David Varnau's sculpture blog

Edmonds Art Studio Tour 2017

If you are in town, join us for the Edmonds Arts Studio Tour on Saturday and Sunday, September 16 and 17 from 10 am-5 pm.  The free self-guided tour is a once a year opportunity to visit 18 private studios and 5 galleries displaying the work of 31 local artists in the scenic Edmonds area. You can purchase finished work, see new art being created, or just visit and ask questions.   Download the map and take the tour!

Stop by my studio #11 and view two of my newly completed bronze sculptures, which here are seen in clay.

La Donna e' Mobile

La Donna e’ Mobile




Danza Infinita

Infinite Moment

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Joie de Vivre receives People’s Choice Award in Auburn


Joie de Vivre in Auburn, WA

  Joie de Vivre in Auburn, WA

Visitors and residents of Auburn who visited the Outdoor Sculpture Gallery in Auburn, WA voted Joie de Vivre People’s Choice The sculpture has been on loan for one year as part of Auburn’s Outdoor Sculpture Gallery.  After it was selected as the people’s favorite, the City of Auburn committed to purchasing the sculpture and make it part of their permanent collection.

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YES! receives award

YES! wins 2nd Place

YES! wins 2nd Place

YES! receives award. I was pleased to discover that my sculpture entitled YES! received 2nd Place in the Juried Art Gallery for Three Dimensional Works at the Edmonds Arts Festival. If you are in town this weekend, enjoy a three-day festival in Edmonds celebrating the arts where attendees can view and purchase original art, enjoy free entertainment, celebrate our talented youth, and sample great food. During the festival, you can view award-winning art inside the Anderson Center where three galleries showcase juried fine art from more than 200 area artists. Shown are paintings, prints, drawings, photography, sculpture, and three dimensional artworks. Awards are given to the highest ranked art pieces in each media category and the prize winning pieces are acknowledged in each gallery. All art inside the galleries is offered for sale. Visit the Juried Art Galleries and see my sculpture in the three dimensional works gallery. June 16-18. Friday and Saturday 10 am – 8 pm, Sunday 10 am – 6 pm. 700 Main St., Edmonds, WA. http://www.edmondsartsfestival.com/juried-gallery/


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Terracotta Warriors Exhibit in Seattle

Yesterday, I visited the Terracotta Warriors Exhibit in Seattle.  The show is the first such exhibit ever outside China and is on display for only 5 months before traveling to Philadelphia.  It is an awesome show, particularly because of the way the life size clay sculptures are displayed and the dramatic lighting that highlights each sculpture.   If you live in or near Seattle or will be visiting the area before Labor Day, catch the World Premiere at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center, April 8-September 4, 2017.

The Terracotta Warriors are a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. They are a form of funeral art that was buried with people of influence in ancient China. The first Emperor of China (210–209 BC) was buried with the Terracotta Warriors to protect him in the afterlife.  Warriors 1

BACKGROUND: There were about 8,000 life size statues of soldiers buried along with the emperor.  Most of the statues measure 5 feet 11 inches tall but some soldiers are as tall as 6 foot 7 inches. The Statues were made to represent all battalions in ancient Chinese Army. Some are dressed like the cavalry while others are dressed like archers and still others like foot soldiers.  The Statues were made by over 700,000 thousand workers who were involved in molding legs, arms, torsos, and heads etc. which were then assembled together.  Apart from the soldiers, the emperor was also buried with 150 life-size cavalry horses and 130 chariots with 520 horses buried with the army.  Amazingly, the horses in the archaeological site are saddled. This indicates that the saddle was invented long before the Qin Dynasty. The actual tomb of the emperor has yet to be found.Warriors 8 Warriors 9 Warriors 10Warriors 4 Warriors 5Warriors 2

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Sculpting in Florence, Italy!

I recently spent two weeks in Florence learning sculpting techniques of the Florence Academy of Art from two graduates Thor Larsen and Charlotte Brunhes.  During my private sculpting sessions, I found myself stretching to incorporate their sculpting approach into my artistic style.  However, the sculpture that I created from a live model will serve as a good starting point for a possible sculpture that I complete once a mold of it is shipped back to the United States.right side 2 right side

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  1. dvarnau says:

    Which? The sculpture or the model?

