At Home in His Studio
For CAA member Bill Nebeker’s, his Prescott, Ariz.-home is where he both works and plays.
He and his father, brother-in-law and wife Merry built his studio on the north end of the house in 1985. The studio, which measures 32 feet long by 30 feet wide, has 15-foot ceilings so it can accommodate Nebeker’s larger sculptures. It contains a library, with books about CAA members, American history, working cowboys, Indian tribes, animal and human anatomy, rifles and pistols, hunting stories, and other historically important sculptors and painters. Also, there are collectable saddles, spurs, bits, cowboy hats, guns, Indian knives, arrows, and other beaded clothing items he uses as props to ensure accurate representation in his work.
“When I’m in my studio, I get inspiration from my reference books, western films and photos I have taken on research trips to ranches,” said Nebeker. “Sometimes I just get an idea that pops into my imagination and develops into a full fledged sculpture.”
While Nebeker prefers to work alone, in truth his studio sounds more like Grand Central Station than a clichéd artist hideout. When the children were young, Merry would often bring the school art classes for a tour of the studio. While the children are grown, today there is almost a monthly tour of the Nebeker home and studio for various art groups.
When he does find the time to sculpt – between trips to the foundry, business in town, art shows and caring for family – he prefers to work with the television playing an old western movie in the background or listening to old-time music or books on tape.
“I am very unorthodox in my working schedule compared to so many of my artist friends and colleagues,” he explained. “I don’t work every day in my studio, and there can be weeks that pass between when clay sculptures are being physically worked on.”
He does not sketch his ideas as studies before he begins sculpting. Instead, he can be in the studio for days looking through reference books and photos, reading about historic events or watching films. He also heads outdoors to get a better understanding of the movement of the animals.
“It looks like I am not being productive,” he joked. “In reality, I am doing my mental and visual imaging until I have a complete picture in my mind of what the new clay sculpture will be.”
This is clearly a style that works for him. In his four-decade career, he has completed dozens of sculptures, much to the pleasure of art enthusiasts and collectors around the world.
~written by Julie Wilson, JFW Communications