George H.W. Bush
41st President of the USA
His Royal Highness
The Aga Khan
Duke & Duchess
of Westminister


Like Butter to Sculpt

Lyle Sopel -

Dear Collector Friend,

I have now been to Italy twice in my life, once when I was nineteen and again this past summer. The Italians have an ease with design elements that enthralls me now as much as it did then. The ability to take an object or vision and extract beauty and elegance in a manner that seems so natural and free can seem rare, but it Italy it abounds. My favourite clothing designer, who designs clothes to fit my build, happens to be from one of the top Italian fashion houses- Armani. To me, the fabric and ease of his cut is unsurpassed.

During this most recent trip I found myself asking: Why does Italy seem to be such a magnet for exquisiteness in detail and refinery ? Does this history connect back to the early times when masters such as Michelangelo and Botticelli roamed the landscape? Is it possible that today’s artists and designers were somehow coded with the DNA from some of the world’s most famous artists?

While I love the richness of the art and culture in Italy, I am most at home in my studio. Here I delight on working from my newest palette of gemstones and materials, of which marble is often a stone I love working with. When I work with marble I like to think of being serendipitously connected to my awe for Italy and the master artists that emerged from that area of the world. Even more synergistically, my current source of marble actually comes from Carrara, Italy. This is my favourite of all the marbles in the world.

Marble Italy

I have promised myself that on my next visit to Italy I will stay in the village of Carrara. I would have a hard time sleeping though, being sure that I would be missing some Italian masterpiece being created at three o’clock in the morning! I love the marble from the mountain in Carrara, because of its unique patterning and milky white colour formations. Compared to working with jade, which is harder than steel, sculpting with marble is like pushing a knife through butter. One way that I often describe sculpting with jade is to call to mind an arduous journey to the frozen north or a laborious trek through an acrid and blazing desert. Working with marble, on the other hand,  is like embarking on a free trip to the Bahamas or some exotic tropical island.

My most favourite marble piece that I have executed so far is my sculpture of the Greek roman goddess, “Amphitrite’s Escape”. This piece, with its inclusion of Italian marble, gold leaf and quartz crystal, was a delight to design and create. Even seeing it in its permanent home – an estate setting near Laguna Beach California- was pure pleasure. The collectors who commissioned the work were so excited about having it in their home. Scaffolding had to be constructed in order to hoist it up to the fireplace, where it now resides in all its elegance. “Amphitrite’s Escape” is featured in my hard copy fine art book, “Alluring Presence”.

I am currently working in my studio to incorporate my few pieces of marble from Carrara into a Puffin themed sculpture. Watch for this piece to be featured in the coming year.


Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,


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