  2. dvarnau says:

    Mary K. Frost Will she come home with you?

Le Arti at the Northwest Folk Life Festival Memorial Day Weekend

I will have three sculptures on display at the Italian Le Arti exhibit at Seattle’s Northwest Folk Life Festival.












The Northwest Folklife Festival is the place to learn, to dance, to play, to try something new, and to discover arts and cultures that inspire celebration of one another and our big neighborhood. From yodeling to beatboxing, square dancing to Bollywood, – the Northwest Folklife Festival celebrates the global traditions of local, independent artists.

Presenting more than 5,000 performers, the Festival draws from the 100+ cultural communities that Northwest Folklife collaborates with year-round.   The festival is more than a celebration of the diversity of the Pacific Northwest, it’s a chance to engage directly with the many communities that make up the region. The Northwest Folklife Festival is the key annual event bringing up to 250,000 people over four days to the Seattle Center.  To remove any economic barriers and ensure that everyone can experience and share in cultural traditions, the 46th annual Northwest Folklife is presented without admission charge, creating the most inclusive, wide reaching arts experience.

May 26 – 29, 2017, Seattle Center,  from 11am-10pm from Friday until Sunday.  11am-9pm on Monday.






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Spring finally arrives in Edmonds!

Joie de Vivre

Joie de Vivre

When I installed edition 3 of Joie de Vivre in Edmonds back in early November, I chose the location because the sculpture would have greenery as a backdrop.  What I didn’t realize was that one of the shrubs was a rhododendron.  Now that it is springtime, Joie de Vivre’s smile is framed by a vibrant purple rhodi in bloom!DSC_0078 DSC_0079

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A glimmer of hope! Find it in Edmonds.

resized-dsc_0046-cropped_edited-2My newly installed sculpture in Edmonds has a message.  Joie de Vivre depicts a young girl standing with her arms outstretched, her smiling face gazing up into the sunshine.  A breeze blows her clothing and hair, creating a dynamic image and capturing a joyful moment in time.  It reflects the moments of our lives when all is well, our senses are heightened and we feel the grace of being alive.

Joie de Vivre installed on Main St.

Joie de Vivre installed on Main St.





Just before Election Day, I installed edition 3 of Joie de Vivre in my hometown of Edmonds, Washington.  To those who liked the outcome of the election, the image seemed to mirror their celebratory mood.  However, for those of you for whom the election results left you reeling with a sense of dismay and foreboding, the image of the sculpture must feel incongruous.

resized-dsc_0051-adjusted_edited-2At times, we adults believe joy is not available to us.

Her image challenges us all to find joy wherever we can–and to savor it! 




It is a vision of letting go of concerns to embrace life.

Just what we need in these uncertain times.




Sited in front of Stewart Family Chiropractic at 547 Main Street, the sculpture greets you as you walk west from 6th Street.  Bryan and Cheryl Stewart graciously agreed to have the sculpture placed there on loan.   For information regarding how to acquire a limited edition of Joie de Vivre, contact Cole Gallery.


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  1. Tom Moncalierie says:

    Thanks David, for the perfectly timed reveal of you’re creation. The message it portrays seems almost perfectly fitting at this particular time. Well done.

Surprise Awaits!

Edmonds Art Studio Tour

On Saturday & Sunday, September 17-18, 10 am – 5 pm, if you’re in town, consider doing the Edmonds Art Studio Tour.  It’s a free self-guided tour and is a once a year opportunity to visit 19 private studios and 2 galleries displaying the work of 37 local artists in the scenic Edmonds area.  You can purchase finished work, see new art being created, or just visit and ask questions..

In this 1.5  minute video, you learn a bit about the studio tour and why you will enjoy viewing art at local artist’s studios while discovering Edmonds neighborhoods you’ve never visited!

Download the tour map.  Be sure to visit Studio #12!


