Feel free to come visit me at the annual NatureWorks Art Show and Sale, where art lovers can browse paintings, sculptures and wooden carvings by the top wildlife, western and landscape artists across the United States.

NatureWorks selects a few featured artists in addition to the many talented exhibiting artists whose work will be on display throughout the entire show. Thirty percent of each art sale goes toward supporting the development and conservation of Oklahoma’s natural habitats, as well as the creatures who live in and depend upon those habitats.

Be sure to check out the website to find out more details about the 2018 Art Show held at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel & Convention Center on February 24-25. Patron party Friday, February 23rd.

Like all art, the goal in purchasing a bronze sculpture is to identify if the piece in question is real or a replica. We’ve listed eight tips to help aid new collectors in identifying and purchasing a true hot cast bronze.

  1. When possible buy from the artist or a representing gallery. Check the artist website to see what galleries their artwork is found in to ensure it’s a true art piece and not a replica.
  2. To test if you have a molten bronze or a bonded bronze tap a hollow section of the sculpture. If it produces a ringing sound when it is a molten sculpture. A bonded sculpture will sound a dull thud.
  3. Another way to test if a bronze is molten or bonded is to roll it (if size safety allows). If molten you will hear some rattling of ceramic on the inside. This only applies to bronzes that are welded closed.
  4. A real bronze will be colder to the touch than that of a cold cast bronze.
  5. The final way to tell if the bronze is molten or bonded is to scratch away the patina in an inconspicuous area. If it’s a true molten bronze, the scratch will reveal a bright gold color (not recommended). Alternately check the very bottom of the bronze where patina covering may not have been applied.
  6. Focus on finding original sculptures appraised by a professional.
  7. Artist create limited runs of a piece called “Editions.” Limited editions typically increase the value of the piece. Often the editions are also limited due to the molds used to cast the piece wearing out. The value of an edition also is determined by the fame and demand of the artist.
  8. Questions to ask to determine the value and legitimacy of an artist work are:
    1. What has he done?
    2. Where has he been seen?
    3. What of his has been sold?
  9. Chasing is the process of removing any welding marks. This process requires extreme skill, attention to detail and lots of time. Rod marks, smoothly polished areas, or mechanical etchings may be signs of a lower quality bronze such as one made in a product foundry.
  10. Check the dimensions. Hot casting a bronze to cause the bronze to expand when heated and contract when cooled. A finished cooled casting will be 2-3% smaller in size. Check the finished size against the precast. If smaller you may have an original.
  11. As you grow your collection, you will run out of space. When that happens to sell the pieces you value less or pass them on to loved ones to make room for new collections.
  12. Most importantly as a collector, you should love the piece you are purchasing. Cash value and Use value are the two factors that make up the value of a piece. Use value, in my opinion, is the most important. You should love and be inspired by the piece and pay the cash value that makes you happy to own it.

Featured image: Show of Strength

There have been a few marked events that have shaped my career. Each has been a critical stepping stone on the sometimes painful, yet always beautiful, road to success and triumph.

There was the day in August of 2001 that I took a significant cut in pay to go and work in an art foundry in Springville, UT. I hoped that by doing so, I would gain the background education I would need to learn how to become a successful sculptor.

Then there was the day that I left working at the art foundry to move my wife and three children to Arkansas to build my own personal foundry, so that I could dedicate 100% of my work time on producing my own sculptures and fill up my galleries.

Then there was the fire on December 16, 2008 that destroyed my studio and most of the portfolio that I had created from the previous 7 years. I thought my career was over. However the support shown to us from friends family and the galleries through those dark and cold days of rebuilding seemed to put a desire in me beyond my own ambitions for success. I also wanted to be successful for all those that believed in my wife and I. I considered that any success I had from then into the future will also belong to them.

January 19, 2017,( ironically enough, the day before Donald Trump was inaugurated and started a new chapter in his life) was the last day of a one of my life’s chapters. It was the last day that my angel father and I would cast bronze together, and closed the doors to that phase of my career. For 11 years he got dirty and sweated right along with me as we crafted raw bronze into fine art. I feel gratified in knowing that his hands were involved in the creation of things that will continue to positively touch others for many years to come. In my mind it is part of his legacy.

With so much that I wanted to get done in that last casting, we started early in the morning and worked straight into the obscurity of the night. As the darkness grew over the day, the vivid lights from the furnaces and melted bronze created such a scene of beauty. Likewise as I saw my 82 year old father helping me with my castings for the last time, I couldn’t help but also feel emotional over the beauty of that scene.

Symbolically, as the sun set on our casting day, it also set on that phase of my career. I have now moved back to Utah to request the help of the art foundry that got me started 16 years ago. They will do my castings while I stay involved in much of the production process, but most importantly I will now have time to sculpt more and be able to personally meet many of my customers as I visit my representative galleries and attend art events of all kinds.

I’m exited for this new day to begin and will always remember fondly all those experiences, and people that enriched my life as my Arkasas chapter closes. A special thanks to my close friends and family that added to the beauty of the fabric of my life in Arkansas. Thank you to all those that have supported us in the past and to those that have received us with open arms.

I had the unique experience of going to the movies with my wife and parents. It wasn’t unique because I went to the movies. It was unique because of the movie that we went to go see.

The name of the movie was “Greater” and the plot centered around the life of University of Arkansas football star, Brandon Burlsworth. The movie had a tremendous meaning, but for me it was particularly special because some of my artwork was used as props in a significant part of the movie. There is an antagonist that is carving a piece of wood throughout the movie, and I was the one who actually created the carvings off-screen. Also an image of the Burlsworth Trophy appeared in the movie, and of course I had sculpted that years earlier for and annual awards ceremony.

