Chester and Mike Fields’ sculptures land at Hoffmans Fine Art
December 29, 2015
Hoffmans Fine Art and Exotics in Redstone has gone to the birds and has been blessed by angels.
And these aren’t ordinary fowl or heavenly beings. These are works created by Chester Fields and his son Mike Fields, which are on display now.
For gallery owner Don Hoffman, showing these works is like a step into the past.
"I first handled Chester’s work almost 40 years ago, but I lost track of him when I had my heart attack," Hoffman told The Park Record. "Then a girl came to me a month ago with one of Chester Fields’ eagles. Her father had died and she wanted to sell it."
So, Hoffman tracked down Fields and gave him a call.
"It was like we had never parted ways," Hoffman said. "I then found that one of my very good clients owns a couple of his works."
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One thing led to another and Hoffman and Fields, along with Mike Fields, began working with each other.
"They have their own thing going," Hoffman said. "So, it is nice to have a few of their works with us."
The thing that attracts the dealer to the Fields’ works is the detail.
"They are really talents in what they do," Hoffman said. "The works are very finely tuned. You can see every feather has its own place and a usage when the bird is in flight.
"They aren’t trying to mimic anything," he said. "This is realism and a lot of people don’t have the patience to do what they do."
Due to the holiday rush, Chester and Mike Fields made time and conducted email interviews with The Park Record.
Chester Fields: Paintings set the path for sculpting
The elder Fields began drawing things with wings when he was in elementary school.
"Butterflies and birds were my beginning sketches of choice at age five," he said. "Throughout high school, I strengthened my skills in drafting classes and then majored in art in college."
Upon graduation, Fields was drafted into the army during the Vietnam War.
"Off to Germany I went for two years, assigned to the Adjudant General’s Headquarters as an artist," he said. "Provided with a jeep to drive to and from work and a captain’s office, my job consisted of charts, illustrations and cartoons."
Once discharged, Fields’ first job stateside was as an illustrator for American Sign & Indicator, before venturing out on his own in 1974.
"After painting in my studio for 10 years, I was invited to the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma to exhibit my paintings with 30 of the top wildlife artists including Bob Kuhn and Robert Bateman to name a few," he said. "I then went on to work on a series of commissioned Native American paintings for two years for a German Collector."
When the project ended, Fields decided to start sculpting an American bald eagle, which he named "Splashdown."
"Standing four feet, cast in bronze and stainless steel, with gold and silver plating accents, [the piece] took eight months to design," Fields said. "He was sculpted in fiberglass bondo, which afforded me to accomplish more refined detail in the medium."
"Splashdown" received the Best Sculpture award at the C.M. Russell Art Show in Montana in 1985. The work was later accepted into the prestigious Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau Wisconsin and also selected for the 1986 Birds in Art National Museum tour, according to Fields.
Throughout his career, the artist has sold more than 750 sculptures to more than 20 nations and various collectors and businesses across the United States.
"I love to paint, but found sculpting was much more profitable and allowed me more exposure of my work in galleries across America in the form of limited editions," Fields said. "I really enjoy painting and sculpting. But with bronze editions came a wider reach nationally and internationally. I would sell one edition eagle for the same price as one 30 by 40 original painting. For this reason, I chose to focus on sculpting."
His background as a draftsman, designer and painter has given Fields the advantage when designing sculptures.
"My approach to sculpting is to acquire as much information and research material on my subject and fully understand its anatomy," he explained. ‘The biggest challenge for me is to breathe life into my subject and freeze the image in time, while still evoking a sense of movement.
"When I design a sculpture, I first think of a composition in terms of how easily recognizable my subject will be at a distance," he said. "I perfect the form before refining any fine detail. I always design a sculpture with a monumental size consideration. It is important to do the eyes and head most accurate and realistic, as they become the focal points. I have also chosen to mix different metal and accents to make my work more exotic."
Fields’ approach to painting is similar.
"I also pay a lot of attention to anatomy and try to be as realistic as possible," he said. "I use mixed media on water color board and then use a gloss finish upon completion."
After 30 years of sculpting eagles and other birds of prey, Fields found that the biggest challenge in creating large monuments is finding the best foundry for the job.
"Perfecting the original maquette first and projecting it as accurately in large scale as possible can be a challenge," he said. "Once the monument is completed in clay, it can be molded and cast in as many as 160 panels, which must be welded together and chased out until you cannot see the welds.
"Before the foundry applies the final patina, it must be sandblasted to illuminate any dirt, oils, and fingerprints," he said. "It will also expose any imperfections. Upon completion, a final clear coat is applied."
In addition, the monument’s super structure must be properly engineered inside for support.
"The final headache is installation and having it lit properly," he said. "Because of the high foundry cost to do smaller sculptures, smaller sizes are becoming less feasible. A larger number of smaller pieces do allow an artist to reach out to a broader base."
Fields’s work "Attack" was on display at the Forum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and "Splashdown" has been installed at the Anheuser Busch Corporate Headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri.
Fields’ works are also favorites of private collectors including those living in Singapore and Louisville, Kentucky.
"One of my most pleasant experiences as an artist and father, however, was a joint project with my son, Mike Fields," the elder Fields said. "The project was a 14-foot cougar monument for WSU in Washington State, placed outside of their football stadium in Pullman."
Fields’ current project is an 11-foot monument that will be placed in Seattle across from Century Field Stadium, where the Seattle Seahawks play in 2017.
For more information about Chester Fields’ art, visit http://www.chesterfieldsbronzes.com.
Mike Fields: Following his own path
Chester Fields’ son, Mike, has been creating professional works for more than 22 years. He created and sold his first sculpture of a bull elk when he was 13, and has since created detailed sculptures that, like his father, include intricate detail and fluid motion.
However, his approach to creating art is different than his father’s.
"I am captivated by the challenge of making a very simple design compelling," Fields said. "Within the Japanese tradition of painting, there is a focus on simplicity and efficiency of strokes. I am interested in exploring the same principles in three-dimensional form."
While his current art is focused on satisfying his own creative aesthetic, he continues to look further down the road.
"In future sculptures I would like to express meaning and not be bound by my personal aesthetic," he said.
That’s why he is building a portfolio of contemporary sculptures.
"My general goal is to create a body of work that does not appear to be created by the same artist," Fields said. "It is liberating to create anything that comes to mind, or inspires me, and not be tied to representation or interpretation.
"The quality of execution will always be important, but this new direction is refreshing and exciting," he said. "I have an equal passion for observational and theoretical sciences and will be reflecting this in my new work. The various realms explored by science offer endless inspiration."
For more information about Mike Fields’ work, visit http://www.mikefieldsbronzes.com . To see the works of Chester and Mike Fields, visit Hoffmans Fine Art and Exotics, 1678 W. Redstone Center Dr., Suite 110, or log onto http://www.hoffmansfineart.com.
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