- Lesson details
As David Simon begins his fourth lesson in his figure sculpting series, he is determined to address issues like the articulation of the hips and “rubbery” qualities of the legs. For the most part, he’s done adding and subtracting volumes of clay and no longer will be “futzing around” with that sort of minutiae. He adjusts the lighting and talks about sculptural workflows. David explains that even if you aren’t an expert in a process or topic– be it welding, casting, types of clay, etc.– you can still benefit from a basic understanding of these things when you are collaborating with an expert! For instance, you don’t need to be able to cast your sculpture in bronze yourself but it is helpful to know what to expect when working with someone who does. 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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As I mentioned at the end of the last session, the first thing I'm going to
do is to check the piece against the model, check the pose,
check some of the dynamic and the positioning. I'm at a point
where I really want to make sure everything is basically right
before I move ahead to the next step. 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 studio. I mentioned that I was going to be closing
up the surface a little bit. But I'm at a point where I can't
just keep adding and subtracting and moving things around. I have to tighten things up
a little bit so I can start to judge them better. So that's what I'm gonna do.
the first thing I'm going to do is to check the
piece against the model, check the pose, check
some of the dynamic and the positioning
and the volumes. I'm at a point where
I really want to make sure everything is basically right
before I move ahead to the next step. I'm
mentioned that I was going to be closing up
the surface a little bit, you know, here. I've
pretty much closed it up. The outline's here, it's still, you know,
through here and here. Which I - you know, I wanna keep it open so that I can
see what's going on and where things need to move.
But I'm at a point where I can't just keep
adding and subtracting and moving things around. I have to
tighten things up a little bit so I can start to
judge them better. So that's where I'm going to begin.
And also checking the pose that may have shifted.
This is the first pose of the day so I wanna, you know, I wanna check and see where things are
with Leah, with the model, with the sculpture,
and spend maybe three to five
minutes going over it. So that's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna start
out matching the
square that she's standing on to the square that Leah's standing on
and just checking the position of everything. And while I'm doing that
looking for some of the
characteristic elements that I'm seeing
in her that I feel like I'm missing in the sculpture. There's
a width for example to the shoulders that I feel like
is missing a little bit.
There are some things that are
different on purpose. You know, I've tilted
this knee slightly inward and the
ankle slightly outward on purpose because that - it
was like that at one point and I liked it. So I'm gonna maintain that.
And the head right
now is tilted a little bit which I kind of like.
And so what I'm really
doing is letting my eyes go back and forth,
finding a spot
on the sculpture or on the model, comparing it to another
spot and then just checked back and forth, back and forth, both in terms
of position, meaning
where is the pit of the neck, side to
side, angle. So for example
the point of that shoulder, relative to the pit of the neck,
also that same
point related to the naval.
And then the same on the other side.
Okay, so I can - you know my
feeling overall is that this is narrow.
I can definitely see when I go from top
of the head, it should be out here.
So I'm gonna begin to add
a little bit there.
And a little bit to the tricep.
And then really -
from this point
I was thinking initially this point really needs to come out but
when I checked it, it didn't need to come out as much
as I thought.
point really doesn't need to come out
I'm gonna change the position of the head a
And sometimes what
assumption of why
something's not working
is wrong. You know, I think instinct
is really important. You have to have, like, a pretty
sense of things. But frequently
things get so complicated that you're
you've got two components to that
sense. One is that something
doesn't feel right, something's wrong. And I think that's an important
almost crucial thing to have. If you don't have that
it becomes a real problem.
But then figuring out what
the correction is. That is a
little bit different than just having a sense that like oh, that means
I need to move this or that.
That, you know,
sometimes I have a pretty clear idea and I'm right. But
there are often times when what I think is causing the problem is not
really the thing that's causing the problem. And if I immediately go and change
it all I'm really doing is creating other problems.
So it's important to think
of, you know, figure out what you feel
is not working and then rather than immediately
going to change that thing, begin to analyze
everything around it. And sometimes it will be the thing that you
thought that's not working. But sometimes
it'll be something around it
that's causing the problem.
