Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sculpture: Ancestral Stories

This sculpture was inspired by the many fascinating petroglyphs that can be found not just here in Albuquerque, but around the world. Before cyberspace, before paper, there was the process of recording one's vision, one's concepts, one's ideas ... in stone. Designs and symbols were meticulously chipped out of solid stone, exposing lighter layers below the oxidized surface, communicating... what? There are many theories about the content these petroglyphs were meant to communicate, but they could well have been, as this sculpture suggests, stories - Ancestral stories.
This mixed media Shamanic sculpture , created in 1995, stands 34 3/4" tall, including the walnut base. I started with a plank of wood, and carved it to look like stone formations - perhaps those that may be seen in a cliff or mountainside. When I felt the shapes were about right, I painted the wood with a combination of gesso mixed with sand, to give it more of the texture of stone. This was followed by many layers and washes of acrylic artists' color to stain and color and glaze the surface to look more like oxidized stone.

I then proceeded to engrave petroglyphs of my own design (no attempt to be historically accurate here - they are a composite of the many shapes I have studied) into the surface of the "stone".
The endcaps that contain the top & bottom ends of that monolithic section are hand hammered brass, with triangular accents in copper, brass and gold soldered in place to form a pattern on the surface. The arms and legs of the piece are ebonized birch, and the hands are handcrafted in bronze. The face is composed of turquoise mosaic, hand-cut and pieced together over a carved stone face, ground smooth and polished as one stone. the staff is wood, with bronze and copper accents. Additional bezel-set turquoise stones have been added as accents - one in the approximate location of the heart, and another on the walnut base. The artist's signature plate and title plate complete the base.

This piece sold to one of my good collectors in the Eastern U.S. The price of that one was about $4800 back in '95, but a similar piece - a variation on the theme - can be made for a higher price today. Contact me for details at (505) 296-1400, or Email me at: David (at) StewartArt (dot) com.


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jewelry Art: Symbol Ring

This is a ring I just finished for one of my best collectors and good friend. The ring is made in 14K gold, and is set with a dark blue Topaz, accented with 3 diamonds.
The shape is one of my favorite - a long teardrop. The symbols you see on the outside were carved as a decorative element (no significance, other than their decorative properties). The concept was to have the decorative symbols be flush with the surface and highly polished, while the background would be carved away, and textured.

I also wanted the background to be a different color of gold. Originally, I thought of gold-plating the background, but eventually came to the opinion that it might look richer if it were "depletion-gilded", an ancient process where the piece is heated to red-hot and quenched in acid repeatedly. This piece went under the torch at least 40 times to buld up the gold on the surface of the background, giving it a nice contrast to the polished surface.

This same design can also be done in silver, with different stones featured in the center. A large amethyst would be striking! It will be very dramatic also with an oxidized, dark patina in the background.

If you think you'd like to have a piece similar to this one, or a variation of it, please give me a call at the studio directly at (505) 296-1400 - I'll be happy to accommodate you personally. Or if you'd prefer, drop me an email at David (at) StewartArt (dot) com, and I'll get back to you right away!


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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jewelry Art: Moon Castle

This is actually an illustration of a piece I proposed to make. I made a close approximation of it many years ago, and titled it Fortress of the Heart. It was sold to a wonderful lady named Lilly Lawrence, world renowned beauty and Malibu philanthropist. Lilly was dubbed "The People's Princess" by New York Newsday and the "Rose of Shiraz" by the New York Times.

She lived in a castle - the only one in Malibu - called Castle Kashan. Unfortunately, in the fires that swept through Malibu a couple of years ago, she lost everything, including her treasured castle necklace. Luckily, she wasn't hurt, but many wonderful artworks and treasured memories were lost in the flames.

For some reason, I've been unable to locate photos of that original piece, but reconstructed it to the best of my recollection in this proposal. One day soon, I hope to make it for her. In the original, I painted a miniature painting of the courtyard scene tucked away behind the drawbridge ... but in the remake, I think I'll feature a miniature portrait of Lilly in her gown. This was originally made as a variation on the first piece in this small series, titled "Ivory Tower" shown elsewhere in this blog.


