I am inspired by so many things that I do not think I could pick just one. I am inspired by people, architecture, textures, shapes… I was once asked where I get my ideas from and the only answer I could think of was to say from everything that has gone on throughout my life. From everything I’ve seen, music I’ve listened to, performances I’ve watched, everything. I think we are a culmination of our experiences and we are influenced by everything around us.
I use woods indigenous to Vancouver Island such as big leaf maple and cedar. The logs are slabbed into flitches which then air dry on my property. Blanks are then cut from these on the bandsaw and mounted onto the lathe. Depending on the series I am working on these blanks can be turned, re-mounted and turned again from two to six times. When the turning comes off the lathe it is ready for carving which is done with various rotary tools and hand gouges. I work in stages of production and each piece is conceived to its end before it is mounted on the lathe. I will spend a week or two turning forms, then move to the carving stage where all the larger areas are carved out of each turned form, then I will burn in all the smaller details, then it is on to the lengthy process of colouring the pieces and finally finishing with spray lacquer. The time put into the carving process averages around 80% of the total time put into the piece. Applying lightfast dyes for colouring is when the piece really starts to come alive. Building layer of colour upon layer of colour to create an old world, timeless quality is what I am out to achieve. Finally several coats of lacquer are applied which deepens the colour and adds even more depth.
I have long been fascinated with the art of indigenous cultures from around the world. Upon first inspection most of it seems so simple and yet at the same time is very powerful. How can this be?
The off axis – off centre turning started from a design problem which was ‘how to utilize a basic element of Pacific native imagery, a circle within a larger circle offset’, but to do it in a way that had not been seen before. The solution has become the most notable turning feature on most of my Pacific Northwest pieces since.
Influences from the art world are many but I have always liked the work of Monet, Seurat, Rodin and Bernini. “I had the opportunity to see several Seurats at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and what fascinated me the most was not seeing his painting “The Circus” which was stunning, but seeing the working model beside it. To glimpse a portion of this creative process for me was worth the total price of admission.” Several woodturners have influenced my work, most notably, David Ellsworth, Al Stirt, Jacques Vesery and Hayley Smith as well as furniture maker Kristina Madsen.
“Overlapping Impressions” by Douglas Fisher