- Lesson details
In the third lesson of David Simon’s figure sculpting series, he moves forward from blocking in the pose and begins focusing on the accuracy of the silhouette of the sculpture. He checks and rechecks the volumes of each major form of the body, adding small amounts of clay to each part as needed (in particular, the hands). As always, no single part of the sculpture gets too much attention at a time — he methodically moves down and across the figure, making adjustments as needed, and refining the proportional relationships between all the parts. Sculpting from life is a dynamic and process-heavy endeavor, by watching this series we hope that you learn about the intricacies involved and are inspired to tackle the challenge!
A sculptor of international acclaim, David Simon’s career has ranged from life-size portraits and figures to massive bronze statues. Among others, he helped oversee the giant Leonardo da Vinci Horse project. David created maquette and sculptures for films such as Where the Wild Things Are, Fantastic Four, and Watchmen, and holds private workshops abroad and in his Los Angeles studio.
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Working with a
model gives me the ability to see a huge amount of
variety within, you know, the same pose that a photograph
wouldn't. You know, every time the model takes the pose you're getting
a slightly different version and the goal ultimately is to choose
the best, or the most interesting, or the most pertinent aspects.
A sculptor of international acclaim, David Simon's career has ranged from life-sized
portraits and figures to massive bronze statues and holds
private workshops abroad and in his Los Angeles studios. So I'm gonna
begin probably by laying in some volume for the hands
and then checking all of the relationships between the pelvis,
the ribcage, the legs, the arms, the head. And continue to develop
an idea of where I want to take the piece going forward.
and began looking at where things were.
And other than the hands, I feel like I have
all of the major forms established
in terms of like a rough volume and a rough position.
There's not really a lot of rhythm
to the piece yet and the silhouette
obviously hasn't really been dealt with. So I'm gonna
begin probably by laying in some volume for the hands. And then
checking all of the relationships
between the pelvis, the ribcage, the legs, the arms, the head,
and continue to develop an
idea of where I want to take the piece
going forward. So that's where we'll begin,.
notice as we
get established that
we've added a pull
to Leah's stand. And that's just gonna
help stabilize the pose when it gets
uncomfortable and allow us to maintain
things. So I'm
really starting just by checking
where I've put things.
Can see some things that I wanna adjust.
One of the
ways that I'm going to figure
things out and what I need to do and what I can and can't do is making
little cuts into clay to check the position of the
armature. You know if I wanna move
these feet a little bit closer together I can do that
to the extent that I have room
between the edge of the clay and the armature. If I don't
have enough room I can still do it I'm just gonna have to excavate
a little bit from the base and unscrew one of the feet
push them close together.
So lay in
right now just some rough
Meaning I'm not going to start out by going to
sculpting the hand. I'm gonna start out by
some volume where the hands
are going to end up.
And now I'm gonna check a little bit of the
And I ultimately have
two main ways of
checking, for example where the wrist should be,
where the elbow should be. One is my proportional
system that I talked about earlier
which, you know, tells me that roughly
the length of the upper arm is one and a quarter
heads long and the length of the forearm
is one head long. The other
is the relative position. Meaning, I know where
the naval is through my measurements
and I can see where the wrist
should be based on that.
The corner of the wrist should be right in line with that.
clean up some areas that
are problematic like
where her shoulder is meeting
pectoral and her
collarbone or her clavicle. That was a big hole. I also have
a hole right here along the inner
edge of the arm. And for those
I'm just going to fill that
and then I'll take a knife and
draw in where
where I want that edge.
material in here.
I do quite a bit
by figuring out the angle
of things or the angle of the
forearm or the angle of the
right upper arm.
There is where the bottom of the breast should be.
I'm also lining up
the base here with the base there to make sure the rotation
is correct. Which is really crucial
if you're going to use the angle.
So in other worse if the overall rotation
doesn't match what I'm seeing on the model then
if I use the angle to figure out smaller
forms within the larger form, all those smaller forms are gonna be
wrong because the overall angle is not
matching. So the first thing I always do is check
So I'm dealing a little bit with the
placement of the breasts
which - for which there
is not a proportional measurement, you know,
because every individual is gonna be different.
And so if I have
information about the pit of her neck, about her
shoulder, about her forearm. If I know where all these things
are going to be. Then
I should be able to figure out in that
context where the breast is going to end up.
I'm gonna go up and rotate
Leah a little bit.
Okay so that's working.
better. So I've got some
things going on with some of those
volumes. You know it's very
kinda wide in here, narrow in here in
comparison to her. So I'm going to
balance that out a little bit better.
You know I have a general
where my minimums are.
And that's predominately based on
which is the anterior
superior iliac spine
from one side to the other
or the point of the hip. So if I know where
that is it kind of gives me -
you know I can't be really any narrower than what I have
And so if I know it can't be any narrower
then that, that kind of gives me a little
bit of information about that elbow and upper arm.
Meaning I can't come really any
here because this point is
further out on her than this point is. And
if that point
can't come any further in then that means that
point needs to come a little bit further out. If that point needs to come
a little bit further out, then that elbow
may need to come a little bit further out, but it certainly
can't go any further in.
may not seem like a very significant
bit of information
but it really makes a huge
difference in giving me a sense of
confidence knowing which direction to go.
You know, this stage for me
if always kind of the most fun
the most exciting and
also the most challenging
because it, you know, you can push things in any
direction at this point.
And what I'm doing now is gonna establish
all of the finishing
and detail and smaller
bits of information that come later.
If things are working well
then things will continue to get better
and better as I go along. If things are not working
well, no matter how much
detail I put in, I'm not going to really
be able to salvage
something that fundamentally is not working correctly.
so, check -
you know that still needs to come out here.
So I'm running into a bit of a problem right here with this
clamp. And what I think I'm gonna do is just loosen it and move it
over a little bit because I want the clay to kinda end up...
Just probably a tiny bit
further out then where I have it, which is going to interfere with that clamp.
Before I do that I'm going to
check a little bit more
precisely where I want this point. So
this point is crucial for me to
know, particularly in this pose, so I'm doing a number of things
to establish it. I'm checking the angle
from the naval -
I feel should be
And measuring the width from
the center line.
Rotate Leah a little bit.
once again the first thing that I'm doing is just checking
the rotation of this
stand compared to her.
checking the vertical relationship of her shoulder
to her hip.
I'm gonna clean up a little bit
because there's a lot of
noise in the interior, meaning there's a lot
of shadow caused by the uneven
build up of clay. So I'm just cleaning that so it makes it
a little bit easier to
see and to evaluate.
That's a little
bit easier to look at and now
I feel like that elbow
is maybe a little too far
forward. So pull
that whole thing back a little bit.
Look at the edge
and pull that back
a little bit.
And then the neck and the head
I want a little bit straighter
and then I'm gonna look at the anterior
superior iliac spine, which
I've got the center of the neck here,
which I want
directly over that point.
Which is pretty good.
So I feel like the placement of this
point is not
bad, that's the edge
of the pelvis.
I'm just gonna grab a little bit more clay from the oven
and begin to
continue - continue to rotate
all those forms.
And at the same time, as I'm
the accuracy of what I'm
putting down and comparing it
to Leah and how she is
I'm also in the back of my mind somewhere
what I want to emphasize and how I want, ultimately,
articulate what I'm looking at.
You know my goal is not
to come up with the most accurate
dry reproduction of what I'm
Partly because that's
just not - I wouldn't say that
that's not possible, I mean in some ways it's not possible
because what I'm looking at is continuously
changing. So there's no
capturing something accurately because what am I -
you know what version of what I'm looking at am I capturing?
goal I suppose for every sculptor is
somewhat different based on, you know, a number of factors.
What they're interested in, what
the work that they're
doing is trying to accomplish.
a study like this, it gives me
an opportunity to study
the human figure
a more open perspective than working on
sort of a piece of artwork where there's
an agenda that is external
to the piece I'm making. Meaning
the ideas that I'm working with and the figure
is a vehicle to express those ideas.
In a study I don't necessarily
have that external idea as a starting point.
