- Lesson details
In this video series master sculptor Ed Fraughton creates sculptures of animals almost entirely from imagination. You will gain a unique insight into the thought processes and working habits of a seasoned master sculptor. In this video lesson Ed Fraughton creates a lion stretching out of oil based clay.
- Chavant Le Beau Touché Clay
- 3/4″ Thick Melamine Square
- Modeling Stand
- Sculpture House Rake Tools
- Small Wood Modeling Tool
- Rubber Mallet
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from imagination. You will gain a unique insight into the thought processes and working habits
of a seasoned master sculptor.
In this video lesson, Ed Fraughton creates a lion stretching out of oil-based clay.
In getting into animal studies, many sculptors do only figures or do only portrait busts
or only do animals, but I try to cover the gamut and do a variety of things. This will
be a new attempt at trying an African lion in a position that creates a little sense
of realism and action. So we’re going to learn, for example, we usually talk about
armatures, how you can build an animal without really needing and armature on the inside.
I’m using Chavant clay on this lesson. I’ll be using these tools: one that I fabricated
myself, the small one, for intricate detail. The other one I purchased from a company in
New York, Sculpture House, who make a variety of tools and have been around for a long time
supplying sculptors with tools and clay and other things that are needed by the sculptor.
I probably work differently than a lot of other artists who need a picture in front
of them. I’m often asked, “Do you start from a picture? Is that a copy of a drawing
you made?” No, I really use my own intuition. My memory, the feelings that I have about
the subject. So to prepare for this lesson I’ve simply gone to the internet to pick
up some pictures, sought out a few references where I can find them here and there. But
we’re not tied to one specific photograph or one specific image. I also used some supplementary
books on animal anatomy, an Ellenberger, Baum, and Dittrich book [Atlas of Animal Anatomy]
and Charles Knight’s [Animal Drawing: Anatomy and Action for Artists]. I started using those
in college. I still use them every time I do a project like that. I pull out the books
and get those handy so they can assist me in developing the figure and understanding
the bony and muscle structure.
So with this we’ll some research over the internet because I don’t have a model in
front of me to work from, so we’ll use the internet to do some research. We’ll use
books, anatomy books. I have a book by Charles Knight on animal anatomy. Another one by Ellenberger,
Baum, and Dittrich. So with those few tools and with just intuition to be our guide and
an artistic sense and to make something that isn’t just a standing lion but has a little
bit of an action. So a lion stretching, let’s get started.
For this lesson we’re going to discuss sculpting animals and take kind of a generic approach.
Start from the simplest, just doing field sketches or doing ideas, just creating something
that’s very simple. In all situations we don’t really need a sophisticated armature.
For example, if you go into the field and take a piece of wood and a little clay and
some tools—today I’m using just three tools. This big modeling tool can help blend
shapes and forms and give it a little texture. Then a little bit of detail work with this
smaller tool and even a smaller simple, flat tool
for inscribing lines and doing finishing work.
So we’re going to keep things very simple. We’ll start with an armature. But before
we begin, let me suggest that sculpture in the round can be very complex. I suggest that
you go to a zoo if you want to do animals, rare animals in your home. In your home you
can do your cat or dog or whatever your favorite pet is to practice. But in practicing you
really need to find reference material that will give you an idea of the skeletal frame
underneath. We’ve stressed the importance of understanding the architectural frame upon
which the muscles and then the skin and textures of fur go. If you don’t have an idea of
the skeletal frame then it makes it very difficult to do what you’re doing. So with my background,
we’re in a closed environment here inside a studio. We’re not out in the open where
we can move around an animal, look at the animal under different lighting conditions,
but I’ll demonstrate what I do when I do an animal study.
Again, anatomy is universal so if you understand human anatomy you can apply it to the animal.
As I go through this animal I may a few bony protuberances or bones proportions and so
forth that apply universally to whatever animal you’re going to do. I think today I’ll
try an African lion and instead of just a standing lion to give you an idea of the proportions
of height and length, if you go by the old idea of a horse being inside a square, look
at other animals and some animals will be taller with a very short body length. Others
will be a lot longer. I think a lion has a body that is just a little longer. The legs
are shorter. It’s amazing to me how narrow the figure of a lion is, the body of the lion.
So when you do the rib cage you’re not doing a big, round shape that sticks out on the
sides like an ox or a cow or a horse, but a very narrow shape with this big, wide skull.
Again, anatomy books, which I use all the time as I do my work.
But let’s just proceed with this.
We’ll start with a little bit of clay without form, and we’ll just simply start putting
clay on this wooden form. I lost my—sorry
about this—I need my mallet. There it is.
The nice thing about using just a nice, slick board, something perhaps with Formica on the
coating, it’s easy to clean it. It’s also easy to remove it. If you want to make a mold
you make the mold to that surface. It gives you a nice clean edge on the mold. But you
can also easily remove it. For example, if you decide it’s a pretty good composition
and you decide to add something to it or add a number of other creatures to it and make
into something even more dynamic, then you can cut it off the board, just slide it off
this board onto a larger board. So it gives you a lot of versatility.
Again, in sculpture I stress the fact that you need to be able to be versatile and dynamic
and not be tied to anything specific so you can start very simply. This is just a sketch.
We’ll let the idea evolve as we continue developing.
So we’ll start with enough of a base.
I want this lion to be stretching so that it is has something that’s worthy
of a piece of art. I recall in my college years my professor lived through the first
world war and the second world war and during those periods of time there was a moratorium
on the use of bronze. Copper was being used for war materials so there wasn’t much availability
for casting artwork. So the government put a moratorium on the use of copper for casting
pieces of art. So this was a problem because you couldn’t cast anything. So he went back
to school and got his PhD in anatomy, did some beautiful models of the human figure,
the torso, the limbs, and those were great aids in teaching. But he said, as we studied,
and again I studied sculpture for about five years from him. He said, you don’t cast
anything until it’s worthy of being cast.
So that idea of being very frugal with bronze was important to the learning process because
it taught us, you know, you need to get your education first. You need to practice all
these things. You need to understand how to create a figure before you commit it to casting.
These days many people, the first piece they do they cast it in bronze so all of a sudden
they’re a professional. Then if you try to help them with their work, if they need
a little instruction they’re not willing to listen because they’re a professional,
and they’re close minded to suggestion. They think it’s all about talent. No, it’s
about knowledge. It’s about experience. It’s about understanding. It’s really
a study very much like medicine or any other profession that you spend years learning and
practicing before you ever become truly a professional.
So I suggest that as a student you can do this just for sheer enjoyment and fun of pushing
clay around, and it does give you quite a sense of joy, almost euphoria when you see
something begin to happen. It’s as if you’re the audience watching something important
take place. But again, talent will only take you so far.
What I’m trying to do right now is just create a structure that will support what
I’m going to do. So I’m just pushing clay. My idea here is I’m thinking of having a
lion stretching, so this is going to be the rump.
I’m going to put it way up in the air
and have the figure on a long slope.
In the field quite often I’ll take armature material with me, because
if I have an arm extended or a head extended or something that needs extra support, I’ll
just simply cut a little piece of wire and stick it in there. As long as it’s anchored
securely into the main, some heavy piece of clay, it’s not going to need any
more support than that. It doesn’t have
to be tied to a hard piece of wood or metal that then connects back into the base.
It can float freely. You notice I’m kind of getting this off on the side
because I’m not sure where I’m going just yet.
It’s a little like music. You play a few notes and you try a sequence of chords.
Out of that comes something quite often that’s truly magnificent and beautiful,
but you try by experimenting.
So I’m just pushing clay for now.
Somewhere down here is going to be head, I assume.
I probably need to stretch this end out so I can put the legs forward.
Things happen slowly in clay because there is so much mass,
and before you have control over your thinking,
you’re just kind of guessing. It’s a wild guess at what you want to do.
One of the things to keep in mind too, you’ll notice
how thin animals are where the belly meets the rib cage here.
So the rib cage has some mass to it.
This part of the process we usually call blocking in. Blocking in is just making very massive
pieces of clay, placing them here and there. I often say that my entire life has been made
up of mistakes carefully corrected so it’s not really a mistake.
You try something and if it doesn’t
work out you take the clay off and move it somewhere else. You don’t have that luxury
with stone or with wood. You’ve got to be sure of yourself. In Michelangelo’s case,
most people think, well, he just took this stone and started carving it, and this beautiful
figure came out of it. No, it wasn’t like that at all. Michelangelo carefully planned
everything that he did. He even quarried the stone so it would fit an idea in mind.
He carefully planned everything. The way you plan is you create a model, and then you can
take the dimensions from the model and enlarge them into heroic scale or whatever scale you’re
going to do them, but this is how we sketch in clay.
In sketching for a painting, take a piece of paper or a sketchbook. Go out on the field
and you make a lot of field studies. In most case, I think most painters in their field
sketches quite often they do what is called a thumbnail sketch. A thumbnail sketch is
a very abbreviated drawing that has absolutely no detail, but it may have three of four values.
A great painter, John Carlson, did a book on painting. In this book he described how
you create thumbnail sketches, and these thumbnail sketches have only four values. And he explains
that in terms of the light creates a value. Of course, the source of light is the brightest
value, and the reflected value is on the surface. The next intermediate value would be on, for
example, mountains in the background, and the least value, the darker value would be
vertical lines like trees. So from that you can do a very simple thumbnail sketch and
create what can become very fine piece of art. But that’s the first impression that
you put down that I think is very important. You can’t quite do that in sculpture, but
what I’m doing is equivalent to that. I’m creating almost a thumbnail sketch, but from
that I’m going to refine it to some degree. This may not have all of the refinement that
we want in a larger piece, but we can then come back in and continue to refine this until
it comes up to the level of quality we need to possibly convert it into something useful.
The sculptors around the—I call it the golden age of American sculpture—sculptors in America
who are doing works, Augustus St. Godens, Daniel Chester French, and others studied
in Europe. That’s where they learned the skills of sculpting, but the European masters
said we teach the Americans the same thing that we teach their European counterparts,
but there is something very different about their works. The thing that I believe that
was different about their works is Americans had a sense of freedom in their work. They
expressed themselves differently than people who had different experiences.
In most cases, some of the greats of animal anatomy—there was, in California Arthur
Putnam, who Rodan said of all the animalae sculptors Arthur Putnam is one of the very
finest. Rodan’s teacher was a man named Barye, who did really fine animal sculptures.
Most people who have done animal sculptures have followed in the footsteps of Barye and
studied his works. He really made a new contribution to sculpture. Before that time, animals were
symbolic. They were used as symbols for things more than they were for their realism. He
made tigers fighting with crocodiles and snakes, animals in all kinds of positions that had
not been seen before. There was a sense of realism about it and dynamics that just really
captured an emotion in animal sculpture that people hadn’t seen before. Of course, the
world was just becoming familiar with creatures from other continents.
Everybody was curious, what does an elephant look like?
What does a giraffe look like? They hadn’t seen these things in most countries. Zoos
began being formed. Of course, many of the sculptors who studied animals would either
go to Africa, or they would go to the zoo to watch these animals in motion and study
their anatomy, collect specimens.
All of those things contribute to making sculpture better.
is trying to create a literal representation of what it is you’re trying to portray.
So now I kind of created this side. I don’t know where the head is going just yet. The
shapes I’m looking for right now, I’m just, again, doing a very quick study. I’m
creating a long body. I’m thinking about where is that rib cage going to fit? Where
is the hip going to be here? If you can be patient with me, it’s, again the same old
story over and over again. This bone on the rump,
the ischium bone is going to stick out and be very bony because, again, it’s like that tower
on the Golden Gate Bridge. It stands up there.
It’s got to support the cable. It’s got to support the weight of the animal.
So we’re thinking about the space in between, the hip here. Now we’ve got to go to the
other side and begin developing that in tandem with this. I think the leg in order to put
this big stretch, a lion has a very long look to the leg.
The trochanter and the femur are going to be right about there.
The femur will come down forward like that.
Then we’ve got the patella, the kneecap and then the
joint that connects the femur bone, the upper
leg bone to the radius and ulna here. Then this calcaneus bone, the heel bone is very low.
It’s clear down here somewhere. Not sure just exactly where yet.
But I want this motion to come forward a little bit, so I’ll cut away some of this extra clay.
I made this slope come down purposely because in this stretch I want to emphasize
this long line, compositional line that really should have a lot of power in it.
When we get around to the tail—now, the tail we actually may put a
piece of wire in that just to hold it together.
The shape of the tail will be very important in the shape of what we're creating here.
This creates a nice big triangular shape, doesn’t it? Compositionally I look for triangles.
They’re important. I’ve noticed in the past, oftentimes I’ll start a project and
I don’t really know where I’m going with it. But suddenly I see some of these triangles
form. It’s like a beautiful chord in music. I want to hang onto that. Then I do something
else. And the triangles somehow, now see how crude this looks on this side? Now we’ve
got to go in and replicate what we’ve done on the other side with a little bit different
impression. But we build around that chord, and we do the same thing in sculpture. So
we see, for example, a large shape, a triangular shape. In this case, we’re looking for that shape.
Other triangles tend to tie into that triangle.
As a student, it’s a good idea to study the principles of divine proportion which
the Greeks studied using their knowledge of Geometry. Looking at the human form developed
some standards that defined beauty. This is called the golden mean or the golden triangle.
Well, the golden triangle breaks itself up. Proportions in a person’s hand, for example,
this proportion is 3/5 of that. That’s 3/5 of that. That’s 3/5 of that. Things form
triangles. Look at the fingers here forming triangles. So if you start looking for triangles
in a composition that complement other triangles pretty soon these triangles just kind of want
to take over the world and they become beautiful. They attract your attention. They take your
eye and almost lead your eye here and there.
Now, in sculpture, different than painting. In painting if you create a design it needs
to be a design on a flat surface. You may create those triangles we’re talking about
that interact and interrelate to one another, but they’re only on one plane in space.
In sculpture, oftentimes I take an angle, and I’ll twist the spinal column so the
line doesn’t resolve itself until you turn it. So as you move around the piece it forces
you to move around it to see the resolution of the line.
At some point we’re going to tick a tail in here just to—
Okay, now what are we going to do here?
Let me get a little more clay.
Alright, now I need a little more clay in front. I need room for those arms stretching out.
This is actually a little larger than I intended to do it, so I’m running a little
bit low on clay, but I need room there. So the lion is not going to be stretching straight
forward. He is going to be kind of twisting as he stretches straightforward.
There is a little curve in the spine.
I think those claws, those paws will probably end up somewhere
around there although I’m not sure now.
In addition to great books on anatomy, and there are some good ones. The one that I use
most is the Ellenberger, Baum, and Dittrich book that I actually used in college. I wore
that book out, and I’ve worn several more copies of the same book out. But it’s an
excellent book because it gives you a breakdown of the anatomy. It has beautiful renderings
of the skeletal frame. Then it shows where all the muscles are, gives you an idea of
proportion. When you take an anatomy class, generally in an art situation in a university
or some other art school they will have you draw the skeletal frame. They may have a model
come and you’ll draw the model, but you’ll actually draw the skeletal frame underneath.
Then you’ll add the muscles. Sometimes they do that in reverse. You draw the model the
way you see the model, and then you go backwards. You put tracing paper over the top of the
model, the finished drawing, and then draw the skeleton inside. Then you’ll draw the
muscles on the skeleton. Well, if you’ve done a decent job on the drawing to begin
with then you’ll know, you’ll be able to understand that better.
But, when you first start doing that you have no clue. You’re looking at the drawing and
you have no idea where these structural elements are inside the body. So that all comes with
training and experience, so that’s why I suggest you use anatomy books and reference
books. Also, we live in a day that has incredible—when I was learning we didn’t have the internet.
But now we can go out on the internet and literally download thousands of images on,
for example, an African lion. If you go out and look for an African lion you can find
them in every position and get a good reference library. I want to stress once again that
I’m not copying a photograph from the internet. I’m not copying a drawing. I may have made
at the zoo. I’m not copying anything. I’m using those for reference so they’re tools.
The camera is a great tool if you use it properly. But to just copy from it—camera doesn’t
see like the eye does. The camera doesn’t have binocular vision so it can’t see three-dimensionally
unless you have a special setup that does that. But even so, the camera sees every line
as having equal value. The eye doesn’t look at things like that.
Things go in and out of focus to the eye.
I need a reference here. If I’m doing a lion that has a thick head of hair I need
to find the shape under that hair. I don’t know what I’m going to have the face doing
here just yet. He might be yawning. Now, a lioness, of course, does not have the mane
that a male lion does. But the male lion with his great mane, I thought maybe we should
do the male because the transition between the shape of the body itself and then disappearing
into this hairy mane, and how do you treat the mane that makes it look like it’s a
different material, like it’s hair. This is very crude looking at this point, I must
When we first start doing sculpture, remember we all start in the same place. Remember,
we just start doing a simple shape. Most of us start drawing lines. I’m doing this so
you’ll see that it’s not lines that I’m looking for; it’s shapes. This chunk is
a bit of a distraction, in the way anyway. There were a number of Americans who went
to Europe and studied. I guess that had a pretty good zoo in Paris because people like
Phimister Proctor, for example, did great animals and supposedly helped Augustus Saint-Gaudens
with his horse for the Civil War monument he did of Robert Gould Shaw and the Black Soldiers. So the horse
that you look at there supposedly was part of that. The horse itself was done by Phimister
Proctor and not Saint-Gaudens. In those days, the better artists had studios and would hire
young sculptors to apprentice under them. So there was a long period of apprenticeship.
