Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sculpting the Bas Relief Demonstration Tutorial part 7

When sculpting in oil-based clay, the clay remains pretty consistant. It does get harder or softer with temperature, but it's oil content remains stable.

Working in water-based clay is quite different. The clay dries when exposed to air. Here in semi-arid Colorado it dries significantly faster than in humid Florida.

You will find that if you are holding clay in one hand an applying that clay to your sculpt with your other hand or a tool, that the clay in your hand dries very quickly - you'll see gray dust on your fingers and cracking clay on your hand - the contact of your skin to the clay is wicking the moisture from the clay. That makes it stiffer and more likely to crumble.

To counter this, if I'm working with smaller bits of clay, I'll take a ball of it and slap it onto an unfinished area of my sculpt - in this case a portion of the sky but it could as easily be the hair or the base of the shoulders if a bust. That way the clay is sitting on the clay and retains about the same moisture content...I simply take a pinch or use my tool to grab a swipe of the clay for application.

At this stage of the sculpt, areas are starting to dry out a bit. I am now starting to cover those sections with a damp paper towel to keep it from getting too dry when working in other areas. It will get progressively drier and firmer as I'm working, allowing for more accurate detailing.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sculpting the Bas Relief demonstration tutorial part 6

 My sister sewed up some sleeve protectors for me. My studio gets quite cold and I'm often wearing jackets and sweaters, which drag in the clay and get dirty. I drew up a quick idea and she sewed a sample set for me. They go over the tops of my sleeves and the elastic keep the cuffs of my clothes from getting into contact with the clay. Works great - will make the next set a tad longer.

Now that most of the relief has the forms in place and I feel confident of the anatomy of the arm, it's time to rough in the sunflowers that she'll be holding. It's important to sculpt the arm even though it is covered up because if you cheat on the anatomy, it will look off - people won't be fooled. So you don't have to bring that area to finish but the anatomy should be solid and convincing.

I begin by working the stem shapes and placing the largest forms of the sunflowers and then start to refine the shapes. The clay will need to set up a bit before I work the petals and leaves. I plan to do them in a loose manner to keep the focus on the girl.

Next I take a homemade brush made from broom twigs and crosshatch all the forms to homogenize them a bit.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sculpting the Bas Relief Tutorial Part 5

The sculpting demonstration tutorial by Lori Kiplinger Pandy continues with a push and pull of the clay forms.
I am continuing to build up the highest planes and the remove clay from the receeding areas. Throughout this process I turn the sculpture from side to side and stand on a step stool to view from above or squat down to look from below.

You must constantly be aware that this is not a painting, viewed simply from straight on, it is a sculpture and will be viewed from different angles.

After a period of working, I'll wet the clay a bit and use a home-made brush to crosshatch over the entire sculpt to knock down areas and blur some edges - this helps me to see how the forms are taking shape overall and to blend

the clay a bit.
Once the clay has had a chance to rest a bit, I'll step back and review the sculpture as a whole and evaluate it's progress before I proceed to working again on the sculpt.
You'll see that I started to rough in the owl in the background - it is imperative that you keep bringing each area up to the same amout of finish as the rest - having one area of scupt leap too far ahead of other areas causes distortion and usually results in having to rework large areas of your sculpture.

I will be visiting galleries for potential partners during the next week so it will be a little while before I post the next section of this tutorial.

In anticipation of my absence, I have sprayed the clay, double wrapped it in plastic and taken the entire board off the easel to lay it flat on a table. I don't want the moisture in the clay to migrate from the top due to gravity and cause uneven drying or warping, so placing it flat should keep it stable until I can return to work.