Owl/Not-Owl on Display ~ Wood Sculpture and Photoprints

I just made a photographic print of my wood sculpture “Owl/Not-Owl .”

It’s printed on premium canvas and it looks like this:

Owl/Not-Owl, redwood sculpture with plexiglas
“Owl / Not-owl” hangs upside down in my fireplace: Photo print by Peter Neibert


And the original sculpture on its stand looks like this:

"Owl/ Not-owl" sits on its stand, and the stand  sits on my deck
“Owl/ Not-owl” sits on its stand, and the stand sits outside on my deck










Where do you keep your Owl/Not-owl?  see the Owl’s electronic bookmark.

“Owl/Not-owl” is original art by Peter Neibert, Kentfield, Marin County, California.

Direct Carving ~ Faces in the Wood

“Direct Carving” means you don’t know what you’re sculpting — you just start cutting into the wood and let it lead you where it wants to go.  Well, that’s what I’ve done here.

I was just starting out in wood, so I needed some wood.  I went to the Rafael lumber yard and picked out a 6″ x 12″ Douglas Fir beam, 12 feet long (the shortest they have).  Then the yard cut the beam into 30″ pieces to fit inside my jeep, and I took them all home.

Direct Carving - faces emerge from the wood
Direct Carving – faces emerge from the wood

So, what to do with five 30″ pieces of 6″ x 12″ fir?  I didn’t know yet that it was ok to use power tools, like Dremels or grinders, so I stabbed in with German steel hand chisels and a mallett.  Where I could follow the grain of the wood and the knots, I did that

Eventually, the cut wood began to suggest to me shapes like cones and canisters and caverns.  As I continued shaping the shapes and connecting lumps to bumps, more sophisticated forms began to emerge.  Behold: faces, foreheads, mouths, eyes.

And that was my first stab at direct carving.

Joe Brubaker Exquisite Garden Event at SF Museum of Craft & Design

Exquisite Garden Opens in San Francisco June 28 to September 21st:

Brubaker Exquisite Garden Event Museum of Craft And Design
Joe Brubaker Exquisite Garden Event Museum of Craft And Design June 28 – Sept 21 2014

An original and site specific garden will be cultivated over a week long period, where non-traditional materials such as rags become flowers, ropes become snakes, and rusty metal is transformed into an altar.



Open Studio in Marin ~ Wood #Sculptures ~ photographic prints

Fugitive faces from my Head Case are on the loose in my sculpture studio in Kentfield (Marin County California) — carved and colored wooden masks such as:

Fugitive Mask on Mask
Fugitive Mask on Mask ~ wood with pastels and acrylic


Fugitive from Nara
Fugitive from Nara – wood with pastels and acrylic

Those above, and a carving of fugitives in the landscape,

fugitives in the landscape ~ wood, pastel, acrylic, flame
fugitives in the landscape ~ wood, pastel, acrylic, flame

are on show in my open studio, the first two weekends in May (3-4 & 10-11).

My Open Studio is also showing installed garden sculptures (one is stone) and (indoor) wall-mounted combines.

Sculpture Studio is at 46 Berens Drive, Kentfield 94904, and is open from 11 a.m. on the first two weekends in May.

If you need a guide to the Marin Open Studios tour, download it here: MOS Tour Guide

Marin Open Studios 2014 — Pick One #Sculpture

Future Back, Redwood on stone base, 38" tall
Future Back, Redwood on stone base, 38″ tall (stands nearly six feet on pedestal)

MOS opens two show rooms at Bon Air Center in Greenbrae from April 22nd — about 250 works by local artists — one is my sculpture, “Future Back.”   It’s redwood, nearly six feet tall (at left).

So, how did I choose to show this piece there?  And what about all my other carvings and constructions?   — this is the first time to open-up my #sculpture studio in Kentfield to MOS —  it makes me feel like James Ensor, surrounded by his studio full of masks, each saying,  “Pick me, Pick ME, PICK ME!”

  • Marin Open Studios (MOS) is an annual, free, self-guided art tour in Marin County that takes place the first two weekends in May.

Most of what you see on the studio tour can be bought;  so, how does the artist choose which to offer for sale and which to keep back?  (Just not ready to let go).

Well, it seems to me you need to offer at least one piece that somebody else might want.  So, take a hard look at the images in the studio — are there any here that somebody else might want ?   Hmm.  An unknown, unknown.

Perhaps, pick one with a story to go with it.  Like “Future Back” (read more).