It may develop out of the
nature of making the sculpture. I may say, like oh that kind of
begins to make me think of this and so I'm gonna push it
in this direction. But it's an
opportunity really to develop visual
anesthetic ideas. Things that
are suggested to me by
what I'm looking at. So I'm gonna take
just a two minute break to get a
screwdriver. A socket driver is
a much better tool for
what I'm doing than a wrench
or really even a screwdriver. A screwdriver I'm gonna use
because it's handy.
But the socketdriver fits right over the head
of the clamp. So
I'm just shifting that over maybe an inch
and retightening it. And that's why I really
love these clamps because they allow
you to set everything up.
Get it all worked out and then if anything changes you can
loosen it, reposition it, tighten it,
Okay so I've definitely
shifted a lot of volume
outward. I know that I'm gonna have to
through here. From a technical standpoint this is, you know, one of
the more difficult and annoying
things about modeling with an external armature.
If making all of this
interacts with that pipe feel as though the pipe
weren't there. You know as if you could just cut right
through there. And you just kind of have to pack it
in and then use a tool
push it right up at a right angle to that pipe.
So I prefer if I am going to use a pipe to have it going at a right
angle as opposed to diagonally.
I find it makes it a little bit easier to
create that transition where
this edge hits this edge. Not that
it's impossible to do at an angle, it just makes
it somewhat easier.
model's coming back from break. I'm just gonna sort of
take a look at where I am and
ideally, you know when she's on a break
I'm strategizing as to like what I really want to do
in the next pose.
And I've kind of got some things going on here I wanna
deal with this other side. I don't wanna like let this side
get too far ahead of the opposite side. So I'm gonna rotate her back
counter clockwise so I can see her right hip.
is, you know, certainly a big nexus
of this pose. You know her
hands are resting on top of the
bone of the pelvis,
the weight of the leg is sort of all coming from that
point. So it's important
that I figure
kind of this whole area out
sooner rather than later.
Ooh that's not good. I have a
little piece of a different color clay that snuck
so again, just like I was doing with the arm, I wanna
clean up a little bit of the noise that's going on. There's like a lot of
shadows that are being cast by
little bits of unincorporated
clay that's making it a little bit more difficult
for me to see where I am. So that's kinda what I'm doing now.
Just adding clay, making sure the volume
is essentially clean. I'm redrawing the center line,
this line, it seems like there's a piece of metal that I'm hitting.
That's the clamp.
You know that's a little bit of a problem because I want to push in there to create
that shadow. So what I'm going to do
is I'm gonna rotate Leah to the side view and see if I'm
wide enough here. If I need to come out a little bit with this
and this, that may negate
the need to deal with that and, you know,
if I do need to do it I'll excavate just a tiny bit, take the
screwdriver, loosen that clamp, rotate it downward
because the head of the clamp, right here,
in fact I may just do it to show,
cut out a little circle of clay so that
you can see the head of that clamp.
You know to get rid of that
all I really need to do is loosen that and then rotate it
out of the way. But first thing I'm gonna do is
rotate Leah counterclockwise
to the profile.
Or the side view rather. And that's going to help
me figure out...
So, you know, right
under her pinky is where
the anterior iliac spine should be.
And that's sort of shifted
here toward the front
you know just a little bit in from the front of her neck, right about here.
And I guess what I'm finding
is that yeah, I do need to go in here.
Because everything is pulling backward, I feel like I wanna
pull all that back, pull that
back and to do that, that's gonna have to go
in. So I'm gonna grab the screwdriver
just take it
and loosen that clamp.
Just gonna dig a little bit out to see where the body of the
Now I'm going to take a few
scoops out just to see -
you know when I do something like that, where I
need to change where the armature is
I kind of like to go a little farther than I need
to just because I don't wanna
end up later in the process needing to do it again.
I think I'll go just a tiny bit
more. Go the edge of the clamp right there
And you wanna be careful
when you're doing this because it's pretty easy
to slip with the screwdriver and you can go right
into your other hand, which is never a good idea.
There it is.
The other thing that I could do
is just continue to unscrew that
and that will solve the problem
entirely. I don't have that in the way at all now.
So what that did, in essence, was
it removed all the clamping strength
that that clamp was providing, but I have all the clay packed
into that area, that's not gonna move anymore. So I'm not really too
worried about the fact that I've lost
that clamp. That clamp was primarily
there to hold everything in position until
the clay was doing that job which
more or less it is now. Now I can
kind of purely make what I want.
move where I want them to be
based on aesthetics and not
And that is, you know, certainly one difference
between drawing, painting, and sculpture. There is a
and a physical reality to the weight
that sculpture has that
sort of an image
like a painting or a drawing doesn't need to
Okay I keep wanting to push that point
further and further back here.
Turn and check from the side and then walk right back.
Okay so I come here, I'm gonna rotate this piece
because I'm not - when I walk over here I'm more looking at the
corner than I am at the front.
is quite a rotation inward here
So it's pretty - it's a good thing that I got that clamp out of there because I'm
pushing it further and further in.
I'm going to quickly check
So again what that was was
the side view or the
anterior superior iliac spine, which should be half a head from the center line.
that half a head to see where it should end up.
Okay, well this can come out.
That looks good. And then
do a second line here.
So I'm once again checking
the measurements. Okay that's where the naval
that there. Can widen
that. So, you know, I'm -
you know sometimes I liken
in this stage of the process to taking notes if you
were a, you know, writing an essay,
an academic. You know the process of note writing
or outline writing, if you're writing an outline
for a paper, you know, you're really
taking a bunch of information that you've gathered
and organizing it. Saying, you know, like okay,
Roman numeral one: introduction
and then capital letter A and whatever
the big topic you want to begin with is. And then B
is the second topic you want to address. And C is the third.
And then you look at it and you say you know what, maybe I should swap B and C.
You know I think that would make more sense. And that's one reason why
outlines are pretty
agrammatical. You know, they
don't have beautifully constructed sentences, they're - because
that activity, that
way of working
is one in which the goal is not to
communicate clearly to a reader, it's to kind of communicate to
yourself, you know, what your ideas are and how they may
eventually be best expressed. And that's kind of what
this stage of the process is for me. You know I'm not too
concerned with how the sculpting looks at this stage
because it's more about figuring out where things are gonna go
and how I might move them and what that might mean.
So I'll put a line and that line will tell me, you know,
okay what if the back of
vastus lateralis, this kind of muscle in the back
of the leg, what if that ended there? Okay that would mean
that I have a form here and then I'd need a whole other form
Okay if I put that there, then what if the transition
between those were there
and that would mean I'd need more volume
here. So I'm sort of
thinking it through
visually, saying okay let me put a little marker there.
And sometimes just having a blob of
clay in that location will allow me to
visualize what that is going to end up like. I'm gonna turn
Leah one more time, counterclockwise.
it's not enough. Sometimes I need to take that
and, you know, quiet it down. Meaning if I
sometimes I go so quickly with just roughly laying on clay
it begins to get unruly and it begins
to get confusing. And so then I'll go
in and I may take a tool like this
one and just kind of
combine all those bits of clay into
a clearer, or cleaner, volume
so I can see it a little bit more easily.
Sometimes I don't need to, sometimes
I can see it well enough.
But in a lot
of ways, the longer - not the
longer, the further into the process I can get
with this kind of
openness and this looseness of
putting something, changing it, moving it around
and not what I would call modeling it
the better the results will be in the end from
a point of view of rhythm and movement and
liveliness to the piece. You know the
temptation, especially when I was younger -
when I was younger I really didn't
know how things would end up
looking. Particularly I'd start a sculpture
and I'd really have very, very little idea
where the end point would be. Because I was really eager
to see that. To see how well I could model something
and how realistic I could make it. And so that
I would rush through a little bit these
early stages because they're not
all that seductive either
procedurally. It's not, you know, it doesn't take
any skill to lay on a blob of clay
it's much more of a
an intellectual aspect of
looking, evaluating, taking bits of information
and sort of projecting out what it might mean. So what
I - when I put a bit of clay on a location
I'm thinking through four or five steps
down the line. Okay if I kept that there and then I move that further out
how would that affect what is gonna come later?
when you skip that, you can still get all the
detail and information, it just doesn't necessarily have a very fluid
relationship. And so once I
had sculpted a whole lot of figures and portraits,
and I was more confident in the -
in my ability to sculpt those details
making things look believable, I began to see more and more
of the value of taking a little bit more time in those
early stages of figuring out where things go.