The old mentoring process, the ateliers where artists would get together and critique each
other and help each other was really a great environment for art because people could share
their knowledge and experiences with one another and through that became better and better
Oftentimes in art schools today we attend and all we can learn is what a single instructor
can give us. In this atelier environment everybody helps each other. I think there is an opportunity
for that for those who know each other. But you’re sharing with some of the best artists
in the world to get their knowledge, their experience, to build upon that so you’re
not starting from scratch. You can get these ideas and put them to use or, you know, change
and go from one instructor to another and see who has the better idea
of how you might approach something.
Now, we’re beginning to get a little bit of a feel of at least some kind of an animal.
I’m not sure if the proportions are right here, or where we’re going to go with this.
Actually, I think what I should do is stretch this shoulder forward and down more instead
of coming back up. If he is stretching his forearm is going to be way out in the shoulder.
We need to find where the scapula is here.
Normally there is a part that sticks up.
Again, on a horse it is a little more obvious, but it is in other animals as well. So the front
shoulder where the head comes out, the trapezius muscle coming out,
the top of the shoulder blade sticking up.
In fact, when you go to the zoo notice the lions walking, and you’ll see the shoulder
blade sticking up. You can’t with a male lion that’s covered with hair, but when
you watch the other—if you watch a cougar. A cougar is a nice cat to watch because they
don’t have an excess of hair, so you can see a lot of detail in the muscular structure
and see the bony structure move. It’s almost like the skin is a very thin rubbery material
that covers over this bony skeleton, this bony frame that moves around.
You can see that movement. We’re looking for movement. We’re looking for motion.
One of the compliments that I’ve received on my work in the past is people will ask,
well, what is so different about your work that, you know, it seems to come alive. Most
people’s work is a likeness, but yours lives. Well, that all comes with the understanding
of the structure. That comes with real intensive study and experience and, of course, vision.
A famous artist who passed away a few years ago, a great friend of mine, Arnold Freeberg,
once said that “The trouble with vision, Ed, is you can’t give vision away. You can’t
give it to anybody else. If they don’t have it and you do, it really galls them. It makes
them mad especially if they’re in a powerful position and they want you to know how powerful
they really are. They may have a lot of money. They may have a lot of political power or
prestige, but if they don’t have vision what they do is not going to be very lasting.”
People that have vision are rare, but they earned it. They didn’t just have it. Again,
it’s like talent. It’s not just naturally given. Some more than others, yes, there are
some natural tendencies. But those who really accomplish a lot, those who develop a passion
for it and get in and really, really study. So when you’re finished with this course
you’ll probably know more about sculpture than I ever thought of learning because you’ll
be building upon my knowledge and upon the knowledge of others, which is a marvelous
thing. So we live in a great age. We have the internet. We have communications. We have
transportation such that we never had a century ago. So it’s what we do with that will count.
We turn it into a positive and help humanity and help our families, help ourselves through
the way we take advantage of these things.
So as a sculptor, yes, I hope something that I’m doing here will benefit you.
But the rest will be up to you. Again, we’re teaching to a wide audience. Everybody’s ambitions
are different. I suggest, first of all, that you try some of the things that we’re suggesting
and showing just for the sheer joy of doing it, just feeling this clay. There is something
primitive about this. You know, the primitives made pottery. They made arrowheads. They made
things out of the stuff of the earth. They began to learn the limitations of materials.
How do you take a simple piece of stone and break it so that it becomes sharp and you
can—it’s a utilitarian device. You can use it to cut things.
want to know more about the world is around us, appreciate it more. So just for the sheer
joy of doing it we do sculpture. Then the other part is some of us want to do it professionally.
We want to be able to build monuments. We want to create art that will be lasting, that
will go on beyond us and perhaps inspire and lift others to the possibilities. I think
art is really has a purpose in showing humans
what possibilities exist and how to enrich
their lives through art, how to enjoy each day a little bit more. Now, okay, what am
I going to do here? I’m going to look for—this is just kind of a round, sloping shape that
doesn’t mean a lot. So now I’m going to look for the front of this pelvis and see
how I might stick that up in the air.
You notice as I put little pieces on like that how much that enhances the piece when
I add something that sticks out. It’s really prominent but it gives a shape to the clay.
It gives it a structural element that again adds a feeling of power, I think.
This is pretty elementary. The other side we did the leg in a little more detail. Notice here I’m
just covering up a lot of what I’ve already done, so it’s a series of not really mistakes
carefully corrected, but a series of applications of clay that build bony protuberances and
then connect to other bony protuberances. It just goes on and on so it’s a, it’s
like composing music. You put one note here. You put another note there. You time it just
right. Pretty soon you’ve got something that’s unified.
Now, unifying the work is a real struggle. If you start working on detail it’s much
tougher to organize. I remember once I did a nude female figure that I called Water Lilies.
Someone had asked me, well, what do you do, Ed? Do you just take a big block of clay and
start carving on it? Or how do you sculpt? Because they asked me that and because I had
been asked before, I thought, this day I thought, well, I think I’ll just try with a big block
of clay, just a cubic piece of clay. Maybe think of it as if it’s a big block of marble,
and I’ll start carving it away. I carved it away and I came up with this figure of
water lilies. It was clay so I could still bend and twist it a little bit. I wasn’t
stuck on one position once I put it there. I had the versatility of the clay. Nevertheless,
that was a real interesting exercise because what I ended up with was very beautiful. I
tried to limit myself to just taking clay away for the most part, and not treating it
like clay but treating it as a solid object. The way you succeed doing something like that
depends on the amount of knowledge and experience you’ve had in the past. For example, I could
put a twist in her spine just because I could see it as I developed it.
Again, I make the analogy of music. If you just play the note you’re looking at you’re
behind the time. Time is an important element in music. So you have to get proficient enough
at reading music that you’re reading at least two measures of what you’re actually
playing so the notes you see on the paper are going into your brain and processing.
By the time the time catches up with you the note comes out and it’s perfect. A music
instructor once said, Ed, you have to hear the note before you can play it. Same analogy
in sculpture: You have to see what it is you’re looking for before you can really perform
it and do it with confidence and with understanding.
See this very primitive looking. Many of you can do work at least this good. But it’s
what I do with it from now on with knowledge. See how cryptic and crude this side looks
with those rough cuts? I’ve got just a little indication here of the top of the shoulder,
the shoulder blade sticking up. But now we’re going to look for this kneecap on this side.
This leg may not be parallel with the other. It may be a little further forward or wider
out or something. But for now, let’s just find it.
Find the bottom of the rib cage in the belly.
It’s easy to see how labor-intensive the sculpting process is, and even beyond this,
once you’ve finished a piece in clay your work just begins. If you want to preserve
in bronze, now you’ve got to make a mold over it. You’ve got to make a wax out of
the mold. You’ve got to retouch the max. You’ve got to dip it ceramic slurry or cover
it with a plaster ludo mix to make a mold. Then burn the wax out and pour the metal in.
Chisel the mold away. Retouch the metal and oftentimes it has to be welded together. This
is a very, very labor-intensive process, but it’s ancient.
It’s been around for 6000 years.
The Greeks and the Egyptians were doing it 2000 to 4000 years ago.
In fact, it was interesting because in the early days before we had developed the molding
techniques, molding materials that we have today, it’s still the same process. We just
have more modern materials. They would take water clay that they’d dig out of the ground,
mix humus with it or straw or dung from animals to make the clay porous. Then they would fire the clay.
Actually, oftentimes they didn’t fire the clay first.
After they finished sculpting something they would do maybe a
relative piece of sculpture like I’m doing here without any detail in it. Then they would
cover it with a thin layer, about an 1/8 of inch to 3/16 of an inch with beeswax.
Beeswax has, it’s a lot of rosin-like material, sticky material in it. I guess you could owe
that to the honey they create. It actually mixes with the wax so it’s a very sticky
wax. Beeswax, it’s amazing how nature creates the perfect materials. They would cover this
roughed-in model with beeswax and then carefully carve all the details in the beeswax. Then
coat that again with this fire clay. Then slowly warm it up and build a furnace around
it so they could melt all of the wax out and fire the clay. They would put core pins here
and there to hold the core so it wouldn’t break off and rattle against the side. They
carefully figured all of that stuff out.
So they made the clay, covered it with beeswax, put all the detail, covered it with clay again,
warmed it up in a furnace, and then melted metal and poured it in. Well, some of the
bronzes that came out, if you look through the museums, especially some of these small
Egyptian figures and a lot of those that are very tiny figures they didn’t make a core
on the inside. They just simply modeled the clay and then covered it with clay that they
burned out and fired so that when they poured the metal in they wouldn’t get gassing.
The metal tends, if it runs into moisture or certain chemicals that gas, it’ll create
gas in the casting. They experimented enough that they figured out how to do that so they
could reliably make—well, certainly they made jewelry, but jewelry and small works
of art that they could cast in bronze. The process has been around for thousands of years.
Not many people really understand or know how the process works. But it’s very labor-intensive,
so you need to appreciate that approaching sculpture so you know that it’s not an easy
thing to do. However, most sculptors, unlike me, there were now foundries in the area that
I grew up in, in the mountains of Utah, and so I created my own foundry and casted my
own works for about 30 years until later a number of foundries came into the area.
Now we’ll start looking a little more. We’ll come back to this skeletal frame. And the
head. Boy, this head, I’m going to have to get down to the head before I put
the mane on it to figure out what that head really looked like.
When a cat walks it’s interesting
how you see the left side of the scapula stick, poke way up, and then you see the right side
and the left side, and they just kind of rotate. It’s just kind of beautiful little thing
to watch. When you go to a zoo kind of watch the motion because what you’re trying to
do is capture that in clay, that expression.
His elbows, I think because of the point of
the shoulder here, if he’s really stretching that elbow has to come forward. It’s going
to come, I think the forearm is a little longer than what I have it here.
How do I, the spine of the scapula, how do I insert this
head of the humerus and then stretch the humerus
forward? The humerus has a bend in it.
Actually, the humerus, if I look at the anatomy book I find the articular joint, it articulates
way back in here. The scapula is not like a horse. It’s not a real long scapula. It’s
a little bit shorter. So the joint is right about in this area.
Then the bone has a bend in it.
It’s a convex shape in this direction so it’ll come forward here. Let’s just
see what that does to help create the expression. The spine of the scapula is going to be somewhere
around here. The muscles, the supraspinatus, which is over the front of the scapula is
going to be all bunched up here.
Again, this is almost like doing stick figures. When I was in high school, I was kind of the
artist of the school. They had me do all kinds of projects. They asked me to do posters for
upcoming basketball and football games, and I didn’t have a clue how to draw a figure.
So I started drawing stick figures and I found out it really worked because the stick figure
establishes the ends of the lines that are so important. If you want to try that with
a pad of paper just do a figure. Just do a head, a rib cage, pelvis, and then just draw
little round circles at the points of where the hands are, where the feet are, where the
knee joint is, where the shoulder is. This nice long, full convex shape comes down off
the joint is going to articulate in the wrist, and the wrist of the cat is very much like
our wrist. It has a lot of bones in there. I can’t really explain all that to you in
a very short lesson. It’s meant to be almost a field study,
at least the approach to doing a field study.
Looking for those things, when you’re out in the field actually looking at the animal
you’re working on realize, I mean that animal is moving around all the time. It’s not
going to pose for you. So you have to look at it and analyze what’s going on and try
to figure out what’s happening so when you get back to your studio and start refining
the piece you’ll have a good knowledge of what it is you’re trying to do. Again, like
the painter going out into the field quite often in their sketches they’ll make field
notes. They’ll figure out the values and the colors they’re going to use in the finished
painting back in the studio because if you’re doing a large painting you’re not going
to take a huge canvas out and try to paint on it when the wind is blowing 30 miles an
hour. The tools that are available to you are making field sketches and field notes.
That’s what you need to do when you go out in the field. If you’re doing horses, if
you’re doing cattle, if you’re doing cats, if you’re doing wildebeests, if you’re
doing deer, if you’re doing buffalo; you just can’t move right up next to the animal
and measure it. You can take photographs, but again photographs are two-dimensional.
So you have to think consciously of what it is you’re doing and even talk to yourself.
I became a pilot years ago. The way I did my checklists I would always repeat out loud
what I was doing. So I kind of do that when I’m working on this. I’m looking for the
spinal column here. I’m looking for this point. At the tip of the spinal column where
there is a vertebra sticking up here that connects to the pelvis and the pelvic girdle
is just slightly behind that. There is a little bit of a concave shape in here, and then the
muscles that connect to the spine unfold over the top of the great trochanter of the femur
right about there. I want to create that feeling of the muscle stretching across that and the
feeling of the muscle connecting to the spinal column.
If you’re just looking and just looking for form on the surface you’ll probably
miss a lot of those important points, so you sort of have to consciously talk to yourself
and talk out loud and say, well, what is this?
I think artists are intensely curious
about whatever they’re trying to do.
The more thought that goes into what it is you’re doing the more will come to the viewer. When
the viewer looks at a finished piece of art, there is nobody there to really explain. Modern
art needs an explanation, but realist art or classical art doesn’t need anybody there
to tell you what an artist is trying to accomplish. It’s obvious. So just realize that the viewer
cannot get out of your work anything that you’re not willing to put into it. It’s
that simple. If you read a book you only get out of that book what the author puts into it.
We’ll create a little space between the legs.
The legs will probably want to come in
as this critter is on the run, realize that
those legs fold right underneath the weight of the figure. When they switch direction
the mass, the center of balance is going to rotate around the contact point of that foot
so it can be on a real extreme angle. You see some of these African movies on the television
about animals that are chasing other animals and the way they turn. Boy, when they turn
they’re like a skier or a motorcycle rider. They really lean into that turn because if
they don’t they’ll just fall over sideways. The center of thrust has to be in line with
whatever speed they’re going. It determines the angle that they have to contact the ground
in order to make a corner. They make such quick changes in corners that you realize
they have to be ready to change at any instant to catch their prey.
So even though this is a still-standing thing, you still have to create that impression that
this is a docile creature can move any direction at any moment. So where we place these legs
and feet is going to be important. I may make one a little further forward than the other.
In ancient Greek art, in primitive art, and in the very early Greek art—you see it especially
in Egyptian art, there is a principle called the law of frontality. The law of frontality
says that a figure stands there and it stands stark and straight. Both shoulders on the
same plane as the hips. Later they discovered, well, we can add a little bit of action if
we, and the arms are usually straight up and down. They start raising one arm to give it
a little bit of action. That didn’t quite do it so they started putting one leg forward.
Well, that still didn’t quite do it. Until they really discovered, the Greeks discovered
how to balance the figure on three points—I mean you balance on one point, but then everything
else rotates around that one point. Then suddenly art had movement.
So what we try to do in sculpture now is we’re looking for a way to balance this piece but
give it some flexibility and some feeling that it could actually move. If it wants to
go somewhere it can. It’s not stuck in a specific position. Those kinds of examples
from the past are usually we consider as being stylized. We can stylize this creature.
A lot of sculptors will take the basic shape of animal like this and just create some smooth
surface and simple planes that will explain the action of the animal or the design of
the animal. That’s a very simple way to do it. You may actually prefer working that
way. But a good knowledge and experience of doing it with more refinement, with a little
bit more sure knowledge of what it is you’re doing will actually help your work even if
you decide to stylize and simplify. I think you’ll discover. For example, if you study
the French Impressionists like Courbet and Corot and then move on to people like Picasso,
who worked in very abstract methods, his training was in classical methods. So he learned those
principles before he ever started abstracting. I think you’d find that in your own work
to be a real plus if you were to study the classics first, gain a degree of confidence
and a capability in that before moving to a, if you want to develop your own unique style.
Style is something that usually happens automatically. I remember in school I was taught, you know,
every artist has to develop a unique style of his own. What I saw was artists copying
other artists, and I thought, well, that’s not working for them. Style is something,
in my mind, that happens automatically. It happens as a result of your level of training
and experience and then how you choose to portray what you do. So style is sort of an
automatic end result. You don’t have to seek to develop a specific style. You seek
to gain all the knowledge and experience you can from the best, the greatest of the masters
of the past. Then you can choose your preferences and decide to go your own direction. Then
your work becomes sincere. Sincere is an interesting word because it means “without wax.”
When the Romans carved marble oftentimes they’d run into a little pocket of sand or bubble
of air in marble. They would simply grind up some marble dust, mix it with wax, and
put it in the hole. It blends in. You can’t even tell the difference between the real
thing and the repaired hole. So when they would sell a work they would say it’s sans
sera, meaning without wax; it’s sincere. So that’s where the word comes from.
