Over 40 years of working on boom boats, Wes Seeley has seen many spectacular moments involving eagles.
Now retired, the Comox artist translates some of those moments into wooden sculptures. His newest piece depicts a pair of clashing eagles — one clasping a snake — which is displayed at the Designer Woodworks gallery in Courtenay.
“That was so much fun to build, because it was an impact situation,” says Seeley, a self-taught artist. “That’s the beauty of this. I see eagles all the time, fighting and mating and grabbing ducks, and doing all kinds of stuff. In my mind, I have all these images that I can work from…They’re the top of the food chain, and they don’t take any crap from anybody.”
Seeley created the piece out of red and yellow cedar, and some Douglas Fir, which can be found locally. He also used aromatic cedar, which needed to be imported from Tennessee.
“In the old days, they would make jewellery boxes out of it, because it had such a nice smell to it.”
He also sent away for a stuffed diamondback rattlesnake — which has been pierced by the talons of the top eagle in the sculpture. The bottom eagle has slammed into the leading edge of its counterpart, bending back its feathers.
At one point in the year-long process, Seeley decided to replace a straight portion of the top eagle’s wing with a curved piece.
“That’s the fun about being an artist,” he says. “You can’t be afraid to lop off a chunk, and throw it in the fire, and build it again.”
He also notes the advantage of thinking three dimensionally.
“I’m lucky,” he says. “I’ve seen this piece in my mind before I even cut out the first feather.”
Seeley has been sculpting for about 10 years. Recently, he said the hobby has been “tending towards a living.” One completed eagle can sell for $70,000.
Before starting this project, he had completed another life-sized wood sculpture, which was two eagle sculptures connected at the wings.
“This is so much more involved; the others are single units, this is built together,” he says. “It’s all about the detail now.”
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