I'm gonna rotate her again.
And I kind of - I
continue to, you know, to change,
in that way. And seeing
not only the value in it but kind of the
enjoyment in it, you know,
at one point it was
sort of a necessary step
and what I enjoyed was the finishing and now
it's really flipped, you know. The finishing is fine
but it's not very
satisfying in some ways.
I guess in the same way that this step is
satisfying. Like, I really I can see by putting like a dot of clay
in a position like that's gonna change the entire
dynamic of how that area is going to work.
And the only way that
happens is, you know, through experience. You do it a whole bunch of
times and you can see like oh I put that piece of clay and that's gonna shift the weight
here and give me the opportunity to create a
angular relationship between that shoulder and that hip.
You know when I began sculpting I would never have -
I would never have
thought much about that. I wouldn't have
known. But you do it - you know and
partly I think it's because a process unfolds over
you know, a relatively long time span
in comparison to drawing. Drawing you can see within seconds,
you know you move something and then you can kind of
play that out pretty quickly and see where that goes. In sculpture
some of the things that I'm doing now may not really
bear fruit for
another two weeks. When I'm really
kind of dealing with pushing in the shadows and dealing with
some of the more -
some of the secondary and
tertiary forms that are going to start to
in looking at it now I still feel like this all
is gonna need to go in
necessarily - I'm not necessarily gonna do that now
because the model is on break.
But it feels heavy through here
That's something I wanted to make sure I take a look at.
But again I also don't -
you know this is a crucial area for most poses - this pose in particular.
But it's also very
easy to get
super absorbed in just that area.
And I don't want to let that happen either. So I really want to move down
the legs. There's some ideas that I was seeing
in her in the pose today that I want to
incorporate as you know kind of
a bunch of movements here that I don't have that
I'd like to have that I think are gonna affect how
into the abdomen
ends up working.
You know and then for me
like there's so much of the character of the pose is like the power
in her shoulders and her neck, which I
don't have at all.
So, you know, right now I just see
you know, I can go - there's a lot more to do here, I can go
downward and really kind of establish some of the rotations that I want.
I can do - move upward and really pull out
some of the volumes here to create the character that I want
I don't necessarily think that there's a right or wrong
to go in. You know my gut feeling right now
is that I think I want to move downward and, you know, connect this to the floor
a couple of reasons. One
is that if I do need to move
one of these feet closer to the other
I'd rather do it earlier than later.
And if I go upward and I really establish
some of the relationships of her shoulders and the pit of her neck and
the sort of the strength of the neck to the hips and then later I need to
move the legs I risk, you know, damaging some of the
those relationships just because you pull something, you unscrew something down
here, you pull it, something shifts up here and it doesn't look quite right.
So I think in some ways it's a bit safer if I
really figure out the placement of the
legs, the upper legs, the knee forms and the lower legs and feet in
relation to what's happening in the pelvis. There's a bit of a rotation
that is starting to happen that I haven't
If I can get that
to a point where I'm happy with it,
then moving upward I think number one, I can
pull this forward or backward, you know, minutely left or right if I need
to because it's only being supported by armature
wire here. There's nothing fixed down the way there is here and
here. And so that, you know, that's sort of my thought process
on, you know, where do I go from here.
Again the temptation, which I'm gonna resist if I can,
is to do more here. You know, I can kinda
see where I'm going.
I've moved things backward here.
I haven't finished - you know this
will continue to curve that way.
But I've kind of established that depth relative to that.
Which I feel like is important because
it's very easy if you're working from the front to keep things moving
forward, forward, forward, and then suddenly you get a side view and you realize that this
pipe is no longer in the middle where you want it. So I'm
I kind of knowing roughly where that is relative to
the volume that I'm establishing
And the reason why I'm putting on what I'm putting on now is
it's just kind of a continuation of the form that I began
I know I'm gonna need at least what I'm putting on now.
And I'll try not to go
even to the
volume I think it's going to be but stay just a little bit under it so
once she's there I can kind of finalize that. So knowing where that
is, even though I'm kind of unhappy with
the relationships in here, I have an idea of where that's going.
How that's gonna push in. So
I'm going to continue down into
the leg. I think I'll look from this angle, from this angle,
and from this angle and try and figure out,
particularly that standing leg. Because there's so much going on
By which I mean there's a lot of
great rotation, you know so
the back of the knee is
essentially facing out this way.
And by the time I get to the middle of the
calf it's facing almost the opposite way. It's facing that way.
Which is also true of the foot
and then the thigh is facing that way. So there's this
big, big rotation going on throughout that leg.
So I'm gonna
address that, you know, somewhat
roughly, the same way that I've been
dealing with a lot of things. Not
really any detail, just looking initially
at volumes. Like where are those volumes, how do they line up,
do I have
enough room for where I want them to go?
You know which is a
pretty typical, you know, for me
I'm feeling my way through both in terms of where I want it to go, what I find
interesting about it, and also the
You know I think for me -
and I'm just gonna double check
the height. You know I think
especially at this stage, the second
I feel unsure
I'm gonna pick up
the calipers and just check. Because it's relatively
easy for me to alter things right now
and it's gonna get exponentially more time consuming and
difficult to do it later. So if I'm not a hundred percent sure
I'll just check and that will take me, you know, under a minute
whereas it may take me an
hour later on to fix something that I
that went wrong because I didn't take the time.
So, you know, I'm
interested in the
process or the
possibilities that the process makes
possible. That's a bit repetitive. The possibilities that the process makes
possible. But the process of working with a model
allows me, even if I have
a preconceived idea of what I want to do - allows me to
either confront those
ideas to the reality of what's in front of me or
you know in some cases, throw out the ideas that I had in mind for
in favor of what I am seeing which I find more interesting.
really end up
having a preconceived idea either
formally or anatomically or rhythmically
in almost any other way going into working with
a model and come out the other end with that
idea intact. My ideas are always changed by that
experience. And I know some very, like, technically, very good,
solid sculptors who
spend a lot of time before they work with the model,
if they work with a model, sort of conceiving of all of the
elements that they want and building perfect
armatures that can very precisely
accomodate those and then the process is more executing.
is really not at all how I go
about making work. I generally find that if I've planned something out
and then my job is to execute that
I lose interest, you know, it doesn't become
engaging for me and at the same time
I feel like the work is not
Which is not, certainly to say that
can't be done really, really well. It's just that it can't be done really, really well
by me. And I think it's always
important to figure out what your
own strengths and interests are
and pursue them as well
as you can. It's also, I think, really helpful to have a
community. Right now I'm
looking at the calf and the vertical relationship. I want to see how far
in I need to come.
And the community aspect I think is
important because some of the things that
you may need to do
may seem excessive, may seem pointless, may seem
like oh I could probably get away with not doing that and it
would be more efficient and cheaper and faster. And
if you do
have a community, there are gonna be other people that are dealing with
similar issues and I've found that
it's really helpful when I'm about to do something that seems a little
bit crazy, either from a money
perspective or a time perspective or a necessity perspective,
to talk to somebody else who's dealing with the same thing and
then I feel like okay, maybe I'm not crazy. Maybe this is a good way
to go forward.
You know you can also obviously - you know the more obvious
reasons for a community is getting ideas and people help you and all of that
but I kind of believe that part of it is to make yourself
feel like you're not crazy for doing what you're doing.
And there - you know there are certainly people who are
just stubborn as hell and believe
in themselves no matter what, but I
actually feel like those are pretty few and far between. And people who
seem to be that way
themselves. And I think even for them it's helpful to have
reinforcement and other people who are dealing with, you know, similar
issues. And I think I - even though
the art form that, you know, that I have chosen
to pursue is thousands of years old,
once you get beyond the very,
you know, the very, very basics of it, hopefully you're still adding
the history of it.
