Work in Studio – Rampage

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The Walking Man of Rodin


LEGS hold a torso away from the earth.
And a regular high poem of legs is here.
Powers of bone and cord raise a belly and lungs
Out of ooze and over the loam where eyes look and ears hear
And arms have a chance to hammer and shoot and run motors.
You make us
Proud of our legs, old man.

And you left off the head here,
The skull found always crumbling neighbor of the ankles

(1878 — 1967)

Photo: Walking Man by Rodin at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden by DCArtAttack.


Cheekwood Botanical Garden


Summer Workshop – Part 2, Walking Figure

In week 2 of the Grzegorz Gwiazda workshop at the Barcelona Academy of Art we explored the walking figure.

We took a fresh approach to a walking figure pose by applying the concepts of abstract dynamic composition that we explored in the previous week.

The “walking man” is an iconic pose used by artists through-out history that can be interpreted on many different levels. For example, it can be:

  • part of a narrative interacting with the base in a way to tell a larger story
  • representative of a psychological or symbolic state
  • simply an exploration of the form or pose

Historic Walking Figure Sculptures

Here are some examples of famous walking figures from through-out the history of art:

My Process

First, I developed some sketches and made some paper collages to work out where I wanted to go with the walking figure concept. The class was fortunate to have three models at our disposable who were willing to assume the poses we wanted to work on. What a treat to have a live model playing the role of the walking figure!

I explored the idea of incorporating different shapes into the body as a literal comment on the way we burden ourselves with stuff – things we buy, things we hold onto, things we accumulate that serve us no purpose.

The face has a blithe expression as if unaware of the body’s consuming habits.

sculptural maquette in clay of walking figure with one arm out by Ellen Scobie
Walking figure sculpted in clay by Ellen Scobie

This form has so much to explore that I’m working on a series now to elaborate on this concept.

Watch for more updates on work in the studio or check out for more sculptures.



Summer Workshop – Part 1, Abstract Dynamic Composition

I found so much inspiration in an excellent two-week workshop given by Grzegorz Gwiazda at the Barcelona Art Academy. We started off exploring the concept of abstract dynamic composition as applied to an abstract sculpture.

Important considerations:

  • how is weight distributed throughout the form
  • what are the transitions within the form – falling, touching, melting
  • steer yourself away from rhythmic repetition; your mind expects this but it’s so much more satisfying to be surprised by the unpredictable
  • Delight with changes in scale, contrast, asymmetry

I explored some ideas for the sculpture in my notebook. I had trouble visualizing the sculpture when rotated!

artist sketchbook with drawings of sculpture
Sketching out some ideas

My idea was to have a hard fist at one end that transitioned to a round, soft form at the other end. Underneath the belly would be punctuated with small shards.

The sculpture came together without deviating much from the initial sketch although I wasn’t altogether satisfied with the round shape. I would definitely explore this shape more, maybe building it with connecting flat surfaces if I were to work on this idea again.

This sculpture had to be broken down and the clay re-purposed for my next sculpture, an interpretation of the iconic “walking figure” pose.


Arts Alive Oak Bay Sculpture Exhibit

The sculpture exhibit, Arts Alive, is an annual event hosted by the municipality of Oak Bay. The jury selected my cat-person sculpture, titled Meditation, for the 2016-2017 exhibition.

This annual public art exhibit features 13 sculptures situated around the municipality for one year. Sculptures were reviewed by a jury comprised of art professionals and citizen art enthusiasts.

My sculpture has been installed in Estevan Village and will be on display from late May 2016 until May 2017.

2016 Theme: Looking Forward

In response to the theme Looking Forward, I submitted the following artist’s statement,

The sitting cat sculpture rests in a meditative pose, reflecting quietly. To prepare ourselves for looking forward, we must first look inward.

Public Art Exhibit People’s Choice Award

The public was invited to vote on a People’s Choice Award and I was honoured with a runner-up finish. Thank you to everyone who voted!

Sculpture Exhibit

Read the press in the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper, Oak Bay goes nuts for public sculpture.


View The Making of a Sculpture using a Plaster Cast where I show the early stages of creating this sculpture.

sculpture travel

Sculpture Trip to China

I’m back from my very memorable sculpture trip to China. For the first week, I was working with my Vancouver Sculpture Studio partner, Geemon Xin Meng, at a workshop in Quyang, about 200 km south of Beijing in Hebei province. This region is famous for its history of marble sculpture going back millennia, as well as for some of the worst air pollution in all of China.

I spent time prepping my maquettes that I had brought with me for enlargement into marble and I also tried my hand at sculpting directly into stone. Something new for me as up until now I had only sculpted directly in clay.

ellen scobie working on sculpture in qu yang, china At work on my sculpture at the studio in Quyang. Lying all around are marble stones waiting to be made into sculptures. We were working in an open yard next to a busy road so I wore head, ear, eye and mouth protection all day! Gloves, too, usually if they didn’t get in the way of working on fine detail. (Quyang, China)

Vancouver Sculpture Studio visit to China
Discussing sculpture with Geemon at the Beiyue Temple in Quyang, China. The air quality was so bad we wore our respiratory masks around as a matter of course. These temples have been part of Beiyue culture since the feudal dynasty, Shun Zhi (1660), where they were an important place for the Emperors to make ritual offerings.
Cherry blossoms in full bloom at the Beiyue Temple
Cherry blossoms in full bloom at the Beiyue Temple in Quyang.
Vancouver Sculpture Studio visit to China
This is a nearby sculpture school in Yangping that we visited on the weekend. 15-18 year olds are being trained as sculpture assistants to copy traditional Chinese sculpture. There is a huge market within China for these sculptures.
Vancouver Sculpture Studio visit to China
These giant sculptures are made of marble imported from the south of China. The ubiquitous lion has a female and male form: the female has her left paw raised under which is a cub she’s protecting; the male has his right paw on top of a ball, because he’s always playing! As you can see, we did get some blue skies which the locals told us occurred only rarely.
Vancouver Sculpture Studio visit to China
This is how a stainless steel sculpture gets made. Individual sheets of stainless steel are bent by hand and fitted over the fibreglass mold. The pieces are then welded together. Afterwards the welds will be polished out and the whole sculpture will seen as a gleaming piece of steel.
Vancouver Sculpture Studio visit to China
A small temple made from the local, orange-coloured marble.
Vancouver Sculpture Studio visit to China
Temple visit, Xian
lucky-888 lock on red door in china
Lucky 8



Figure study


Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s day to all sculptors, ceramic artists and clay aficionados who are celebrating their clay crush today!