All In Good Time

My latest sculpture, The Totemic Landscape (Feminine) part way through the process.

My latest sculpture, The Totemic Landscape (Feminine), part way through the process.

As the last of the snow disappears from my backyard and I eagerly await the bloom of spring flowers, I find myself anticipating the completion of the project currently on my workbench. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Way ahead considering things are still in the early stages of wood removal. From a seasonal perspective, I’m still in mid-winter on this sculpture.

It’s super distracting, as a part of me keeps trying to jump the queue to completion while another fervently responds that some things cannot be rushed. It’s me versus me, and it’s starting to feel like a draw. So, like training a puppy that is overcome with enthusiasm, I turn to bribery. Playing music I can sing along to while I work or offering the reward of a favourite cup of tea, enjoyed in the sunshine, in exchange for some solid hours in the studio.

I repeatedly remind myself to stay focused.  

Like the arrival of spring, the next sculpture will occur but not until winter has run its course and the current project is sanded, the surface textured and the entire form rubbed with oil. Every day I practice patience, preach perseverance and all the while excitement continues to grow just below the surface. I can sense it, the tip of a fresh sculpture seeking to push its way through the landscape of ideas, determined to reveal itself.

To that creative drive, as natural to me as the change in seasons, I promise…all in good time.



Creative Bursts

The Games We Play (detail), ©Candace Sanderson, Basswood, Driftwood, Birch and Cherry

Everyone says ‘create a body of work, similar forms with similar context.’ As good fortune would have it, that’s what I enjoy. Creating a community, of sorts, with a relationship between each sculpture and where together they tell a full narrative. But occasionally I feel compelled to explore something different. Think of it like going for a long drive, that’s the body of work, and then you step out of the vehicle to fill your lungs with the fresh air of someplace new, that’s the something different. It’s exciting and invigorating!

Now when I say different, that can mean a little different or a lot different. There are some images and ideas that are so strong I get swept away in the current and end up in a very different place than where I began. But to deny this part of the creative process is to deny myself. It is to disrespect the very nature of my personality and ultimately to disregard my creative soul. After all, how can I ask myself to create over and over again without being prepared to give something back? In this case, that means allowing an idea to run its course.

History has shown me that once the project is completed then, and only then, can I step to the forefront and determine how to move forward. Does the work just completed influence how future work develops? Occasionally, but not always. Does it send me down a new branch along the journey? Sometimes, but again not always.

Or is it simply payment rendered for being creative? It is an exchange of sorts, where in return for getting to pick and choose my projects I must occasionally give myself over and allow myself to be used as the means to a creative end. I believe this to be an answer and that in the process of ‘running-with-it’, I become more deeply rooted in my commitment to being an artist.

The Games We Play, ©Candace Sanderson, 37″H x 30″W x 9″D

The creative process for me will always be one of exploration. With that exploration comes the uncertainty of where a creative burst will take me.  As it turns out with my latest work, The Games We Play, it meant digging into more than just the beautiful and comfortable parts to life. What began as a search to understand why I was so drawn to the basic image of a stick man, lead to the memory of a much-loved childhood game, Hangman. From there it evolved into how an innocent game served as preparation for the future; winning, losing, desensitizing us to the ugly parts of life. All of this from an obsession with a simple stick man form!

Months later, when I finally began the physical work of sculpting, it lead me to recognize how creating and ultimately showing the work I make is similar to the game my sister and I played.  Sometimes I’d win and sometimes I’d lose, but I always wanted to play again.

The Games We Play (detail), ©Candace Sanderson

The Games We Play
(artist statement)

Masked by laughter and hidden in the guise of a game, we unconsciously draw an interpretation of our reality. Mark by mark and choice by choice. We are a willing partner giving ourselves over to analysis, interpretation and judgement.

We crave pleasure as the impetus for our actions. Desire excitement found in the act of doing. Desperate for joy, we take risks and so we play. With every choice, a fresh mark is made and a visual representation of ourselves begins to take form.

Choose wisely, because to be wrong is to lose and to lose is to die.

We volunteer for this competition labelled game. We play it again and again, over and over. Because to be right is to win the ultimate achievement and to not play is to have already lost.

Text In Art

Version 2

I like writing, journaling, storytelling, even the physical act of practicing penmanship is a present-focused, meditative endeavour.  I like how what I write enhances what I create. I like how it tells the story of a piece I’ve worked on, laboured over and lived with, often for weeks and weeks.  I like that I can go back and read what I have written.  It tells me where I was, what I was working through, focused on, and learning.

I like that writing acts as a marker for growth.  When I re-read past stories, I can see where I’ve been and how one action led to another which in-turn brought me to my current place in life.  Writing is reassuring, it tells me that wherever I’m currently at isn’t where I will be forever.  That the possibilities of tomorrow are even greater than those of today.

Clearly, I like writing but…

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In The Mean-Time


Here’s what I already know.  I know that when I’m working on a sculpture, getting ready for an exhibition or pursuing an idea I’m all-in.  I eat, breath and sleep art…my art.  The ideas come fast and furious, the days are too short and I live in one space, the studio.  It feels like it will last forever, this all-encompassing arena of creativity.  I warn myself about burn-out and mentally caution about asking too much of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. But when you’re ‘on’, you’re ‘on’ and when the valve is open all the way the flow is seemingly never-ending.

Here’s the thing though, once the deadlines are met, the exhibitions have come (and gone) and goals are realized, then what?

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The Studio

Without the art there is nothing to share, nothing to talk about, nothing to feel, nothing to connect us.  Marketing, self-promotion, website development, brochures, social media posts, the list goes on and on.   All of that is well-and-good and a necessary part of every artist’s career.  Strip all of that away however and what remains is the studio.  A solitary space that drives everything.  The studio is more than just a workshop filled with tools, it is the heart of what I do and everything is driven by its pulse.


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Marker In The Making

Unfinished cedar, beetle-kill pine, cedar shavings and a couple of chisels. An image filled with raw potential and unlimited possibility. Photograph by Prairie Ranger Photography

I know you.
Stood next to you
among your brothers and sisters.
Felt the same wind,
upon my skin.

You know my inspiration.
Have seen their face,
heard their voice,
felt their touch.

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Figure Drawing – why I do it


©Candace Sanderson, Seated Female (c). Charcoal and conté on toned paper.

I love sculpting – in an obsessive, driven sort of way – but drawing brings its own kind of pleasure. 

In particular, the human form, the sweeping curve of a hip, the voluminous shadow cast by a breast, or the bright highlight on a forehead and cheek.

All are reasons enough for a sculptor whose work has been typically non-figurative to draw the human body.

Luckily for me, our local Centre for Creative Arts  offers a weekly drop in drawing night with a live model.  It gives me the chance to draw the human form without having to resort to using myself as the model.  (Trust me, that awkward self-portrait is very different from all those selfies we seem to love to take.)

Most of the time I use drawing as a tool, sketching line and volume that are then translated into three dimensions. How I look at a subject intended for sculptural work is very different from how I see it when I’m drawing for the sole purpose of making marks.

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