Raven's Nest Studio

Raven's Nest Studio
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is Less More?

When I look at this soapstone sculpture of a Halibut, I remember seeing 6 foot long Halibuts filleted with ceremony in Petersburg, Alaska. That leads my mind on to other memories, including the art exhibits where the carver of this fish, Bill Locher, sold his work in 1980 in Juneau, Alaska. That reminds me of his son who was in my daughter's class in school, and his wife who was an artist as well and on and on. I see not only the sculpture, but all my own experiences relating to Halibut and art acquisition. So I am bringing my own circumstances to the encounter with the image of the fish and these color my perceptions.

Stone on stone, this presentation adds gravitas to the fish. I enjoy the similarities of the patterns in the stone emphasized by the variance in color and tone between the platform and the object.The color of the carving is changed as well by the cool white reflected onto the fish by the marble. When the fish is directly on the very warm colored wood surface, these warm colors are reflected very strongly onto the fish. Thence the fish appears more brown above and more green below. This mimics the appearance of a live Halibut as they take on the color of their surrounds and seem to disappear. I also enjoy the contrast of rectilinear to curved.

Scale is important as well as color. With this shorter platform under the fish, I think it looks longer and more like a swimming fish. Of course, Halibut are huge flatfish and spend more time flat on the bottom. This sculpture can be displayed in that position and for years it lived on my desktop where I looked down on it. But on this little shelf, it is closer to my eye level.

I especially enjoy the repetition of the tail shape in the legs of the platform. I also have a bias towards having the darker color below feeling stable.

This platform is longer and very curvaceous. Now all the elements in the arrangement, the shelf, the platform and the fish are very curved. This is an example of repetition that is almost unrelieved by variety. Also all the elements have a lot of warmth in the colors. Only the little bits of green in the fish counter the overall warmth. Perhaps This is way too much of a good thing. Maybe the platform is getting more attention than the fish? So the art experience is being suppressed by the presentation? Is this like putting a very elaborate frame on a simple watercolor? What do you think?

There is no right answer, as we are all different. It helps to know your own preferences in beauty. Explore and enjoy the varieties of choice we have. Decide where you want your attention going.


  1. I think I like the fish on the stone the best as it showes more color and attention to the fish .

  2. Thanks for the comment. I like to look through others eyes for a fresh view.