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.


  1. Pretty Cool. I would have assumed she was solid clay. Would it take too long to dry or sag or what?

  2. It would take a very long time to dry. Addtionally, since the outside would dry much faster than the inside if solid, cracking could occur. Lastly, you can't fire if it's solid, it'll explode.

    I'll be firing this one - there is a patina class that I'm going to take in May so I can experiement with her patina in that class.