Phil McCracken (b. 1928 in Bellingham, Washington), who is known mostly for his bird and animal sculptures, was reared in Anacortes where his father was a merchant. After graduating from high school he began studying pre-law at the University of Washington, leaving when the Korean war broke out.
After his stint in the army he came back to the UW as an art major. The School of Art had excellent facilities for sculpture, and professor Everett DuPen was generous about allowing students to explore new directions. McCracken regards French potter Paul Bonifas, who was then teaching at the university, as his most important college mentor, for his bold ways with form.
College was more than a four-year commitment. It was McCracken’s practice to leave the university early each year to spend the spring quarter doing commercial fishing. Income from fishing and from the G.I. Bill paid for his college education. He graduated from the School of Art in 1954, having won the School of Art Prize.
Once he graduated he was accepted by the famed British sculptor Henry Moore as a student. His time with Moore would influence him with his rich intellectual lifestyle and devotion to family as well as in artistic technique.
While in England, McCracken married Anne McFetridge, a graduate of Mount Holyoke and Cornell Universities, whom he had met on the ship to England. She was on her way to London to further studies of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British music, art, architecture, and literature.
After England he and Anne moved to New York where Morris Graves introduced him to the Willard Gallery. While he was successful in the New York galleries he missed the skies and forests of the Pacific Northwest.
In 1955, he and Anne moved to the McCracken family’s waterfront cabin on Guemes Island to raise their family. He continues to live and work on Guemes Island today.