And that's where
you need to make the adjustment.
So it's kinda the character of the head and the shoulders that
was bothering me. And that's where
the adjustments on the sculpture.
I'll try a number of different
things more or less all
at the same time. You know I won't try
and achieve everything by just moving a
shoulder. You know once you've been
20 years, it's usually not like one
massive mistake that you've made. That the shoulder's, you know, two
inches too high and then moving it down two inches will solve everything.
It's usually an accumulation of, you know, three or four or five or
six little - little things that are
you know, not terribly wrong, but just
off enough that the combination of all of them
is leading to
And so you can see I'm
doing quite a bit of drawing on the
clay. Just drawing the angles. Here I've got this hole
which I'm gonna fill
so that I can
see a little bit more clearly what's going
on in the neck and the throat.
Here I'm gonna pull in
Turn and I'm just gonna walk over and take a look
and continue that
Fix the angle.
The head is turned a little bit different.
And then I'll come back.
talked a little in the last session about
kinda this idea of
needing to be in more places than you possibly can
once in order to
really completely understand
something. And in order to understand
something three dimensional, you kind of have to be
able to see it from multiple perspectives at the same time. And you can't.
Like it's just physically impossible. I supposed you could have mirrors
and be able to like quickly see the side view, front view,
three quarter view, all within moments of one another.
It's generally not very practical.
And so what you end up doing
is just juggling those views in your mind and
developing a way of
going about working that
allows you to divide up
especially in the
phase of work that I'm in.
You know, which is - you know, I'm
still blocking things in and moving them around.
You know, so I'm not - everything has not been
really clearly and firmly established
to the point where
I'm then dealing with smaller
forms and refining, you know, I'm still
changing. I'm just gonna grab some more clay from the
And so rather than completely
finish a section, I'm going to
do just enough
to be able to see it clearly
so you can see that I've switched
to a smaller tool, which is
allowing me to kind of get into this area
around the neck, under the jaw,
into the throat
because where these forms are
dividing is kind of
create all the relationships
in this area that I think
are crucial to the character.
I'm gonna turn Leah counterclockwise. Just a little
Again I'm primarily checking
the relationship of the bases first as
opposed to seeing, you know, this area that I'm actually working on.
Because I could - this could be completely
wrong and if I get mine to look as close to her as
possible, I could have the entire rotation wrong.
It's very hard to get a square wrong
You know, I'm not quite looking at the corner, I'm not quite looking at the flat.
I know I'm pretty close to matching that. Then when I look up what I see
should be the same. And if it's not
then I know that there's some problem going on.
So here form this view point I can see that the jaw
needs to be pulled out.
I'm gonna pull the ear
out of its well.
And the hair
starts right at the ear.
And moves back.
That's coming down but I'm missing a little bit of volume
here coming out.
then the transition into
is not working.
And then her trapezius,
the top of the shoulder,
needs to flatten a little bit.
And then the end.
You know definitely
she has this very characteristic point to
the end of the clavicle.
Which I wanna make sure
And I'm not sure about the depth right now
I've put it where I've put it, which is more
of an accident than anything else. Once I turn I may need to
move it backward. Not yet, quite sure.
That's why I'm not gonna spend a lot of time refining it yet.
long time to realize
that this is so much more important than
You know, I've had classes where I've had students who
really are great at refining
the surface of the clay.
And yet everything is just a little
bit in the wrong place. They just kind of - that's
what they're naturally good at and they just wanna jump to that finishing
stage. I was never -
you know I never kind of knew exactly what to do
in terms of finishing. It took me a lot of years to
kind of gather information
people and experiences
before I came up with
my own approach to doing it.
And so in some ways I spent a lot of
time when I was trying to learn to sculpt
jumping to that stage probably too early.
Just because I knew it was something that I wanted to
become good at and figure out. But now that I
feel a little bit more confident about that
I realize more and more how
not that it's not important
but how much more important it is to
get things in the right place and get the depth
right and the movement right and the rotation right.
You know and while Leah takes a
break I mean it's a good opportunity
number one for me to stop playing around with
what I was doing
and turn and look.
