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.