Which, you know, entails
trying new things and doing things that are not
part of the canon of the way
everyone is taught
to approach something.
So for me, even when I work large - when I work
closer to life size, I don't
ever do small studies.
Because I feel like when I work
things out in a small study
I don't have the overwhelming desire
to copy what I've done in a larger scale.
Which doesn't seem
exciting, interesting, or necessary.
And for me, part of, you know, part of
the decision making has to do with scale.
Something that's big needs different set of decisions
than something that's small does. So I find that both
there's a limited utility to working on, you know, small
models for larger things and
just philosophically what I'm interested in
gleaning from the whole process - I'm gonna turn
and that sometimes would be
like working for hours and hours because I was so unhappy with something just
until it started to work and then I would stop.
My thinking was that if I did that
I would be excited to come back the next day and get to work because
I was happy with where things were going.
And that worked pretty well
for, you know, for a long time.
A number of years. And then when I just got
so busy with teaching and running, you know
different projects and doing a whole bunch of other things I
guess I have to learn to be a little more efficient
and not so dependent on
when I felt things were going well or poorly and be able to pick up
from wherever I was and
I dunno, I feel like it's certainly -
you know particularly with sculpture, very important to have
guidance and help with the technical aspects.
I'm gonna rotate Leah.
Because there are so many technical aspects and it's so complicated
and it can be very, very difficult to find
the information. But
equally I feel like it's really important to have
somebody who's been doing something -
I think it could be anything - just talk about
like the emotional and the psychological
aspects of doing it seriously,
doing it professionally, doing it over a long amount of time.
You know strategy
is for, you know, what do you do
in the situation, not necessarily technically, but just when you're not happy with something or when
you know, when you feel like you don't know if something's
if you feel like you're not moving as quickly as you should.
And those are generally
issues that you
deal with with time. Like if you're doing anything
long enough, you're gonna deal with those kinds of issues.
And while all I can kind of share is how
I've deal with them and how I deal with them, I think
that even, you know, for people who don't deal with them the same way, it's kind
of - it can helpful to hear that it's not something
unique to any one individual. I'm gonna rotate Leah again.
It's part of
a lifestyle that
doesn't have kind of traditional
markers. You don't get a
quarterly progress report from your boss when you're
an artist. You have to gauge whether
things are going well on your own.
So now I'm kind of working in between
some of the larger
elements. Meaning, you know I was skipping
the edge of this arm and how it turned
under in favor of
getting breast far enough out, the chest far enough out, the clavicle.
Now as I come back I'm filling in
some of those missing bits of information.
Which in the next phase will allow me
really to deal with all of the
various aspects of the silhouette.
Turn Leah again just a little bit.
needed to come out all the way
Way earlier today I had added on to the
back of the base to pull that out.
I feel like it's time to get that done. Double check the
height of the back of the knee by measuring
from the ground.
I'm a little tiny bit low.
So raise that a little bit.
of the lower leg.
And I'll take that
around and I'm just cleaning up the
so that the edge is a bit more
observed. You know if there's too much junk
going on in between the
outlines it can be a distraction.
So right here, all of this
needs to go away.
Okay there's that
ends there, that means all of that
can come back.
And sometimes I get to
something like this and I've already
done it in my head, you know, as I worked around
oh yeah all that needs to move back and then turn around. Then I come back to it
and it's almost surprising that it hasn't been done,
that somebody didn't come over and take care of that.
Namely me, I should have taken care of it, but
I guess in that way
I end up doing a lot more than
what I do physically in the beginning of the
process. Even though I haven't changed this
it was so clear as I was kind of notating things up here,
that this needed to come back,
that once I actually get to the physical
kind of act of doing, it'll go pretty quickly because I
already kind of figured out what
needs to happen. It's not
a mystery, it's not like with the shoulders where I was
pushing something forward and then trying to figure out, you know, where does that
go, how does that
affect what's gonna happen next?
So model's taking
one last break
I wanna continue
here. I was cleaning up
the base, making sure that
any holes are being filled up.
And again right here what I'm doing is filling
holes. I'm not really modeling or making big decisions.
If something came around and then just stopped
all I'm doing is continuing around.
Which is not necessarily to say that that's gonna be exactly
how the final product will be, but I know
when there's a gap, you know like that
caused by layering. I'm gonna have to do this anyway
just sort of fill in
clean up the surface so I can see where I am
In my mind as I do this
I'm also, you know, thinking about all the kinda
torque and the rotation that I want to happen. So I
the volumes outward
as it comes up.
you can see I keep coming back to this
front view so I can see
where that volume is up here
so that when it gets translated
to the back I have kind of a sense of the
You know when I'm using
a tool like this, all this tool does is take off the highest point
of the clay. Nothing
more. And if I keep changing direction,
you know, so I'll come across the form and then
diagonally up the form and then maybe diagonally down the form
the more times I change direction, the more
even the surface will become.
And that's simply because there are high points everywhere
kind of sticking up at random levels.
Just caused by the way the clay was
applied. If I put on a piece in one direction or another direction I wasn't paying
attention so much to, you know, lay everything parallel or
not creating any gaps. So when I want
even it out, I want to hit it
from as many different angles as
I can. And
that will mean that I'm coming across those high points at
various angles and ultimately what that will do
is take them all down evenly.
You know if I don't do that I'll have a tendency to get like a waver
in the clay. It'll sort of,
you know, be roughly -
it'll be smooth but undulating in a way that
so much under my control. It's not purposeful, the undulation.
And that's just because of the way the high points
and the low points orient themselves. The tool
will have a tendency if you keep going in the same direction
to hit the same low point again and again, removing
a tiny bit of material and then hit
the same high point again
and so, while I'm reducing both, I'm not blending them out.
Whereas when I go at a different
angle to that, I'll be hitting the high point from a different angle, maybe
missing the low point altogether from that particular angle.
The high point and the low point will start to get closer and
But if I just keep changing the direction, you know, I supposed you could
analyze every high and low point and figure out the ideal angle to
use the tool at. The reality is if I keep changing the direction
that the tool
marks are going, I will
ultimately work all of those unevenness out
of the clay. And everything will end up
basically at the same level.
Okay. This right there.
Okay so I need a little more
of a shift outward.
And sort of diagonal
Okay so I'm doing a little bit
on the profile.
Little bit on the interior.
I'm gonna move around
to see where exactly that
point is. How far out.
Okay. Actually not that bad
where I have it.
You know the
silhouette is a tricky
thing to deal with on a figure
because it's constantly where that
silhouette is in
relation to the volume is constantly shifting.
So in other words, I may see the edge here
but this edge may be closer to me and this one further away.
So I don't want to just sort of make
everything in the same place
and that really, again, is gonna
mean I need to
You know, what I'm finding is, oh this needs to
shift in that direction.
Meaning closer to me.
Whereas this is a little
I wanna turn
Leah a little bit.
So that helps.
in terms of seeing where
that movement backward,
you know, back into her lower back where that's
Okay so that's
There's a lot of twisting
and pulling and compression going on right here where the hand
is resting on the hip.
And there's also kind of, because I quickly went through that area,
there are a lot of holes that are
not doing very much
in terms of providing information and that's
what is going on in this sort of nexus of things.
Things that are rotating and pulling and
And so filling a little bit of that in,
a little bit of that up
is gonna be helpful
in terms of ultimately
dealing a little bit right now with the symmetry
little sacrum in here. There's this little
Okay I'm gonna turn one more time.
pulling that form forward.
I'm just gonna refine
that silhouette, or that edge of that
leg is one place where things are moving more or less vertically.
So there are - they're definitely
places in the figure where the silhouette
is easier to exploit.
You know the head
is one, the legs,
upper arm, those areas
tend to be pretty
linear and the nose
divides the face in half
and everything tends to move back from the
center line on all of those areas.
