Monday, December 20, 2010

Miniature Fox Sculpture in Oil Based Clay

 I need to start learning the mold-making process, so I sculpted a small image of a fox in oil-based clay. I chose the animal and the pose to make for as easy of a mold as possible - notice that the entire composition is very pyramid in shape. I made a simple armature of a nail driven into a small wooden disc. Then I used oil-based clay to sculpt the fox in a more stylized manner.

It was fun to sculpt something different from figure and interesting to try and capture the essence of a fox without worry of trying to be anatomically correct. The oil-based clay is still kind of new to me and the sticky texture is still something that I'm getting used to. The upside is that you can stop and start as many time as you wish and it never dries out like water-based clay.

This measures 3.5" tall and is sculpted in Classic Clay purchased from Sculpture Depot.  Next I'll be showing the process that I used to make a pour mold of this sculpt. I learned this technique in the sculpting class that I took with Rik Sargent at the Denver Art Students League.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Contempative Woman - a ceramic nude sculpture work in progress

I started this sculpt when taking Philippe Faurat's figure study class at the Sculpture Depot two months ago. If you ever have the opportunity to take Philippe's class then DO IT! He's an amazing sculptor and a hoot and a half too ;-)
So this technique is new to me - the sculpture is almost entirely solid. According to Phillipe - she'll fire just fine if REALLY DRY first. (Fingers Crossed) As I live in semi-arid Colorado, dry isn't really a problem here. I'd say that I had about 10 hours of model time on this piece and put in another 4 to 5 hours sculpting at home and she's about 80% done. I’m juggling illustrating a children's book at the moment, so I've kind of shelved her for a while and just misted her with water a few times.

This is a low-grog ceramic clay and it is 16" high. I believe that it will fire to a white finish and plan on doing a marble/stone look for the patina if she survives the firing. I'm looking forward to taking a few more hours to refine and finish before the long, slow drying process.
On another note – I may have a kiln! I’ve been looking on Craigslist for a year now and if all goes well, I should have it by next weekend….then I’ll be able to fire my pieces and be more productive – very exciting!

Next up, I’ll be showing you my first oil-based clay figure. It’s one I’m working on from a class from the Denver Art Students League with Rik Sargent as the instructor. Another terrific teacher – you really need to look at Rik’s work – his monumental bronzes are amazing and he’s been such an informative teacher – I’ll do my next post on his class and my new piece….

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sleeping Nude

Busy, busy, busy. Unfortunately no time to post lately. I had a wonderful time at Sculpture Depot in Loveland last month. They sponsored a workshop with Philippe Faraut (my second). The first was a portrait workshop years ago, so I was thrilled to get to do a workshop on the full figure with Phillipe.  It was a good class - a nice, diverse group of people to share the journey. We spent two days doing studies that I enjoyed, then destroyed ;-) Then a day doing one larger piece. I'm still working on that one at home from memory.

I'm getting better at letting go, smashing up studies or sculpture that isn't working. Don't get me wrong - I was quite pleased with many of the small studies, but the process and experience was what I was after, not the physical product. So I only kept one of the smaller studies. We had about 4-5 hours with the model in this pose, then I did the rest at home. This is water based clay with low grog and the piece is about 9 inches long. This one I sculpted solid and didn't hollow. I'll allow to dry very, very slowing and try firing it my my ancient, questionable little kiln. If it doesn't make it, well, it was fun to sculpt anyway ;-0

Friday, September 3, 2010

Patinas and Pedestals

Finally - getting a few sculptures finished...

I had fired a few of the ceramic sculptures - then then them sit around as I dreaded attempting the patinas. I did a few using special Forton mixes with a chemical reaction. Since I only did a few, it's a little unfair to make a judgment. My first impression, however, is that the Forton mix is a bit thick and obliterates the sculptural surface a bit for my tastes. The outcome was very difficult to predict and I wasn't in love with the overall look of some of them.

I painted the Scarlet Robe in oils, which was messing and time consuming but the overall effect was nice. For the "Claire" bust, I opted to try many glazes of acrylic. Some of the layers, I spritzed with alcohol to break up the surface and create pattern - that worked rather well. Some of the layers I lightly sponged for additional texture.

