deadline so that I know when I am done. It is also best if my work goes away. I don't like seeing it around because again, I focus on those little details that are not working. All that said, I do have a few pieces that I have done recently that if I had to pick which is my favorite, it would be one of these shown in this article.

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“Into The Wind” Indiana Limestone Sculpture

“Wisdom” Indiana Limestone

“Wisdom” Indiana Limestone

Finally...The "Born From The Broken" And Some Others Are Finished by Mike McCarthy

Untitled Bordiglio Marble Contemporary Sculpture

Untitled Bordiglio Marble Contemporary Sculpture

Over the last few weeks is I have been unable to work down in the studio on my larger work because of a sick dog. The only good things about this is that I have had time to work on some of the small pieces that I can do in the house.

Stained Indiana Limestone Sculpture - "Born from the Broken"

Stained Indiana Limestone Sculpture - "Born from the Broken"

Since February last year, I spent the vast majority of my time on a large public commission for Norton Hospital. The sculpture was too large and complex to have time to work on anything other than this one piece. I had other commissioned work, but could never feel confident to get to that, much less the myriad of ideas I have in my head just waiting to find their way into a piece of stone. That commission installed in April. Once complete, I immediately began work on the two larger pieces that have been delayed. I started carving a fountain that is a commissions well as an abstract piece for a show later this summer. While it was great to start in on some fresh ideas and pieces, I still had some small work that I had started prior to starting the Norton commission, as well as the many ideas that are just waiting to burst out of my head. I really thought that after the Norton sculpture was completed I would have time for both the larger work and the smaller pieces. It just hasn't happened. 

Tortoise Shell Alabaster Contemporary Sculpture

Tortoise Shell Alabaster Contemporary Sculpture

So, two weeks ago one of our dogs got sick. Because of the nature of the illness, she needed constant supervision. That meant that I couldnt work in the studio. While that has put some stress on finishing the larger work, it has provided the room in the schedule to complete a few of the smaller pieces that I has already started as well as get some ideas out of my head.

The untitled tortoise shell alabaster piece that is pictured here is one of the pieces I started over a year ago. Because of the difficulty of the stone to carve, I had set it aside in favor of other pieces several times. That piece is now complete.

I also had started a soapstone baboon that was not going in the right direction. I set that one aside as well and had not been able to return to it. I have started back into this one as well. (You can also see my dog is up and moving now!!)

Not only did I have the two (and many others) that I started and have been unable to get back to, I also have been looking at so many of the pieces of stone in my studio that I have not been able to start. That has now changed.

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I have started and completed two other small pieces. The first was a piece that actually broke off of the large figure from my Norton commission. When it broke off, I was devastated. Several times I started to throw the piece out because it disgusted me. For some reason I never did. I am glad I did not, as I feel it turned out into a pretty nice piece.  I also started and finished a piece of Bordiglio Marble. This is a piece of marble that has been split off of a 3/4 life-size figure I am in progress on. It was a thin piece and I thought I saw something else in it, but it changed its mind and we ended up with the nice little piece that is on the double poles. 

So, the good news is that my dog is on the mend and next week I will be able to get back into the studio. But what it taught me is that I still need to take a bit of time to work on the small pieces that have provided such a great sense of accomplishment this past two weeks.

New Sculpture Completed by Mike McCarthy

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Over the past two months I have been frantically working on getting ideas out of my head and into stone. I have so many ideas that I was not able to get to while working on my Norton Hospital commission. I also had several ideas started before the commission and hadn't been able to get back to them to finish them. So finally, I have completed my first gallery small sculpture in months.

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This piece is untitled as yet, although I have had the suggestion that it looks like a sting ray. That sounds interesting, so that may end up as the title. Even though the title is not complete, the rest of the piece is. This was one of the pieces I started before the Norton commission. It was a very difficult stone to carve. All of the veining created some fragility. I spent a lot of time changing direction and pressure to keep pieces from breaking off. There is also a big difference in the density throughout the stone. I would be carving along on one of the harder areas and all of the sudden the grinder would dig in. It was tough to control the pace of the tools. All that bings said, those difficulties are caused by things that create such a beautiful stone! So, as soon as I finished this piece, I ordered some more pieces!