Whereas the torso, the breast comes out from the center line so it's very
difficult to actually see where the center is. And that makes
it less of an ideal
place to focus on the
silhouette. You know, the silhouette jumps
around. Part is here in the chest part and the breast part and
this far side of the chest it's very, very difficult to get a clean
view of it.
that was the last pose of this session. I feel like we got
a lot of the mass
established, a certain amount of the
attitude. Still I think there's more to do there.
We started to
pull together a lot of the
jumpy areas on the surface to be able to see it a little bit
more clearly. And next session
I'll start, as I always do, just checking everything
to see if there's anything that jumps out as being especially problematic.
And then I'm gonna continue to unify
the surface while adjusting some of the masses.
And particularly I'm think I'm gonna
focus on the dynamic
which is the difference between the wide areas and the narrow areas.
Right now, for example, this
right leg is fairly
similar here and here. It gets slightly narrower
I think I'm gonna increase that, which is going to increase
the appearance of length in the leg.
Just pull in
a little bit there.
So I'll play a little bit with the dynamic
throughout the pose. And continue to kind of try and
strengthen that sense of
attitude, which ultimately
is what I want to get out of it. So I'll
do that next week.
really want to swing that lower leg out quite a bit more.
One of the things I’m looking at is this negative space between the legs, which is
a term that I cannot stand.
Why is that space negative?
Because I’ve never heard the opposite; I don’t know what positive space is.
But anyway, the spacing between the legs, I know has their own dynamic.
That heel needs to come closer this way and move further that way.
Meaning, this needs to move further that way, further back.
But I feel like the angle of the armature is right.
So most of that, if not all of that, has to be done with clay.
So I’m putting a piece of clay up on the top, which is going to help move that that way.
I’m going to put some on the bottom here, which will move it backwards.
By adding clay down here I’m beginning to increase this angle.
I can move a little bit up here.
There is something wrong with the depth so I’m going to have to turn again.
Okay, I can see what’s going on now a little bit better.
One of the reasons why I’m having a bit of a problem is because this heel on her left
leg is essentially right behind the heel on her right leg.
There are multiple reasons why what I have is a little bit different.
One is that I added a pad, sort of a black mat that’s made of foam, and the markers
of her, the position of her feet are underneath that.
That may have changed a little bit, but that’s not really a big issue.
In other words, the why, it’s not the same as not really important.
I like what is there and so I just have to make sure that what I’m doing
is getting what I have with her now.
In other words, I don’t want to reposition my model just because my armature is not matching
what I’m seeing.
If I didn’t like what I was seeing then I might get into asking her to move, but I
do like it so I’m trying to figure out I want this spacing, which essentially is—this
point here needs to be out by maybe half an inch.
I’m just going to slide it so I have plenty of room in that clay before I hit the armature.
I have room to do that.
This is the hyperextension of her leg that’s causing that.
It’s a more extreme angle here.
I was kind of mentioning earlier the fact that I don’t make models of sculptures that
I am going to make.
If I’m going to make something that’s three-quarters life-sized, I start three-quarters
life sized, and that is a little bit more complicated in terms of making an armature
that is flexible enough for me to alter it when I need to at that scale because there
is so much weight.
You know, it could be 150 pound of clay.
I prefer to work that way then to figure everything out at 24 inches and then build an exact copy
of it larger, you know, both because I feel like there is a life that I’m not able to
maintain when I just copy something that was initially done at a different scale.
And also just philosophically, I feel like the engagement, the kind of complete mental
engagement with what I’m doing is there the first time I do it, and not as present
when I do it a second or a third time.
Okay, I’m gauging this entire angle.
Now I have to include
the volume above to make sure that all of
the movements that are going into producing the effect that I want are included.
I keep needing to pull this back farther.
Even a little bit more here.
Okay, so when I rotate to this position, I just have to be careful because I’m trying
to see this back leg and that front leg, and that front leg is going to get in the way
so I can’t necessarily rotate it all the way to the ideal position to see what I’m
trying to see.
Ideally, I might be here like a good, perfect three-quarter on this back leg, but then I’m
being blocked by this leg.
I’m kind of going halfway, but it does.
I generally have an idea in mind of what I’m looking for when I rotate.
I want to see what that angle is, but I also very frequently notice things that I hadn’t
necessarily anticipated being able to see from a particular angle, like this point and
its relationship to what’s below it is what kind of presented itself just now, so I took
that opportunity to articulate that.
That is the division between the muscular forms here, which I’ll just quickly pull
away and the bone which is there.
deal with the back a little bit,
the heel, which I think ultimately will result
in a need for a little bit more of the base in the back.
I may be pulling that heel backward.
I’m going to turn her again.
Okay, so in addition to that, this needs to be dealt with a little bit.
So to a certain extent I’m dealing with the overlaps, you know, how much this leg
overlaps this leg, which is helping me figure out the position.
You know, in some senses, I’ve purposely shifted this foot outward.
I think I’m going to shift everything about it
just because I like that movement a little bit more.
I think I may have mentioned earlier the idea of working with a model, you know, a real
person gives me the ability to see a huge amount of variety within the same pose that
a photograph wouldn’t.
Every time the model takes the pose you’re getting a slightly different version of it,
and the goal, you know I think I talked about chasing the pose, you know, the goal ultimately
is to choose the best aspects of, or the most interesting or the most pertinent aspects
of the pose, not to be as accurate about one complete version.
One complete version would be a photographic approach to making the sculpture, meaning
anytime, you know, perhaps one way to do it would be to take a series of photographs at
the very beginning and constantly compare them to what the model is doing, and every
time she changed ask, re-orient the model, you know, the hips are a little bit more to
Your leg was not as bent.
This was not as—that is not really interesting to me.
The model will move, and my job is to figure what I think the best version of the pose
or the most interesting version of the pose or the aspects of the pose that go together
the most fluidly for me and make the sculpture—I’m going to turn it one more time into a collage
of those aspects that I find the most pertinent.
In other words, this tilt outward of her lower left leg, she had done that at one point and
I really liked that.
Although she is not doing it now, I’m not going to change what I had or what I have
to match what’s happening now because I kind of prefer that aspects of what’s there
That’s actually for me kind of a big issue.
There is not an answer like, oh, it’s correct to do this.
There is certainly my answer which is, you know, the whole point of sculpting from life
is to make those decisions.
There are other, you know, people who approach it in other ways, but I think having some
kind of answer to that question for yourself is really, really important.
Am I, why am I working with the model?
Why am I sculpting from life?
As an activity—is it just like oh I have to create this sculpture that I have in my
head, and the model is just something that is going to make it easier for me to do that?
I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad approach, but it’s not my approach.
For me, the model is not a tool to achieve an end.
As I move along I’m trying to see some of the larger dynamics that are at work, and
I’m notating in clay what those dynamics are going to entail for me to do.
I’m lowering the high point of the inner calf on her left leg, just sort of pulling
it out very crudely, just to see how that relates to the spacing between the legs.
At the same time, I’ll pull the inner calf in, and I like all the activity going on.
There is sort of a longer stretch on the outside and kind of a jumpier, more frenetic movement
on the inside, so I kind of like that contrast.
That’s I think true on both legs.
There is this big, slow movement through the outer silhouette of her left leg and then
much more of a rapid movement on the inside.
I’m seeing by putting these notes of clay on, I’m very, very close to the armature
here on her left ankle.
I may need to take a hammer and tap that in a little bit to get the amount of movement
I’m not really too close here yet.
I mean I’m right there, but at this point there is not a ton of depth that I’m going
to want there.
A lot of the depth will be here or here which is not going to
interfere at all with the armature.
This is sort of a planning pass where I go over and I’m putting clay in different places.
I’m getting closer to the volume I’m seeing things from different silhouettes.
Predominantly, I’ve rotated
this foot out or I’ve begun to. This was facing forward more, and now I’m really
facing it that way. I’m going to do the same thing on this foot. I’m going to take
a little clay and just build the block that she is on and rotate it outward so that I
have some material for her foot to rest on. It’s a good thing to do while the model
is on her break. I know the height. I have an idea of the direction that I want it to
go, and so I can change the block that she’s standing on easily
while she is on break. The other thing I’ll do is I’ll add a little bit to the back
of that stand or that clay base so that when I get to the point of establishing the feet
a little bit more solidly there is something to put them on. It’s everything on that
back leg pulled backward. You know, that’s definitely going to happen when you work with
model. They start a pose and maybe it needs a wider foundation than what they began it on.