Sego Canyon: Combine D2

“Sego Canyon, Combine D2” (multimedia) wall-hanging derives from  ancient, native American pictographs.

Acrylic on reclaimed redwood, masks carved in fir, pictographic digital photos printed on canvas; dimensions: 20in w x 30in h x 7in deep; wood, acrylic, canvas, plexiglas
Sego Canyon: Combine D2 (Mixed Media wall-hanging)

Acrylic on reclaimed redwood, masks carved in fir scrap, pictographic digital photos printed on canvas (digital inkjet);

  • Dimensions: 20 inches wide x 30 inches high x 7 inches deep;
  • Material: wood, acrylic, digital photos, canvas, plexiglas (translucent over white wall)

Sego Canyon pictographs are probably about 700 years old.  These paintings on desert stone are loosely (and incorrectly) characterized) as Anasazi.  It is more likely that these were made by unknown tribe(s) after the Anasazi disappearance from the Colorado Plateau (circa 1100 – 1275 c.e.).

Significantly, the style of the Sego panels is clearly influenced by the 5,000 year old pictographs in Barrier Canyon — about 100 miles distant.

Photography by Peter Neibert

WIP: Waiting at the Workshop Door

roughed-in, reclaimed 5' beam
Just roughed-in, reclaimed 5′ beam (8 x 10)

“Do you sense how all the parts of a good picture are involved with each other.  Not just placed side by side?  Art is a creation for the eye and can only be hinted at with words.”    — John Baldessari, 1968

There is no formula. There are no rules. Let the picture lead you where it must go.

—Helen Frankenthaler, New York Times interview, 2003

“Color is not an easy matter.”
— Umberto Eco, 1985.

“Color and texture in painting are ends in themselves. They are the essence of painting, but this essence has always been destroyed by the subject.”
— Kasimir Malevich.

Richard Diebenkorn on “rightness”

“I attempt to make the lines and shapes right and because spatiality is intrinsic to a line-shape continuum, it too must be dealt with — made right….
One’s sense of rightness includes absolutely the whole person and hopefully others in some basic sense. What is important to artistic communication is only this basic part but if the artist doesn’t make his work right he has no idea what he has left out.”
The Art of Richard Diebenkorn p. 87

“Miles Davis bends the notes. He doesn’t play them, he bends them. I bend the paint.”
— Willem de Kooning

“Paintings and sculptures, let us observe, are the last hand-made, personal objects within our culture. Almost everything else is produced industrially, in mass, and through a high division of labor. Few people are fortunate enough to make something that represents themselves, that issues entirely from their hands and mind, and to which they can affix their names.”
The Liberating Quality of Avant-Garde Art Meyer Schapiro

“Pure draughtsmen are philosophers and distillers of quintessentials. Colorist are epic poets.”
–Charles Baudelaire, 1846.

“When I am in a painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It is only after a sort of ‘get acquainted’ period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through. It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.”
— Jackson Pollock, 1949

“Art is art-as-art and everything else is everything else.”
— Ad Reinhardt, 1962

“What you see is what you see.”
— Frank Stella, 1964

Where Do You Keep Your Owl/Not-Owl ?

I tried the fireplace first, but you can see it’s already pretty crowded.

Owl/Not-Owl with Fireplace Friends
Owl/Not-Owl with Fireplace Friends

I bought a long new redwood 4” x 12” beam just to have it around.  By and by, I started carving it for sculpture projects.  Some worked out, some didn’t.  When you have a beam and the project goes sour, well, you still have a beam.

So, I used one of those second chance boards to make this “owl / not owl” piece. 

It’s considered a “self-portrait without a face,” which means it’s made out of old things, parts and materials that are uniquely mine.  So, if you know me, you’d know that piece is mine without having to be told.

Materials:   mixed media carving, mostly redwood with plexiglas
about 24″ tall (as shown); and

When assembled with 8-leg wooden base it stands about 6′ tall.  The slender legs are the adjustable portion of a retired picnic table umbrella.  And, 

When the legs are pulled together, the owl looks like it is sitting atop a large bush.

These parts and materials are left over from my previous projects.

owl / not owl – self-portrait without face
redwood sculpture with plexiglas

Indoor Wood Sculptures May 2013 – Class Photo

You can see here that the Face Blind influence finds its way into most of my sculptures.

Wood Sculptures by Peter Neibert, 2013
Wood Sculptures by Peter Neibert, 2013

These are sculptures for indoor display.  The major piece missing is “Head Case” which is on exhibit at the Marin Civic Center for most of the summer, this year.  Meanwhile, I have posted it on Etsy,

Don’t overlook the brick fireplace in the picture.  I removed the fire insert (700 pounds) and refinished the bricks in hard acrylics.  Yes, I did.


