Playing with Clay

One of my very first memories is finding some plasticene clay stuck to the bottom of a seat in a movie theater.  My father and I had gone to see a Bob Hope and Bing Crosby movie; I must have been about six years old. After the movie we went for a coke at a restaurant in Ashland, Oregon, where my dad was a student in the Department of Education at Southern Oregon College of Education.

As we sat at the table, he took what he thought was gum from me. When he realized it was a piece of clay, he made a small boat with a sail. I was fascinated and asked him to get me more clay.

I played with it constantly after that. I was very nearsighted, but nobody realized it at the time, so  I wasn’t able to keep up with the rest of my 1st grade class in reading. I was so hopeless reading that my teacher excused me on a daily basis and let me play with clay in the back of the classroom while the other children worked on their reading skills.

I didn’t start reading until two years later when another teacher gave us an eye test and discovered how bad my eyes were.  

In the meantime, I had a lot of time to play with clay. I made dinosaurs, crocodiles, army men.

During summer vacation summers, my father worked for the Forest Service and our family lived in fin the Winema National Forest in Oregon. I played for hours every day with red clay I collected from the undercarriage of his truck.

By the time I was 10 years old I could make 100 clay figurines in an hour. I spent hours and hours engrossed in a fantasy world of cowboys and soldiers populated with my clay people.

When I was 14 years old, I decided to try to make a likeness of an uncle I admired.  The resulting portrait looked more like a Greek god than my uncle, but I loved making it. After that, I did portrait heads of neighbors and relatives. It was always play for me. 

It wasn’t until I went to Oregon State to study English Education that I realized a person could actually take classes in sculpture. I changed my major to art immediately. 

My junior year, I had a girlfriend. We broke up. I quit going to class. I got a draft notice before the end of the term. A year later I was in Vietnam. During my second tour, I met an old Vietnamese sculptor in his store on Tu Do street in Saigon. I showed him some waxes I made, and he invited me to his studio where we made my first bronze casting. 

After the service I returned to Oregon State and then went to the international studies department at Waseda University in Japan. I stayed in Japan teaching English and making sculpture for most of the next 10 years.

I continued to make sculpture the whole time I was in Japan, but was only able to make one or two pieces in bronze. I did a lot of work in plaster, polyester resins and other mixed media.  In 1985, after 8 years teaching at Iwate Medical School in Morioka, I returned to the states and started making sculpture exclusively.

I built several small bronze foundries, and for the next 10 years, I made my own castings. 

In 1999 a customer asked me to do a portrait of his dog and was so pleased with it he suggested that I get a booth at a dog show.  Since that time, I have done thousands of portraits of animals in bronze and clay. 

I still play with clay every single day. I work on my personal projects, and with people and organizations to turn their ideas, memories, and feelings into art. 

View Work  →


Commissions 

  • 2011 “Immigrant”, life-sized bronze statue commissioned by Parkrose Business Association, Portland, Oregon
  • 2010 Bronze portraits of Robert Pamplin Jr. and Mr. Floyd Aylor as young Cadets
  • 2010 One and half sized bronze figure sculpture of “Zelda”, the English bulldog star of Zelda Wisdom commissioned by The Banfield Pet Hospital and donated to Heathman Hotel, Portland, Oregon
  • 2009 “Lunch Break”,  a life sized pride of bronze lions commissioned by The Banfield Pet Hospital and donated to Oregon Zoo, Portland, Oregon
  • 2008 Two thirds life sized bronze figure sculpture of an otter hound commissioned by Mark and Ann Hawley and donated to The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, St. Louis, Missouri 
  • 2008 Two copies of “The Caring Doctor”, a life sized bronze figure group of veterinarian and animals; Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, California, and Banfield, The Pet Hospital headquarters, Portland, Oregon
  • 2008 Life sized bronze figure of Bill Grigsby; the National Golf Club of Kansas City, Parkville, Missouri
  • 2007 High-relief bronze sculpture of “Chance” and “Gremlin”, two horses belonging toDr. David Ramsey, Williamston, Minnesota
  • 2006 Life sized bronze figure sculpture of “Sunny”, an Irish setter pointing apheasant; Ron Talmage, River Cliff Farm, Corbett, Oregon
  • 2005-2009   Total of 9 bronze portrait busts of Trejo family members, McAllen, Texas
  • 2005 Life sized bronze figure sculpture of a Springer Spaniel commissioned by the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association and installed at the Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction, Tennessee 
  • 2005 Gargoyles – 6 dog heads; Banfield, The pet hospital headquarters, Portland, Oregon
  • 2005 Bronze portrait bust of Tommy Millner; CEO Cabellas, High Point, North Carolina
  • 2004 Half life sized bronze crucifix, Griffith Center, Milwaukie, Oregon 
  • 2003 Life sized bronze figure sculpture of “Max” the yellow lab; Oregon Garden, Silverton, Oregon
  • 2003 Bronze portrait bust of Walter Cole “Darcelle”; Portland, Oregon
  • 2002-present   Figure of the Best in Show winnerof the AKC/Eukanuba Championship placed on the trophy for the following year;  Proctor & Gamble, Dayton, Ohio
  • 2001-2008   Bronze portrait bust of Rudy Boyd, Percival Boyd, David Boyd, Dick Boyd; Boyd Coffee Company, Portland, Oregon 
  • 2000 Life sized bulldog “Tucker” school mascot; Norfolk Academy, Norfolk, Virginia
  • 1998 Bronze bas-relief portrait of Mike Smith and Rory Draeger; Evergreen Airlines, McMinnville, Oregon
  • 1996 Portrait bust of Robert Pamplin Jr.; Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon
  • 1992 Sculptural Columns, “Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience “; Japanese American Historical Plaza, Portland, Oregon
  • 1992 Life sized bronze St. Mary; St Mary’s Catholic Church, Albany, Oregon
  • 1991 Twice life sized bronze seal; Barbara Sue Seal Real Estate, Portland, Oregon
  • 1990 Crucifix and bas-relief Madonna and Child; St. Joseph’s Care Center, Olympia, Washington.