You know, maybe the feet being closer together made it more difficult to balance,
and then over time they widen the stance just a little bit. That forced you to change things.
I’m going to take a moment to dig up a hammer and give a tap right here on that exposed
piece of wire. One of the nice things that is going on here is I did screw down these
wires so if I tap on that it’s locked in here and locked in here. I should be able
to move it pretty minutely, maybe like a quarter of an inch in just to get it out of the way.
I’m going to see if I can find a hammer and do that. I have a hammer and a screwdriver.
In my studio I made a tool for this, which makes it a little bit safer. I had a bigger
flathead screwdriver, and I just ground a V into it, and that V I can lock onto around
a piece of armature wire. When I tap it there is no chance of it sliding around. I don’t
have that here so I’ll just use this regular screwdriver. This hammer is a little overkill
for what I’m doing, but I’m just going to come in here
and ideally I like to have help with this.
Normally I’ll have somebody hold that but since I’m doing very little movement I should
be okay by myself. This is hard to hold the stand down, hold the hammer, and hold the
screwdriver because as I hit it the entire sculpture wants to move around. But you can
hopefully see now that there is curve in there so I’ve pushed the entire thing in, which
gives me additional room to add clay on top. You can see the whole thing is shifted now,
which makes it look bizarre and uncomfortable. That is kind of the position that I want.
I have room to add here.
Now I’m going to zoom out a little bit mentally and visually look at things a little bit more
holistically. I’ve been focusing kind of narrowly. I feel like the volume in the legs
is getting closer to where I’d like it to be in the end.
Now I want to make sure what
I have going on above is working with that.
I’m looking for the balance by checking
the pit of the neck, which I feel like can come over just slightly.
Do a little bit with the pit of her neck and the sternocleidomastoid muscle, which is that
big ropey muscle that begins on the sternum, which is the bone. It’s like a sword-shaped
bone at the front of the rib cage, and it connects to what is called the mastoid process
on the side and back of the skull.
It’s an important form because it connects the head to the body, but also because it’s
visible from the front view, from the side view, and from the back view, and I think
it’s always good to pay particular attention to forms and anatomical structures that bridge
more than one plane. The abs or the abdominal muscles, primarily you see them from the front
view and that’s it. You know, they’re visible somewhat from the side view, but it’s
really a secondary view of them. You can’t really get a very clear understanding of the
abdominals when seen from the side. The sternocleidomastoid disappears from the front view to the side
view. When you get close to the ear it’s much clearer what’s happening if you’re
looking from three-quarters to the back, whereas when you’re down here you can really understand
it from the front view and midway the side view is what really gives you the clearest
understanding of what’s going on. And so those structures are really helpful sculpturally
to pull the viewer through various viewpoints of the figure to enhance the sense of three-dimensionality
and things like that. I always pay particular attention to those forms that have more than
just one primary viewpoint.
There is a muscle on the leg called the sartorius. It’s the longest muscle in the body and
goes from the interior superior iliac spine all the way down to the tibia, and you can
see it from the front, from the inner profile of the leg, and from the back. So that’s
one that’s really kind of handy from a design point of view. Ran out of clay. I’m roughing
out right now the position and the character of the head, the hair, the neck, and the shoulders.
I mean in certain poses the arms are really critical, but I most poses the arms are really
secondary in that you can change the position of the arms without changing the balance of
the pose. The arms can be held at the sides or down and the hips, the entire core of the
figure can stay the same. That’s obviously not true of the legs. You move one leg and
the entire pose will shift.
It’s also not true of the neck and the head. The neck and the head are really very vital
to the balance of the pose.
And so I kind of, I want to get an idea of where major volumes
will be, how they’re going to relate to one another, you know, the idea of how much
of a portrait this becomes, you know, what I’ll get into as we go along. For now I’m
not so interested in her features, but I’m really interested in the character of her
head because Leah particularly holds her head to her shoulders in a very particular way
that I think is important to capture in order to really get a sense of the pose and I’m
dealing with that in a pretty rough way right now.
That ear is too far forward.
Mainly the placement of everything, up and down, left and right, in and out.
I tend to always have
in mind what good information I can get from the view that I’m working with.
Again, for right now I’m going to switch and get a measurement from the navel to the
pit of her neck. It’s got to come lower.
The depth of everything that I’m looking
at is not going to be clearly visible from this point of view. If I get a side view I’ll
be able to see how deep this is relative to that much more clearly. What I can see pretty
clearly is the angle of the clavicles, the angle of the center line, the angle of the
sternocleidomastoid. Those things I’m going to concentrate on. Not that I’ll ignore
the others but I’m not going to build that out as far as I think it should go from this
point of view because I just don’t have a great view of it. I know I can get a better
view of it. I’ll always try my best view of the thing that I’m working on as I can
and not sort of settle or guess.
There are times when you don’t have a choice, where there is something else about the poses
blocking the thing that you’re trying to see, and then it does become sort of a necessity
to not necessarily guess, but put together all the various bits of information that you
have into kind of an educated idea of the position of the depth, the rotation of something
that you don’t really have an ideal view of. That’s particularly true in seated poses
and even more true of reclining poses. A reclining pose, half the model is resting against the
floor or a bed or a surface that you can’t look through, and so you’re really, all
of those surfaces that are broaching that point that he or she is reclining on, you’re
kind of guessing to a certain extent about the turn and the depth and things like that
because you just don’t have access to a good view of it.
That’s why I sometimes say that the difficulty of a type of pose is in an inverse relationship
between a sculptor and a model, meaning the hardest pose for a model is a standing pose,
and that’s the easiest pose for a sculptor because you can see everything. And the hardest
pose for a model—or for a sculptor—is a reclining pose because half of the figure
you can’t see, but it’s the easiest for a model. It’s an unfortunate dichotomy that
those things don’t line up. As you get more and more experience, you figure out ways to
deal with reclining, seated poses, and they don’t become that problematic. But, you
know, when I’m teaching and somebody doesn’t have a lot of experience, I would never try
and start them with a reclining pose because it is so complicated to figure out where things
should end up and how to go about a strategy for figuring out how to plot it out. The idea
behind it exists in a standing pose.
There are certainly things from this point of view that I can’t see that well, and
I need to alter my position in order to see them more accurately. It’s just that with
a pose like this, I almost always, with the exception of the bottom of the feet or the
inside of her forearms, there is almost always a position I can move myself to that will
give me a better view of what I’m trying to see. I’m sure the pose is close to being
over. It takes a certain amount of discipline to continually pursue that, whether that means
moving your body relative to her body so that you have a correct view, or moving the model
so you can see things with more accuracy. For example, now that’s pretty easy for
me to see like where her chest comes out to right below her collarbone relative to her
head, where I would be completely guessing from that view. Once I know that, it becomes
pretty easy to figure out the angle here.
I don’t know why I drop my tools on the table like that. I kind of like the ringing,
which probably doesn’t sound as good on film as it does in the room. Again, from this
position, I have a very hard time seeing sort of the angle of the center line or where the
pit of the neck should be. I try my best not to do minimal work that is related to that
and really focus on the things that this view provides. It’s very schizophrenic in that
I need in some ways to see more things at once than I physically can. I want to see
what that angle is and then how that moves around. There is no way to see how that moves
around. You’re just constantly getting a little information like, oh okay, now I can
see this, and then wanting to see that again. Frequently, I’ll turn it back and forth,
back and forth so that as I’m doing one I can begin to see the other.
very rough, but it will come together very quickly once I make the decision that everything
is in the location that I want it to be.
I’m not really too concerned.
Earlier in my sculpting life I would get kind of nervous if it didn’t look good
at a certain point.
I would just start to finish things.
Then I think you get a little more comfortable with things looking a little funky for a longer
amount of time.
I know in the end the piece will have a better overall feel to it
if I take my time at this stage.