Although it was fun for me to see some of my artwork on the big screen and even my name in the credits, what made the movie so special was the fact that over the years of having done these projects, I got to know the Burlsworth family and the producer of the movie Brian Reindl. They have become friends. I became aware of the life of Brandon Burlsworth from the people who loved him the most. I have met the men who played football with him at the yearly trophy ceremonies where they award the most superior football walk-on in the NCAA.

To me the movie was special because it was a true story about a man who touched the lives of the people that I know. But then it dawned on me as I looked at others in the movie theater (which was full by the way) that Brandon Burlsworth and his loved ones mean something to an entire community and will continue to mean something to many for generations to come. His dream of improving those around him lives on in the hearts of his loved ones and through the organization of the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation.

I pondered what an impact one can have by showing true character while sharing their talents. Here was a theatre full of people that likely didn’t know Brandon personally but somehow felt connected enough to him to pay money and learn about his life. All he did, from a completely unemotional perspective, was play a college sport well and live a great life. If you think about it from a critical standpoint, football is just a game where two groups of men move a piece of leather up and down a field. In terms of what is accomplished, you wouldn’t even need the men to do that. Just pay a teenager to walk up and down a field for an hour or so and the same thing gets accomplished, as far as the football is concerned. My uncle Wayne even used to call football “dog pile on the rabbit.”

At times during my career I have had to fight off the temptation that creating my artwork is meaningless, or that all I do is push around clay and that my artwork is nothing more than metal that has been shaped to look like something. And society often treats the art field that way by what people chose to purchase during tough economic times. Someone will most often buy food and pay the electricity bill before adorning their home with bronze sculptures. Artwork is not often a top-of-mind priority when it comes to a person’s daily concerns. This can leave an artist feeling that their work is of little importance for the betterment of humanity.

So where does artwork and football fit into a society’s priorities. Watching the Brandon Bursworth movie helped to reinforce in my mind that the meaning of our existence can even be found within a game or in the movement of clay. Within the framework of any honorable career a person has the opportunity to impact others. In fact each person on this earth has been blessed with a life that is made of things that they do… Go to school, go to work…play golf…feed the pigs…whatever. I have decided that the question of our influence on humanity has nothing to do with where we work or what we work at, as long we understand that how we work can influence those within our sphere of contacts, and then exponentially grow within others lives. Our positive character and actions that we manifest while we are laboring is what create the poetry of our lives and causes a grown man like myself to cry in a movie theatre. It is what makes us want to be better, and it is what people will remember for generations.

My grandfather, Darrell Stringfellow, was a painter. He never earned money for his painting expertise, but his paintings hang in the homes of many of his family members and friends. He was a quiet and loving man who expressed his love of God and others through moving pigmented oils around on a stretched canvas. One day after my grandfather died my grandmother and I were going through some of his old paintings that had not made it into the homes of his family. (Usually only the more iconic landscapes were given to his family.) I ran across a small painting that apparently he had just done for himself, or maybe it was just a practice piece. It was a painting that depicted the view from within a grove of aspen trees. I turned the painting over to see a date or something. What I found was a comment that he had written to express what he felt about the subject matter. He simply expressed “There is a church-like feel in a grove of quaking aspens.” Here was a man who regularly attended church, but seemed to best define his relationship with God through communing in nature and family relationships, and then he showed his gratitude for both by recording it on canvas and sharing his gratitude with others. He will not soon be forgotten. His love lives on in his paint strokes.

The point I suppose that I am trying to make is that life has meaning. The things that we do during that life have meaning as far as we utilize our occupations to bless others. I want to again thank the Burlsworth Foundation, the Burlsworth family, Brian Reindl and Greater Producions, for having meaning in my life. Your legacies that you create now will go on for generations to come. Each of our lives is a canvas, a lump of clay, or a football game, etc. We just need to paint it, sculpt it, or play it.

In Honor of Brandon Burlsworth, for a life well lived…GO HOGS!

This blog post is my first induction into the blogging world. I have been professionally sculpting since Sept. 2001…not a prosperous time for artists or for the world, for that matter. In the wake of 911, art seemed to be the last thing on anyone’s minds…except mine and others artist who faced the dilemma of trying to make a living. Getting started in that economic environment may have been great training, from an observation standpoint. By watching many artists struggle during that time, I had a front row seat to where the chinks in the artists marketing armor were.

The artist that have lasted over the last 15 years are those that somehow were able to get their message out and continue to sell despite some a poor economic environment. One of my art friends, that started his career the same time that I did, survived by stepping up his marketing efforts while I learned to do all of my manufacturing production to increase profits from each piece sold. Both my friend and I have done well for ourselves, yet there comes a time when one has story to tell, it needs to be told.

My strong foundry background has made me a powerfully effective sculptor, but admittedly my friend has shown me through his example of effective marketing that it’s time for more people to hear from me. Get ready.

So for this blog I hope to share some of my perspectives of what I have learned over the last 15 years… and perhaps a lesson or two from before that. I will also invite of my friends, and family weigh in to get their perspective so that we can learn what the have observed as they have been through my career struggles and successes with me. It is not always easy to be close to artist and support them as they attempt to scratch out a career from little more than a desire, no money, and very raw talent. I will also invite art professionals to participate, and tell what they have observed and learned and what is important to them as they work with the artists in building their careers.

My hope is that we can all learn and grow. Perhaps the next generation of artists and art professionals will be able to enjoy and benefit from this information.

Also this information should hopefully give an interesting insight for all of my collectors and other appreciators of the fine arts to see the inside point of view of the art process of being and becoming a successful and collectable artist.