So in your work you’re trying to discover the best of the best that you might be able
to do, and you learn that in stages obviously. We don’t start out being master sculptors.
We all start doing a sack of potatoes and drawing lines on it to indicate the features.
Then we begin to learn. That’s really not what sculpture is. It’s the form. We need
to look for the form. I need this head somehow to reach forward. I don’t like where it
is right now, but I think you can see some of the other features beginning to come into this.
Speaking of something a little wrong about the head, I used the old story that
the definition of a portrait, if you’re doing a portrait of someone, it’s a reasonable
likeness of someone with something a little bit wrong about the mouth. Well, same thing
here. There’s something a little wrong about the head. I’m not sure what I need to do
just yet. I’ll let it evolve if I can. It’ll tell me I need to start speaking to me and
telling me what it needs. So what’s the head like in a critter like this?
Again, I get sort of severe sometimes, and I’ll use the hammer. It might be a little low.
I can pull it up a little bit.
See how dynamic this process can be?
So if I decide to put his mouth, and maybe he is yawning, I don’t know. We’ll try that.
Mouth is going to be quite low actually on the lion and quite a big under the nose,
this upper lip. Now remember, the teeth that are in here have a tremendous maxillary or
upper jaw. With canine teeth that are incredibly large, think about the ancient critters, the
huge canine teeth they had to rip apart other critters. And being a meat eating animal they
need those teeth to rip things apart. It’s amazing. Somebody did a test one time on the
roundness of these canine teeth interacting with one another and just cutting like this.
Even though those teeth are round they squeeze the tissue so tight they actually cut it like
a pair of scissors. So we have to leave room for that huge canine teeth, and in the anatomy
books if you look at that you’ll see this
upper jaw really has a tremendous
structure of strength. There is a lot of width
in the skull. It’s all muscle and bone, and it’s powerful. It can crush rocks you
might say. It’s just so strong. In a human, because of the leverage that’s in the human
jaw we can exert something like 300 pounds of pressure with our teeth, with our jaw.
Imagine a creature like a lion who not only crushes bone but they take a corpse, the kill
that they’ve made, it may be a deer or some critter that may weigh as much as they do
or almost as much, and they can pick that up with their jaw and their head and carry
it up into a tree. They have a powerful head and powerful jaws, and they can just devour
the whole creature. They don’t usually eat the bone but they crush it to get at the viscera
and to get at the other portions of the body that give it nourishment. Again, I’ve got
to figure out this scapula on this side which is not quite so big.
Figure out where this bone of the humerus comes in.
The radius and the ulna now, a lot of 4-legged creatures
do not have much of a radius and ulna. I should say the radius as a big ulna, but a cat, I’m
not sure how much they rotate in the upper arm, but certainly in the wrist they have
great flexibility. Much like a human they can turn their paws for quite a radius, so
there is that radial articulation. When you do the arm you need to make it feel like that.
The thing I like about blocking something in like this and doing something I’ve never
done before, which I haven’t, I really haven’t done a lion. I think I may have done a study
when I was at the zoo once of a lion, but it has been 50 years ago. So this is something
new for me, and I’m learning just like you’re learning. Again, a lot of mistakes carefully
corrected so I’m trying to discover the proportions,
the anatomy, reasonable design
so in the end we end up with something that looks like a lion. Most people who look at
it will say, yeah, that’s a lion. So one of the exciting things about art is it is
always a journey of discovery. You’re always learning something, finding out something
that you never knew before. You’re always learning so if I had done a lion ten times,
each time I do a new one I’m learning something new. That’s one of the beauties of art.
We’re always learning. Art is, to me, having a tremendous curiosity about life. We’re
lucky enough to have life, and so we set out on a journey of discovery from the time we’re
very young, little infants, to figure out how do things work. Most of us hit our toys
against things until they break. We learn the limitations of materials.
In sculpture we’re learning the limitations and the opportunities that clay affords us.
Then if we take it into another medium, what limitations does bronze have and how do you
work with it? If you’re carving stone what are the limitations of the stone? Which way
do the natural layers or fractures in the stone go so that we don’t break it if we
hit it the wrong way? How can we support elements? Well, we have to build a support system into
stone quite often for carving wood. If you carve against the grain the wood has a great
chance of splintering, but if you carve with the grain, going over the grain then you get
some intricate shapes and beautiful lines. So learning the importance and the limitations
of materials is a very important thing to observe as we create sculpture.
I hope you don’t me talking about all those things, but those are the things that go through my
mind as I create along with specific focus on what I’m doing.
Now, here I’m going to look for the strength in this calcaneus just like I do in a horse.
Where is it located? It’s actually fairly low. It’s down here. So it has kind of a
long look to the upper leg. Then we’re going to have a structure in the leg of the bony
joint, and that needs to have strength in it.
I’m hoping you can see these things as I attempt to produce them.
Then it’s a very short distance. This lower leg is very
short to the bones that make up the wrist
or the ankle really because it’s the hind leg.
So there are a series of bones here like the wrist bones that then allow the wrists
to articulate. That’s the same way in the lion. Then the toes really kind of stick up
high, and one of the reasons they do is they have a retracting claw. The claw allows cats
to grip, you know, on rocks when they’re climbing and grip animals. So these claws
that sort of fold up and become invisible in the foot, but there needs to be room for
that. So you get a nice big shape here in the foot. It gives it a sense that they’re
able to grip, so I hope you can see what that does to the shape of the cat.
Most cats, or all cats really, since they are the same general origin, house cats, domestic
cats have a tremendous variety in shapes and sizes and proportions. I look at some cats
and think, well, people overfeed their domestic animals. They don’t realize how nature works.
Sometimes cats will eat a huge meal and then not eat for three or four days. They’re
so gorged with food that they just can’t eat. So they lie around digesting their food.
Well, domesticated cats have some of those same properties. If you overfeed them then
it doesn’t really do them justice because their bodies don’t work well under those conditions.
I keep ignoring that skull and that head, but I hope you’re seeing some interesting
things happen in the body. I really want this stretch to be here, so I think I’m going
to change the position of that leg to be a more stretched look. But, it still has to
be a scapula with the bone extending, and then the elbow. We’ll try this and see what
happens when we move the elbow.
we’re going to go with it, but I’m just going to take it off.
Now I can see a little better what I want to see.
I think I need a little more neck, so we’re adding a little bit of neck.
Again, it’s clay. It’s just temporary. You don’t have to be so tied
down to anything that you feel you’re going to restrict your ability or your vision.
I don’t know if we can use this same head. We need to get rid of that mouth because that’s
all I’m seeing there is the mouth.
A horse, the length of the body of the horse is about
two and a half head lengths, but on a lion I think their proportion is about the length
of the figure from the point of the shoulder to the rump is about, just looking at pictures,
anatomical views, it’s about three head lengths. The head is a little shorter to the
length of the body, and the body is a little stockier,
so it’s built a little bit closer to the ground.
This is when things happen rather slowly.
Now I think that looks a little better. Still not there yet.
I probably want to change the shape.
What I’m wondering what does the head, the skull really look like when it comes
out of the spine right there in that position. So I need to study where the atlas bone. The
atlas bone is clear down in here. So the point of rotation is going to be more in this area,
and there is almost a, looks like the top of the bone comes up over the top of the atlas
bone. So that’s not right but it’s a little better.
The cat has these huge muscles on the top
of the shoulder behind the neck. The trapezius muscle here will be very short but very strong.
So if you know you’re doing a lion with a hairy neck, with all this long
hair, we’re tempted to put the hair in so we just cover this up and we don’t have
to know what that looks like. But, I believe if you try to do that, if you cover up what
you don’t know with a few abstract shapes, it just never works. I want to know exactly
where that head is going to be, where those muscles and bony structures are going to before
I commit myself to doing the hair.
It’s got a little more presence to it.
I think I want the wrists to bend right up here somewhere.
Then that big paw. Now, since he’s stretching,
unlike the back legs, those fingers will be sort of extended like that
because he’s stretching, so I won’t make that come down in just one big form. I’ll
probably stretch his phalanges out as if they’re stretching out with him. I don’t know how
that’ll work, but at least I’ve got to give it a try.
I need some pictures of a bellowing lion so I can see how far this upper lip hangs down over the lower lip.
The lower jaw where his jawbone comes in here. There is a big structural element on the zygomatic arch
and quite a big hollow where the eye socket is. So understanding that cranium, now that’s
just very just suggestive and blocked in and not very precise.
Now, what would really help is if I have the skull to look at. So there are companies actually
that sell skeletal parts of animals, and some of the animals are even extinct animals and
exotic animals. There prices are generally not terribly high, so if you do a little search
on the internet you can find skulls of various beasts or critters, even birds. For not a
whole lot of money you can purchase a skull so you can study it. Then the methods of casting
today with all the synthetic materials we have, the plastics and the polyurethane foam
materials, they can cast a skull that has almost the same density as the real skull.
And if they’ve done a good job of mold making it really looks like the real thing. You don’t
have to destroy an animal to get an example of what the various parts are like.
His head doesn’t seem to be quite in proportion or the right shape, but we’re getting nearer.
We’re starting to figure out what it is we want to do here. Now we’ve got to turn
it around and go to the other side and do the same.
It looks like I’m getting a little low.
Bring that back.
Again, the spinal column is kind of the secret to tying all of the
other ends together, the back end and the front end. If you don’t get the spinal column
right and the rib cage right, I don’t really have a good shape here on the rib cage so
let’s come back to that. I always think of an egg shape for a rib cage in humans and
in animals. Again, the spines and the scapula extend up, but the spinal column inside the
cat is a little bit higher than it is in a horse or a cow, a split hoof animal.
So that spinal column is a little bit higher, and I think that’s partly what to account for
the speed. So when we build the rib cage, the rib cage is going to be about this far
back and then come forward. I’ll hollow that out a little bit more in there.
Make this a little more egg shaped.
Again, at this point an exercise in tedium, you know, floundering and searching and trying
to find things, but with this underlying knowledge of parts that need to be in certain places
and at certain proportions, again I need references to just double check those things, but I’m
not copying the references. I’m creating this in my own head and just using those references
as tools to help guide the progress. Also, I could be making more precise measurements.
If I’m using references I can go measure the reference and check what I’m doing against
those references and probably get it more accurate. But, what I really enjoy doing is
teaching my brain how to measure, my eyes and my judgment abilities. So what I do is
often I’ll work as I do at arm’s length, close-up, and then get at a distance.
Check it at a distance because at a distance you tend to not, you see the overall proportions
and the overall scale. You measure differently when you see the entire piece rather than
when you’re standing up next to it and seeing only parts and pieces.
I think I need a long line coming off that hip.
See this shape is changed the shape on this side so we’ll
go ahead and bring this one up to the same level. It’s always evolving, growing, changing.
It’d be interesting if we could take a time lapse of this and just see how it evolves,
but it’s almost like something a little out of control. It just doesn’t know what
it wants to be. As time goes on it pulls itself together and becomes better proportioned and
just like an out-of-focus picture slowly coming into focus. This all takes time.
I think one of the things that really distinguishes a really accomplished artist or sculptor and
somebody who is not quite so accomplished is the level of patience one has. How much
patience do you have to stick with it until you really accomplish your goal, which in
itself is a great lesson to learn. You discover a lot of things about yourself. How much,
I guess what is your level of patience in learning to play a musical instrument, particularly
the piano or the guitar? You go through the tedium of learning. You gain a little knowledge
of theory, but you really have to practice every day. We’re told as artists we ought
to do a drawing every day, you know, always draw because drawing is extremely important.
In sculpture drawing is important as well. But you practice and eventually your practice
begins to pay off. Someone once said, you know, we’ve heard the old adage that practice
makes permanent. Well, excuse me, practice makes perfect. I said that wrong.
Practice doesn’t make perfect; it makes permanent. Each time you practice you need to figure
out how to improve somehow. You have to improve your practice. You have to add to the knowledge
that you have, or you don’t get much better. So practice makes permanent, but to kind of
do the kind of practice that makes perfect you have to practice new techniques, new ideas,
and you work toward perfection on a gradual basis.
Okay, let me just feel that foot if I can.
This leg doesn’t want to go where I want it to go.
Alright, see if that’s improving at all.
Sometimes I feel like I’m not really
an accomplished sculptor because I flounder around so much trying to discover where I’m
going. But I do know the kind of patience and my level of endurance, and I’m willing
to go further than most do to get to that end result. So I think that’s really pays
off in my case. It’s not just about putting down something and being very sure about it
and, you know, having all that skill and talent and ability innately, but it’s searching
for the answers as I go along. When I discover them then being able to recognize that when
you do something that is good and credible.
Things are a little out of proportion here. Still that head looks a little big and clumsy.
Let’s work on the shoulder again. Cut down the size of this.
Even putting these nostrils in too soon.
I’m not going to want to change those nostrils. I’ll work around them. So
just be really careful you don’t put in any detail that you’re not willing to get
rid of. I’m just looking for placement.
The skull of a lion has a long shaping bone,
a long sloping bone that comes toward the back and actually sort of covers the atlas
bone, and the atlas bone has an extension that sticks up from it that gives an angle
to the attachment of the trapezius muscle coming, wrapping around. It gives a lot of
the leverage to that head so it can throw its head back.
The jaw is going to have sort of shape like that
rather than the way I had it, so you get a little bit of an upthrust
at the bottom where the incisors are in the front.
Then the skull slopes down, actually has a nice round shape as it comes off the skull
in this direction, and room for these big canines sticking down. I’m not sure what
they’re going to look like just yet. The canines usually don’t stick out so much
below that upper lip. That skin covers the canines pretty well as it stretches down.
It doesn’t really look like a lion yet, but it’s getting parts.
Let’s let it evolve slowly.
so there is room [coughs]. Excuse me, the rib cage needs to get a little narrower so
there is room for the leg. When the leg is back in this position this elbow is going
to tuck right in here and hit against the corner of the rib cage in the bone, and if
it’s hitting against bone then the animal couldn’t move very efficiently. Always look
for that hollow behind the chest, what are
normally pectoralis muscles that animals have
tucked in here, it gets very narrow, not as wide as they are on a human.
This area in here is actually quite narrow on the cat because the scapula is quite a bit smaller.
So a feeling of the structure of the scapula is you’ve got to get the
right shape, but we’re not quite there yet.
I’m wondering what would happen if we bend this to the side.
Instead of just stretching and yawning he looks like he’s ready for the attack.
I need a silhouette. In sculpture sometimes just seeing a simple silhouette
of a creature is a great aid because we get carried away with all of this important structural
stuff, and then we forget the simple line. One of the great things I loved about the
cave art of the ancients in Lascow, France, Lascow caves and other areas that they’ve
uncovered with ancient drawings, the artists, we think of them as being primitive. But,
their drawings were so elegant they could define the back of a saber-toothed tiger,
the line of the tiger. So elegantly with just a few simple lines, almost no shading, you
realize that the artists who did that had a keen eye. They just recognized what it was
they wanted to do without a lot of complication and just drew a line that had so much confidence
and so much beauty in it. I wish I were able to do the same thing. So I stumble around
for a while finding the shape and finding the line.
I think we’re getting a little closer.
Remember where the bony joints are. Those parts are
going to be wider than the point above and below it where the fascia pulls all the tendons
together. So you’ll want to create a nice bony width in those joints.
We’re not there yet, but we’re getting a little closer, bit by bit.
This is the point where we’re going to have to start becoming far more
discerning and measure either physically or with our
eye so we can get relative sizes. The nice thing about—you can really create sculpture
in any dimension you want, but you learn to do measuring of relative things. So it doesn’t
matter if you have a specific number of inches or millimeters or centimeters in mind. You’re
measuring relative dimensions. So for example, if you want to know how big the head is from
front to back, again, you need a reference point. So you need photographs. You need anatomical
drawings. But you measure the head, and then from the point of the shoulders see back.
I’m probably too long with this body because it’s about,
my measurement says about three head lengths.
Another thing to be aware of is when you measure vertical lines oftentimes with your eye we
don’t see the relative length of lines very well when we’re comparing vertical lines
to horizontal lines. I think there is
a reason for that. It’s the way we as humans relate to the horizon. We see the outdoors,
you look up at the sky and the sky is huge above the horizon line, but we don’t spend
much time looking at the sky. So in our minds what we see on the
terrain is huge. So we represent that in a
different way because of the way we perceive it. It has importance in our mind where the
sky doesn’t have much important. Oftentimes when you look at the moon in the evening coming
up over the horizon the moon looks huge. Well, it’s because we’re seeing it in comparison
to the horizon, the landscape underneath it.
But when it gets up in the sky a little farther,
it doesn’t look so huge after all in comparison to the rest of the space.
So our eyes deceive us as far as dimension when we’re looking at objects above or below the horizon line.
So be aware of that. A telephone pole looks pretty tall at 30 feet high, 40 feet high.
But you cut the telephone pole off and it’s on the ground it doesn’t seem very big at all.
So 20 feet, imagine 20 feet in a horizontal position.