Wood Sculpture “Head Case” on Display at Marin Civic Center

head case on used barrel ~ 3 wood carvings inspired by Nara period gigaku masks.  Sculptor Peter Neibert. Click on photo to enlarge.
“Head Case” on used barrel pedestal ~ 3 wood carvings in gold light inspired by Nara period gigaku masks. Sculptor Peter Neibert. Click on photo to enlarge.

“Head Case” is this Media Container for three wooden carvings, inspired by 7th Century Japanese theatrical masks.

It’s mostly made of reclaimed redwood, and it’s on view, free, at the first floor gallery of the Marin Civic Center (just walk-in the South entrance, and you will come to it right away).

For a preview and description, go now to Wood Sculpture in Gold Light.

Head Case on display at Marin Civic Center with Yukiko Neibert
Head Case on display at Marin Civic Center

This COM (College of Marin) Student Art Exhibition includes wood, stone, steel, bronze and papier mache sculptures.

Wood Sculpture in Gold Light ~ Head Case

Sculptures change even as you look at them.  Carvings differ from one time to another, under one light source or another, in one media or another — both the image and the original thing itself change.

This web optimized photo of a sculpture I made in wood was inspired by a Nara period theatrical mask.

sculpture inspired by Nara period theatrical mask
Wood Sculpture by Peter.
Click on photo to enlarge.

Here you see it on the web, but the sculptured mask is already different from the photographic image: the wooden carving’s physical image changes with countless shifts in light and shadow.  It’s one of three installed in my Head Case.

Head Case ~ Media Container

It holds upright three original sculptures of Japanese theatrical masks.

Gold is their color (more or less).  It survives as aging paint to embellish the carvings, and as filtered light passing through translucent yellow panels — one on the front for visitors to look inside, and one on the top to admit light from overhead, sun, moon and, yes, electric lights.

head case, japanese wood sculpture masks in gold light
Head Case with translucent gold panels, gold reflective walls & 3 masks mounted. Turn the table (at bottom), see multiple images of the masks and gold light change at the control of your finger.

Gold light plays on the 3 masks as they turn and change their images on the 3 reflective surfaces.  This head case measures about 20″ on each side of the cube – big enough to rotate three full-size masks on the turntable.

The outside of the case is reclaimed redwood from my old fence.  When I need more wood, I just take another board off the fence,

Then, the image I originally had in mind — hasn’t that changed, too?

n.b.  If you want to see original Nara period masks and other fine carvings of the period, start with volumes 3 and 4 of Genshoku Nihon no Bijutsu.


Skull on the Floor

Stone sculpture of an old skull with a little man inside is an unlikely find in Marin, but here it is:

40 pound alabaster sculpture by peter
little man is inside
click on photo to enlarge view

40 pounds of alabaster, skull sized ~ take care not to kick it in the dark, it will hurt your foot.

Daytime, you can see that it’s colored with wood stain.

Future Back ~ Haute Couture Returns to Present

“Back to the Future” fashions appeared recently in one of the Sunday magazines.  But something was weird, I looked closer.

Yes, the photo editor had stretched the model to be nine feet tall (so tall he cut her feet off the bottom of the picture).  Wow.  Is this how fashionistas like to see themselves?  The photo showed only the front. I wondered what a nine foot tall model looks like from the back.  So, I carved one, my front and back photo:

Redwood sculpture of nine foot tall high fashion model.
Redwood sculpture of nine foot tall high fashion model.

Most sculptors need some sort of rationale to do their job, even if they have to make it up.  Here’s mine.

  • Anthropologists’ dig (a thousand or two thousand years from now) unearths a funerary model from the tomb of a 21st century fashion king or queen.
  • Aboriginal Burial Commission directs the model be sent back to the 21st century.
  • And here it is, showing the effects of 1 or 2 millenia in the royal burial tomb.  Back from the future, back and all.


Funerary carving is about 32″ tall – I am fresh out of 9 foot redwood logs.



Matador Awaiting Bull

Wood sculpture with fabric connected by knots.  Fir carving is about bout 20″ tall, fabric trails about 4′.

Image inspired by Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon.

Sometimes the three matadors stand together as they await the first bull of the afternoon.  Sometimes the first matador stands alone.

This piece was carved from doug fir kd 4 x 4 , painted in acrylic.