The effect is pleasing and rather stone-like. With practice, I'd think that this would work really well on a lot of sculptures. Still working on my photography skills and lighting. As I don't have a dedicated space or the proper lights, it's still something that I need improving upon. The base was made by Imported Onyx in Loveland.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Scarlet Robe - Oil Paint Patina

I wanted something muted for the sculpture of the woman and vibrant for the robe, so I opted to try glazing with oil paints. The mistake I made was using Liquin to speed up the drying of the cadmium red, which led to a shiny finish that I didn't really envision. My bad. The woman is muted and and more in line with what I was looking for - a subtle finish. Couldn't really say how many thin oil washes I used, probably about 8.

I did find, however, that I probably could have achieved a similar look using acrylics, as the porosity of the fired clay knocks down the sheen that acrylics can leave. I would probably opt to try another patina using many thin layers of acrylics to compare.

Forton Metal Patina

Whew....been a long time since my last post. We've been renovating some buildings and our house so time has been detoured.

Due to snow, I was only able to make a couple of the patina classes with Andi at the Denver Art Students League. The photos won't be very good, as I don't have a place to set up for photos at the moment. Hopefully I'll be able to get some better ones, with bases, up soon.

This sculpture had a base coat of Forton and bronze/brass metals. Then I used a mixture of several different oxides and patinas from the class. After the metal had oxidized, I buffed with a bit of steel wool to bring back the metal. It came out a bit darker than I had anticipated. I do think I like it overall.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reclining unfinished nude - ceramic clay

This was another 5 hour sculpt done in water-based clay. Sadly - it's the last one for the class. It's about 19" long and 10" wide. In this piece I worked her head "off sculpt" - which means that I cut her head off to hold upright in my hands to sculpt for a bit and then re-attached her head.

"Unfinished" because I'm experimenting with not sculpting 'everything'. Not sure how successful I was in not completing the arm and leg....what do you think?

I was more interested in the negative spaces and openings. I plan on making the base clay that she's lying on very light so that the dark forms and open spaces show up on the nude more.

Took a lot of liberties with this one. I had about 4 hours with the model, but her proportions were very short and rather chunky. At first I started to sculpt her as she was, was then I thought, why? After all, this isn't a commission. So about 3 hours of the sculpting process was capturing the woman before me (she had her hips raised on pillows and her head lower - both arms were up - with hands under her head), I decided to change things - so I lowered her hips to level, turned her head the opposite direction and put one of her arms down. It was too late at this point to give her much more in the way of length. If I were to do it over, I'd take even more liberty and really stretch her out a lot - I think it would please me more.

Anyway - she's currently drying and awaiting firing. Sorry for the photos - I just snapped a few quick shots and they aren't very good ones... (Chestnut water clay cone 6).

In the mean time - I'm happy to say that all my other sculpts fired beautifully. The one sad news was that one fell during the long drive home from Denver and broke her leg. A lot. I'm currently trying to repair it using epoxy compound. We'll see how it does.

Next will be my patina class in May! I'm looking forward to working with the patinas to see the different effects. They will also cover the repairs to the one sculpt with the broken leg. I'll make a post of her repair soon too.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

5 hour Clay Portrait Study

Here we have a ceramic clay sculpture portrait study. I did this in one quick session of 2 1/2 hours then another 2 hours without the model at home. I didn't get good photos because I forgot to photo it at home and had to take a quick shot at the class while she was partially dry (which is why the clay is speckled).

As you can see, her strand of hair broke off in transport. She's also a bit flat in the back because I was worried that the clay had gotten too thick and I'm trying to be careful about the thickness of the clay for firing. So if she fires okay - I may be able to repair the strand of hair that broke off. Hope so anyway.....but it's all a learning experience!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Crash and Smash

Sorry - no photos today. You'd think I'd remember the camera on my phone ;-)
This week I did a standing 3/4 nude on a large scale. It was hard to keep the clay from slumping on such a large scale (about 26-30"). I was determined that on this piece I would do a better job with the paper core to avoid having to cut and hollow the piece. My goal was to allow for a lot more freshness and looseness on this piece. I probably got about 1 1/2 hours done on Wednesday. On Friday, I found that the sculpt had compressed a bit, the movement to the pose and back were still quite nice, however. Throughout the next three hours I was furiously and managed to get her nearly complete, including her hands, face and hair. The piece had a roughness and grace to it and I really made progress in keeping that fresh, painterly feel.

