Friday, January 7, 2011

"Ascension" Oil clay figure sculpture work in progress

I'm very excited about my first oil-based clay figure sculpture. It's the first time I've used a wire armature. This is loosely based on a life pose from the Art Students League class that I took under Rik Sargent recently. I'm still getting used to the Classic Clay - rather sticky feeling in comparison to water-based clay.

You'll notice that some of the hands, feet, hair and cloth are a darker color. Rik showed me that you can mix casting wax with the clay to make a much harder clay mix that can hold smaller detail better than the oil clay alone. So even though I had fully sculpted her hands and feet, I cut them off, re-sculpted them using the wax/clay mix and reattached them.

Because I wasn't really basing the sculpt on any particular pose from the model, it changed as I aggressively manipulated the figure for more drama - thereby exposing some of the armature wire in the process. In addition, the pipe supporting her is also in the way. I will be making a mold and casting this piece in wax. Once I have the wax, I'll be able to sculpt away the imperfections caused by the wires and post.

Finally, I may make a mold of the wax and take it to the foundry for casting my first bronze. When she's complete, the flowing cloth will be her only support - she'll appear suspended in mid-air, caught in the moment of ascension.

Rik has generously offered to help me through the steps working with moldmakers and the foundry. If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with Rik DO IT! He's a very giving and inspiring sculptor and teacher!


  1. This is a lovely piece of work!
    The languor of the movement as she ascends on a pillow of air is fabulous!
    Please post more pictures as she develops!
    Grant (Australia)

  2. New to your post - so commented without reference to your earlier work.
    Really like this one.
    Has much more movement than some of the other pieces posted. They are lovely - but (to my eye) this is leagues ahead!

  3. Thanks so much! I have been enjoying this quite a bit. The oil clay is new to me I'm having to learn a lighter touch - I'm more used to letter water clay get to a leather hard stage that calls for more pressure. I've done some more work her - tore off the drapery to refine the legs and then will re-do the drapery to a more pleasing effect. Will post again with I have that done.

  4. A beautiful and impressively rendered piece. Very elegant and lovely.