Filtered Expressions - Curious Questions Part 2 - Mike Haisell

Being a Live Model has allowed me to make connections and develop relationships with the most interesting and incredible people, this would be one of them.
I met Mike when I answered an ad he had up this last Summer as I was settling in here on the Island and since then we have been working together, about once a week or so. We have almost finished a full body sculpture and he is currently in the process of doing a bust of me. (Which is pretty strange to see a life size 3D version of your face taking shape in front of you. This is my first bust, obviously.)
I had never worked for a Sculptor before, you wouldn't think it would be much different from the average drawing class, but there is so much more of an immediate connection that goes on within the 4hr time frame of working with only one person, and on one pose.
His studio, which is an experience in itself, is semi sectioned off into two parts. Upon entering, the two glass doors on the opposite side of the room are what caught my eye first, they showcase his beautiful backyard, which has provided me much entertainment in our sessions, watching the war for walnuts between the crows, squirrels and Geosepi the one handed raccoon.
The right hand side of the studio is lined with shelves boasting sculptures of gorgeous women, showcasing them in their raw beauty.  Some of them his creations, some of them from other Artists that he takes inspiration from. Pictures of a few important people (his lovely wife and kids as well as his Sculpting Guru) are scattered amongst the clay women, all clear indications of where he finds his fuel. The kiln is tucked neatly beside the door of which you enter the room from and on the left side is a barrage of tools and machinery he uses for the variety of projects he has on the go. He was once a carpenter, which is so apparent in his creation of stands and easels. He is one of those people who seemingly can make something of nothing. I have witnessed him rework tools, build props and create accessories for aiding in his work. There's nothing he can't find a way to create.

Mike has a feverish curiosity that keeps him tirelessly researching and experimenting.
One of the perks of modeling for these interesting Artist folks is that I get to pick their brains, with Mike, it's pretty easy to get information. He has a passion for Art that he excitedly shares, be it drawing techniques, portraiture, or Sculptors from the history books, he is constantly learning.
Which is obvious by the size of his reference book collection.

With the amount of time we have spent conversing on the ridiculously wide variety of topics, there is much more I could say of this curious human, but I'll let his words speak for themselves.


1. What specifically attracts you to sculpture?
I think I like how a sculpture is a total cohesive piece of art. No one part can stand alone without relating to something else. Ultimately the piece has no better parts or viewpoints, it is all equally important, just as every part of a canvas is equally important but sculpture is in three dimensions.
I like how light can play upon the surfaces and allows us to interpret the form for what it is. I like how it is tactile and can be experienced with more than just the eyes.
I feel connected to the sculpture of the past through my experience as a child living in Europe and visiting the museums there. Building a figure is the only way I know to really know the forms and their particular beauty in my soul.

2. What are your values as an Artist?
Maybe the values of myself as an artist? Yes, Leave no stone unturned when it comes to the path of discovery. Sort of like Durer, who seamed to be looking for the ultimate proportions of the body. I don't mean I'm obsessed with that but I am obsessed with the goal of competency and having control of my abilities and my confidence with the figure.
I promise myself to keep trying, and always be willing to change anything as a part of the process. At the same time I enjoy it all and when I don't I stop.

3. What was the most inspiring thing someone has ever told you?
We are accountable for what happens to us in our life. Somehow, we had a part in it so I don't feel I got the short end of the stick for what happened. That means I am the master of my life. I make the changes that I see that will help me, and I don't wait for someone else to do it for me.

4. Which of the four elements represents you the most?
Probably fire. I have a lust for life, I affect people around me with my attitude.
I like the colors of fire, the intensity and even the sound.

This is what once was a hunk of clay, turned semi face shaped, turned almost complete bust that we are working on. "We" being a loose term, he does 99% of the work.


Where I watch the animal battles that are persistently fought.


One of this many tools of the trade.


5. What part of the day are you the most creative?
I can work all night. Hours can turn to minuets, it's strange.
I once woke up on the floor with my sculpture beside me.
All times of the day are really fine but there are often interruptions during the day.

6. Is there much of a difference between the art that you enjoy and the art you create?
Almost every time I see my paintings I hate them. I would like to be painting like Pino or Schmid.
I enjoy large sculpture of the nude like the mannerists, Giambologna, Bernini. I guess the difference is in scale and materials. I intend to add more expression to my figure's face and body.

7. How do you see your work evolving in the near future?
Like the last question, I want to work larger and larger. I am becoming more aware of composition and adding other elements to the figure. I also intend to use some more color rather than leaving everything in the raw, fired clay.
I will be doing more oil painting of the figure as well as sculpture. 

8. What is the primary emotion that you are expressing in your work?
I am in awe of the human figure. Is that an emotion? I am so inspired from life, I am happy.
What would Michelangelo answer this? He loved the figure and he brought it to life.
It is a process. Sometimes I like to express a sexual feeling or image. I want to portray how beautiful a woman looks to me.

9. If you had to create in one medium other than clay, what would it be?
I would like to create figures in oil paint. I have done this to some degree already.
I would also like to cast a figure in bronze. It is so permanent.

10. What is art to you?
It's funny how that is so hard to answer. To me an artist is competent like a trades person because they are able to handle materials and methods. An artist can take ingredients, mix everything together and produce something readable.
The process of painting or sculpture is very messy but the outcome is not. The artist knows how to put only what he wants to appear on the finished piece. The artist must be able to separate his process from the finished work so it turns out the way it was intended. That takes organization and skill. Maybe that is what an artist is, no what art is though.
Art is the outcome of all that. That is making art. But what is art? Art is that idea that stayed there through the whole process. Art is whatever speaks to the artist, motivates the artist. To me.....Right," to me"? Art to me, is embellishment of life. What adds to life. Life for some could be so simple and dogmatic that art could seem unnecessary. But even in the simple life of the Shakers, their furniture is very beautiful. Man cannot help himself from creating art. It makes us feel good. The Shakers could have used broom handles for chair legs but they didn't. They chose to add curves and tapers instead. All through history it is the same, artisans beautifying the their corner of the world in their profession. Art is everywhere. I'm taking about visual art. So I guess what I'm saying is art has to be aesthetically pleasing to me. Many will disagree. To me at some point the art movement went away from this. That's probably why I hate most "art" I see in galleries today. Antique furniture and art will never die. Where will the art of today be in one hundred years?

Bonus Question:

What musician/band are you really enjoying at this time. (Or is there one that you've just recently discovered?

The Tallest Man on Earth, Sufjan Stephans.

If you or someone you know is interested in the sculpting process, seeing his work in person or if you have a desire to purchase one of his incredible pieces, you can contact him at

Spread love,


As I have done with every Curious Questions recipient, I asked Mike to take a picture of something of beauty that he witnessed in his day.
He sent me this.
Turns out I had taken a picture of the very same sunset before I had gotten his email. Go figure.