I just enlarged a piece of sculpture, an Anasazi Indian calming down a, it’s really a column
or a spire of a fragment of rock, and so that rock is very narrow. But the Indian is climbing
down this rock, and it’s 20 feet, the whole monument is 20 feet high and it looks huge.
But if you lay it on its side it really isn’t that huge after all. It’s not awe-inspiring,
the way it is when it’s in place vertically. So our eye perceives space and lines, dimensions
differently on a horizontal plane than on a vertical plane. So you have to be aware
of that even when you’re doing things like the legs or the spinal column
or whatever we’re perceiving in space.
Now you can see his belly is kind of dragging pretty low over here,
so we’ve got to get that shape right.
Still looking for the top of that scapula right there. Not quite sure
where it goes. The shape of the scapula, when the arms are extended, the scapula is obviously
going to come forward in this direction. It will have somewhat of a spade look like it
does in a human, but it’s not quite exactly the same. Right in here is where the head
of the humerus will fit. The bone actually has a frontal part there that attaches.
I'll try to get back to this convex shape of the bone in the arm. Otherwise, if I keep hollowing
that out I just won’t have the strength in it that the bone gives it to stretch forward.
The elbow is going to be back in here somewhere.
A lot of what I’m doing now is just intuition. I’m not logically solving every
problem as I go, but I’m looking for the intuitive response to what I see here.
One of the things I discovered many, many years ago is when I would go to a meeting and listen
to a speaker I discovered I really had a problem concentrating and hearing what the speaker
was saying because my mind at any cue, you know, it maybe came from the speaker or something
surrounding in the room, my mind would start to wander, and my brain would start thinking
of other things. But, I later learned if I took a piece of paper and I drew while I listened
to a speaker, somehow I seemed to absorb better what the speaker was saying. And only later
when people did studies on right brain, left brain thinking did I come to a realization
of at least what I thought was happening. And that is the left side of the brain is
the reason and logic side. It’s the thinking side, and the right side of the brain is the
intuitive or creative side.
But, to be a balanced individual we really should develop both sides of our brain. You
can actually occupy, you can multi-task your brain by occupying the creative side with
drawing. You can also absorb more with the left side of the brain, which is listening
to the rational side. So I think there is something to that. I think as I’m creating
I’m actually switching from one side to another I use, if I go to my anatomy books,
if I go to photographs what I create then is a likeness of what I can analyze logically,
but it’s not very appealing artistically. It’s kind of dead. So I switch off that
part of my brain and start looking at the lines, the composition, the feeling, the emotional
content of what I’m doing, and sometimes I just have to switch off the reason and logic
part and just begin to model intuitively and not be interrupted by too much information.
Information overload, I guess. So I think that sometimes helps too.
So here we are. I think we’re getting a feeling of stretch there, but it looks more
like a dog’s face than it does a lion, but I’m not worried about that yet.
Because I don’t really know what that lion’s face is going to look like quite yet.
I don’t know where the tongue, the position of the tongue would be. I probably need to reference…
You’ll notice the rolls of clay that I often do big rolls, but as I get more
precise I just roll the clay in my fingers and make small rolls like this to add pieces
of clay. Sometimes just a rough piece, but oftentimes I roll it up if I want to create
a shape, a form that has a little bit of meaning. That side, that’s looking a little better.
and stopping and pausing and just leaning back and stretching. In a way of stopping
the frame and just studying what happens during that motion and what they do at that time,
just studying it.
See, this begins to lose, it’s like erosion taking place. I create
a bony structure and suddenly it just sort of fades away and disappears. So I need to
go back in here and redefine that shape.
See that difference that makes when I just stick
that patella over that bony joint. Without it it’s very weak. With it, it gives it
strength. So that’s how important the anatomical frame, the architectural frame is under all
of this other stuff going on, the muscular structure, the position of the muscles, what
the muscles do. But the joint is there, so now it’s telling you, the muscles are telling
you what they do to make that frame function.
So that’s really how you put life into sculpture.
Instead of just make a likeness, an image of what you’re looking and seeing, how you
literally make it seem as if it’s alive. There is a huge difference.
You understand why people are much more willing to pay the price of a piece of work and why
it endures the test of time better. If it has all of these expressive elements that
give it sort of a sense of immortality, it goes beyond us. It’s something to inspire
the next generation as to how did this artist see things that no one else seemed to see
during his or her time that was unique and different? I might say during this great renaissance
in art in America, the period between about the 1830s and 1840s until the 1940s and 50s,
that century were so many really fine artists. They worked together. They studied together.
They had the same instructors. But among them were many really fine female sculptors. Oftentimes
we think sculpture is a profession for men, not women, because it requires so much physical
energy. But no, if you look through some of the history of sculpture we had Anna Hyatt
Huntington, [Janet] Scudder. We had Bessie Vonnoh. We had Laura Gardin Fraser. There
were many women who were really, really fine, classic sculptors. If you did some research
you realize sculpture isn’t just for men. It’s just as well for women.
And another aspect of sculpture is most sculptors, a lot of sculptors create small models like
I’m doing right now. Then they send it to a carving studio in Pietrasanta or some other
place, and these carvers who have had centuries of, you know, history of their families carving
marble have developed such techniques that they can take a small model like this and
make it into marble. Often they leave just a small space on the surface to allow for
the sculptor to come in and do the final retouching and finishing. A lot of sculptors don’t
do that. They just prefer to let the carving studio do that for them. You can actually
create small works like this and send it to the carving studio or enlarging studio in
the case of pieces that you want cast in bronze.
Other artisans can take your basic design and refine it and finish it, make molds on
it. The rest of the process—this is the creative process. It’s your unique design,
your unique idea. So there is no problem having somebody else do the mechanical process that
goes along with it. There’s no problem sending your work to people who are trained in enlarging
and carving and casting, making molds, and doing all the technical part that goes along
the sculpture. The artist doesn’t have to do all that process. It does help to know
the process so you don’t create severe limitations for those that do have do it. It’s your
original work, and you can be proud of the fact that you created the design. It belongs
to you. And concentrate on doing your sculpture. Isn’t it nice to know that there are those
who can help us perform the mundane functions, you know, of reproducing and doing the tedium
that’s associated with sculpture, you know, doing the castings and enlarging and so forth.
I think we’re starting now to get a little bit more of a feeling of a lion. It’s looking
more like it’s ready to attack than simply resting and stretching and yawning, but I
kind of like that. Maybe it wants to do what it wants to do. If he is stretching his legs
are going to be probably straighter, just stretching his muscles. If he is getting ready
to attack his elbows are probably going to be under him, so he’s crawling along the
surface of the ground. If we want to make him look really stretching, I think we’re
going to have to lengthen that leg out right there. See how I destroyed that perfectly
good arm and elbow to get that stretch into it. I don’t know how well I’ll do that,
but I have to keep trying until I get it right.
You can see that it just evolves slowly. It just starts—see how short those look? If
he’s really stretching maybe his paw will be clear out here instead of where I have
it. See this willingness to destroy your work to make it better is a really important principle,
and I hope you can capitalize on that.
Well, that’s a little better for head. Let me, instead of making him crouching
for prey, let me build this up a little and fan out his paw a little bit more so it looks
like he is really stretching.
I still think that shoulder, the scapula needs to be a little
farther forward to make that work.
Years ago I often was asked to do little demonstrations,
and I remember going to a grade school, and these little first grade kids had clay to
work with, and the teacher asked me if I would help them figure out how to do sculptures.
So I started out by allowing each student, I said just take the clay and roll it. Do
whatever you want, to have fun with it. Just play with it and make something. So they would
start rolling the clay and pasting it and hooking it together. Pinching it, rolling
it, making oblong rolls and making square boxes and little shapes they worked. Invariably
one student, one child would create something that looked like a lizard. They’d take the
piece and roll it up—if you don’t mind my showing you here.
Put a couple of eyes on it, couple nose holes. Take their pencil and poke it in here for some nostrils like that.
Pinch up the back a little bit. Put some legs on it.
So, after a student would do this and show it to me, of course, you’ve got to praise them and you’ve got to
recognize their creativity and their talent. I mean they’re just experimenting. They’re just
discovering the world. So this little lizard may look a little like this.
So you might ask or tell them, okay, that looks great. That’s really nice. It looks just like a
crocodile or it looks like a lizard.
So then I ask the question, so it alive or is it dead? And of course it’s very straight
so you can’t tell whether it’s alive or whether it’s dead. So then I would ask the
question do you want to make it look like it’s alive. Oh yeah, I’d like to make
it look alive. So then I explain on the board the evolution of 4-legged creatures and the
spinal column, the importance of the spine. And as a creature, since we don’t have,
we’re not born with wheels. We’re born with feet. So this creature rotates around
that foot and rotates off this leg that’s been behind, so it’s just rotated off that
when it’s reaching forward with this one. Then you create what I call an S-shape curve
like this, and you plant this one, this left hind leg would be in the center of that curve
that it now needs to rotate around. The right one is coming off the other point of rotation.
So this is how animals move across the ground. They rotate around these pads that we call
hands and feet. So now you look at it as you ask the same question; so now is it alive
or is it dead? So this is a great beginning lesson for a very young student who wants
to do sculpture, and it explains the importance of the spinal column in the rotations and
in the lessons that we present I’ll probably repeat that point over and over again because
that to me is the difference in really solid lifelike sculpture, sculpture that moves.
There are three axis of rotation of the spine. Once you understand those, and once you integrate
that into your work then you can make the difference between sculpture that’s alive
or dead. So that’s kind of what we’re seeking here.
Now see, just putting that hand, that gesture, that paw sticking up like that, now suddenly
it changed it from a crouching lion read to attack prey to stretching. He’s not crouching
ready to jump on food. He’s just stretching and yawning, so that’s the feeling that
I wanted to get into it. So that’s kind of the secret. How did I do that? Just a little
gesture like that made a huge difference in the feeling of the piece.
what happens when I go back in and restore the pelvic girdle, the crest of the ileum
here. I think of the ileum oftentimes, especially with cows, if you look at the pelvis it looks
like a big droopy set of towers. It reminds me of the way people used to hang their clothes
on the lines. You know that hang on a line or a rope or a cable from the barn, and it
would go over to the corner of the house or go over to a T-shaped brace. If the line was
really long they’d have to go out and brace it with another stick, you know, to help support
all the heavy, wet blankets and things hanging down. So you get these series of long lines
supporting this cable or rope. That’s what these bones do. They support the cables that
connect and hold all of this viscera in at the bottom, so I’m going to have a, there’s
going to be a nice stretch of a muscle coming off that crest of the ileum coming down in
here to the front part of the leg and over underneath.
That’s one muscle attachment point. We call them origins and insertions. So the muscle
originates in one place, inserts or ends in another place. So origin and insertion tell
you what connects the muscle from one point to another, and it sort of tells you the action
that the muscle is responsible for. So here we’re going to stretch this muscle down
off the crest of the ileum. We’re going to support the viscera on the inside with
a really strong piece of connective tissue, ligament that doesn’t have to flex as a
muscle. It’s just almost a, it’s rubbery to some extent. It’s very stiff, yet bendable.
So it connects solid things and like a rope, will bend. It supports all of this viscera
on the inside. So we can bring this down to the edge of the rib cage and underneath to
support the diaphragm that supports all the internal organs. So just putting those few
things on now you begin to see some of this form of the hip have meaning. We lost that
just changing this design and changing the positions of the muscles and changing the
proportions and doing all that. But now we’re bringing it back into focus a little bit.
We’re going to cut a nice little hole in there and stretch that skin out coming off
the back of the leg pulling it up here cause it’s, that skin is quite rubbery and stretchable,
and so in this position he’s going to be stretching that out.
It’s going to look rubbery and flexible.
Now, see so far we haven’t had to put any armature in this piece. So we’ve created
this whole thing without an armature. Now, when we decide where we’re going to put
that tail we’ll probably have to build up a little more on the base here to make it
continue back. Perhaps I’ll do that just so we can see the tail, see what it adds to
the composition. Head is still a little large but just pushing, I just discovered looking
a couple pictures that the upper lip here has a slant forward that way, and so this
lower lip kind of sticks out in that direction. Now just doing that little bit somehow made
that face look a little bit more like it’s a lion than some other creature. We haven’t
refined it yet. Let me get a little piece of wire.
Okay. This is too long for the tail, but it’s all right because I’m going to hide this
inside so it has enough clay in there to anchor it. We might bend that back around.
It looks like the tail wants to come down this backbone a bit before it comes out of the spinal column.
Again, it’s the coccyx bone, but it has a lot of segments to it, so it’s like a
continuation of the spinal column. We’ve all seen movies of lions and tigers and other—big
cats have a very long tail. Even though the tail is very long they have this ability which
looks very strange, but they have this ability to flick the very end of the tail and just
stick it up or around. It’s almost like a finger out there that has an infinite variety
of positions it can put itself into.
So look what that tail does if we tie it back into the cat like that. That adds something
to the design. We could stick it up in the air. We could do a lot of things with it.
It probably needs to come down a little bit. Again, sometimes take a hammer to things.
It doesn’t matter. Just be bold in the things that you try to do and not be afraid to change.
You know, we all resist change, don’t we? We get accustomed to something and we just
don’t want to change. We live in a house in a certain part of the country, and if something
happens and we get a job in the other part of the country, well the family has a struggle
with that because it requires change. Little kids have to give up all their friends with
the idea of finding new ones, and they don’t want to change. Most of us if we have certain
habits that we know are not healthy or not constructive habits, we have the most difficult
time changing. But change is natural. Everything changes whether we want it to or not. And
so if we can get in tune to change and welcome it as something positive then it enriches
our lives. So being willing to change and sculpture and art is a process of continual
change. The change is hopefully toward improvement.
I haven’t brought this side along at all as I’ve been working on this side. It gives
you an idea in contrast of the possibilities that are evolving here. I should really learn
from what I’ve already experienced from this side. In fact, I feel like the spine
of the scapula needs to be right in here somewhere. There has got to be a bone, a muscle, excuse
me, sticking out somewhere in there to help emphasize that stretch. Biceps in here, I’m
not sure yet just how big those biceps are, but I want to go in and find them. I want
to find there that joint is with a connecting point right in here with the scapula on the
humerus connecting and that coming forward. We have a set of bones there that are adductors
that pull this wrist up. We’ll need to look for those here too because he’s lifting
his wrist up, but it’s not muscles in the wrist that do that. The muscles are clear
up here in the foreleg and even in the shoulder.
One action causes another action or reaction. We’re starting to see a little something
happening. I’m going to refine a little more of the rear end because I don’t like
what I’m seeing there. We need to see a little bit more happening to the shapes.
Again, it’s tedium, tedium, tedium. Practice, practice, practice. Practice
making perfect because you keep correcting and changing it so that it’s not just permanent.
I haven’t done this before. I’m discovering something new so I need to practice new things
that I haven’t really tried before. Even the hind legs I think will, these phalanges
are going to spread out a little bit if he’s stretching his back end as well as his front
end. We’ll see what looks like if we do create that sort of stretched out look.
See how short this leg looks now on this side because we’ve now extended this forward,
the shoulders forward. The legs are more forward. We want his fingers, that is maybe even those
retractable claws to be sticking up just a wee bit so it gets a feeling more of stretching
rather than sitting back on his elbows.
It’s not working perfectly, but the idea is beginning
to come across a little bit. Okay.
One of the things that’s actually helping me is I have a picture on the monitor so I
can look up. You’ll probably notice me looking up once in a while. I couple of pieces of
reference material. Not really very much. I have an anatomical drawing showing the skeleton,
one showing the muscles, one showing the front end and some of those structural elements
as well. But it’s not something that’s really something that you could copy and make
a decent piece of art out of. It’s got information on it. But as I look up I’m also looking
at a monitor so I see the piece I’m working on from a distance, and that helps.
When I do sculpture, heroic sculpture I have a huge mirror, a 4 x 8 ft mirror that has a big pivot
on it. It’s in my studio. I can tilt it up; I can tilt it down. When I’m up close
working on a big monument I can’t see what I’m doing because I’m too close. So if
I have the mirror 5 feet away, which is pretty close, then I’m looking at it at 10 feet.
But if I have it at 10 feet, I’m actually looking in the reflection, I’m seeing the
piece from 20 feet away. I can move that mirror wherever I desire to get a better picture
of what the monument looks like from a distance, which is a great way to work. I’m now working
here and looking in the mirror.
Actually, in many cases there are parts that you can’t reach with your hands, and it’s
very much like working in the mirror on your face in the morning, you know, if you’re
shaving and doing your hair and doing all the things that one does to prepare themselves
for the day. Looking in a mirror our faces are all asymmetrical. The face is not the
same on one side as it is to the other, if you compare the two sides. But we’re looking
at ourselves in reverse. So oftentimes we get a picture of ourselves, somebody has taken
a snapshot of our head and we look at it and say that doesn’t look anything like me.
Well, that’s because you’re used to looking at yourself, your reflection. You’re seeing
the reverse of what everyone else is seeing. So when you see your face the way it really
is in a photograph somehow it doesn’t look like you. Understanding that principle is
really helpful in sculpture.
