“The universe seemed to instill in me an incredible desire to sculpt and to study sculpture and art”
American sculptor WJ Lindauer started his artistic career when he was 54 years old. Ever since he can remember he has had a profound interest in art, but, instead, he pursued a professional career as a stone and brick mason and log builder. In 2012, a serious arm injury forced him to retire early, but allowed him to reconnect with his lifelong passion: sculptures.
Lindauer quickly became a self-taught figurative sculptor, devouring every art, sculpting, and anatomy book he could get his hands on. Soon, he started producing pieces of art and learning more about different sculpting techniques and mediums. His previous career also provided him valuable knowledge and skills, and he rapidly mastered the plastic arts.
In this Q&A, WJ Lindauer shares with PoseSpace how he became an artist after a long career as journeyman and builder, details of how he learned to sculpt and what advice he would give to his younger self:
When did you first know you wanted to become an artist?
I suppose I had a slight inkling of my desire to pursue art when very young. I retained a love for and was sketching from a young age. I remember looking at the “Drawing and Art courses by mail” advertisements in magazines that existed at that time, hoping to be able to take one of the courses one day!
The older I got, those hopes were kind of shoved by the wayside. There was no support that I was aware of in the area I lived in to pursue an art-related career, more so a disdain for it in those years, so I sketched a bit through the first couple years of high school and that was the end of it.
I did sculpt a quite rudimentary sculpture of a partially nude “woman with a jug” pouring water in my sophomore or junior year of high school. It fired well. What I still laugh about today is the totally obvious “sideways glances” the nun who taught the class would continue to give to me concerning my subject matter! Haha!
You are a self-trained sculptor, can you tell us more about your learning process?
After school, I entered the work field and became a journeyman bricklayer, stonemason, and also a traditional log builder. Later years mostly focusing on historical work as it gave me more satisfaction in preserving historical structures.
After a life of this kind of work, I incurred some serious permanent injury to my shoulder and back which basically shut down my entire career about the end of 2012.
At this time and at about 54 years old of age, my learning process really started to begin.
The universe seemed to instill in me an incredible desire to sculpt, to study sculpture and art. It was almost like someone opened a faucet and the intense inspiration, desire, and understanding that I could and should do this gushed forth.
Living quite rural, I was nowhere near any larger cities or art-related communities to study, so I made the decision to self-train.
From then on, time was spent acquiring and devoured any book I could get my hands on concerning sculpture and some anatomy, as my passion seemed to lie in capturing the human figurative form and its beauty.
Slowly, I self-trained doing a stone sculpture and then moving to clay as a medium, learning more all the while. A lovely friend of mine, who will always have a special place in my heart, traded me a new kiln in barter for a couple of sculptures. I then had the ability to learn about kilns, firing, etc; and fired my own works.
Which artist has influenced you?
Human figurative sculpture is my main artistic love.
What do you think of PoseSpace? Do you have a favorite model?
I love Posespace! Oh my… there are SO many lovely models in so many various awesome poses on Posespace it would be unfair to settle on just a few! I did a sculpt of Vaunt recently that I loved doing and quite a few others earlier.
At times sculpting from just a single photo I’ve created some lovely sculptures… but having ALL the angles from Posespace and from such high-definition photos is awesome! I feel that’s about as close to sculpting from a live model that you are going to get… without having that live model.
Is art a hobby for you or do you make a living from it?
Basically being retired now… I would not call it a “hobby” which I feel is downplaying it. I just simply would say it’s a “Love” of mine.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Ah, yes! Hindsight is 20/20! I believe I would tell myself as a young person: do not ever stop pursuing your innate love for art. Keep pursuing it if even on a part-time level, no matter what opposition or obstacles come against it. You may very well be able to practice it full time one day!
WJ Lindauer’ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WJ-Lindauer-Sculpture-621101638010460/
Interview by Andrea Miliani