Artist Spotlight: Copper Tritscheller October 09 2020
When did you first realize you had an interest in art?
I knew I was interested in art from a young age, it was always my favorite subject in school. It didn’t occur to me that it was something I could pursue professionally until much later in life.
Who are some artists that have had a strong influence on your style or art practice and why?
Leonard Baskin, Marino Marini, Milton Avery, and Javier Marin are artists I am consistently drawn to. I like Baskin’s interpretation of birds, Marini’s abstraction and fluidness of horses, Avery’s sense of color and form, and Marin’s rawness and exuberance of the human body.
What led you to start working in bronze?
I was working with another sculptor and fell in love with the process and enjoyed all of the people that assisted me in the creation of my work. Bronze allows me to interact with my piece throughout many different stages. The work begins with sculpting followed by bronze casting, and then manipulating and reworking the surface with hand files. When the form is finished, I apply the patina (color). Working with a foundry and their skilled craftspeople who assist throughout the process, is part of what got me hooked on bronze casting.
Please provide a little background information about your process. What does a typical day in your studio look like?
My days look very different depending on what stage of the process I'm in, but here's an abridged overview of what goes into making a complete piece:
I model in both wax and clay. I've been modeling in wax a lot lately, so often my day starts with turning on the wax pot. It takes about an hour for the wax to melt, then it needs to cool for another hour until it's pliable. While this is happening, I will build an armature, if needed. Once I have my armature and pliable wax, I can begin to build the sculpture. There's no set time for how long it may take to create a piece, it can be days weeks, months, or even years. During this time, I work and rework the surface until I feel the form is finished.
The model is then taken to have a mold made. Hot wax is poured into the mold, creating a hollow wax replica of the original. I take that wax replica home and again rework the surface. The finished wax then goes to a foundry to be cast in bronze. I again rework the surface of the finished bronze piece with hand files and grinding tools. Next, the piece is sandblasted and washed with water, a mild detergent, and scrubbed to remove any oils and prepare it for patination. Finally, I mix my chemicals and set up a space to apply them with a propane torch. When the patina is complete, the piece gets waxed to protect the color, and then it's finished. A typical day could find me in any one of these stages, or all of these stages with different pieces, but most days start with turning on the wax pot.
What are some common themes you explore in your work?
I use animals as my way of expressing human emotion. Common themes include compassion, empathy, community, and humor.
Where do you find inspiration when you begin a new piece?
It can be anything I see that permeates me: a photo, a thought, a dream, a passage in a book, an image in a movie, the world around me, really anything I see that stirs something in me.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
This is a hard one, there's so much I want to say, but it's also such an individual journey. I think the most important thing I've learned is to try to be true to myself and what I want to create. It's easy to doubt, to copy, or to try and please others. I find the work I'm most proud of is the work I had fun with and followed my instincts.
Copper Tritscheller, Bat with White Glass Wings, bronze, lead glass and steel, 22 x 27 x 9 inches
What are you working on now?
I've begun to incorporate glass casting into my work, most recently small vignettes of animals and fauna in glass and bronze. I feel I'm still on a learning curve of exploring everything I enjoy doing and understanding what resonates with me.