I also know that the finishing is not really that difficult.
You know, if the way you began was really good, everything is really in the right place
and the relationships are all good, then finishing goes pretty smoothly.
If they’re not, that’s when finishing takes a long time because you’re not only
finishing, you’re correcting a lot of problems that are leftover from an earlier stage.
I’m doing my best to model good habits.
You know, moving around through the piece quite a bit.
Checking the overall angle of things.
Make sure things are aligning correctly.
I’m going to check the measurement of this arm because I’m finding some angles that
are not quite matching the way I think they should.
That essentially should be the center.
The upper arm which would allow me to
alter that angle
and that angle
That will have to go up.
I want that to go up...
even a little bit more.
Again, I’m looking at the space between her back and her arm.
That all kind of started with me looking at the position of the hand.
I’m making sure that the general position is what I want.
I’m going to push that back and then I’m going to measure from here one head.
Okay, so that could be part of it.
It could be that that arm just needs to move upward a little bit.
I felt like the point that I was finding here looked like it was too far forward just slightly,
just slightly too far that way.
By lifting everything, I think that’s going to help.
Now, I’ll come in through here.
One thing that I want to address is that the set of her shoulder.
Now I’m going to walk over to the side to take a look
at what I’m doing from a different angle.
I’m going to rotate the sculpture and walk over.
I’m kind of looking for this point.
She’s got a really prominent end to the clavicle, like a really clear angle.
The trapezius is hiding behind that in a very noticeable way.
I want to make sure I’m dressing that now.
You know, if I need to make any major adjustments to achieve that, I want to do that because
it’s something I like.
I want to make sure that it comes across.
If I need to know from the front view how far out that way that point is, and then from
the side I need to know how far back.
Here I can check the side view.
That’s as perfectly as I can get it.
Get that right.
And then come back and look at that front view.
Now I can come out a little bit to the shoulder.
I’m going to rotate counter-clockwise maybe a quarter of a turn, a little less than that.
There is this very upright feeling to the back.
Placement of the chin.
I feel like I can come back just a little bit and then straighten the neck.
That portion of her shoulder blade is projecting backward.
I can see how far it projects, and I can see the shape, but I can’t see the depth.
I’m going to turn and just fairly quickly look at the depth.
Okay, so I’ve got, I’m going to turn her one more time.
I’ve got from the center line
to this high point.
That’s kind of the transition that I’m looking to be really, really accurate about.
That edge here and then the trapezius here.
What I’m trying to do is give myself a rough indication of the changes in the anatomy in
this area so then when I look from this side I’ve got roughly the number and the angle
of the forms, meaning, you know, I’ve got this.
Then I’ve got a little space here.
Then I’ve got this volume.
That will help as I refine the placement of the shoulder
to the neck to the head.
I’m trying to get that nice feeling of the posture.
I really need to know where a number of things are going to end up.
Now I’m going to turn this and walk over to the side.
This is part of that schizophrenic feeling of needing to see and know to a certain extent
and understand more things at the same time then you can really take in.
I can’t see her, the side of her shoulder, the front of her shoulder, and the back of
her shoulder at the same time.
But, everything that I’m doing is kind of relying on me to
understand all of those placements,
how far in, how far forward.
My solution to needing to know and understanding more that I can
see at one time is to do a
little bit from one angle, move to a little bit from another angle.
Come back and do a little bit more from the first angle.
Add a third angle.
Do a little bit and keep adjusting back and forth, in and out, left and right, until all
of those seem to be working together.
Again, there is another temptation to just stop at one angle and see, you know, all the
information and just put it in, but that is really not a good idea because you then change
angles to a different one.
Everything will look wrong.
Okay, now right here.
I’m going to get a little warmer clay.
I’m also—you’re going to start to come down her right arm.
You know, I’m looking at the placement here, but I’m beginning to think that some of
what I need to know may be here in the lower part.
Okay, so while the model takes a break, I’m going to take a quick break as well.
Yeah, you know, this arm, the back, this whole area is—it’s almost like a multiple exposure.
I can see that there is one line here, one line here.
The whole thing feels heavy.
When the model comes back I want to do a little bit from this point of view and deal a little
bit more with the upper back.
I’m just filling in holes right now.
There is a hole in here.
There are holes.
Holes are always problems in the beginning that you try and avoid.
There are just areas where obviously there is no information, and in some ways until
they are eliminated there can’t be any information.
There are just sort of gaps in the sculpture.
We’ll try and get rid of them as part of kind of a housekeeping as I work through
so that I can begin to more fully understand and explore what’s going on.
Okay, so we’ve got this back view here.
We can see that’s super flat through that area on the sculpture, so I want to make sure
I get rid of that.
Also, see that line is not quite right.
The angle through here leads to the ear.
Then this far shoulder, this seems too high the way that I have it.
I want to cut a little bit off of that and then this nice dark center line here.
This is the edge of the shoulder blade on the other side, the top.
I want to rotate Leah counterclockwise, maybe about a quarter of a turn right to about there.
Okay, so that’s pretty good.
That tells me quite a bit.
That all has to go away underneath.
I can deal with this area.
Here I’m just going to use this tool, which is a citrus zester.
It’s meant to remove the outer colored skin of an orange or a lemon or a lime, but it’s
really great for modeling clay because the little holes in the zester kind of deliver
the pieces of clay that are being removed to the back of the tool and don’t mash it
in to the surface.
It’s a quick way to consolidate the surface that I’m working on.
The way this whole area is turning, it’s all very, very flat and I know that I need
to get rid of that.
I need to figure out something more meaningful about that area.
I know it’s moving forward.
What I don’t know is how much, and I won’t know until I get a view from this angle.
Before I move to get that view, I want to do what I can do from this angle to give myself
the angle this way and this way, you know, the spine of the scapula.
This sort of transition between the rib cage just down here and the large set of muscles
that run up the back that are called the erector spinae muscles.
That kind of helps me lay out where things are.
Now I’m going to turn her one more time so I can get kind of a side view of this shoulder.
Right there, that’s my view.
I’ll rotate her just a tiny bit more because of the way the lights are.
I was looking right into the light so I just turned it slightly more.
I can avoid looking into the light.
What I can see from this angle is that this angles backward.
That should be coming inward instead of outward.
Right now it’s going like that.
Change it to that.
This point right there, I want that to come out.
I drew an outline of it from this view so I can shift my body to that side to make sure
that the clay that I’m putting on there is staying in the right spot and not going
too far back or too far forward.
Once I put that in, now I can put the edge of the shoulder blade or the scapula, and
then I can come forward
and then up.
The neck—also rough out a simple shape in the front of the head.
Now deal a little bit with the back of her arm and how that moves into the area of the
That’s always, you know, where two things come together, those are always the most important
areas in sculpture.
I think that if you get the interior of the form wrong, but the joint here and here are
really dead-on, the sculpture will work fine.
If it’s the opposite, like this area is perfectly sculpted, and the joints are not,
it won’t work.
It always for me is most important to understand and have like a clear idea of where things
are coming together, where they’re changing, particularly the bigger the form or the element,
the more important.
You know, where the rib cage meets the pelvis, where the arm meets the torso;
those are pretty big.
You know, where this muscle meets this muscle is, you know, less crucial.
But still, that point of meeting of those two muscular forms is more important than
the center of the body of the muscle.
Like if that’s not rendered beautifully accurately, it’s not that big of a deal.
You may say, well, I want everything to be perfect.
Then you just get into terribly philosophical territory of what that means.
You know, essentially what we’re doing is making a person
out of some mud mixed with oil.
We don’t have access in this particular way of working to color or different textures
or to different densities.
We’re creating the illusion of those by how things move.
So, perfect doesn’t exist.
You’re always making a choice between one thing being more important or having more
clarity or more attention than something else.
If you start from that premise that you’re always making choices then what the choices
that make are really important.
If you focus on all the wrong things, it’s going to be really hard, even if those things
are beautifully done.
It’s going to be really hard to get something that works.
Knowing what is important to focus on is sort of a combination of personal preference and
experience of other decisions that are being made.
I’m going to turn her one more time.