Oftentimes there is a place on the sculpture I cannot see like under the chin or in a hidden
part of the sculpture. I’ll take a little mirror and reflect the image of what I’m
working on. I start working in the mirror as if I were working on my face in the mirror.
After a while you get used to that. You can sculpt as well in reverse as you can in the
positive. I could actually look at this hip and see this lion going this direction. Of
course, in the mirror it’s going to be this, instead of this being the left side of the
lion, in the mirror it’s going to be the right side of the lion. Oftentimes when you
do portraits you’ll want to use mirrors because when you look at a portrait and this
asymmetry that’s in the face, if you reverse it and reverse it as well in your model you’ll
pick up the mistakes a lot quicker than just looking at it. Your eye gets accustomed to
seeing a certain image. Again, your brain doesn’t want to change.
It’s identified that image.
So sometimes newness, getting a new fresh view of what you’re working on really helps
a lot. So we’re always trying to look at the fresh, how do we get a fresh view? In
my early days I used to look between my legs. I’d look at it upside down or purposely
figure out a contorted way of looking at something so you get a fresh view of it. It’s amazing
how much that reveals of oversights that you’ve created but are not really aware of. Look,
just looking down on the back of this creature, I want to see this line of the spinal column
coming down making a slight turn coming out to the side. I’m going to look for that
spinal column and the muscles that line the sides of that. The stretch that comes down
off the pelvic girdle. I want to make sure I get the pelvic girdle right. I need to look
at anatomy drawings from the top. The cats are very narrow. Their bodies are very narrow.
This rib cage isn’t going to stick out much. Even though this may look good from the side
view, I need to get in and correct it looking down from the top view. I think you can understand
that. It needs to work properly from every angle. Your eye oftentimes is not perceiving
enough to notice those subtle differences. It’s very easy to fall into sort of a stylization.
Now, here on the tail what I’m doing just for the fun of it is I’m putting some chunks
of clay in here that are really defining those little extensions of the spinal column. They’re
like vertebrae, but again it’s the coccyx bone. Of course, on dinosaurs they sort of
go on forever. It’s like the vertebrae come out of the back of the pelvis and keep going on.
Many of them have dozens of bone extending well beyond the pelvis. So if you just stick
little shapes in there sometimes you can create the illusion of that sort of spine column
extension, bones sticking out. It gives it a sense of reality,
these little fullnesses and spaces in between.
You can put little dents in the top of it like that.
Scumble over the top, and now suddenly it looks like you’ve got the real bones coming out of
the rear end of that animal. Then the muscles that surround that tail. Of course, the tail
functions so well that it has, especially on the root of the tail where it goes in and
joints the spinal column, they’re going to be quite a few muscles connecting into
the tail that allow it to move sideways and up and down and
whatever direction it needs to go.
So you need to get in and study those a little more carefully to understand them. Just looking
at them oftentimes isn’t enough because it’s amazing how thick the skin—there’s
not a whole lot of fatty tissue you would think in a lion, but there’s enough to create
a thickness to the skin and the layer of fat that’s under the skin.
Fat is really where the body stores nutrients for the muscles. It’s logical that there will be fat, a little
bit of adipose tissue everywhere. Adipose tissue meaning fat, so if I use that word
you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
set out to do. It’s interesting, the wrist tells a real story. If the wrist is this way
or straight it has strength, but if it’s this way it’s a little more weak. It’s
kind of an effeminate kind of feeling about it, delicate. Now, in this position notice
the textures going along the long lines when I bend my hand that way. That’s the kind
of texture we put in sculpture. So when you’re stretching muscles you’re going to go perpendicular
to the long lines to put textures in. That defines the feeling, at least it represents
the feeling of skin stretching over the high bony parts.
Now, there is a beautiful muscle called the latissimus dorsi. First let me put the muscle
that’s coming off this crest of the ileum here, the muscle that connects into the spinal
column. There is a sacrospinatus muscle which is sacred spine, but there is also this long
latissimus dorsi that comes from under the arm. It actually goes in and connects into
the humerus, but it connects all along this. It wraps around the rib cage and connects
all along the edge of this part of the spine on the outside of the sacrospinatus. Sacro meaning like sacred spine, so that’s
how we can remember that muscle, the sacred spine muscle. It supports the spinal column
so it is somewhat sacred isn’t it?
But if we just put that latissimus dorsi and stretch it out, actually it doesn’t go far
enough down. I’ve got to move it down here. Look what that does to strengthen this stretch.
Wow, he’s stretching that latissimus dorsi muscle out. See how that stretches that figure?
We’ll pull some long line across it and define the edge on the bottom.
So there’s that. We’ll do it on the other side as well so we can see that. I’m going to destroy
my little lizard here in a minute, but want that nice long stretch. See, just putting
a line in there helps us. It just has a tremendous accent and feeling to it as it stretches up
and attaches in here. I has to stretch around the rib cage so you can’t make the rib cage
go flat in here. It still has to have roundness to it. One of the things I discover is that
we often, we look at a flat side and we sculpt it flat. We sculpt it as if we’re drawing
it. We draw these lines, latissimus dorsi. But no, it has to wrap around this rib cage.
So if you make the straight line up there and then forget to preserve the shape of the
rib cage underneath then it’s not sculpture anymore.
I think that’s why some people like to stylize because they can draw lines. They can create
a form of something. By stylizing they simplify the shape. Just boil it down to a general
shape, and then they’re drawing lines on the surface and blending those lines together.
That way they can smooth everything out. Sometimes a simplified design in sculpture is an excellent
thing to do. It’s just not my style generally to do that. I believe it could do it and do
it well with the right subject, but I love refining things and discovering all of these
little intricate things that add more and more and more to the art. A lot of art is
what I would call decorative art. It’s really all decorative, but when you go to the point
of refining and putting realism and refining it to the point that it looks like something
you can go in and learn something about the anatomy, the structure, all these things.
It’s a great way of telling history because you can make an exact replica of whatever
you’re teaching history about, but if you put the design together well then it’s more
than just history. It’s fine art. So I prefer in my art to do just that. I prefer to go
the full extent. Of course, Michelangelo is a great hero of mine because he, as much as
anyone else really pushed the process of sculpture to the extreme limit of classic—you can’t
call his work realism because it’s not real. It’s ideal. So, classical idealism in art
to me is really a marvelous attainment. I reach for that but I realize because of the
subjects I choose hopefully this lion is going to be ideal when I finish it. This lion is
going to be not only ideal, it’s going to be real. I’ve heard my work defined as classic
realism. I’m always reaching for the ideal, but if it looks real in the process then it
remains in the classic category, which to me means timeless, that’s a good thing.
That’s what I’m always struggling for in my work. I enjoy telling stories with my
work as well, so that when somebody looks at it maybe they can read a lot of stories
into what I’m doing.
Sometimes the viewer, it’s like a word, what does a word mean? Well, if you say the
word tree to a group of people everybody thinks of a different kind of tree. So language is
very limiting. We need further descriptions to know what the words are supposed to mean
that people are using. But in art we have different reference points. But hopefully,
the feeling that the artist puts into his or her work will come through without the
need for words to define or to describe or to explain what the artist is trying to do.
It speaks for itself.
Okay, look at this yawn. That jaw from photographs I’ve been able to obtain that mouth really
goes wide so we’ll try that.
Skin stretching down around the nasal area. There is almost
a convex shape that comes back on top of the temporal area.
Lower canines here.
His tongue will come from back here and be kind of flat.
I don’t know if that’s going to work yet.
We’ve got airplanes. We’ve got trucks. We’ve got people in the background.
The world goes on around us.
Again, we need a skull so we can see where the auditory canal is in the back of the skull,
which tells us where the ear goes. Otherwise, we’re just guessing.
What’s nice about going to the zoo and observing you can then check your work against realism.
As the creature moves around you can see it under different light and as they turn their head what the
head looks like from a rear view, how wide the skull is right in this area, where the
ear comes out. In pictures you can’t really see that.
You can almost treat this like a
human hand sticking out there and extending the fingers.
All creatures have a certain similarity. Mammals all have, almost all have five digits. They
have a wrist. They have the same bones and muscles. Same names. Just different proportion.
That’s a little humanlike, but look how much like the lion that can look. The little
finger will slice it off a little bit. We need a little bit more of this elbow.
In this lesson we won’t spend a lot of time refining, and my hope is that
if this is helpful to you, and you can bring something along to this extent that you can
experiment with refining yourself. We’ll talk about the particulars of refining, but
I don’t want you to make a copy of this. I want you to discover for yourself using
the same approach and technique that I’m using. It might be helpful to talk about integrity
again. We’ll talk about that from time to time. But if you ever copy anything of art,
which of course, artists did. Years ago they’d go into the Louvre in Paris, and they would
study from the great masters and copy their works. But there is a proper way and an improper
way to do that. The proper way is to always write onto the painting and attribution, saying
this is copied from so and so, or it was inspired by, or it’s after and list the artists name
and a little bit about their history so that you’re paying due respect to the artist
who created it. Ideas are valuable. Your ideas are as valuable as anyone else’s.
I'm sure once you do fine art you’ll hope that those who copy your works will respect and
acknowledge the originator, you, and the opportunity they had to learn from you. So that’s just
a courtesy in art. Always respect that. That’s tremendously important.
That’s called integrity in art. You’re not copying. You’re learning from somebody.
Give them due credit for what you’re doing for the inspiration that came
for a specific piece that you might be working on.
Years ago I did a piece called Where Trails End, and I remember somebody sending me a
copy of an antique car magazine. I love antique cars, and I thought they were just being nice
to me. But on the back cover, there was a picture of a cowboy in his cowboy boots and
cowboy hat, and he was in a Model T Ford, and he was outside and he had his six-shooter.
He was shooting the engine of this car, and the title was Where Travails End, and he gave
me credit. He said this piece was inspired by a piece of art I saw created by Edward
Fraughton, called Where Trails End. And I thought that was awfully nice of him to do
that, although it was something I hadn’t really expected quite on that level.
Where Travails End.
So there we are. I think we’re starting now to make it end to something, I’m not
sure what. But does it look alive or does it look dead? Simple question. If it looks
alive, what did we do to make it look that way? Remember the only piece of armature we
used in the whole thing was just the tail only because the tail wouldn’t hold itself.
But we don’t need armatures all the time. Let’s not be too tough on yourself. A lot
of people probably are discouraged about sculpture because they find the armature building process
so intimidating. Well, don’t build an armature. Start out like this. See how much you can
do and just totally enjoy the clay without all of the tedium that goes
along with having to build armatures.
other lessons I stress keeping the armature simple and flexible.
So hopefully you’ll get that out of the lesson as well.
It’s almost like a human hand there. Not quite.
Phimister Proctor did a stretching lion. I remember he did a walking lion that’s very
low and sort of a straight line, and the lion was very low to the ground. It has a lot of
emotional impact when you see it.
As I speak of American sculptors I don’t mean to not mention the other great sculptors
of the world, but to a large extent that’s what’s inspired me. I’m an American.
I am inspired by those who came before me here, and a quick story about a man who saw a piece
once that I did who really thought it was great. But I was showing him American western
art shows meaning they did cowboys, horses, Indians, things like that. That’s what people
think of when they think of western art. When we talk of history we talk about western culture.
Well, that includes the art of Europe, so western is a pretty broad term. But when they
think of American western, they say, well Ed, you’re a western artist, sort of branding
me or typecasting me to cowboys, Indians, and cattle, you know, western subjects. So
this guy who saw my work he said, remember, Ed, you’re not a western artist because
you do western subjects. You’re a western artist because you’re an American and you
born in the west. So what I do is very much like what Rembrandt did in his day. He painted,
he used the Dutch as his iconic models for religious paintings. The people, Jews in the
mid-East did not dress like the Dutch did, but that’s what he knew.
That’s what he was familiar with.
This one kind of starts somewhere and goes nowhere so I’ve got to have an origin and
an insertion so I’ve got to stretch that ligament down off the crest of the ileum to
support the viscera. The viscera are the inside organs, the heart, lungs, intestines, liver, kidneys,
and so forth. The viscera, meaning the insides, the organs that are on the inside of the body.
So this has to have tremendous strength coming down off this high point of the skeletal frame
right there. It’s not there.
If I can put that in there, make that stick up a little bit there. We’ll see if that
helps a little. If you don’t my thinking out loud.
Now if someone were to ask me right
now what are you doing, I quite honestly I can’t always describe with words what I’m
doing. It’s like being in a jazz group. Intuition takes over and you hear the tone,
you hear the key that you’re playing in. You hear the timing, and you just respond
automatically. So the key to any great craft, I think, is to turn your skill into an automatic
response. An automatic response you really don’t think about it. You just react. That’s
the trick too. You know, if you’re training a pilot to fly and aircraft, that’s what
you’re trying to get to do. If something happens you react instinctively to the right.
You know, you take the right response to whatever the stimulus might be. Aviation is a good
example because when we leave the bounds of the earth, we’re earthbound creatures and
we’re used to gravity. Well, when you’re in the air and making a turn you don’t feel
gravity like you do when you’re standing on the Earth. Sometimes your instincts mislead
you, so you have to learn to trust other things beyond instinct.
I think we’re getting the general shape here. I want to create this bony structural
feeling down here in the chest and the rib cage.
It’s got to look bony.
Again, I’m not where I can observe the animal firsthand, so I’m taking some risks here.
You take risks when you go into the studio and paint a landscape. Oftentimes, people will paint
from calendars or photographs. In photographs the camera uses certain kinds of inks or printers
do. The process is a mechanical process so what’s reproduced is not what really the
eye sees. Certainly you don’t smell the smells that you smell when you’re in the
right environment. The trick is, when I do horses I’ve noticed, the first commission
I did I went out and worked from a live animal. I got the smells of the manure and the hay
and the dust and the urine and the soil and all of that stuff became a part of the sculpture.
When I would go to the studio and start working on it the sculpture was saturated with it
so I could smell it. Well, when you create something like this if you’re in the environment
where this creature is and you really are in tune to what you’re looking at, not only
does the clay absorb some of that smell, but your nostrils remember it. So as you’re
creating the piece now your mind goes back to these other senses, you know, smell and
the taste of the dust and touching the animal if you can get in. You can’t touch a lion
very well, but you can certainly touch horses and dogs and normal cats. If you ever feel
a normal cat, you feel through all that fur. Boy, there’s a skinny little runt in there
when you feel the skeleton. So that’s what you need to feel and smell and see and taste
and hear when you’re in the presence of this piece of sculpture. All of those senses
need to come back to you. If you can do that and do it well then
other people will feel that in your work.
Now the ribs are going to show a little bit, so you can actually indicate ribs. But you
have to be very careful that you don’t overdo it. They’re very, very subtle things. Just
a few lines there. And if I drag my fingers over those lines or textures and pull it together
usually the important rib is this end one.
Joshua, card full. Card two. You’re going to get your workout today just replacing cards.
[Joshua]: That one must have had something else on it.
Either that or I’m burning cards here.
Some proportions, let’s see. I think I need more.
If this doesn’t look like a lion when we’re finished we can just create a new one.
We’ll be like the movie industry.
We’ll create something that looks alive. It may not be real but we’ll save it. Cast
it in bronze. Now it’s possible to see some disproportionate things. This is actually
hair. This is not tough stuff. So we’ll cut this, cut hollows in it now. This is a
good lesson because oftentimes when people do hair or drapery they cut right through
the animal. See what that did just cutting into that? So we define where the skull is
underneath, how that helps describe the shape that’s underneath. You have to know just
how far you can cut to get there, get down to the figure. If you cut through the figure,
people will create drapery as an example, and they’ll cut right through the figure
in order to cut a fold or a line in drapery. So their statement to me is, and to the world
is the drapery, the lines of the drapery are far more important than the architectural
frame that’s underneath causing the drapery to fold where it folds. Same thing with hair.
Hair is a very similar thing. I’m not sure if I should start putting hair in here. I’ll
put just a few small indications of some hair for the mane of the lion.
See what happens if we build this mane right out there.
Let it come out, engulf part of that arm.
Well, here goes our lifelike little critter as we sacrifice him to the lion.
Now, see this side is very underdeveloped compared to this side. But we have to stick with things
for a while to develop them properly, the evolution of sculpture.
Malvina Hoffman did a marvelous book. She did two on sculpture; one called “Heads and Tales,” which was
a journey she made around the world finding the disappearing races of man from all over
the world. But the other one she called “Sculpture: Inside and Out.” I thought what a great
title for a book on sculpture because she taught sculpture through this book of what
sculpture is from the inside out, and it starts with a skeletal frame. She talks about the
casting process. She talks about everything, patinas. It’s a marvelous book, and you
may think of finding a copy for your own library because it’s very helpful and it tells you
what systems were used in the past. I think she died in the 1960s, but she was 90 years
old. So realize, in fact, maybe well into her 90s, so she was born in 1870-something.
So Malvina Hoffman, I think, made a great contribution to our age by writing the book
on “Sculpture: Inside and Out.” You may want to study that, those of you who want
to make a serious study of sculpture perhaps as a career or further development. It’s
always great to know what tools are available, what books are available.