Since we'll be going on Spring Break, I needed to take the sculpt home. Bad call...while I was successful in transporting the other sculptures, this one probably had about 30 pounds of wet, top-heavy clay. Even with good bolstering in the car, she broke and collapsed on the way home. I was unsuccessful in fixing this time. Wish I'd have photoed before I transported.

Oh well, I went into the class expecting everything to crash, explode or fail, just to make myself do the work for the sake of learning, and doing the work. Very freeing and I'm glad that I'm sticking to that goal...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Plus-sized nude model

We had a plus-sized model this week. Again, I had just a little over 4 hours with the live model. I took the sculpt home and worked another 7-8 hours from memory - including time to cut her into pieces, hollow out and reassemble.

I was too excited to start sculpting and forgot Andi's paper cores...I started sculpting her solid and once I'd gotten a ways it was too late to turn back. So I went ahead and sculpted solid for a little while, then cut her into three pieces for hollowing out. I'll be sure to try and be more restrained on the next piece and really try to get the paper core down and this time, with thicker walls of clay to better support and have less problem with paper coming through to the surface... ;-)

The large model was a new challenge for me. I've never worked with heavy models before and the mass and weight and gravity were new and interesting. It was a different way to sculpt and see things since I usually work with more muscular or thinner more angular figures.

Another area for me to work on is my photography. Granted, these were done quickly to document the stages of work, but the photos aren't very good. Hopefully I'll get some better photos done when I fire and do the patina.

I also wish that I was able to keep the freshness. I'm at war with myself; one part of me wants to really work out the anatomy and the other part of me wants a looseness and spontaneous feel. While I like the mass and roundness of this piece, I think I missed the mark with going for a more artistic feel. I think that having to cut into pieces for hollowing and then repair the damage from the cutting encourages me to get too fussy over the finish and obliterates the stokes and marks of the clay - making it too 'rendered'. Well, there's always the next one...always the challenge...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nude and Drapery Sculpture Study

This week, at the sculpture class with Andi Mascarenas at the Denver Art Student's League, we did a nude study using some drapery. I had about 3 1/2 hours with the model and then continued the work at home for another 4 hours. The drapery was challenging, as every time the model took a break the drapery was different when she came back to model. I had the usual challenge of the paper core coming through and a few places where the wall of clay was very thin. When I got the sculpt home, I endeavored the remove the paper and had quite a bit of breakage that needed repair. I think it goes to show that I'm starting with the wall of clay too thin from the start, so will try to correct that problem on the next sculpt.

Another problem that I encountered was slumping. Because we're trying to work so fast, since we have limited class and model time, there isn't enough time for the clay to firm up much before we sculpt. I found that the weight of the top part of the sculpt was causing the bottom, her legs, to smash down. In order to correct that problem, I had to add more paper and then more clay to the base in order to bring the overall height back up. Unfortunately, I also over-corrected for that slumpage and you may notice that her lower torso is elongated. The proportion of the lower torso being too long isn't terribly unpleasing, at least to me, which is surprising since I tend to be a perfectionist.

But then, that is something that I've been working to overcome and one of the main reasons that I'm taking Andi's class. Good art isn't perfect. It's beautiful or evocative, or interesting, but not really perfect. So I'm trying to force myself to produce a lot more art and to learn something from each piece and to try to find the interest or emotion, or thought for each one, instead of the exact reproduction of what is already there.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Puppy Distractions

Well, I did a new portrait study in class but due to bad driving weather, was unable to get back to Denver to finish it. So I tore it up, recycled the clay and jumped into a nude with some drapery. I'll be back in Denver on Friday to work from the model and will post some photos of the sculpt in progress at that time.

I was hoping to do some more sculpting on my own in my studio, but a new addition has been keeping me quite busy. We have a new puppy, Cody! He's 13 weeks old and is a bi-colored Sheltie.

We're currently in the potty-training, don't chew everything, please stop jumping at the cat phase, so it's been kind of hard to squeeze work in....;-)

However, I plan to start a male nude sculpt today, so will post my progress as it to take an inventory of my clay on hand to see what I can use!

On some sadder news, I just heard from Nancee at Good Neighbor Press that Childcraft publishing is now closed - how terribly sad for everyone affiliated with the publishing industry.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Portrait study hollowed out

I mean to get some photos of the hollowing out process, but that will have to happen on the next one. Because of the class schedule, I rushed the drying of this piece quite a bit. One minute it was too wet to hollow and the next it was dangerously dry to hollow.