In my studio, you will see a selection of my art, works in progress as well as my newly completed bronze sculpture, titled Yes!, which is just back from the foundry!




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Myedmondsnews interview

Edmonds sculptor takes honors in Olympia’s ‘Peoples’ Prize’ competition










My Edmonds News caught up with Varnau in his Edmonds studio last week to talk about winning the Peoples’ Prize, his art, and how he sees the role of public art in the community.

“There are real advantages to programs like this one in Olympia where the public participates directly in the selection of art,” he observed. “In my view the whole point of public art is to entice the viewer, captivate interest, and most of all offer a memorable experience. This process taps into that by giving the viewer the chance to say ‘this work speaks to me in a special way.’”

David Varnau has been sculpting for the past 20 years, but he didn’t start out as an artist.

“I majored in psychology as an undergraduate,” he said. “After graduation I worked in the field for a couple of years, and it didn’t take me long to realize that I’m the kind of person who needs to actually see what I’ve done and know it has a purpose. Then one day I saw an amputee walk across the room on prosthetic legs, and the light went on for me. This is something I can provide!”

This led Varnau to go back to college at UCLA to study and train in prosthetics. “I worked for a decade in the LA area, loving every minute of it,” he said. “But after 10 years it was time to start my own prosthetics practice. I moved with my family to the Pacific Northwest and ultimately settled in Edmonds.”

As his children grew and the responsibilities of parenthood lessened, he found that he had some extra time on his hands and saw this as an opportunity to “enrich my life.” But how?

The answer came at the Edmonds Arts Festival, when he and his wife happened by the Sculptors’ Workshop in the Frances Anderson Center. “I saw an artist working on a bust. He challenged me to try it, and almost immediately I found it irresistible. It just took hold of me. One thing led to another, and before long sculpture was taking up all of my free time and more.”

Last year Varnau made the decision to retire, sold his prosthetics practice, and since then has been devoting his full time to art.

“I’m usually working on several pieces simultaneously,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll get frustrated and a work will sit on the shelf unfinished for months, and then an inspiration comes, I pull it down and go back to work.

“Visual art is like a good novel,” he explains. “It will draw you in with subplots, surprises, and alternative interpretations. Like great literature that takes on more depth with multiple readings, you may see a work of art once, come back several months later, and see something you didn’t discover before. Sometimes this can be as simple as viewing the piece from a different perspective. My goal is to have each work I create be interesting from all viewing angles. It’s particularly satisfying for me to succeed in captivating your interest from all sides of the piece.

“But it’s more than just form. In my sculptures I always look for a story. What is the subject thinking? Is he or she angry, happy, joyful, sad? Some seem lyrical and light- hearted, some are grief-stricken and still others are uplifting, even stirring. But all speak to the human condition and the spectrum of our experience through the compelling beauty and the singular expressiveness of the human body.”

Varnau is particularly inspired by the human body. No doubt in part due to the many years he devoted to making prosthetics, he is especially intrigued by the variations in the form of feet, toes and calf muscles. “We’re hard-wired to appreciate the contours of the human body,” he says. “We each have an internal bank of visual images that we find satisfying, intriguing and inspiring. Sculpture can celebrate that.”

A long-time Edmonds resident, Varnau is committed to giving back to and enriching his community. Part of this commitment includes providing opportunities for both aspiring and experienced artists to join him in his studio for weekly sessions with a live model, where artists can come together in a creative, supportive environment. He stresses that “all are welcome to participate, regardless of skill level. It’s a safe place to give free reign to your inspirations.”

In addition to a casting of the award-winning Joie de Vivre currently featured at Edmonds’ Cole Gallery, David Varnau has several works on public display in downtown Edmonds including Apres de Bain (After the Bath) and Transfixed in the Cafe Louvre courtyard and Ananda in front of the Washington Federal Bank at Third and Main Streeet

Varnau’s studio is a regular stop on the annual Edmonds Art Studio Tour coming up the weekend of Sept. 17 and 18.

Learn more about David Varnau at his website.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

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