A Sculpted Life

I live to create and I create to live.

provocation beginning collage

My latest piece, entitled Provocation, as it looked while still in progress. 

One of the great things about being artist is that no two days are ever the same. When I wake up in the morning, I never know what the day will bring. I may have set things I need to accomplish, such as fine-tuning or sanding a piece, but, I learned a long time ago when working with stone that my plans don’t really matter – the stone is always going to do what it wants to do and doesn’t much care about my plans for it.

Because I work with stone and don’t do castings or replicas of any of my pieces in any other medium, it is nearly impossible for me to create the same piece twice. I can carve 10 snowy owls or 15 abstract sculptures and, though the basic principle of the pieces are similar, the end result is always completely unique. Clients enjoy knowing that the pieces they buy from me are one-of-a-kind – it makes each piece that much more interesting, collectible and valuable.

It’s hard for me to get bored with my work because the stone is always challenging and begging me to try something new. For the past few weeks, I’ve had this nagging idea to try creating abstract forms that are less feminine in nature and try something a bit more edgy and yes, masculine.

I’m well-known for my ability to create beautiful, flowing shapes out of stone, such as the one below:


The forms are very feminine in nature, highlighting my respect for and admiration of the female form, with its soft curves and hidden mysteries. I’m not afraid to say that I am pretty in touch with my feminine side and I credit the strong females in my life – my wife and Tamaya especially – for encouraging me to explore and embrace that side of myself.

But I’ve been desperate to try something new. To create a sculpture with harsher angles and deeper cuts that not only highlights that aspect of the stone, but also allows me to showcase my strength and masculinity in a way I have yet to express with my sculptures.

I went out to my studio and selected a stone. I spent a long time studying it. Then, this little voice inside my head said, quite loudly, “Get out of your comfort zone!” I could hardly ignore the little voice, nor could I ignore the tingling in my gut, further signaling me to set aside my reservations and just go with it.

So I did and this was the end result:

provocation collage

Provocation – July 2018 – Sculpted by Paul M. Bruneau

I am absolutely thrilled with how this piece turned out. For me, it showcases the more jagged side of the stone. It expresses that part of me as well – the hardships I have faced in my life and the obstacles I’ve had to overcome. At the same time, it is still symmetrical and beautiful, which to me, is a statement that, no matter how tough life can be, there is still balance and beauty all around us.

I’m very excited about these new shapes and my mind is overflowing with ideas. In fact, I’ve been in the studio working on another piece that I hope to have finished sometime this week and I can’t wait to show you how it turns out!

In order to create art, artists need to be constantly stimulated, challenged and motivated to try new things. That’s one of the most beautiful things about this job – the only limitations are the ones we place on ourselves and, when we’re brave enough to step and think outside the box, there is no limit to what can be imagined and created.

That being said, it can be very scary to step and think outside the box. As I’ve said before, creating something new can be risky for an artist because you never know if your clients are going to like what you’ve created. There is always a risk that the new idea won’t sell.

Creating a piece that doesn’t sell can be a blow, but the knowledge and skill gained from stepping outside your comfort zone is, in my humble opinion, more valuable than any amount of money.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this point in my career, but now that I’m here, I can’t wait to see where these exciting new ideas take me!


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