I began creating stone artwork at my midlife, in the mid-1990ís, in the Northern New Mexico high desert. I amassed stones and tools to work with them at a place where there werenít people to complain of the noise or stone-dust. I had a great amount of time alone. Artwork began emerging from the marvelous stones and my persistence despite my inexperience and many mistakes, and, each stone taught me something so eventually I discovered solutions to the challenges in my opportunities.
I practice 'direct' carving. This approach lets the stone guide the outcome of the work as I assist and observe the stone becoming its essence. (ďIndirectĒ sculpting begins with a preconceived image, a drawing or a model that the artist imposes on the stone.)
I see my working with stone as separating the seed from the fiber, allowing it become what is not known to me when I begin working with it, not inflicting my preconception on the stone.
My name, Manuel (in Basque, Imanol) means 'by or with the hands.' Abascal (in Basque, Abaskal) means 'separates the seed from the fiber.' I believe we inherit much from our ancestors and, humbly, I pay homage to my paternal lineage of master stone builders. My father learned from his father, and so on back in time, but my father died when I was a young child so I taught myself.
At the millennium, I was back in Berkeley where Iíd spent most my life before my time in the desert. I solved my need for an inspirational place to work with stone by having a mobile studio. My materials and tools fit in easily into my camper van, and I pack up and go to natural settings for days at a time to do the noisy and rough work, remote public beaches, state or national parks, or my friendsí private property, most often the acclaimed Full Belly Farm at Guinda, California. When the rough work is done, I move everything back home and finish working with each piece, filing, sanding, polishing, mounting, photographing.
Iíve learned from living with my artwork that each piece has different attributes at different times, in different light, so taking my own photographs of my artwork allows me to convey the varieties of expressions by the stones Iíve included in my website.