Because of the interior support, I ended up having to cut her into three pieces. When I was hollowing out the interior I gouged a few sections and had to do some repair work. Luckily that went okay. Not that she's been hollowed out and reassembled, she'll dry for another couple of weeks. Then the real test will come with the firing....I'll know if I was able to hollow and reassemble well enough even though it was a bit dry.

Back to class in Denver again tomorrow. I believe we'll be doing another head study before moving back into full figure work.

Friday, February 12, 2010

4.5 hour Clay Portrait Study

In today's class we did a portrait study. I had the model for about 2 1/2 hours, then continued working for another 2 hours from memory. Not a very good memory, apparently, because when I was typing this I had a good view of that ear. Monster-sized and too high ;-)

So, tomorrow I believe I'll be ripping off that ear and cutting it down to size, literally. Oh well - that can be fixed. I'll still have to hollow her out, so I expect that I'll encounter a few disasters that will need fixing as that goes along anyway.

This clay is very firm and has a very high grog content. I believe it is Chestnut, a medium fire clay from Mile High Ceramics in Denver.

I hope to get an hour or two in over the next couple of days to tweak her and hollow her then. Then I'll take some better photos to post.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Continuation of figure study

I spent another four hours refining the sculpture study - which may or may not be a good thing as I was working from memory and not the model. In that time, I found myself carving away quite a bit. Probably it would be much better for me to be working additively, instead of subtractively, but it's a learning process. By subtracting the clay, I found that I often went too thin and broke through to the crumpled paper. I would poke the paper down with a tool and add more clay, but knew that the thin walls could be a problem.

Well, that was an understatement. My next mistake was trying to remove the paper and hollow it out too early. Not having much experience with water-based clay, I was worried about it becoming too hard to repair when the time came to cut a hole and remove the paper. So in I went, through the bottom of the sculture. The first wad of paper wasn't a problem, but cutting up through her legs and torso, I found that the clay was easily punctured and holes formed where it was very thin at the junction of the legs and seat. Additionally, since the clay was far wetter on the inside where the paper was, the torso broke open around her belly and that ripped her arms off at the wrists. Ouch! Lastly, since the clay was not firm enough to support itself without the sticks and paper, I found some slumping and sagging. Most noticeably in her repaired support arm (It's a bit bowed now) and her folded leg (which collapsed a bit without the paper inside so is a tad flat).

Lastly, I'm a bit concerned about being overly fussy and loosing the freshness of the study. I think that comes with removing clay more than adding it, something that I will be trying to address in my next study.

Overall, not bad for a first attempt and I'm really enjoying the class and the medium. I totally loose track of time and become lost in the moment of the art. I stand for 4 hours at a time without real pause and never even notice that time has moved. In fact, I do feel a bit grouchy that I must stop at all ;-)

This isn't necessarily a good thing. Great art can be done quite quickly when it's inspired and when trained and experienced eyes and hands are working well together. Sometimes spending a lot of time on something is simply fusssing and noodling and doesn't improve the piece. But I figure that at this point, you gather that training and experience by practice - sometimes that piece will work well and improve, sometimes not - but it helps to improve your work over the long haul - and that is my ultimate goal.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Water based Clay Sculpture Figure Study

My wonderful and astute husband, Scott, realizing that I've been feeling creatively stifled, gave me the sculpture class of my choice for Christmas. It was really hard to choose, but decided upon Andi Mascarenas's class offered by the Denver Art Students League. I figured that the longer class schedule would be a good discipline for me. The first class was Wednesday, with Andi teaching. On Fridays we have open studio time. We started the class with 10-20 minute gesture poses to warm up and then started a longer pose. This sculpture is about 4 hours of work. The sticks are wooden skewers that are helping to support the water-based clay while the sculpture dries a bit. When it's leather-hard, I'll remove the sticks and hollow her out a bit, repair the holes and let her dry slowly - but first I'll put some more work into her.

I no longer have access to the model or the pose, and the sculpture is intended as a study only, however I feel I can do some more work on her from my memory and will post newer (and hopefully better lit photos!) in the next week. This sculpture is 11" from base to top of head.