One of the things that I do when I’m working with a model, you know, from the moment that
I see them I’m kind of trying to figure out what do I think is interesting about this
person that I’m working with.
Almost in every way—personality wise, physically, in terms of just sort of their overall energy
what do I, you know, what strikes me most clearly.
What do I think would be the most interesting to try and get across?
It’s never just sort of like somebody walks into a room and stands up on a model stand
and I just start at the bottom and begin working.
I’m always trying to figure out what would I like to communicate from the most basic,
like, oh, I think, you know, she’s got a really fascinating back and I’d love to
I really like the way she carries her shoulders and neck and head.
There is a nice kind of confidence there.
I want to get that across.
It could be anything.
What it can’t be is nothing.
Okay, there is a person in front of me and they are just as good as any other, and I
will just replicate exactly what I see.
I feel like that is very likely to yield something that is confused because there is no hierarchy.
You’re not making decisions.
In other words, if I really love the way—and I do—I loved the way her shoulders and her
neck and her head kind of work together to convey the sense of confidence.
If I work to get that, that doesn’t mean I’m ignoring everything else.
That just means I have something that I’m constantly referring back to.
When I stand back and I look at the figure, I’ll say, okay, does it have that?
Does it have that nice sense of confidence?
If it doesn’t, that’s what I’m trying to figure out.
Why doesn’t it?
What is it?
You know, what do I need to do?
In the absence of that, I stand back and I’m just sort of like a scanner going through
it saying, yep, that looks about right and that looks about right.
That looks about right.
It becomes very difficult for me at that point to evaluate how the work is going.
There are times when I’ll think, oh okay, it looks like her.
It looks good.
Other times I’ll think, it doesn’t really look like her that much.
It really leaves me in a terribly uncomfortable position because I really, I don’t have
any way ultimately of judging it, so I always am starting everything from that perspective.
You know, what do I find interesting about this that I want to
come through when I’m finished?
That’s as true in a study as it is in a sculpture that I’m planning to put more
energy into an exhibit and have, more complete ideas of the modeling of what I’m doing.
The model is taking a break.
I’m looking through, you know, I’ve got the terrible hole that always bothers me.
I’m going to fill that in to a certain extent.
Given the fact that I have a model in front of me, I’m not going to do much other than
eliminate the roughness of that hole so that I can evaluate it a little bit later when
the model is back.
One of the tough things about sculpture is just physically getting into these recesses
that inevitably are created where an arm lays against a torso, but not flat enough that
it becomes a line.
I always marvel at—particularly there is a Bernini sculpture in Rome that is so complicated,
two figures interacting with these deep recesses.
Not only did he have to deal with the forms in those deep recesses, he had to carve them
out of marble and get chisels and rests and files and other things into those areas, and
it’s just mind boggling how that was done.
I feel like in general, you know, there are still lots of problems here.
That forearm is very flat.
The breasts I want to make sure I begin to address the volumes there, but I feel like
the overall feeling of the piece is coming together a little bit more.
the hands have been addressed to some degree.
The orientation was there.
There was some volume.
They all had a certain degree of specificity to them, but not really any character.
Now I feel like the masses are beginning to get more balanced with one another.
The placement, the rotation, the stature and the character are beginning to emerge.
Yet, I’m balancing out areas like this, which is essentially a hole right now.
I tend to use this basic formula for the face on a piece this size, at the very least to
begin, and that is that the eyes align right through the middle of the eyes is a half a
head, so from the chin to a line through the eyes is a half a head.
Each feature below that, the bottom of the nose, the center of the mouth, and the top
of the chin are all half of that.
Each one is cut in half.
If that is half a head, the bottom of the chin or the bottom of the nose will be a quarter
of a head, which is half of a half.
Half of a half is a quarter.
And then half of the quarter will be the center of the mouth, which would be at about an eight
of a head and then half of the eight would be the chin.
It just provides a simple way to lay out where things go.
Based on that, I’ll look at the model and say I think her nose is a little shorter than
that or a little longer, but it gives me a good place to begin.
I’m beginning to feel like the volumes—let’s move this big heavy hammer down here.
The volumes are all working more or less okay, and I’m going to start a little bit to deal
with the silhouette, which I said I was going to focus on today at the end of the last session.
Sometimes when you have the intent to do something and something else crops up and you have to
deal with that.
The big thing that I try and make sure is what I’m doing needs to be done.
I don’t want to just keep doing the same thing that I was doing last week because I
was enjoying it.
I know that I need to move from one aspect to another, and if something is really a problem,
it’s more sensible for me to address that than ignore it.
Even though I may say, okay, I really don’t want to start addressing the silhouette if
I see that the placement of the arm is not working or the volume and the character of
the upper torso is a problem.
I’m going to make sure that I address that before I just start refining the silhouette
and doing other things that may need to get done but are not as pressing.
I feel like this is working better than it was earlier, which is obviously positive.
It’d be bad if it was working not as well.
There is still some stuff to figure out in there.
But I think what I’m going to do right now is just take a step back, you know, now that
Leah is back from break, and take kind of a more holistic look at how everything feels.
Make a few little notes based on that.
Definitely that ear needs to come forward a little bit
The chin needs to come forward.
Sometimes what I’ll do is just connect the chin to the tip of the nose, the nose to the brow.
No detail at all, but it gives me kind of a nice sense of the direction of the head.
Make sure it’s all lined up.
I’m looking just to get a quick sense of the shape of the head and
its relationship to the neck.
The neck needs to come out and forward.
That collarbone will come forward.
Now I’ll just get a little bit closer to the volume of the chest
Okay, now I’m going to take a little longer look from the side.
By longer I mean farther away.
I’m coming back and adjusting the stand based on what I can see.
In other words, I’m not seeing as much as the negative space of that far arm.
It’s right about here.
So I could do that and that right out of clay.
A little more.
I can see that the bottom of the sternocleidomastoid comes out.
Turn that just the right way.
I want to come out even a little bit more.
The further away I am, I guess up to a certain point the more clearly I can see the big relationships.
I’m trying to right now balance the front and the back, meaning I need more volume here,
here, through this portion of the trapezius as well as here.
Then I’m going to tilt the head just slightly
and then I also need quite a bit volume in
front of her arm.
Having added all that, I’m going to rotate her back again counterclockwise because from
that angle I was looking at, from over here, I couldn’t really see, I could see I need
a lot more volume.
But now I need to see from the front how I’m going to resolve where that volume kind of
tapers back to because I can’t just pull everything out.
That’s certainly helpful.
I want to do a little bit with her forearm, which has been neglected a little bit.
I’m mainly focused on just getting some volume into that forearm.
Adding more volume here.
I’ll just sketch in the line of her, the part in her hair.
Then put more volume to the hair.
Again, I’m going to come back over to that side view.
Deal a little bit with the head.
Okay, I’m going to rotate again.
Now, I’m getting to a point where I feel like a lot of the big issues
have been dealt with in kind of a big general way
to where I can begin to look a little
bit more in a bit more refined way, the silhouette.
As I say that, I’m finding a whole bunch of things that I think still need large modifications
to, you know, the outline of that breast and where it ends up.
I need it to rectify still.
I still feel like there is a bunch in the back and the legs that I need to just sharpen up.
I’m getting much, much closer to that point where everything is working together.
I think now is a good time to take a short break just so I can walk away, clear my head,
come back and focus on where I want to go.
I do get a point where I can just keep fussing around with it for a long time and not necessarily
making the kind of efficient progress that I want, and frequently just taking a little
break and coming back to it in five minutes will be more productive.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview1m 8sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Developing the Silhouette (Volume on Hands)33m 59s
3. Developing the Silhouette (Torso & Abdomen)29m 16s
4. Developing the Silhouette (Waist & Legs)29m 54s
5. Developing the Silhouette (Legs Cont.)19m 40s
6. Developing the Silhouette (Neck & Chest)21m 50s
7. Developing the Silhouette (Head)18m 26s
8. Refining the Proportional Relationships (Part 1)20m 30s
9. Refining the Proportional Relationships (Part 2)22m 37s