After completion during CSS 2013, the greater-than-life size sculpture will be sold at public auction, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit Camp Ocean Pines.

John Fisher roughs out his sculpture

Fisher personally selected the 2.5-ton block of marble in Italy, shipping it to Camp Ocean Pines in April 2011. At the end of that year’s seven day symposium (phase one), he had roughed out a classically inspired sculpture of a female figure. At this year’s symposium, April 22–29, Fisher will refine the image and add detail. The public is invited to visit the camp during the week, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, to watch him work his sculptural magic.

On Saturday April 28 the camp will present “Sculpture By the Sea,” an exhibition of work by symposium participants. Fisher and the other sculptors will show approximately 100 sculptures and be available to discuss their work with interested visitors.

John Fisher’s work is the result of a lifetime of artistic experimentation and innovation that has taken him across the United States and Europe. He spent 20 years working in Pietrasanta in Tuscany, Italy—a mecca for stone sculptors worldwide. Fascinated with the history of stone carving, Fisher wanted to learn everything he could about how the masters worked.

Fisher has developed his own unique process for carving stone that employs both historical and modern techniques. He believes in “direct carving”—working without a model or image on paper or in his mind. “Once you make the model, then you’re so tied to it mentally that you’re not open to change,” he explains. “The more fluid the experience the sweeter it is. I carve something I’ve never carved before, because I didn’t know what I was carving until I woke up that morning and started smashing away at the block.”

Fisher has been teaching at CCS for four years. Sculptors at all levels respond enthusiastically to his infectious passion for the work and for teaching. When beginning a new sculpture, he encourages students to let go of control and allow themselves complete freedom. “Fear and control are the worst enemies,” he says. “If you buckle under to fear, you’ll get something, and it may be good quality, but it will never be inspired.”

Outside of the symposium, one of Fisher’s loves is carving on-site so a whole community can watch and be part of the creative process. He recently completed a large-scale marble sculpture at Elings Park in Santa Barbara titled “Danny’s Mountain” and is working on a monumental piece for the new community service building in Moorpark.

Fisher’s works grace public and private collections throughout Europe and the United States. He has also been featured in Nat Geo and PBS segments and in art magazines.

This is a rare opportunity to see and talk to a modern master at work in a beautiful coastal setting.

California Sculptors Symposium was founded in 2005 to provide a unique educational experience for professional and nonprofessional sculptors working by hand or with power tools. It also awards yearly scholarships to students attending the symposium. The current seven-day retreat at Camp Ocean Pines evolved from one started by the Central Coast Sculptors Group in San Luis Obispo in 2002. CSS was granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2005; donations are tax deductible.

For a video of last year’s CSS that includes Fisher at work on phase one of his sculpture project, visit


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