WORKING ON A GRAND SCALE
Two early lessons shaped the life and success of sculptor Kevin Peters. He learned that out of hardship can come much good and that it is wise to accept the advice of teachers. Kevin was only 15 years old when his high school art teacher, John Toews, introduced him to the medium that would consume his life, stone. In class he take it home to complete it. When he presented his teacher’s response was “Where did you purchase that?” John Toews encouraged Kevin to try his hand at three more pieces, allowing him to concentrate on sculpture in class. Kevin responded with alacrity. His teacher’s next words his works. Young Kevin had very little notion of what an art gallery even was but persevered. He recalls, “Charisma Gallery, the only gallery in my hometown of Abbotsford, British Columbia, consigned the pieces and sold them all within one week. Because I was only 15, and didn’t have a licence, I had to wait to get a ride into town from my parents to pick up the cheque. So began my journey into the art world.”
A Life-changing Event
Ever hard working, Kevin often worked multiple jobs in construction and on the family farm and then spent his weekends carving. He notes that he didn’t sleep much and hence had an accident,
but in many ways it was fortuitous: “One day at work I fell down two stories off a roof and broke both my feet. This was a blessing in disguise. I wasn’t able to walk for six months, but could sit at a carving desk and continue to create. At this point I realized I was able to make a living by carving full time. The more I produced, the more demand I created for the work.”
A Matter of Scale
Demand has indeed been great for his work. Over the years, Kevin has been commissioned to create many works of art and he has delighted in creating non-commissioned work for sale in galleries as well. Many of these works have been on a large scale and very public. One was a multi-million dollar project that consumed all of his time for six years and remains a landmark to this day. Even still, Kevin receives little credit for this magnum opus. He explains: “I received a commission from a company just outside Osoyoos to create a dozen monument-sized bronzes for a development lining the Crowsnest Highway. Because my signature and casting date are small, vandals have scratched their
own names alongside mine, claiming my work as their own. Nonetheless the sculptures remain my biggest accomplishment.” And big they are. Kevin has carved a 12-foot reclining moose, an 8-foot leaping deer, and a 10-foot Sasquatch. Another of Kevin’s pieces sculpted on a grand scale started out as 2,600 pounds of Kootenay Chlorite. It took three months to chisel out the space between the belly and the base that the large grizzly stood on. Luckily Kevin’s studio, a t wo-story timber from his property on Wild Horse Mountain, is very big and enables him to do projects on a grand scale. Once they have been created and installed, however, they rarely move again.
The Golden Maltese Eagle
There is one exception, however. His solid gold Maltese Eagle was moved right out from under its owner’s nose in a brazen public robbery. Its
theft speaks to its value and its beauty. It took three years to complete and remains one of the 500 years. The head of the eagle is mounted with over 760 carats of diamonds and contains a one-of-a-kind Atocha Star Emerald from the famous shipwreck mounted on its base, bringing its appraised value to between $5 and $9 million. Kevin says candidly, “It took 4,000 hours and millions of dollars in material to complete and only two minutes to disappear. And it is becoming one of our nation’s great mysteries.”
There is no mystery, however, to how Kevin derives his inspiration. It comes from all around him. From his wife and soul mate, Leanne, whom Kevin says “jumped right in alongside me to build our ranch and make our paradise” and with whom he lives as close to the earth as possible. Inspiration also comes from sculptors Alexander
Shick and Michael Lord, and from the people who handle and sell his work and “magically transfer their energy over to their clients.”
The Medium is Key
Perhaps the most important influence on Kevin's art is the medium he uses. He has had success with bronze and antler, iron and different steels, bone and fossilized bone. But his favourite is stone: “When it comes to stone carving, the I will plan my day, sometimes all morning, imaging into the living stone. In the afternoon, and well into the night, I release those images.” His initial idea for a piece created from stone begins in the stone yard, when he chooses which boulder to use. He sees an image in the stone and when he gets it back to the studio he begins chipping away the parts that he knows are not meant to be there. He uses a progression of tools, beginning with a two-
inch wide stone chisel and culminating with
A Direct Carver
A direct carver, Kevin starts his carving without drawing any images or guidelines on the stone. He doesn’t even use reference pictures any more. As he puts it, “The image is simply trapped in the stone and my mind has adapted to see it and remove what does not belong. As the years go by, my mind has developed enough to turn the stone to liquid, enabling me in an unrelenting medium. The secret is to try not to over think it, just let it come out. If you become afraid of making mistakes in your craft, you will never evolve. If you don’t keep evolving, you will never know your full potential.” To talk to Kevin Peters and see more of his magical work please contact him below:
Previous Page, Caves of the Haida, part of the Dream Piece Series, stone is Steatite, 22" H x 24”W x 18”D, approx. 156 lbs. Like all Kevin’s work this was carved out of one solid piece of stone. In all his Dream Pieces the very last step is risky. After he has almost completed the carving, he places the piece upside down and hollows out the inside, creating the void/negative space.
This Page, left page, the Gold Eagle, 18 lbs of solid gold, 763 diamonds, and the 12.72 carat Atocha Star emerald. 10" x 3.9". The appraised value ranges from 6.4 - 9 million, depending on current market values. Because the emerald is one of a kind the appraisal is The head is made of 18 carats of white gold, and encrusted with 763 diamonds. Eyes are two 1.1 carat matching pear shaped diamonds. The tail feathers are 14 carat white gold. The body, rock and base, are 14 carat yellow gold. The pedestal on the very bottom is 10 carat yellow gold. The base is mounted with the Atocha Star emerald, a 12.72 carat emerald, found in the Atocha ship wreck. The Gold Eagle is currently missing. right page, Kevin working on the original wax "Gold Eagle" in his studio at home.
Previous Page, left and right page, American Horse, part of the Dream Piece Series, stone is Steatite. 25"H x 14"W x 16"D, approx. 126 lbs. Previous Page approx. 380 lbs. This Page, left and right pages: 3 images of Cinnamon, stone is Steatite, 23" H x 12"W x 10"D, approx. 130 lbs, left image - polished, center image - before polish, right image – polished. Kevin started this piece as a mother bear and cub, and then realized the stone had room for her to be holding one more cub if he moved her paw slightly.
Left and right pages: Left page is Jackson emerging from the stone. Center is Jackson almost carved and ready to move inside for detailing. Still working on the paw detail. Because this stone was so heavy Kevin began carving it on the ground outside. Once it was light enough he could lift it on to Jackson completed and polished. This piece took months to complete and only 20 minutes to sell.
Original boulder started out at 188 lbs. right page, Caves of the Haida, part of the Dream Piece Series, stone is Steatite, 22”H x 24”W x 18”D, 156 lbs.
All 3 of these images are part of the Dream Piece series. Like all Kevin’s carvings, they are carved out of one solid piece of stone. In all the Dream Pieces the very last step is risky. After he has almost completed the carving, Kevin will place the piece upside down and hollow out the inside, creating the void/negative space.
Previous Page: 4 images of Noah, Sea Otter, stone is Soapstone, 25.5”H, 160 lbs. Kevin worked on this piece off and on for almost a year. All one piece of stone. The Star Fish that the Sea Otter is holding is almost twice as much work as the Sea Otter itself, because there is Kevin’s favourite and most popular images that he creates. This Page: Image courtesy of Derek Cain Photography. left page, Kevin working on "Lincoln" outside his studio at home. stones that Kevin uses that is sawn from a quarry in square blocks, as he prefers a rounded boulder shape. BC Chlorite is so dark green that it appears black. He often starts these large carvings in spring or summer, when the weather is nice enough to work outside, as they are often too heavy to move inside before he starts carving.