All posts by jhc-admin

Drawing Group: Embracing The Flaming Struggle

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Life Drawing, more than any other medium, is like an improvised performance. For three hours the model strikes poses and the artist must recreate them, call and response. It all happens in the moment. There is no plan. If a drawing doesn’t come together in the time the model can hold the pose, the page is turned and the next pose commands our attention. There is little time to admire achievement, or register disappointment. Michelangelo famously, toward the end of his life, burned most of his drawings. He didn’t want anyone to see the struggle, he explained. We are all…

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Sculpture by Jay Hall Carpenter

Poetry, Three More Things:

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As Valentines Day approaches your thoughts may turn to poetry, as have my own. Three things fascinate me regarding poetry and the mind, and I shall set them down here. The Cadence: First is the ability of the simple arrangement of words to churn the imagination. The order of any commonplace sentence can lie inert or bubble to life. By example, I was thinking about my friend Sam, a WWII vet, and his recent funeral: “We buried him today. It was raining.” Not much there, but when I happened to think of “We put him in the ground today, in…

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Dark and Light, front cover

On Creative Crossover

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The recent publication of my book of poetry, Dark and Light, has me recalling the words of the great illustrator, Howard Pyle.  He said, “You must throw your heart into a painting and then climb in after it.”  Does it matter that he spoke of painting?  Does this not apply equally to sculpture, writing, or gardening?  Cannot a spark ignite all manner of materials, and is anything illuminated without that spark? Over the past forty years I have had the unusual gift of time.  As I have labored in the clay fields (my studio), my mind has been largely free…

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Darth Vader and Other Stars

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As Star Wars is back in the American conscience, I will relate my brief encounter with greatness, Darth Vader. I had the great honor and pleasure of sculpting for the National Cathedral from 1976 through 1996 and became the Cathedral’s first Artist-in-Residence. I designed in clay all of the 400 or so grotesques and gargoyles, angels and other decorations on the West Towers. In the 1980s, while its west towers were under construction, the Cathedral held a decorative sculpture competition for children. Word of the competition was spread nationwide through National Geographic World Magazine. The third-place winner was Christopher Rader of Kearney, Nebraska,…

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The Process, From Do to Done

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DESIGN It all begins with an idea. It can be as basic as “We need something here,” and then sculptor and client go about discovering what that something might be. To illustrate, I will use a project from 2007 called the Gentile Memorial. The client’s parents had recently passed and she wanted to have a sculptural family marker made for Lake View Cemetery, in Cleveland, OH. She told me about her family and we visited the site. We discussed materials and looked at samples and previous projects together. I began to formulate some approaches we might consider. One was very...
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Things I’ve learned in 40 years as a sculptor

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Happiness is a high ceiling and a low overhead. How to wash my hands without getting the finger with the Band-Aid wet. Clay can detach fingernails. It is possible to be clever without being smart or wise. If you are not organized, you cannot succeed. Even if you work fast, you will run out of time. A fresh eye can be better than a sharp eye. Digital enlargement saves neither time nor money. Turn up the studio heat and the clay will respond better. Plasticine should be stored for use at 120f. Never give away a work of art. The…

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