I’m not sure how much refinement I ought to do on that right now. I think I
had better turn it and work on the other side. Let me take a mallet to it just for the base.
We can have this guy stretching. We can also have him holding a piece of meat if we want
and just bellowing at those other lines who may be threatening to try and steal his lunch.
There are a lot of possible stories we could make out of this.
where muscles and bones. I think I can teach a lot more through—you can buy those.
I can teach a lot more by showing you how to apply that knowledge and information.
I get the feeling there is going to be a nice angle right about here where this tendinous material
joins the area of the diaphragm in the soft belly tissue
as compared to the hard edge of the rib cage,
so right there that is probably going to be full right there and spread out.
Okay, we’re going to define this ischium bone back here.
It’s probably back a little too far. Maybe move it farther forward.
I think it’s quite amazing that I really
don’t know what I am doing in a way, but I know how to go about accomplishing what
it is I intend to do. A lot of sculptors are quite good at doing human figures or doing
portraits or doing medallic art, but not so good at doing it all. You know, I trained
as a sculptor of doing a variety of subjects,
doing them well, so I take on animal studies
as well as human studies. Once you learn to manipulate the clay, if you learn how to see
things and you have the basic technical or the knowledge of anatomy and design and all
of those things you can do both I think equally well.
It gives me great pleasure when I succeed at doing that. It’s all been a journey of
discovery, learning something new, and you get lost in the subject. You find the journey
so exciting that you don’t want to turn back and get caught in a stereotype.
Now, this has a long way to go. I’ve started this, but this is just the beginning. This
is the first day. It may take anywhere from three to six weeks to finish this, my method
of refining and so forth, but it could almost stand alone as it is. You could finish this
and have a very nice study. Too me it’s not a finished work of art, but it’s a decent
study. Don’t like that out there after all. I’ll take it out.
Okay, it’s probably time to go to the other side and begin bringing it up to the same level of quality.
I'm a little bit long here. I like what’s there so I’m not going to be too hasty in changing it.
Okay, so we’ve got a very good start on this.
When I finish, again, I may spend another
month or another—sometimes it’s go quicker,
three, four weeks on it refining it.
So it may look very different than it does now. But I have the basic gesture and the artistic
sense about it that I’m quite enjoying and I like.
You can see how underdeveloped that is, but this has a certain charm about its look even
as rough as that is there is some personality right here around the face. You hate to give
it up right away because it speaks to me.
I don’t have the skull quite wide enough.
That’s alright. It’ll evolve.
So, watching this part is a little like watching the same
thing all over again, just from a different angle, little different perspective on light.
Keep moving forward with the entire piece we just have to do that so that alone takes
you twice as much time because now you’ve done it once. You’ve got to do it again.
But you don’t want to make it boring. You want to give it some unique character from
this side as well so it doesn’t look like you’re just making a mirror image.
Oop. By the way, sculptors, brain surgeons, and airline pilots should never say oops.
But we do.
Finding those little prominences. Again, the tip of the scapula back here and
the forward stretch so the rotation of the scapula, the spine of the scapula which is
the center of the scapula, a little bony protuberance to which the muscles, the infraspinatus and
the supraspinatus connect is important because they really give expression to the shoulder.
That’s why I repeat these names over and over so it’ll sink in. When you’re looking
at anatomy books you’ll pay special attention to those things. I don’t have the shape
of the rib cage very well on this side.
This one looks a little clunky here for now, but
again as it slowly comes into focus hopefully it will, like the other side it will begin
to talk to you and you’ll see some things are working and some are not.
But importantly I am developing it all almost simultaneously. I can’t work on every aspect,
but I keep moving the piece around so that the level of development of everything is
about the same. It doesn’t, you don’t see part of it that’s much more detailed
or in focus than any other part.
In other words, it’s consistent. It’s balanced.
It’s like a photograph out of focus that just slowly evolves into focus. The difference
being in sculpture I’m moving clay around, so where there is a problem with proportion
I’ll try to correct that and move the bony landmarks from one place to another,
Again, if I put them in there then I can, my eye discerns, well, it’s in the wrong
place, so then I can go change it. But if it’s not there at all, it leaves me up in
the air as to what I need to do to change it. Be bold in putting those landmarks in
because you’re eye will later tell you that looks pretty good, but it’s kind of in the
wrong place. This may be too wide in here. It may not be tilted down enough. It may need
some changing, but the problem will become readily apparent to you as you gain more information
and experience and knowledge about what you’re doing. Don’t worry in the beginning.
It's all maybe foreign to you. You haven’t really thought about these things before. But now,
the purpose of the class is to bring your attention to it so you can begin to focus
on those things that make your work better.
This leg just doesn’t do much for me right now. Got to come up here and find a knee joint.
I’m cutting into the hair, and I’m cutting so that you can see that that’s not solid.
I’m cutting down to the skull so that helps you determine that underneath all of this
hair is a form that the hair comports to.
gets so thin right here. I can see this is a little out of proportion right now, the
rump to the head, but it’s okay because I can pull it in. I’m getting the gestures
that I’m sort of looking for, and I need to put, I don’t see that in any of the drawings
I’ve got, but there is a structural element of this pelvis. I’d like to put something
right up here to indicate a change of direction. I don’t know if it’s needed, but looking
in the picture and you kind of see, yeah, it’s needed. It defines the pelvis and where
the bones come out, the coccyx bones come out of the end of the pelvis,
which ends right up here somewhere.
So that’s what I’m describing. I don’t know it. I just think it. I have a sense that
it needs to be there. Some of it is just intuitive, but intuition comes with experience, and so
as the student gains experience your intuition increases. Imagine being a gunfighter in the
old west and taking a gun. I’m looking at something. In the beginning you’re shot
doesn’t come anywhere near it. As you learn to look and point with your gun pretty soon
it becomes intuitive. You look at something and you can hit it exactly. Throwing a baseball,
same way. How is it that we can throw a baseball intuitively to a moving target, and they can
run and be in the right place at the right time? Intuitively you develop the skill for
judging speed and distance. This is what we’re doing right now. We’re developing our intuitive
responses to look at it and then feel that it needs something and try it.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but now we’re almost operating on automatic.
We’re not thinking about every little detail, although I am thinking about this muscle that
connects up to the crest of the ileum up here. Anterior, superior crest of the ileum.
I want it to stick out there. I want it to be prominent so it says something about that shape.
Then this tendon that comes off that crest as well can support the viscera and interconnecting
with the rib cage on this corner. So there is the rib cage. Here is the interconnecting
surface there, and then that viscera, that diaphragm, really tough, gristly material
supports all that weight and then ties together around the middle.
Now, my hope is too that you can see just looking at this how the spinal column moves
this way and that because this hip is a little bit over on this direction, and his shoulder
is a little more down this way. There is a slight bend in the body right there. We could
even make that more so if we want to twist it like this. See what I’ve done to those
legs, but it doesn’t matter because now we’ve got even more action. When you look
from the end view you see that nice long slope.
Hopefully, I haven’t changed the dimension
too much of this, the length of the figure, so that it’s totally out of proportion.
It shows you how important it is to learn to destroy something in order to improve it,
to make it work a little bit better. You have to have courage—some people would call it
guts—to change what you have that looks so good that you, now you’re afraid to change.
See how much better that makes the composition when we can do it? It makes it a fluid, moveable
thing. It’s not stark. It’s not straight. It’s not boring. It’s something exciting.
I mentioned earlier Bugatti’s work, and I think that’s what is so great about Rembrandt
Bugatti who was part of the Bugatti family that created the Bugatti automobile. There
were several brothers, and Rembrandt actually died young, but he created some of the most
beautiful animal studies. If you go out and look up his name on the internet you’ll
see what he created. He used different styles in his work. Some he’d make very smooth
and very fluid. Others he would refine highly. But he was one of the most creative sculptors
around during the turn of the 20th century, a little after that, maybe up until the 30s
or 40s. I don’t recall exactly when he died. His animals had so much power in them.
And as I look at this right now I think this has a lot of power in it. It’s not mundane.
It’s not typical of what you generally see in a gallery setting. Already, though, it
hasn’t been refined at all. I can see the potential that it has, and as we refine it
it’s interesting that every stroke that you make in your work should somehow relate
to the overall composition. If you can do that, if whatever you do is sensitive to the
big picture and complements it, pretty soon all of these things are going to tie together
to create a greater whole. So where is it—it’s out behind there, and that’ll make his ears
stick out wider too. That mane, the other thing I want to see is that one where he is
yawning and kind of licking with this lip, you see that mane really fully right in here
coming off the mane growing right out of the side of his cheeks, really, like those lizards.
Silly little lizards. I was seeing that earlier but I just didn’t know what I needed to
do to change that.
So there we go. We’re getting a little more width in that face. It’s just too narrow.
The eye sockets are not that wide.
There are some nice lines in the forehead there.
But again, we’re getting down to detail. We don’t want to do too much on that until
we get the whole thing working, otherwise we’re wasting a lot of time, and then we’re
destroy something we’ve spent a lot of time on that we’re reluctant to give up. So I
purposely keep myself from doing too much on that kind of detail until we’re ready
for it. But that, just those few touches are a great help. Now that lip also splits right
in the middle, which we don’t have. And it comes down in a little bit of V-shape.
All of those things contribute. It’s amazing. Now the cheekbone has to be out here a little wider.
There are some interesting lines too that come down out of the lion’s eye that
we want to catch that tear duct area beautifully if we can. But again, it’s a refinement
that I think I ought to save for a while. The width of the nose and the nose has this V-shape to it.
When I do something like this I’ve never done before, I’m learning just like you
are. I’m learning how to observe, how to see what it is I need to see to capture the
essence of the animal that I’m depicting.
Oops. Another oops. I lost my tongue and my
canine on the bottom, but we’ll come back to that later.
I know those canines on top
are going to affect the shape of that upper lip. I’m not sure how much of them are exposed,
not really much, but if you look at the picture carefully you see a corner of the upper lip.
I don’t know if you can call it the lip on the lion. I guess you could. It’s covered
with fur, and that’s where all these long hairs come out. But that lip stretches around
that canine so you’ve got to indicate the shape of the canine underneath it; otherwise,
it just won’t look quite right. One of the things I enjoy doing in drapery and in animal
skin and in creating things like this, when you create like this lip the shape underneath
it, the canine shape, affects the shape of the skin on top. So one thing affects another.
The skeletal frame under a figure affects the drapery. You see that. You don’t know
that see it but you actually do. You see the figure underneath it almost as if the fabric
is transparent. Same with skin over the critter. Remember the first horse I ever did, I did
a relief sculpture of a horse. I was trying to get it perfect, and it ended up using the
anatomy book. What I finished, what I had was an anatomical study. I wasn’t really
a horse. So what you need to learn to do is to create an anatomical study and then pull
the skin over it so the skin unifies and ties everything together and makes it into a real
finished, live-looking creature with skin and all. And the same with drapery again in
the figures. So underneath that which affects the surface is extremely important.
Now see, I’m starting to lose this patella again, so I go in there and I’ll cut away
a little bit of clay. Redefine that. Redefine this shape of the belly coming up underneath.
The belly usually comes up and points toward the tail. So that’s a good way to think
of bellies. Most animals, that’s where this line from the belly goes. It goes up as if
it’s connecting. And it does. The tissues connect.
To me it’s almost where it needs to be, but I see a lot of things I can do.
Quite often I’ll see a shape like this drooping down, and what it really is, the shape should
be—there’s a nice arch that goes this way so it should be a series of convex shapes.
Oftentimes you can indicate those with straight lines. But this droops like that down. It
kind of weakens it. If I make the structural element a little more convex rather than concave,
it’ll strengthen that part of the back. See that? Isn’t it amazing how a simple
little thing like that will make a huge difference? So look for those convex shapes.
Now, relating this to painting. Sculpture is the same way. The old masters didn’t
think in terms of curvy lines that connect things like in the wrist. You don’t have
a curvy indentation that goes like that. We’re not carving dents. We’re creating form and
form has convex shapes, but the way those convex shapes meet each other, they create
the illusion of a hollow or a convex shape. I’m not sure if that makes a lot of sense
to you, but look for it in great master’s drawings, and you’ll find if you get close-ups
of wrists or the torso, just the way the torso bends, you’ll see these convex shapes meeting.
They’re all rounded shapes like this. They’re form that meet, and there may be a small convex
shape in here. You don’t see these concave surfaces. So my best way of describing what
sculpture is, again, going back to the potato idea. You’re not taking a potato and carving
lines or carving hollows, shadows in it. You’re creating forms. So look at the form of this
where the scapula is and where the spine of the scapula, and where the supraspinatus fits
and the infraspinatus fits under that. And the muscles that connect, the teres major
muscle, for example, coming down and tucking up under the arm. These are all positive forms
and shapes that come together and the illusion, the way they fit together and the skin stretches
over them, they look like concave shapes, concavities, when in reality it’s a series
of convex shapes, forms that fit together.
Sculpture is about form. You create the proper form in a positive way. Then the way it fits
the next form next to it, creates the illusion of a line. There is no line there. If you
think you see a line just turn it a little bit. There is absolutely no line there. There
are two separate shapes fitting together. The light that shines on it creates the illusion
of a line. You can put lines in to indicate where things are. It’s like a road map.
You know, road maps have lines. But we’re creating a series of shapes and forms that
somehow fit together and create this illusion of line. We talk a lot about line in art,
and in two dimensions we learn to use line. It’s an important part of two-dimensional
art because what we see here, the illusion of what we see. We represent on a flat surface,
two-dimensional surface as a series of lines. The line is describing the edge of something.
When you turn that there is no edge. It’s a form.
One of the things I might do with
the hindquarters is I can put one leg a little higher than the other so that the creature
is shifting weight from one leg to another. So one leg may come up underneath the figure
and support more of the weight. That would throw the other hip a little bit lower. It
looks like this one wants to have a little bit more of the weight.
have to think about where we want to put that foot. But for now I don’t care. I just want
to see the design of the piece and not really the resolution of that so much just yet.
Now, this does not all fit together quite yet, but I’m making some substantial changes
here, so I want to wait before I resolve it.
Move this tail over a little bit.
Yeah, I like this side. I’m hesitant to go over and do much with the
other side until I really know where I’m going.
It’s interesting. There is just a little piece of clay there,
but look how that stands out, interferes with that line so if we destroy it, and I may want
to show a few vertebra here. I can actually create some bumps that give a sense of the
skeletal frame underneath. See them sticking out now? They really add some strength to it.
I don’t know if they’re in the right place, or if they would really be there. It’s
just a thought that I tried, and it seems to work.
This tool that I use is good for cutting.
It’s good for inscribing a line where I need it. It’s good for cutting.
It’s good for putting on texture. But I hope you’ve noticed by now that as much
as I can do with my hand I try to do because the hand is far more sensitive about putting
form and shape and even texture sometimes.
So you want to use your tools sparingly and
use your hands as much as you can to create the emotional impact that you’re looking for.
Now, to refine this is going to take a lot of really careful work because I’ve got
to double up on the process of refining it. I’ve got to correct things that are wrong.
So I’ve got to look at this very carefully. Look at the width of the rib cage, the width
of the spinal column. Look at the width of the face and the nose, all of these proportions,
make sure they are done properly.
Here are some marvelous shapes happening up here.
Come up here and put the edge of this pelvic girdle. It comes back in here. There’s a connection
and a muscle that comes across the front of that. I’m not sure which way the arch goes
in this until I go back and look at the anatomy books. You can see most of what I’m doing
I’m just doing spontaneously. I’m looking, you know, some general pictures of lions,
but this is not a copy of anything. It’s totally my interpretation, and I’m trying
to find the frame under all of this.
Notice cutting that hollow in there how much that
helps give you an idea of the hollowness of the gut.
You want to be able to hear those gastric juices in there just doing their thing
and digesting food or thinking about food.
I find often when I do something new like
a lion I want to go in and read as much as I can. It helps to go to the location, you
know, zoo or whatever, to see the animal because something happens and you begin to not only
understand but interface with the animal in a personal way. You look at the animal. It
looks at you. It roars. You talk back. Pretty soon you’re carrying on a discussion with
the creature. Again, you’re trying to interface in a way that you can almost, you can empathize
with the subject and almost become that yourself. So the closer you can come to that the better
you can illustrate it. So that part of the study of art I really love because you get
on a pretty intimate level with the creature you’re doing.
Let’s say Jane Goodall, for example, and the work she did with gorillas. She got to
know them personally. She named them. They knew here. They knew of her presence. She
would talk to them. She would be around them. She would become a gorilla, really, when she
was in their presence. Take on their behaviors. That really works in art if you can do that.
Now here I’m looking for a, not sure what muscle that would be coming across the front.
It may be the rectus femoris, but I’m looking for a round shape of the muscle here and then
another muscle that sort of tucks in behind it and twists as it does that coming across
the top of the outer border of the pelvis as it stretches and comes down.
It causes an action to that leg.
This muscle needs to fold into the leg.
I don’t know if I’m doing it right, but when I finish it has an expression to it.
