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Inside the studio

Stan Peterson

Stan Peterson

About Stan Peterson: Peterson carves and paints narrative wood sculptures. They are freestanding short stories which begin with observation of moments of significance, often seen on walks in nature and sometimes in dreams. The sculptures often transform the ordinary into a form of magical realism.

Peterson’s art has been professionally exhibited since the early80’s, starting when he was a Postal Carrier, carving scenes from his mail routes. His interest in folk art woodcarving has taken him to Bali, Oaxaca andNew Mexico to carve with traditional artisans. He is currently represented by Imogen Gallery, Astoria, Guardino Gallery, Portland, Peterson Contemporary Art,Bend, and Hanson Howard Gallery, Ashland.

Stan Peterson shares this with us:

I’ve always been a walker who pays attention to moments which connote significance.

Even very small moments, seen out of the side of the eye, will stay in the memory bank.

These moments often become sketches before taking shape as carvings.

Birds recur and satisfy my desire for flight and passage. I often take my pocket size carvings out in nature and photograph them in various configurations. This becomes a mobile site-specific story which I post on Instagram. The responses from followers all over the globe are like a huge Gallery opening.

This past year of Covid shut down has altered my excursions with sculptures. They haven’t flown out of Oregon. In pre-Covid times, I’ve taken them to New York City and photographed them in the Egyptian collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and to Art Basel with contemporary international art in Switzerland. The carved wood sculptures become a traveling pop-up exhibit.

I use sharp hand tools and basswood in my NE Portland studio. The bandsaw is the only power tool for roughing out shapes. I like the quiet meditative process of carving.

Looking out the window at goldfinches and juncos at the feeder rests my eyes. Occasionally, a downy woodpecker or flicker will find the suet feeder and attack with frenetic appetite. I work on several pieces at a time, so it is easy to begin my studio day. Carving can occur in any weather - wet grey days are not a problem. However, I need a clear day with sun to paint. The color gives me energy.

I’m currently working toward a June solo show at Imogen Gallery in Astoria. The title of the show is “Out on a Limb”. It will include a lot of birds perched on found pieces of wood from beaches. Woodpeckers and kingfishers are predominant, but they share the stage with swans, doves, and figures which carry birds. I have returned to painting narrative scenes and also making woodcut prints, both are mediums from my early days as an artist.

I facilitated art making with severely disabled adults for 30 years at Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California. After moving back to Portland 7 years ago, I’m finally able to be in my studio full time and occasionally teach woodcarving workshops at Sitka. Sometimes I think I’m just a woodpecker at heart.

Images of studio

Carving bench
Swans on beach wood bases
Workbench with Kingfisher cutout
Swans along the Columbia / New Year’s Day

Images of Work

Swans ready to show
Out on a limb
Birdwatching

Carving Little Longdog

Watch how Peterson creates his artwork "Little Longdog" from beginning to end.

To learn more:

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