Paul Ivy, about the artist
About the Artist
cycling in NZ
If every day could be like this

Now this is a great day! I have just finished pedaling 100 miles (or 167 km as shown on the pedometer) and I am now enjoying a refreshing New Zealand beer. I took a lot of photos during the ride, and I even found a few minutes to stop and draw some sketches too. One of the sketches was later turned into a painting, and might soon be a new sculpture too. Cycling, beer, photography, and drawing. Life is good.
My thrill-packed life story

So, tell me about yourself, people say. Okay, not very many people say this, but sometimes they do, and if you're reading this you must have some interest. If you get bored you can always hit the back button.

I have always been an artist, holding such jobs as toy designer, illustrator, graphic designer, sign maker, T-shirt artist, and store display designer. I have also worked as a semi-pro costume designer, making extra cash winning costume contests and working at Renaissance festivals. I have also done quite a bit of model building and I have won my share of model contests too.

I've been intrigued by miniatures all my life. As a kid, my hero was Ray Harryhausen, the king of stop-motion movie monsters, and I was fascinated when the original Star Wars came out. I guess it was natural that I would turn to three dimensional works. I started out sculpting my own monsters and building spaceships, then branched out to include landscape painting as I spent more and more time in the woods rather than in the theater.

I create art based on things I love to do. I am compelled to create, and have experimented with nearly every medium and subject matter there is. Watercolor held particular appeal for me, but I have also painted with oils and acrylics. And I have boxes full of pencil drawings and sketchbooks. But I am most attracted to three dimensional work, and have been sculpting professionally since 1993.

I have always loved the outdoors. I grew up camping with my family throughout the southwest. As a kid I practically lived on my bicycle. I have hiked and backpacked extensively all over the western US, and I have camped in all the lower 48 states. More recently I traveled to Hawaii and New Zealand for cycling, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and other fun stuff. I have also sold backpacking, mountaineering, climbing and other outdoor gear, and I've even taught backpacking classes. Cycling, climbing, swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, Kung Fu, and Tae Kwon Do are other sports I've enjoyed to one degree or another.

bungee jumping in NZ
I can't take any more

Not happy with my latest work, I decide to end it all. Actually, this is me bungee jumping in New Zealand at the Kawaru River Bridge, the site of the world's very first bungee jump! This is just the sort of thing I love, it's easy to get inspired to sculpt or paint after a good jolt of adrenaline. There's nothing like looking at a ten story drop to focus the mind.
Artist's Statement

It is the interaction of the figure with the landscape that intrigues me. The relationship of climber to rock or diver to sea is what I am trying to convey, a relationship that could be lost with either a figural piece with no background or a landscape with no figure. I feel the setting is as important as the figure itself, I always like to include a little bit of the background to set the stage for each activity.

I strive to convey the feeling of a sport. I've spent a lot of time hiking, swimming, and cycling, and to me the environment is an integral part of the experience. I put the viewer in the position of the figure in my piece, that's why you'll see a lot of back views as if you are looking over the person's shoulder, seeing things from his or her point of view.

I have always been drawn to shape and texture. I like irregular, organic shapes since these are the shapes of nature, and I avoid straight lines since these almost never appear naturally. The feel of the water on my face or the crunch of the trail as I walk through the woods, these small things bring to mind the whole outdoor experience. My goal is to create a piece that evokes a much bigger scene in the mind of the viewer.

Paul Ivy watercolor
Wilderness painter for many years

At left is one of my watercolor paintings. For many years I took one to two months off each year to travel the country and paint. I would hike, backpack, swim, and climb, and I would always camp so I was close to fun outdoor stuff. People would be surprised to hear that I have travelled to all the lower 48 states and Hawaii, as well as parts of Canada and Mexico, but I have never been to Disneyland, or visited the Statue of Liberty, or seen many of the famous "tourist attractions" that people associate with any given area.

I'm not much of a city person, I would rather live in the country, work from my studio, make visits to the post office to mail my art to my loving buyers, and then go do fun outdoor stuff.

