Playful Goofiness and Regal Elegance: Interview with artist Louise Peterson

Saturday, January 18, 2014 by

Playful Goofiness and Regal Elegance: Interview with artist Louise Peterson

Artist Statement

As a long time Great Dane owner, I see in these dogs a combination of playful goofiness and regal elegance. As a sculptor I see also a magnificent combination of long bones, muscled limbs, folds of skin, and dynamic movement.

In recent years I have added cats, horses and goats to my menagerie and am inspired to capture their individual personalities in aesthetically pleasing sculptural forms. My strongest work derives from my personal connection with the animals.

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I think we all sometimes forget the immense power and satisfaction a three dimensional artwork can give, and I know while sometimes it is easier to create, in many ways the sculpture is harder than working on flat surfaces. Our choice of subjects, dogs, also adds more demands in the artwork to have that artwork successfully tug the viewers’ heartstrings. The work of Louise Peterson’s is beautiful, warm, and very rewarding to the viewer, and I think a grand tribute to our best friends. I have enough trouble deciding who my favourite artists are, so it is not surprising Louise says, “It’s hard to chose between my sculptures, they’re like my children. Often my favourite piece is the last one I sculpted but that is always replaced by the next sculpture. However here’s a couple of pieces I like and their inspiration.

 

Deep Thoughts - Louise PetersonDeep Thoughts – Louise Peterson

“Deep Thoughts

“I donated a terracotta portrait to a local animal shelter fund-raising auction one year (Teller County Regional Animal Shelter www.tcrascolorado.com ). Fortunately for me the winning bidder owned an English Mastiff, a breed I’ve been wanting to sculpt. When Kocho came to model in my studio she took this pose. I loved it so much that I decided to make it an edition in bronze instead of a one of a kind terracotta.

Piper's Pinky - Louise PetersonPiper’s Pinky – Louise Peterson

“Piper’s Pinky

“Piper is a friend’s Australian Shepherd. He wiggles his butt like all Aussies. I was going to title this Wiggle Butt Way but Piper has a pink teddy bear that is his ‘baby’. Once I added Pinky the bear took over. Recently we found out that Piper has a bad tooth and that sucking on his Pinky was most likely giving him some relief from the pain.”

Now you have seen the delightful pieces Louise can create, let’s see how she captures these special moments in our friend’s lives, “I am fortunate to have the ability to see something and copy it in clay. Three dimensional work comes naturally where as two dimensional work requires a lot more work. The sketches I do for a piece are always in clay, not on paper.

“I work primarily in a wax based clay which is not a permanent media. It needs to be moulded and cast in another material, usually bronze or pewter. I like this because virtually any pose or composition is possible, bronze is an expensive but eternal and strong. In bronze compositions with dogs balancing on one foot or in full run are possible.

“Pewter is a softer metal and can only be used for small sculptures.

“My bronze sculptures are cast using the ancient lost wax method which can take several months.

“Pewter melts at a lower temperature and can be poured directly in a mould, shortening the time and the cost. Pound per pound, pewter is more expensive than bronze but the process for casting is much shorter thus less expensive in the end.

“I learned to sculpt using water based clay which is then fired in a kiln. This is a much faster method, the clay is easier to manipulate and has a different quality. These pieces are always one of a kind since no mould is made. There are limits to the poses possible with terracotta since it can’t have a metal armature and is also somewhat fragile where the clay is thin.

“I enjoy varying the mediums I work in, keeps it interesting.

“More info on media and materials on my website http://www.danesculptor.com/resources/media.html

“If someone was interested in trying a hand at sculpting I would suggest starting with terracotta, it’s cheap. Don’t start with a dog since they don’t sit still for very long. Try a bowl of fruit or any kind of inanimate object. If you have the ability to copy in clay and want to try dogs first you need to learn the anatomy. I do teach private workshops on sculpting the dog in my studio.”