New Sculpture in the Works by Mike McCarthy

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From June of 2017 to April of 2018, I really only worked on my largest commission, “Cor Liberum”, a sculptural experience for Norton Hospital, Audubon campus. While I enjoyed working on that piece, because of the scale and timeframe, I did not work on anything else. I have so many ideas in my head that need to get out. This is the only time I wish I were a painter. They can move a lot faster. 

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So, once I finished the Norton piece, I have been scatter brained. I started carving so many pieces I can’t keep them strait. Slowly I am narrowing down the work. I finished two pieces which helped. I have set two others aside. I work on one just on the weekends and the final one, the largest of them, is also closing in on being done. This is good as I have two new commissions to get started on.  

Three In-progress Pieces are Under Way by Mike McCarthy

After working on my Norton Hospital commission for so long, I have had a flood of ideas flowing from my brain that I almost can't control them. I have started on several new pieces and have a new commission that I also have been working on the moquette to show the client. I have set a rotation to work on the various pieces so that I keep sane!

The first is from a piece of Tortoise Shell Alabaster. This is a really cool piece of alabaster I have had for about a year. I started carving it soon after I got the rock, but it is a very fragile stone so I put it aside. Then the Norton Commission happened and I was swamped. Now that "Cor Liberum is done, I saw the stone sitting on the shelf and it started calling to me to say I know where I want to go. It has such great color and dimension, it was telling me all I had to do is cut some cool shapes in it and it would work. 

The second piece I am working on right now is a larger Indian Limestone piece that I am going to submit to the Josephine Sculpture Garden show. Josephine is a very cool sculpture garden in Frankfort, KY. The owner, Melanie VanHouten converted her family farm into a sculpture park. I really hope that my work is chosen to be part of the show as I think the garden is such an awesome deal. So, I am back to working on a piece I started about two months ago when I couldn't stand to not get the idea out of my head and committed to stone in at least a partial way. The cool thing was that because of finishing up "Cor Liberum" I had to set this piece aside. I needed that from a scheduling point of view, but the piece needed to sit and let me understand where it wanted to go. The stone and I have agreed on a direction and I think I have a better understanding. It is funny how stone communicates with you. Sometimes it says that it wants to go in a different direction. You just have to listen.

The third piece I am working on is a really different idea for me. Several years ago when I was working in steel, I started welding up an abstract sculpture of a sail boat. the plan was to have a piece of angle iron serve as the ship with a steel sail. I am really not doing any metal sculpture now. However, I have done a lot of cleaning to be able to have space to store all of the left over stone from "Cor Liberum" and I ran across this welded start.; Since I already had this welded piece, I thought, rather than throwing it out,  it would be nice to go ahead and finish it. I have decided to try a limestone sail to see if that works with the rest of the sculpture. Stay tuned to see how it goes.

 

LVA Open Studio Weekend is this Weekend by Mike McCarthy

If you are in Louisville this weekend (November 4th and 5th), come by my studio and say hello! I am participating in the 2017 LVA Open Studio Weekend, a fundraiser for the Louisville arts community. I will have a lot of work there ant it will all be at a special studio sale price. You can also see the progress I have made on "Cor Liberum", my commission for Norton Hospital. You can stand next to the pieces and get the feel for how big this piece really is. I will have special pricing on Limestone carving blanks as well.

My studio is located at:

1807 Cargo Ct.

Louisville, KY 40299

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"Made You Look" The Latest Show I Am In by Mike McCarthy

I have been invited to join Karen Terhune and William Duffy in a sculpture show at Kore Gallery in Louisville, KY. This show is all abstract work in stone. This is the first time I have shown at Kore. The opening reception is next Friday, October 13, 2017 from 5pm to 8pm. If you are in Louisville, come by and see the 10 pieces I have in the show.

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