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Friday, January 9, 2009

Woodcut Print: Catch of the Day

This is one of my early woodcuts. I believe I was living in Newport, Rhode Island when I did this, although it might have been a bit later. With a Dad in the Navy, I spent a lot of my formative years around water, and even though I love the desert, I miss the ocean!
I have always been fascinated by the relief printing process - the oldest and most direct process for producing multiple prints. I started with a simple pine plank, and carved away everything that was not part of the image. The resulting carved plate is then inked with a rubber roller or "brayer", and paper is applied face down on the block. The back of the paper is burnished to transfer the inked image onto the paper.

The prints produced in this fashion are true "prints" - really multiple originals produced by the artist's hand. In today's world of ink-jet reproductions, artists are fortunate to have such a versatile process for reproducing their work ... but those reproductions are not accurately called "prints", although that term has become commonplace. They are "reproductions", and while there's nothing inherently wrong with them, they should not be confused with prints made by hand in any of the various methods for that. Since the original run of prints from this block only numbered 4, I may decide one day to issue some reproductions of the image by the Giclee process if I see the demand. If you would like to give me some feedback, I'd appreciate your dropping an email to me at David (at) StewartArt (dot) com.... or you can call me anytime at the studio, at (505) 296-1400!
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Painting: Evening Caucus

This painting, titled "Evening Caucus", is done in acrylic on a handmade 24" X 48" linen canvas. The edges are "gallery-wrapped", meaning that there are no staples showing, and it's designed to be hung without a frame.
Just what is it that Ravens discuss in the late hours of the evening before the sun sets? Whatever it is, it's evidently more important than we assume. This heated discussion isn't likely to be resolved before twilight settles in.

The background pattern was achieved by painting the pattern in rather bold colors & contrasts. This field was then glazed with a translucent mixture or pearlescent & color glaze, to lightly cover the pattern and make it more subtle, and a lighter value that would ensure some drama born of the contrast of dark branches against a light sky.

The original has been sold, but I am publishing giclee reproductions, both on gallery-wrapped canvas and on art paper as well. Current offerings on canvas are at full-size and 3/4 size. The giclees are hand-retouched to include some of the luminous pearlescent & metal-leaf accents on each print.

I originally conceived of this painting to be done as a part of a pair of artworks - the painting in the background with a sculpture in the foreground. The Sculpture came first, and was titled, "Ravensong":

The sculpture was crafted in carved wood, with the light background on the body done in the same way as described for the background in the painting: colorful patterns covered with a translucent glaze. The groove in the chest was carved & painted to accent the piece of spiderweb turquoise I used to symbolize the heart of the spirit. The face was carved wood, covered with metal leaf, and accents on the body were handcrafted brass.

Well, as fate would have it, the sculpture sold before I even started the painting! However, I couldn't leave the concept of the painting alone ... the image haunted me, until I finally took the time to finish it.

Before I delivered the painting, I got lots of feedback from people wanting giclee reproductions, so I had it professionally photographed and printed by Bruce Shortz of 10000 Cranes studio. Please contact me with your inquiries about sizes & prices available at my studio: (505) 296-1400, or email me at David (at)


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jewelry art: Collar Choker

I've done quite a few variations on this choker over the years. This one shows three stones - green turquoise, spiderweb chalcosiderite (once called "New Landers"), and blue turquoise - but I've also made it with one large stone, or with a small stone stacked on a larger stone, or with a laminated mosaic stone.
I find asymmetry in design to be much more captivating than symmetry. This one has a unique hanging system as well: Either of the two hooks on the sides will come undone to release the choker, and a small "S" hook in the back can gather up a length of chain to shorten it, making its hanging length adjustable.

If you have a preference for stones, contact me - we'll discuss prices and delivery time! You can reach me at the studio at (505) 296-1400, or email me at David (at) StewartArt (dot) com.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Painting: Raven Moon

This painting was done in acrylic on a "gallery-wrapped" 8' X 10" linen canvas, meaning that no staples show on the edges, and therefore it can be hung without a frame.
Raven Moon - 8" X 10"
(click to enlarge)
The original sold right away, but I offer giclee reproductions either on stretched gallery-wrapped canvas, or high-quality art paper. Please contact me at the studio at (505) 296-1400 or by Email at David (at) for details!