Copper in the Arts

March 2010

Pete McCaskill: Inspired by Copper

By Frank Ross

Pete McCaskill Sculpture Ocean's Alive, wood and copper

Photograph courtesy of Pete McCaskill

Pete McCaskill took a circuitous route to becoming a sculptor and metal artist, as many artistic people do when searching for the medium that will satisfy their creative spirit. McCaskill's odyssey began in his native Vicksburg, Mississippi where he enrolled in every art or drawing class in his early education. In college, he pursued both fine art and technical drawing and began his professional life as a draftsman, working in many different disciplines.

A new job making decorative architectural castings lured him to Texas in 1986. His job was to take the plans and ideas of the architects and designers and develop ways to bring their ideas to life. While rewarding and influential as jobs go, it was a fortuitous meeting with sculptor Charlie Boren, at a wood sculpture study group in 2001 that changed his life's direction as dramatically as the curves of his present day creations in wood and copper.

"Today, I'm using copper as a larger portion of the composition I create," says McCaskill. "At first it was wood that dominated my work, but now I've spun that around and copper is the largest component of the piece. Copper is so easy to work with. It's malleable. You can bend it, shape it and form it so readily. It's also a very natural material. The use of copper dates back to the early days when man first started using metal for tools. So it's a very primitive material occurring naturally. It has a very earthy quality to it that flows in with the harmony with my work with wood and stone-it's just a very harmonious material."

Pete McCaskill Sculpture Embrace, wood and copper

Photograph courtesy of Pete McCaskill

In each of his sculptures, McCaskill strives to bring the various characteristics in the material and its form into one single harmonic expression. He prefers to use what he calls FOG wood (found on ground), so finding the perfect piece means he has to cover a lot of ground. Often it is the nature and character of the driftwood that directs the shape and form. Originally he worked in wood only, then he was introduced to copper by another artist and his love affair began.

McCaskill feels that copper has expanded his creative horizons.

"The workability of copper is my primary interest in it, but the second thing is the colors that are possible with copper," says McCaskill. "With patinas, you can get all of the various blues, greens, reds, and turquoise, even black. The colors are very vivid and varied. What I like most about the patina is the way it develops with the copper. If it's a close match to the colors in the wood, I like the cross-play between the colors in the patina and the wood, how it complements the grain in the wood."


Pete McCaskill, 3905 Easy St., Alvarado, TX, (817) 291-7585

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