If I study enough images of lions I can see it, especially if I find on the internet,
for example, or in a place like Youtube where they have a lot of movies, short movies of
different scenes. You see a lion running or coming down to the water’s edge. It may
be a crocodile comes after it and it jumps back. But just the look. In fact, there was
a great film, I believe it was on Youtube, that showed a herd of buffalo somewhere in Africa.
There was a buffalo calf or young buffalo that a lion attacked. You thought
this buffalo was gone for sure. All these other buffalo ran away so as to not be threatened.
But pretty soon the whole herd of buffalo stopped, turned around, and looked at the
situation. And here is this lion working on this buffalo and preparing to kill it and
these buffalo just slowly trot back. This one came out of the crowd and went over and
attacked the lion. Then others came and followed. They attacked the lion as well. Pretty soon
they ran that lion off, and it showed this young buffalo jump up and run away. So nature
is a very, very strange thing. When you think that all is lost, even the almost defenseless,
you know, a lion against a buffalo. The buffalo rallied, and they drove off the land. In fact,
it was several lions, and it was an amazing thing to see.
So you realize that nature has a very strange way of working and sometimes evening things
up when it doesn’t seem possible. We’ve heard about dolphins saving men that are stuck
somewhere in the ocean, and they can’t get somewhere. The dolphin comes around and helps
them hitch a ride or do something. There is so much that we don’t understand about nature,
about life. Each time we do a project like this we’re learning more and more. Hopefully
the knowledge we gain will be beneficial to us if we use it in the right way. So we sort
of play along with that. Hopefully, as we do our art we’re
in tune to a little bit of that.
So Jane Goodall doing a piece of a sculpture of a gorilla, I think would be good. I guess
she wasn’t a sculptor, but imagine what she could put into her work if she had that
opportunity. And as you do your work think in those same terms. There are things that
you can do that nobody else has ever done just because you’re willing to put in the
time and the patience, and in the process of learning and observing and then learning
the skills that go with it to be able to depict it in art. Once again, realizing that everybody’s
journey is different, and not everybody here is here to learn to become a professional
artist, but just to gain the insights. If you only do that for me and understand what
I put into my work and why I put it into my work, it seems to me like that’s some valuable
information. Maybe you don’t do art yourself. Maybe you have children or friends who are
doing it, and you’re gaining insights to help them as well.
Okay, this is not quite right in here, but I like what’s happening, and I’m going
to define the ends of the lines, the bony ends a little bit of better, so right in there
we have a ball and socket joint, and we have a biceps coming out. We have a triceps behind.
I’m trying to now define an edge of that last rib and how that tissue goes behind it,
makes a deep hollow right there. Then the skin stretches over other ribs.
You’ve got to get a right angle to the rib now. Some people will go in, and they’ll just put
ribs on there. And they have no idea that the ribs come out of the spinal column and
that it has a round shape to it. It comes first back and then forward. If you don’t
know those things, of course you’re not going to know where to put the ribs. You know
they’re there so you can take the lazy way, or you can go in and investigate and say,
well, how do those ribs grow out of the spine and how do they connect. How do they move?
So you can give out of it as much as you’re willing to put into it. I’ve been 50 years
doing this professional, so of course my experience is quite different than many of you who are
just beginning to grasp the concepts and to learn. See what that did to create some structure
to that shoulder. It really helped.
Now, where do we resolve this? This is the latissimus dorsi under here, but this muscle,
the triceps come up and they really stretch out, so there is a hollow right in here.
It comes back and connects to the back part of this joint.
It may not have quite the right shape to that joint, but I know it’s there.
There is a fullness on the side. If you feel your elbow, you’ll feel the bony part of the elbow.
Then right next to it on the side
is another bone. Well, that’s the—you’re feeling the ulna for the largest bump, and
then the radius connects to that. You’ll get the head of the radius right next to it.
So I suppose that’ll come out in a lion pretty much the same way. So we put it in
there. And then muscles that connect from the radius go down into the forearm.
So now I’m going to consciously go in there and start refining. What I’ve got now is
just a blocked-in image. As I start refining this each one those refinements should now
start adding something to the overall composition and portrayal of the subject.
lines to some extent, so you may want to put some structural elements in there to describe the tail.
We’ve had a fresh look at his lion. It sometimes is nice to set it aside
for a day and re-digest, get a new first impression. I found picture—it’s amazing because I
did this entirely on my own without any reference whatsoever, and it’s amazing how close this
comes to some of the images I was able to find.
So the lion stretching—I’m going to lift the body up a little, so I think this might help me do that.
Remember, we don’t have an armature in this piece. I may need to add
something to support it just because it’s now, I’m undercutting it so much that’s
it’s beginning to fall over. So I’m cutting a piece of wire here that I think I can use
to help support it. At times you really don’t need to build a sophisticated armature because
the armature is going to limit your ability to move things around. I like to make it just
as flexible as possible and only support it where needed.
So, through the shoulder just so it doesn’t fall over.
We’ll see if that’ll work.
I need something to push with to get rid of this piece of armature sticking out there.
There we go. That’s hidden enough from view.
One of the books I’ve used from college days, which is over 50 years ago, about 55
years ago, was this Charles Knight Animal Drawing, and it has some illustrations of
different animals, but it shows the rib cage, shows the skeletal frame. So that’s what
I need to refer to from time to time, and I haven’t done that yet.
But we’ll make a reference to that in just a little bit. That and Ellenberger, Baum, and Dittrich’s
book on animal anatomy for artists. Those two have pretty well been my standard references
for all of these years. But we now have access to the internet. We can do a search. If you
do, for example, if you’re doing a lion, and I looked up lion yawning and stretching
and came up with all kinds of photos, and surprisingly one of the photos, although it’s
a female lion, looks almost exactly like my composition.
So it’s amazing what you can compose in your brain just in sculpting if you have a
pretty good knowledge of anatomy and proportion just from memory, you can compose some pretty
good things without any reference at all.
But there comes a point when if you want to
make it look a little more realistic or look like it’s
done with confidence you really need something,
some point of reference, photographs, even movies. If you go out on You-Tube we could
probably find some moving pictures of lions. I learn more watching them in motion than
I really do looking at a still photograph.
This is like a moment in time from action that’s going on so I want this to look like
it’s alive and that it’s in motion. So if I’m not careful it’ll look very stiff
like a stuffed animal. Now on this reference that I just made for lion stretching and yawning
I found a couple of images of lions in relatively the same position, but they’re so stiff
looking that I think they must be stuffed animals doing that. So, of course, we don’t
want it to look stuffed. We want it to look like the real thing, the real McCoy. This
is a real lion in action doing what he’s doing.
This reminds me a little bit about some of Barye and a number of his other contemporaries
in France in the mid 19th century coming up to the turn of the 20th century. The Animaliers
were doing all these studies. Instead of just doing a likeness of an animal, they were in
action. They were fighting and fighting with alligators, fighting with snakes, fighting
with other critters. So this has that kind of potential. He could be eating meat. He
could be tussling with another creature or just yawning and stretching. His mouth is open.
What do we do to make that come alive and give it a better proportion? I think lifting
it up a little bit helped. We need to understand where the shoulder blade is. There seems to
be a roll of tissue up here that gathers. We want to be kind of able to see that top
of that shoulder blade and see his bicep muscle here. Now, with his arm extended like that, the supraspinatus is probably
going to be quite enlarged here. It’s contracted holding his shoulder forward.
A famous old artist friend of mine once said that the nice thing about painting, if you
don’t understand something just hide it in shadow. Well, of course you can’t do
that with sculpture because it’s always going to show. You have to understand every
part if you’re to illustrate it properly. These adductor muscles are going to gather
right here in this part of the arm. Animals in many respects are very humanlike. You look
for the same muscle groups.
I suggest you refer to yourself on the shape of the bone that’s in the elbow,
the ulna bone. The lion is going to have it the same as humans, the little bone on the
side sticking out that you can feel if you feel your elbow. That will be in the lion
as well. The human as a reference point on animals studies is really, it’s really a
good way to reference even though the bone is shaped differently. Different light, different
weight. I’m not quite sure of this proportion to the wrist. I’ll have to double back and
find some better photos that I can measure perhaps for that. That has a pretty interesting
look to it. Rib cage, keep coming back to the rib cage, defining it.
It’s the architectural frame upon which everything else hangs.
It hangs there to make the frame articulate.
This is the Ellenberger, Baum, and Dittrich book, and I’m going to just do some quick
referencing here just so I can see the skeleton.
That’s really needed to keep your proportions right.
Many of us have seen, for example, early America and the conquering of the west,
on some of the journeys like the Lewis and Clark journeys, artists were sent along to
record what they saw, the wildlife, the indigenous plants, the landscape.
And in the wildlife oftentimes these illustrators would try to draw a mountain lion, but they had no clue
what a mountain lion looked like. Or Europeans who liked western stories would draw Indians,
and the Indians would look like Europeans dressed in animal skins, so they really didn’t
understand what the Native American Indian looked like or the animals, the wildlife,
the buffalo. The buffalo looks like a big cow with a hump on it.
So having these tools to refer to, anatomy books, and even taxidermy examples are very helpful to the artist.
If nothing else, find the proper proportions and understand the anatomy. Now, when a taxidermist
does his or her work they really need the skeletal frame to build from to understand
the structural part of the anatomy. Then they build a frame underneath. Then they take the
hide and drape it over the figure. But they have to have those muscle groups in the right
places. The skin has to fit over that.
So that’s a good way to learn anatomy.
Some people who have become quite great at mounting animals for display purposes
have gone on to become quite fine sculptors.
One friend of mine, Kent Ullberg, who does great wildlife pieces worked as a taxidermist
and helped create specimens for some of the major museums in the world. He lived in Africa
so he saw the African animals firsthand, trapped them, hunted them. Led people to find them.
This was some years ago. It’s a little different during the present day the way they go about that.
That’s how we increase our knowledge. You wonder about in the day of Teddy Roosevelt,
Theodore Roosevelt Jr., his killing birds and stuffing them. He was helping his father
with the Museum of Natural History, and all these specimens were to learn from. So that’s
the way they did things. That’s the way they studied, ornithology and the life of
animals, the existence of animals. We still in many cases are still discovering animals
species and plant species, so we don’t have all knowledge. We figure out ways that we
can learn more about things that we don’t know so much about.
The scapula is reasonably short. The scapula is about this long. If I could hold that tool
upside down that would be about the shape of the scapula right down to where this tool
ends. But because the scapula is rotated back like this it’s going to cut in to the back
right here so this skin is going to roll up behind the scapula, create a crease right here.
Now, if you go to the zoo, which I recommend you go, look firsthand at animals. Study them,
watch them in motion. Let’s say a lion stretches and he gets in that position, just puts his
arms way out, stretches his fingers out even. His claws extended. Maybe they’ll go up
instead of down. But when he does that it’s a momentary thing, so it’s like you yawning.
You know you may yawn for three to five seconds, and that’s all you’re going to see this
picture. So if you want to replicate it or use it for inspiration you can’t ask the
animal to pose for you, so in a studio situation with humans you can hire a human and ask them
pose for 15 or 20 minutes and then give them a rest and go back into the pose and just
keep working until you replicate what you’re looking at.
But, one of the finer higher steps in art is to look at something and remember it. Remember
what you see. To me the study of anatomy is paramount because if you understand the structure
you can actually create this, which is what I did in this case without even using a reference
book. Now, the reason for reference is to go back and check your proportions, your anatomy,
but from a design standpoint all of that fits.
how long that arm is going to be. The wrist is probably going to be about here. Either
that or I extend, I have to extend the elbow out further, but I’ve got to shorten this
line right here to the wrist.
So my suggestion is to really get serious about anatomy, and when you start with the
human then you can apply it to anything. So it’s applied anatomy. The same bones, the
same muscles; it’s just different proportions in different creatures. So that gives you
a foundation. It’s a little like music. Again, I make the comparisons to studying
music. It’s a little like learning music theory. If you learn theory then you can arrange
music and arrange it for whatever instrument you want to arrange it for because you understand
the principles. Then, of course, you need to understand the range of each instrument
and the that it might be playing in. Instruments are not build to play in the same native key,
so you may have adapt one to the other then. One uses a base clef. One may use a treble
clef. There is a tenor clef. There are different clefs that define notes. Well, that’s what
art is to you. You learn the rudiments, but then you learn how to express those things.
The theory of art, if you’re trying to do this type of art, which is representational
art representing something, an animal or a human, then you need to learn the rudiments
of the language and, of course, anatomy, proportion, principles of design. Those are all things
that count, but you really have to know how to measure a figure to get it right. This
rump, the tail kind of disappears, but the tail is like a big stump. It grows out the
pelvic girdle and the coccyx muscle. The coccyx bone has a nice substantial muscle supporting
it so that it can whip that tail around and make it go in different directions and do
a lot of things. We want to make sure we have a heavy enough structure for that tail.
Here we are. It’s a little hard.
You know, I’m looking at this up close. I’m not sure what it looks like from a distance
or under a different light yet, but it’s beginning to have a nice feel from here.
When you do animals you really have to hang out with them for a while and see how they react
and almost become the animal yourself if that’s possible.
You’ll notice I keep rotating. I don’t spend too much time on any one part
because I want it to develop consistently and in tandem, one part with the other, so
you don’t have one thing finished and another totally unfinished.
It has to work as a unit as a whole.
I’m not really looking at any one specific thing. I’m looking at the whole
unit trying to figure out, okay, where do I go from here?
Not sure how that hair is going to look like bunched up there,
but I’ll find out. We’ll just try things.
Once again notice it’s not lines; it’s forms. We’re trying to analyze this to some extent but
not overly analyze it. There is a nice stretch of skin that comes off this from around the
elbow, and that skin will be very thin right there, but it’ll come in to a large muscle.
We want this thin piece of skin to read right to the eye so you can tell what it is. The
piece of skin stretching and attaching up here, so it’ll have a straighter line to
it, and it’ll be thinner than these big massive muscles.
Then I, there’s a sense of a muscle, probably part of the triceps coming up here, and the
joint of the shoulder, the shoulder blade is going to be right in here somewhere where
the humerus bone fits into the socket of the scapula.
A lot of this is just searching for things.
You know, there is nothing specific. There isn’t a place, a specific place to put anything.
I’m searching for it. See what looks like, what feels right.
Under this, I need to have this shape of the rib cage, which is a nice, round, again, kind
of an egg-shape oval. So, all of these muscles have to come around the width of the rib cage.
Just not figuring out this hair yet, but I
need to try to bring this great mane
around that head. I’ll find out how it attaches,
how it grows, where it goes, especially in this crunched-up position from the shoulder
pushing it forward. Some of this hair is going to extend over the top of the shoulder, of course.
It’s a very, almost a strange and awkward
position that we need to make some sense out of.
See what happens if we put some of that hair going forward instead of back.
A little like a buffalo. I just did a buffalo two years ago, and it was amazing how the
hair grows out of the skull of the buffalo, and the skull disappears in it, but you still
have to render it in a way that you know where that skull is. So we’ll make some holes
in the mane but be careful not to cut them through the skull or through the neck
so they show a little bit of depth there.
I’m sure that from a front view, I’m sure this mane will come out and frame
the face, but I don’t know exactly how yet until I go back and conduct a little more
research. This is a spontaneous start. We’re searching for an idea, so we’re not worried
about the detail just yet. It looks a little better with that mane coming out like that.
I know on a bear—I did a bear some years ago, and it’s incredible how the mane on
a bear comes out and just rounds the face out.
I’m assuming the same will happen with the lion.
Some things we do we just keep fighting it, keep ignoring it. I can see that this
leg is just a little long, so I have got to cut a piece out of that and see how it looks.
We’re going here on intuition and what we’re thinking and feeling without really using
a lot of reference. We’ll try that, see if that improves the back leg a little bit.
This part of the leg, according to anatomical drawings that I have is very short.
So the paw should be right close there.
And this front leg as well. I think it’s extending a little too far forward,
so I’m going to cut that off.
I think those two changes probably have made
some improvement. I’d like to straighten this leg out a little bit more.
I’m going to just pull this whole thing off, lower this a bit.
Feel this out. Come further down with it.
I discovered when I started this too that I needed
to get the shape of that foreleg, the bone.
I probably should have these two legs coming together. I’ve explained before how the
legs, the lower leg really comes much closer than the upper leg where the body is in between
the legs, so the legs come out, turn down a little bit, but if the lion is stretching
let’s assume that he is going to have both paws here in the center next to each other.
See if that helps.
I think it’s a good idea for you to see how I go about creating.
Quite often I’m just taking a stab in the dark here. I’m looking for something. I think
that’s what makes my work somewhat unique. I’m willing to explore new ideas, new approaches.
Right now we’re just exploring the gesture without trying to get down to a lot of fine
resolved detail. Perhaps I can look for the shape of the skull here a little bit better.
When a lion has its mouth open in certain positions it really is a wide gap. It’s
almost a straight line from the upper jaw to the lower jaw, so this is an extreme position here.
The zygomatic structure right in here looks like it has maybe an archway in it going
forward like that. Then down into the area where the canine tooth sticks out.
