Heart pounding, she scanned the crowd for her middle son. The other four were by her side, but where was Brian? After a frantic search, she found him surrounded by a circle of people, sculpting a dinosaur from the sand by the playground at Liberty Park. At eight years old he was already drawing people in with his exceptional sculpting abilities.
Today, everyone who knows Brian Maloney knows of his artistic abilities in several different mediums, especially sculpture. He sharpened his natural talents, first by taking visual art classes at the Neighborhood Art House in 2005 and 2006. He continued his education at Erie Clayspace in the Spring of 2008, and later through the Commercial Art class he took during his first three years at Central Tech High School. Brian graduated in 2012 and continued to grow as an artist, even creating a new unique art form with his wire sculptures of animals. In 2013, he took ceramic classes at Allen Stoneware and continued to do so through 2017. The next year, he began taking classes at Blossoms Clay Studio and he is still there.
Brian annually submits to the Barber National Institute Art Show & Sale, and is a regular contestant at the annual Presque Isle Days sand sculpture competition. At the former, he won the Best of Show in the Amateur Adult category in 2014. At the latter, he won three awards in the singles category: second place in 2015, third place in 2016, and first place in 2018.
When creating any art piece, Brian places a great deal of importance on accuracy and realism in his pieces. I sat down and talked with Brian about his art and the thought process that goes before it.
How did the idea for the wire sculptures come about?
I was going to make an aluminum foil giraffe for a couple I am friends with, in celebration of their Aluminum Anniversary. The wire was originally going to be the framework for the sculpture, but the framework itself became so complex that a lot of people liked it the way it was. I decided to keep it that way and I have made several more wire sculptures of different animals since then.
What is the most important thing you have learned in your Commercial Art class?
How to paint and draw with the color theory in which you mix opposite colors to cool a color down and darken it. However, if you add yellow to violet, it becomes lighter, so you would mix black with it. Mixing violet to yellow makes brown.
They also taught me a new method in drawing. You start out with the lightest lights and go from light to dark through the whole drawing. Then add the details and subtleties towards the end.
I also learned more effective ways of brainstorming. First we learned to come up with the marketing message and create lists of subtopics related to the topic at hand. Then, we made concept thumbnails and narrowed down that group, finding the best ones and creating design thumbnails with more detail.
What is your favorite medium to work with?
Clay. It is more often easy to make something look right in perspective, and more realistic, with sculpture than with drawing or painting. Also, I like that I can move my hands around more when sculpting than with other art forms.
How has your creative process changed and advanced since taking the Commercial Art Class?
My painting and drawing skills have definitely improved. I’m also better at brainstorming, which probably helps me pare down ideas and put more of a focus to my work.
Why is it so important for you to get a piece exact?
Because I can show how well I can sculpt or create art in general that way. I see it as a way to show my full potential and skill because I want it to look more realistic and authentic. I think that way I am doing the subject justice.
What is the first thing you notice when looking at other people's art?
Color, interest, and overall design. I notice how good I think it is, as in how much it realistically looks like the subject, how good the artist is at capturing the likeness.
Since you do more realistic art, how do you view more abstract and/or whimsical pieces?
I think they’re interesting. Some abstract pieces that aren’t supposed to resemble anything don’t capture my interest that much. Whimsical pieces can be cute and amusing. I do like surrealism even better than abstract art though, because it’s thought provoking. I wonder what is going on in the art, and I like things that make me think.
What is your state of mind when creating art versus everyday life?
I’m more at peace when doing art work as long as something isn’t frustrating me. I feel good because I’m anticipating the finished project. It’s more satisfying than finishing a chore because art is visually appealing. I like seeing how it looks, enjoying the process, and the outcome.
How do you see your art work versus what other people have said about it?
People say about my sculptures, “I’m half expecting that to get up and walk around.” I know that I make realistic looking sculptures, but I still don’t see it quite the same way as they do.
How do you feel you have improved as an artist over the years?
My pieces have slowly gotten more realistic looking and detailed, and I have slowly grown faster and more efficient when creating. I also came up with a new technique when painting sculptures. One sculpture had a sandy surface, and I lightly wiped the high points with the lightest color. When that dries, I then water down a darker color and use it over that. I wipe it off before it dries so that it stays in the low spots, and the finished technique creates a shadow effect. I implemented this technique in sculptures of Robins' nests as well as other works.
Erin Maloney recently obtained her Associate’s degree in Business Administration Marketing & Management from Fortis Institute. She is a poet and a writer who is passionate about art and helping it reach all who can be touched by it. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.