There is a little more than just the skill to copy a form by moulding clay, a point where the artist’s soul knows it has created that reflection of life, “As I sculpt a piece there is a point when I start to talk to the clay, at this point I know I’ve given it life.” Dogs aren’t Louise’s only focus, life has a variety of intriguing subjects that whisper to itchy artist fingers, “At the moment I’m a little obsessed with my goats, one of which just kidded and the baby is adorable. I plan on taking mom and baby up to my studio and capturing them in clay.”

To love the artist’s art is to only partly understand or appreciate the soul that gives us a more long lived form of our greatest friends, so I asked Louise a few more questions, she said her favourite sculptors include Rembrandt Bugatti and Anna Hyatt Huntington.

“My favourite breed is the Great Dane. I’ve owned many over the past 20 years and always have one as a studio model and constant companion. They are wonderful subjects for sculptures with their long bones, muscled limbs, folds of skin and dynamic movement. They have a combination of regal elegance and playful goofiness. Currently Maia is my muse, a rescue.

“I don’t think I have any favorite dog books or films.

“I am a supporter and proponent of rescue. At least in the US. So many dogs are euthanized in shelters. I am also concerned about the health of pure breeds, I’ve experienced it first hand, too much inbreeding for a certain look without taking the the health of the animal into account. Also, I’m a proponent of natural ears (Great Danes, Dobermans etc). In the US unfortunately it is legal to crop ears and I think it is unnecessary and inhumane.” And back to art, “I am an art collector and have more sculpture in the house than I have room for. The walls are filled with original paintings. Outside a sculpture garden showcases a few of my life size dog sculptures and other artists work. The subjects of the art collection are both human and animal figures, mostly all representational.”

To finish, a few bits of information on adding a Louise Peterson piece to your own collection, “I sell my work on my website www.louisepeterson.com and also have a number of fine art galleries in the US and one in England.

“My works range from miniature to monumental, jewelry and functional to fine art. Prices range from US$50 to $25,000.

“I sculpt original work but the majority of my sculptures are cast in either limited editions or open editions.

“I do commissions and prefer to meet the subject but I can also work with photos and video. Since I work in three dimensions I need a lot more information. Prices start at $3000 for a terracotta portrait.”

I hope you enjoyed meeting Louise and the canines she has shared with us in this story. You definitely need to check out Louise’s website for examples of more sculptures, and the magnificent functional items and jewelry – an extensive range of superb items!

 

Tickled – Louise Peterson

 

 

Louise Peterson

Louise is fortunate to be living her dream with her husband, Chris, near the small town of Guffey, Colorado. She spends her time hiking with her Great Danes and small herd of Nubian and Cashmere goats, horse riding, spoiling her cats and sculpting in her studio.

Louise was born in 1962 in Darlington, England. She trained in classical ballet at The Urdang Academy and The North London School of Performing Arts and performed with Dance for Everyone (London) and The Israel Ballet (Tel Aviv). Her dance experience helped shape her love of figurative sculpture. After moving to the United States in 1984, she worked as a massage therapist, which further developed her knowledge of anatomy and feel for the human form. She began to study clay modeling at Santa Monica College. Louise learned to sculpt with the human figure but after moving to the rural mountains of Colorado in 1998 the only model in her small studio was her Great Dane. What results are fine classical renderings of dogs that are often both humorous and elegant. Louise works from her ranch studio near Guffey, Colorado, inspired by vistas of the surrounding high country.

Louise has won almost one hundred and twenty awards for her work. She is a Fellow of the National Sculpture Society, a professional member of the Society of Animal Artists, Allied Artists of America, Miniature Painters, Gravers and Sculptors, Hudson Valley Art Association and the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club. She is currently represented by twelve fine art galleries in the United States and England.

Louise Peterson

louise@danesculptor.com

PO Box 67, Guffey, CO 80820

USA

www.louisepeterson.com

 

The Yogis – Louise Peterson

Playmates – Louise Peterson

In and Out – Louise Peterson

 

Fox – Louise Peterson

 

Unleashed – Louise Peterson

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