Steve Turnbull

Steve Turnbull

One often imagines an artist at work in a hallowed setting, perhaps the soft sounds of a symphony playing in the background, birds chirping.  These images may be the residual essence of a bygone era.  We erroneously believe the intensity of the artist precludes normal human endeavors; all daily activity is suspended, such as eating meals or engaging in conversation.   Yet, in reality, life surrounds and informs the work of today’s artist.   Seclusion is no longer the norm.  With a sculptor, engagement is a necessity given the highly intricate complex process of creating a sculpture.

Steve Turnbull is a sculptor of magnificent talent who lives and works in the real world, balancing his forte for fine art with a vibrant family life and a thriving business.  Every sculpture essentially depends upon the sculptor’s aptitude for capturing movement within a static material—this is equilibrium of the tension between force and stillness.  Steve demonstrates this dexterity through his ability to work with not simply one but many different materials.  Carving a sculpture from wood is diametrically different from the planning and execution of a sculpture in bronze.  For Steve, the work is inherently communal—he doesn’t work in a vacuum.  He learned the intimate details of the craft from his uncle, Bruce Turnbull.  In turn, he shares his passion with both his wife and his children.  At various stages of the process, Steve may choose to work alone—but, even then, he freely reveals the fact that the materials themselves participate in leading the way to the sculpture within. 

According to Oberlin.edu, carving is a subtractive process.  This means that Turnbull starts with a block of material, which may be stone, wood or other substances, and achieves his result by strategically removing material.  Steve’s body of carved work is a delight to behold.  In contrast, to sculpt in bronze, Steve’s first phase involves modeling, which can be an additive process.  Steve works with clay adding more and more material to build and sculpt the desired figure.  Or, he may make his first model in stone.  In either case, the process involves extensive steps and expertise to finally arrive at the bronze result.  To hear him describe the rubber molds, the wax and ceramic stages, the investment, devestment, dipping and kiln baking is to find yourself immersed in another world; a world in which the technical steps are vital to the final result of a highly creative process.  Reflecting again upon that mythological impression we have that artists singlehandedly create their sculptures is quickly rectified by the reality of watching Steve consult and work with experts as he chaperones his sculpture through the many steps necessary to achieve a precious work of art.

Though Turnbull attended Washington State, graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts, his education was incomplete despite the hard-won diploma.  His opportunity to work with a recognized master carver, his uncle Bruce Turnbull, and immerse himself in the repetitive motions necessary to hone his skills and perfect his craft were essential to consummating his métier.   Few people today have the opportunity to study with a mentor for more than just a brief period if at all.  Bruce first identified Steve’s gifts and since then has unselfishly provided him with access and guidance; Steve, in response, has flourished in the art world and by doing so has honored the teaching that Bruce has bestowed upon him.

Living in Hawaii further compounded Steve’s lifelong devotion to the beauty of nature.  Though he has found that the tropical woods of Hawaii cannot withstand his sculptural demands, he returns time and again to obtain nature’s castoffs, driftwood from the shores of the Northwest.  These wood pieces, pounded by waves, basted in saltwater, baked by the sun and dried by the wind serve as unique inspirational materials for Steve’s exciting transformation.  Steve also gravitates to stone, other woods and bronze.  All of these substances are manifestations of the abundance of the earth’s bounty.  Steve sees life and movement within these materials—he views his role as one who liberates and releases these inner energies. 

Seeking a method by which to sculpt pieces which would facilitate his preference for clean and simple beauty, Steve began working with a hybrid material developed by a fellow sculptor, a blend of marble and porcelain powder, referred to as Parmian II.  This blend of synthetic and natural materials provides Steve with the ability to create beautiful indoor sculptural pieces and to do so at a level which makes them more accessible than full-scale bronze statues.  As noted at the beginning, Steve lives in the real world and recognizes that as one builds a collection of art, the feasibility of amassing many bronze pieces may not be practical.  Through this innovative material, a Turnbull sculpture can be added to your collection without sacrificing the entire acquisition budget.  FineArt360 is pleased to offer you the work of Steve Turnbull.