My major subject in college was Mechanical Engineering, and I graduated with a degree in M.E. from the University of Arizona. An engineer as an artist? Absurd!!! Right brain, left brain, etc. ad nauseum. I have found that the connection between the two disciplines is much closer than imaginable. My engineering education and experience have enabled me to design finished work that is structurally sound and durable. My artistic experience has flowed into an intimate understanding of mold making, casting, and machining of intricate mechanisms that most engineers and artists take for granted.
When I took my first sculpture class (part of my mid-life crisis), I knew that I wanted to produce finished bronzes, but I didn’t set out to become a figurative artist. As my experience widened, however, I began to gravitate to the beautiful creation that is the human body. My first human-based works were sculptures of faces, mostly bas-reliefs. As my skills developed, I began to do complete sculptures. The pivotal point, when I decided on lifecasting, was when I saw a photo of a sculpture of a famous actress, perfect in every dimension. I knew I had to learn the technique.
I always have an image in mind when I start a lifecast sculpture, but the finished product is seldom very close to the initial concept. Before the cast is started, I know the pose that I want for the model, but when the plaster cast is done, I then develop more in-depth ideas and detailed images of the finished sculpture.
I dont like to explain a certain piece of sculpture – hopefully it can speak for itself and send a message to the viewer. Each viewer takes something a little different from the same piece and I’m happy with that.
My influences are the wonderful science fiction artist Boris Vallejo and comic artists Fastner and Larson, but I get some of my best ideas from my models, who inspire poses I would never imagine. My artistic expression has been developed in response to the fantastic input of my sculpture instructor and friend, Ted Uran of Scottsdale Community College. My confidence in my work is due to the encouragement of my daughter, Alli, and my wonderful, loving, patient, understanding wife, Kathy. My Thanks to all of you.
Personal portrait sculpture is my specialty. I create exact sculptural images of faces, torsos, and hands by means of lifecasting, the technique of building a negative mold of the person, then using various materials to create the finished product. I love the human form in all its beauty, variety, and complexity. The human body is a subject that never ceases to delight and intrigue the artist. My finished pieces can be of a wide variety of materials, from plaster, fiberglass reinforced gypsum, aluminum, or bronze. Some pieces are made from cold-cast (metal powders mixed with epoxy) copper, brass, bronze, or nickel-steel. I also work in cast iron, transparent plastic, ceramic, and I have completed two glass torso projects.
Twenty some odd years ago, on a long weekend in Sedona, my wife and I were touring the galleries, when I said to her: “These bronzes are beautiful, but I think I could do as well as at least half of these artists.” Her reply was: “Go for it!!”
At my studio in Scottsdale, I do sculpture portraits on commission, but will also produce commissioned figure studies of hired models on request. I have a number of gallery sculptures available in stock, as well as molds to make pieces on a custom order basis, in a wide variety of materials and finishes.
Prices of my completed works depend on size, material, surface finish, and attitude of the customer. They range from about $25 up to $13,000.
Glass!!! I love it. What more can I say?
Kathy Nelson was born in Pennsylvania and lived in many parts of the United States before settling permanently in north Scottsdale in 1988. A long standing fascination with the texture, color and durability of glass fueled her interest in that medium. Her visits to European cathedrals emphasized the beauty of glass. She started working in glass as a hobby about 8 years ago. Initially, she was attracted to stained glass. However, after taking a couple of fused glass classes she switched from stained glass to fused glass, and has continued in that art, learning and teaching for almost a decade.