Sculpture is my favorite medium

I still enjoy painting, and I have incorporated oil painting in my newer limited edition bronze plaques. I spend most of my time these days making three dimensional pieces though. I have found my strengths lie most in shape and texture, and I am intrigued by silhouettes and strong outlined shapes. I enjoy the light glancing across a sculpture, bringing out the contours and surface detail. I especially like to suggest a much bigger scene than is actually shown in a piece, and leave something to the viewer's imagination.

I feel a cast piece with weight and volume often has more power that a flat, two-dimensional painting. I love the feel of clay, and the joy of pulling a perfect casting from the mold. It's more tactile than painting I guess. I love all forms of creativity but there's only so many hours in the day.

PADI dive test I love the water

At left is me geared up for my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver test many years ago. At right, and much more recent, is me in the warm, clear waters off the Big Island of Hawaii. I'm about 20 feet down but the water is so clear, it's as if I am just below the surface.

Here I swam with the giant green sea turtles, a truly amazing experience. I include turtles in every piece I can.

Paul in Hawaii
Not much swimming in Washington State

I grew up swimming in the many public pools, rivers, and lakes in and around Austin, Texas. I never cared for the scorching Texas summers but I do miss those warm waters. Later I joined the Navy and trained as a Rescue Swimmer, though the service was not a good choice for a misfit like me. I still get in the water at every opportunity. That's almost the only thing that bugs me about living in the Pacific Northwest: the complete lack of warm water swimming. I'll wear a wetsuit if I have to, but I'd rather not.

Tripwire Toys
Military toy designer with clients from around the world

Shown above is a sampling of the original one-sixth scale designs created by myself and my wife Gretchen. From 1993 until 2001 we ran a toy company called Tripwire Toys, specializing in military miniatures. I would sculpt all the plastic pieces and she would design the cloth items, all based on the real uniforms and gear. Our emphasis was high quality, detailed, and very accurate miniature reproductions of authentic military uniforms, and our work is in thousands of collections around the world. We have been interviewed by Susan Faludi, exhibited our work on the USS Intrepid, discussed toy design with the inventors of GI Joe, and been commissioned to design original work by the GI Joe Collectors' Club. Articles about our work were published in Baby Boomer Collectibles, the GI Joe Collectors' Club magazine, Toy Shop, Master Collector, and others.

It was during the mid 90s that I really refined my sculpting style and perfected my casting techniques. I spent thousands of hours in my studio sculpting, making molds, and producing castings. I have made over 100,000 castings in my life. A lot of people have my work in one form or another, even if they do not know it.

My sculptures drew the attention of several major toy companies, and I designed many pieces as special commissions for them as well as selling some of my existing designs. I have designed or consulted for Hasbro, 21st Century Toys, Playing Mantis, and others. If you walked down the GI Joe aisle of a toy store between 1998 and 2003 you have probably seen my work.

Darth Vader costume
Loin cloths and lightsabers

At left is my Darth Vader costume, made in the late 70's. I have been involved in costume design since high school, earning extra money by winning costume contests at bars during Halloween, and at sci-fi and comic conventions. I used to love Star Wars until George Lucas screwed it up with the new trilogy.

For a few years I worked as a barbarian at The Texas Renaissance Festival. I've got photos from back then but I won't post them here. It was a great time: a loin cloth, some armor, a couple of swords, a huge stein of beer, and a few wenches. Crom!

I learned a lot about sculpting and casting techniques during this time. I sculpted a life-size super hero muscle body which was used to make a "muscle suit" of exaggerated comic book hero muscles for myself and a friend. This is the same type of work you see in Spider-man, X-Men, and those other superhero movies. We won a lot of contests with those. I also did some work for small theater groups, as well as a variety of sculpting, moldmaking, casting, and modelbuilding.

Yes, life is good

I wish I had more photos of myself over the years, but all I only have a few. I have many boxes of photos I have taken on my travels, but I did not often shoot myself (though I have been encouraged to do so by sarcastic friends). Suffice it to say that I have been a lot of places, met many good people, and done all kinds of fun things. I hope I can keep doing this for many more years...

Paul in kayak
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