Take the nose down a little bit here.
The orbit of the eye.
Years ago I thought there were sculptors whose works I had a problem with, and mainly because
every work they did looked like the last work they did. So they discovered something that
worked for them and perhaps could even market and even sell their works.
But in my mind they were doing the same thing over and over again.
There style was so unique that you
could tell who did what project just by the way it was done, the style. Even in art school
the professors tried to teach us that style is very important, and we should develop our
own unique style. I thought, you know what I’d really like to do is every time I do
a piece of art, I’d like to approach it as if I’m a different sculptor doing it.
How would you solve the problem differently?
What would be unique or what could you create
or represent in a unique way that had never been done before. So I think I’ve done that
with a number of things that I’ve done. I’ve taken a fresh approach, and I appreciate
doing that with my work because it keeps a
sense of freshness alive and discovery.
I think that does distinguish my work.
I haven’t done a lion before. I haven’t done a cat
in particular, so I’m discovering something totally new here.
When I finish hopefully
it’ll have the look of a cat, a lion or at least a cat family, and you’ll be able
to tell what it is and certainly that it’s a male lion stretching.
I still don’t like the stretch because I feel there ought to be a nice long line right here.
I'm going to hack this out.
There, that might work better.
Let’s destroy it to see if we can save it.
Now, he looked like he was eating a piece of meat before. Now he looks like he’s stretching.
I feel like I’ve got to get into the position and feel the gesture and become the lion.
Feel like the lion would do when it’s roaring and yawning, some stretching out.
I want to bring this other leg next to that one if I can.
Okay, pick that leg up a little bit higher.
Need to drive my armature in a little bit. There we go. Remember, there is no real armature
here. There is only one U-shaped wire coming through the head down into the base.
Hopefully, it will add just enough support so that we can use it for stability.
I’m trying to figure out what it is about this head that makes it uniquely a lion.
I need to find some photographs from the front in. You can see how wide the nose is.
Sometimes I’ll stop what I’m doing, and I’ll go just do
some drawings and try to figure out the shape of
the nose, the skeletal frame underneath, where these forms fit together.
So drawing is a good discipline to have.
But it changes your perspective a little bit. You’re looking
then for line and not form and sometimes you can find something, a silhouette or an important
structural element or a shadow that helps describe the form in a way that’s very helpful.
I think this is working for the width to some extent.
As these legs come forward they’re going to push that mane way forward here.
Some things that are happening here I like better. I haven’t quite found the shape of that face yet.
I see this jaw bone. I come down and realize that it’s covered with a very powerful masseter
muscle laying on the lower part of the jaw. The lion’s head when it’s docile and just
kind of standing there has a shape that’s much easier to see because there’s an angle
that comes off the nose out this way. Then the jaw lines up with that. Well, when the
jaw is rotating down it isn’t going to line up with that so it
isn’t going to have that distinctive lion look.
Get that off a little so I can see if that helps. Sometimes he’s
not snarling. He’s yawning. I don’t want to wrinkle up the upper lip.
There is a certain color, too. The lip is stretched out here, but when the lion is just sitting there not
with its mouth open, there’s a nice big corner of the lip that’s colored black that
hangs down. I don’t know that we would see much of that in this position,
but we’ll try a little bit of that.
This mane probably goes back to the top of his, what we call
on a horse the withers, the top of the shoulder. The top of the shoulder usually has hair growing
out of it so I’m assuming that the mane might come back a little further. Just trying
that, it does help. I’m not sure why, but it just helps.
So you see I try to reason my way into solutions.
Still it looks threatening rather than yawning,
but that’s alright. I’m not concerned too much about that.
Let’s just think of it as a study. We’re learning from this.
Often we can do a number of studies before we find something that actually works.
Moving the legs back down helped so we’re exploring.
This is, as Steve Ambrose said about the Lewis
and Clark expedition, this is a journey of discovery. Actually, that’s what makes art
fun sometimes. You discover things along the way. Artists are inventive. In fact, I know
a number of artists that invent things, build things. One landscape painter I knew, Wilson
Hurley, would build airplanes. He was a pilot out of the second World War, Korean War, and Vietnam.
But he would radio-control airplanes, put cameras in them and fly them over the
Grand Canyon and fly them back. Another artist invented a box, a paint box, very lightweight
and made out of aluminum, also invented a fold up bicycle made out of aluminum. So,
most of the very best of the artists, that I know, liked to invent things. So that’s
what I’m looking for. I’m looking for something new here.
I haven’t seen many American artists who are really fine Animaliers like during that
great French period during the impressionistic period. They turned a little bit away from
the old method of doing things, which was very academic and classic to using more freedom
and impression of things. So the impressionistic painters, the impressionistic sculptors, and
of course Rodan came out of that era with training from Barye, who was an Animalier
artist. Well, a number of Americans went to Europe and studied under Barye and knew Rodan
and knew the kind of work that was being done over there. He came back home and did the
same thing here. One of those, Arthur Putnam, Rodan said of his work that he was, of all
the Animaliers he was among the very finest of the finest of those. So that was a distinctive
style or approach, I guess you would say, to doing animal sculptures. That’s when
sculptors started going to the zoo and observing and seeing what the real animal looked like.
You could call her works a break from the old traditional classical approach to now
becoming more realistic. In other words, illustrating what they saw in real life.
So you capture the motion. You capture the moment, but you do it in such a way that it
still fits into the classical arena. I’m getting a nice, powerful feeling out of this.
I’m not sure where we’re going for the final thing yet, but it’s just got a power
about it that’s feeling pretty good. I’ve got a few hairs coming off this elbow.
That seems to work. I don’t know why but I just think they should be there.
That looks a little more like stretching instead of threatening.
It’s amazing how subtle some of these need
for changes can be, and yet, how profound they are when you put them in there. There
is a part of the spinal column that makes a convex shape right there, again, to support
the rest of the internal organs. So those spines come off the vertebra and stick up
lined on both sides of muscle, but that’s what supports the back of the animal. If it
looks too sunken in it’s just too weak so we’ll try this, see if that helps.
Yeah, I think that helps a little bit.
It’s pretty good for groping in the dark and trying to
find something. This is really the exciting part about doing art. It’s inventive. It’s
kind of exciting. It can be frustrating at times when you can’t find what you’re
looking for, but when you do find it, it really feels good. It feels like you’re making
real progress and maybe discovering things that you didn’t know or hadn’t discovered before.
So a journey of discovery is a good way to describe it.
Imagine the first cave people who went out with their arrows and clubs and sat around
for hours trying to figure out what—once they were fed and felt good, taking these
shafts and deciding, oh, if I took this sharp rock and just carved it into something, an
animal, it would be more interesting. So sculpture was created. See, with that convex shape on
there how much more important that looks. I feel like I want to see a bone of the spinal
column sticking up there before it meets this higher spot on the pelvic girdle. Maybe this
pelvic girdle needs to be just a tiny bit higher and rounder.
Cats are very narrow, but I think this silhouette is going to be very important to create this
structural feel to the spinal column meeting the pelvis, the rotation of the pelvis, the
tail coming out of the end. This flared part of the tail at the base. So there we go. We’re
making progress. Rib cage needs a little more thickness right in here. I’m not sure what
the sternum bone looks like, but I think since the cat is so narrow these legs will come
fairly close to each other. There won’t be a huge wide gap. So when we look at the
front end here there won’t be a wide distance between the two forelegs. So this leg should
come in here from out here and point inward. So there is the front. I think that is starting
to work. This will take weeks to finish, but I think for the short amount of time we’ve
spent so far blocking in we’re making great progress. This toe is bent up. That sort of
looks like he is yawning. He’s not feeding. He’s not threatening. He’s just stretching.
So this comes down, but it’s far too straight.
There we go. We’ll bring his wrists together like that.
See how far my arms are apart at the top, coming down, and then coming together
like this. That’s the kind of feeling I want in this, stretching, but his wrists are
really meeting right in here somewhere. Is that working or not? I think so. It’s starting to.
It’s not the ultimate statement yet, but it’s just leaning in that direction.
I’m trying to find it, and it’s being found. It’s kind of fun.
Just enhance some of these things that do seem to be working before we abandon this side.
I feel like there needs to be more of a hollow right here. I don’t know why I feel that way.
That's where the—what we call the sacrospinatus would come down and meet up with the spine
down here. I think that needs to be a pretty muscled area.
We need some wrist bones here. We don’t know exactly where they go yet. Wouldn’t
it be nice if you could tame a lion to pose like that for three hours for you?
Photography is a marvelous invention. Think, before the turn of the 20th century there
wasn’t a whole lot of photography around. Photography really started about the 1840s,
1850s at least in a big way. They had daguerreotypes before that, but the exposure time was so
long because of the sensitivity of the material you were doing the exposure on. Another way
to say it is film speeds were very slow so you had to set up a model and then prop them
up against a support to take a long shot. You may have to shoot an exposure for over
a minute to get anything on the film. Then they came up with the idea of a chemical flash,
mix some metals together with some material that would ignite it, and make a huge flash
almost like a firework to light the subjects, and now you could take a picture in a hurry.
The picture could be exposed in the amount of time that the light lasted,
so that was very convenient.
Of course, now we have strobe lights that fire at a ten-thousandth of a second or a
hundred-thousandth of a second. We can take exposures without even using a shutter. If
we go into a dark area or a sports arena just the flash going off acts as the shutter. It
only exposes what it sees for that quick instant. We get really very fine, highly in focus photographs
of things in action. Okay, so let’s find his ear inside this. Remember, the ear has
structure to it, cartilage. Its position could be forward or back, but I think back stretching
his ear is probably going to be back. Then that hair is much lighter than the ear, so
the hair isn’t going to affect the ear. It’s the other way around. The ear is going
to go where it needs to go. Then the hair will push around it. I quite like this side,
and there is not much there yet, but it’s just an automatic end result of having pushed
clay from the front, and something looks good about it.
Yeah, I need to work on this body
a bit. I like that from here. It really to me is beginning to take on the character that
I was intending in the first place. I’m not sure how long we’ve been. We may be
up to five, six hours on this so far. Maybe a little more. Maybe up to eight hours, but
it’s beginning now to have that stretch in it that I was looking for. In some ways
I don’t even know how I’m getting there. I’m just letting inspiration be my guide,
relying on the intuitive creative forces to help me through this process. So that’s
what comes after 50 years of working at sculpture. But before that it’s a little more tedious
than that. I find it’s still tedious. I don’t know what I’m doing here yet, really,
but I probably proceed with a lot more confidence just because I have spent that many years,
and I’m willing to stick with it. It’s this patience thing again, until it starts
to work. I like this leg, the idea of the leg coming in here.
used to the character of the animal and then integrate that into the work as much as I can.
This one claw on the inside works a little bit like the thumb, almost like the thumb
is coming together. So I’ll look for that when I get more information. So see what I’m
really showing you is, it isn’t all about talent. It’s about thinking things through
and approaching something with a purpose
and having the confidence. Many artists just think you have to have a model in front of
you all the time, and you’re simply copying the model. Well, that’s a great way to start
developing your talent. At some point, then you begin to realize, no, now I’m the one
in charge. I’m going to create whatever I want to create despite my lack of knowledge.
Then I’m going to find the information I need to do a competent job in finishing it.
So we’re not there with this yet, but it’s a great process to show you how the creative
process works and encourage you and hopefully inspire to some extent to give it a try yourself.
You’d be surprised what you can do. In fact, children in grade school when they do something
they’re not really looking at a model, are they? They’re just using their creative
juices, their limited experience and intellect to create something just because they’ve
seen it before, and they’re trying to remember what it looks like.
So now this is what happens as we do sculpture. We all do this. See how flat that surface—that
surface has absolutely no interest. None whatsoever. So now I’ve got to go in and start figuring
out what’s really going on here. Where does that leg need to go? Where do these bony structures
have to go? Where do the muscles have to go? And it’s not going to be just a big flat
surface. We tend to do that. We make flat surfaces and then draw lines on them instead
of creating the form. So this is perfect example of me doing the same thing that I have been
warning you about and cautioning you about, but we all do it. So let’s not let it get
us down or get to us and discourage us. Many people who see that result might say, oh,
I can’t draw anything. I can’t sculpt anything. Well, you really don’t know that
until you put a certain amount of energy and time into finding out. If you’re excited
enough about what you’re doing you’ll find a way to figure it out.
I believe quite honestly, I’ve taught a lot of people over the years, and it’s interesting
that some of the most talented never did much with their talent, and some of the least talented
were so determined that people even told them you’ll never be able to make this.
Well, all you have to do is tell some people they’ll never be able to do something, and they’re
going to go prove you wrong. Some of the least talented became, in the end, the best artists of all.
They were willing to endure the hard times to figure out how to do it in a more
confident manner. So just realize that nothing that’s worth doing in life is really easy.
Raising a family isn’t easy. Making a living isn’t easy, but we decide at some point
in life, well, it’s important enough to us that we’re going to spend a whole lot
of money to get an education and hopefully it’ll be something we enjoy doing for the
rest of our life. But, let me suggest that the idea behind selecting a profession, at
least in my case, it was how can make the greatest contribution to humanity while I’m
here? Once I decided it was to be as an artist doing art, I decided I had to be the best
among the best if possible. At least raise my sights to that level. Again, some of you
may find that discouraging. My hope is that you’ll see it as perhaps a benefit because
I can help teach you how to do it for whatever reason you want to do it. If it’s for sheer
enjoyment, great. If it’s to make a living, great. I can give you insights and I think
I can give you a realistic view of what it’s going to take a professional if you’re to
become the best of the best. So in me you get probably an opportunity to cover the entire
gamut. If you’re just doing for sheer enjoyment you’ll appreciate the knowledge and the
experience you’re getting from this. And I know it’ll help you in your work.
So let’s destroy that flat surface with some of the muscle groups here, the bony knee
joint right here. We need a little more width I believe. We’ll just quickly block some
of that stuff in and see where it goes.
I use this part of my finger quite
a lot just to rake across the clay to scrape it almost like the modeling tool.
I can scrape some pretty fine layers of clay off.
Find the great trochanter of the femur right in here.
Twist the muscle group across the top of it. Pull it forward to here. Attach it
to the leg. Now we’ve got a little bit of a shadow edge right here.
So we’re getting a little more form to the leg, it doesn’t have that real flat look anymore.
There we go. Find the kneecap. Find the calcaneus in the heel.
I need to bring that down a little more to find it.
Compare it to the other side for a minute. Also, need a little concave
shape to the inside of that leg. I know it’s going to be there. It may be slight, but just
like a horse or a dog or a person or whatever, it’s going to be there. You can bet on it.
These legs probably, the heel will go in toward each other so there won’t be a lot of space
between the knee, the heels in this position. This leg may point out just a little bit.
We’ll see what happens if we go out this way with it.
Now the lines of composition here eventually
will dictate where to put things in the base, but this nice gesture
here, in fact, sometimes you might have a little high spot right in here.
It comes off and then flattens out over the pelvic plate there. Then a little bit of a high spot with
the spinal column connects to the pelvis, and this coming down.
So you get a series of complimentary planes that tie together.
I’m not sure about the width. I don’t have any reference materials right here to double check that. I’m just
kind of freewheeling it here. But perhaps this is enough for now and perhaps we can
visit it later, but you get an idea for blocking in. This is the important thing. Learn to
block in. Now you’ve got enough that you can go experiment with
finishing and do more research.
This is a great experiment in blocking in and finding your way and just discovering
things in sculpture. We may not revisit this. What I’d like to do if I could possibly
do it is maybe once this is finished show you the finished piece. But on film, to film
the finishing and the changing and all of these things we’re trying to go through
would take far too much time. So it’s just a study, a quick study. I hope that this has
been totally helpful to you as a part of the series on studying animals, the anatomy of
animals, the design of animals, the different shapes of animals. The way to go about getting
your research or working from life, you have domestic animals that many of you have already
in your home, and you might try the same basic principles with the domesticated cat, dog,
or neighbor’s animal or whatever, barnyard animals. There is just no limit. But at least
you see the basic process to follow and what’s involved in this journey of discovery of something
different than humans, what to look for in animal studies.
So, thank you for your attention. I hope this is helpful. Thank you.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview38sNow playing...
1. Introduction and blocking in your sculpture21m 28sNow playing...
1. Finding simple shapes in your sculpture20m 56sNow playing...
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2. Forming muscle shapes19m 53s
3. Positioning of the forms and bringing out basic features21m 36s
4. Refining the muscle forms20m 34s
5. Measuring the forms20m 37s
6. Positioning the legs of the lion20m 3s
7. Adding the tail and emphasizing the muscles19m 46s
8. Defining features of the head20m 13s
9. Blocking in the mane20m 7s
10. Further defining the muscles and head20m 6s
11. Fixing proportions and developing the mouth20m 31s
12. Defining smaller muscles and bones in the form19m 8s
13. Reforming the tail and skin21m 34s
14. Altering lengths of the forms and adding in more mane20m 52s
15. Altering the arms and detailing the face21m 10s
16. Detailing the paws and smaller forms21m 1s
17. Finishing touches15m 57s