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“Arctic Wind” Receives Award From Society of Animal Artists

Arctic Wind, stone sculpture by Ellen Woodbury
Arctic Wind, Sivec Marble on Granite.  14 x 18 x 12 inches.  Photo by Mel Schockner
Arctic Wind, side view. Photo by Mel Schockner.

The Society of Animal Artists awarded the Evelyn and Peter Haller Award to “Arctic Wind” at the 59th Annual Exhibition at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, TX, in September 2019. The award is given “For the most outstanding and creative 3-D work”.

A Pose From Animation

The sculpture shows an Arctic Fox running flat out turning a corner. The pose is the maximum storing of energy (or squash, in animation jargon) in the run and happens just before the fox lengthens into the stride, the maximum stretch pose in the run. The sculpture is all about movement. Balance is predicated on speed. Composition

Award certificate to stone sculpture Arctic Wind.
“Arctic Wind” award certificate.

contrasts thin small shapes and large round

shapes. The stone “webbing” that connects body parts acts like speed lines giving direction to the action.

Carving Like the Wind

I carved the pose the way the wind carves snow. To carve like the wind has been, and still is, one of my goals. Rounded forms and sharp edges have just enough anatomy to describe the fox without losing the feeling of speed. It is almost a blur. Edges contrast with and lead into rounded forms with no edges. Light breaks across edges and bends across curves. Shadows are deep where the light breaks and soft where the light bends. The variety and rhythm of the forms creates the breaking and bending of light like a choreographed movement.  

I compare the feeling I get from this sculpture to a blizzard where everything is constantly moving, rather than an unmoving pose like a snow sculpture. The feeling that radiates from the sculpture doesn’t quit—it just keeps giving energy. Another part of my goal in creating sculpture is to trap the viewer’s eye and not let it go. This piece definitely traps my eye and I am compelled to continue looking.

Pushing the Pose and the Concept

I have been attempting to carve stone the way the wind carves snow for a long time. I went through several redesign stages with this sculpture until I had the feeling I wanted. The whole design process took many months of drawing and redrawing to get it right. Pushing the pose, changing the webbing forms to create greater speed–the composition is exactly right for this subject.

Now I want to continue carving like the wind and must think about each subject and design to determine how to do this. Not every pose is a blizzard, and not every subject is running at breakneck speed. This is the challenge–when you hit a mark and then want to hit it again, but in a different way. Form and content must be knit tightly together for the sculpture to be successful.

Sivec, the Stone Like Snow

Snow in its pristine whiteness reflects all colors. The Sivec (sa-VETCH) marble from which Arctic Wind is carved is pure white—no vein, no inclusions, just gazillions of smashed seashells heated and compressed for 500 million years. The stone smells like low tide when cut. It is finished to a very low sand paper grit (120) that preserves all the edges of the crystals so the stone sparkles like fresh snow. I am very precise in the filing phase of my finishing process, which comes just beofre sanding, so the stone feels as smooth as silk, even though it is finished to such a low grit.

Recognition is Validating

I always strive to please myself with my art. As a Disney Animator, I always pleased myself, figuring that if I am happy with the scene, then the audience will be happy with it, too. All of my sculptures please me. But, they do not all win awards. This recognition from the Society of Animal Artists, a national organization of artists who specialize in animal art, is encouraging and validating. It is important to me to understand that my colleagues find value in my work. It might be silly to feel this way, but I can be insecure, just like everybody.