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For the Love of Wings

Lyle Sopel -

Dear Collector Friend,

Currently enamoured with the intricacies of birds’ wings, I have been browsing through the Audubon Society site on my Ipad with wide eyes. I can hardly believe the exquisite detail that exists in the patterns of certain bird feathers. Light and remarkably resilient to all kinds of weather and survival challenges, these amazing examples of complex evolution provide opportunities for endless intrigue and study.

As many of my collectors know, my love and appreciation of birds emerge as a major theme within my repertoire. Refining my skills to convey the texture of feather formations has been challenging, to say the least. I used to work only with smooth surfaces because I wanted to show off the smoothness of the jade in my artworks. Yet over time, I have come to see how pattern and texture can emotionally enhance a sculpture while still showcasing the beauty of a stone. I have developed many ways to add texture and accent to my subjects, some of my favourites being feather patterns.


cacholong bird


I have recently been working with a selection of unpolished opal to develop texture in a paired bird sculpture. Not only is this particular gemstone very satisfying stone work with, but holding it in my hands also connects me to a continuum of fascinating artistic history. Used by Russia’s renowned 19th-century mosaicists, it was also incorporated by artists to embellish highly detailed fine furniture. When I visited the world-famous Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, I saw the most exquisite uses of this stone. It was used in the creation of flowers with jade stems, as well as in forest scenes that were further enhanced with jasper, lapis, and other fine gemstones.

The great challenge of bringing texture into an artwork is to know when enough is enough. Texture on the surface of a stone brings incredible spirit and life to the piece, yet you don’t want to mask the natural beauty and smoothness of a material. It is a dance of understanding when to add and when to back off. Savouring this dance, I am always eager to learn the next more advanced step and to bring that knowledge more deeply into my work.


Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,


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