I'm gonna come over and stand back and look. But also,
you know, address the question of what is right. I keep
using that word. And in a lot of ways
that's a terrible word to use because there is no right and wrong.
There's kind of a continuum of things
that are closer to feeling like the model
in the pose and further away from that.
And I frequently think about all the great
sculptures of history that I love and look at
and, you know, the idea of
them getting into a room with
a model, any model,
and how different the results would be. You know, if you had
Bernini and Michelangelo and Rodin and Carpeaux
around a model in a classroom you would get
four or five
completely different versions of the model. And they're wouldn't be one
that's right and all the others being various
degrees of wrong. There'd be four
or five right versions
that are all different from one another.
Which is not to say that there are not
objectively correct and incorrect things.
If I had this angle this way, that would be
wrong. You know, it would be completely missing
movement in the pose. But
shifting it slightly more in or out, up or down,
more volume here, less volume here,
those are all choices that are valid
if together they
add up to something. Making one shoulder giant and one shoulder small
out of context with everything else is not really a choice.
It's a sort of a mistake. When I increase
the size of the shoulder relative to the waist and increase the size of the hips
relative to the knees, that
in context added together may constitute
you know, a choice that was made for a reason and that
carries through the entire piece. And that's, I think, an important
distinction to make.
And it's also a hang up a lot of people have.
You know, I don't know if what I did is right.
Sculpting the figure,
painting the figure, drawing the figure, are not
mathematical equations that are -
that are open to
correct and incorrect interpretations. They're
more like writing. You can
have grammar that's clearly incorrect but
within a correctly structure paragraph
you can have some that are perfectly well structured
and terribly boring and
uninformative and don't create - don't evoke
anything and others that are incredibly evocative.
And beyond a certain point you can
teach somebody the rules of grammar and where
to use a period and where to use a comma and
all those rules.
It's very difficult to teach and almost
inadvisable to teach what makes something
interesting and what makes something not interesting because as you
sort of cautify that, as you say, okay you always want
to start with a noun and then move through to an adjective,
add your verb and then you need at least one adverb.
Once you start creating a formula for that, it
very quickly ceases to become interesting.
right now I'm looking at a lot of things. I'm
also beginning to realize that, you know, my own
personal tendency is to go very deep
down, you know, certain rabbit holes. Like I could
certainly very easily spend three or four hours
right like in this area
of where the
shoulder and the
neck come together.
Which I don't think would be a very good
idea given, you know, how much
else there is to do. You know very frequently
I'll obsess over something and say oh that's not quite right, I need to change that
and that angle should be a little bit different and this I think needs to move
backward and get that, you know, really kind of
as precise as I can and step back and find that the whole thing still doesn't work.
And that if I change something down here, that
you know, two minutes of adjustment down there
did more than four hours of work up here.
So it's helpful for me to have this
short break to kind of remind
myself of that and come up with a plan of what I wanna
do next, which I think is deal with
some of this. Which is so, kind of, generic right now.
I'd like to address her left leg.
Before you get up there I'll just rotate this so you don't have to stand on a spinning
platform. Start like that.
You know there's
darks here that I don't want
And it can be, you
know, super hard for me to tear myself
away. You know I was seeing a lot in the neck
I am gonna tear myself away and come down
to this area and focus on
what's going on. Now I know
I've made an adjustment this way, to that
And so I'm gonna keep that in mind
as I look at what I'm doing.
You know I'm not gonna worry
overly much about small discrepancies
of what I'm seeing because it could be a result
of the adjustment I made
to the position of the leg.
What I'm starting
with is the open areas like right
in here there's a - just sort of like a bunch of
holes and pits where
I was quickly building up volume and not
paying too much attention to
where things were and how they
were moving or dividing.
So now I'm gonna pay a little bit more attention.
In here I'm starting
a quick sketch of some major
shadows and, you know, my primary
two fold. One is to see the
interval and the other to see the ankle -
the angle. Not the ankle. So
the angle is probably pretty
self explanatory. It's the angle, vertical,
how diagonal is it. The interval means
if my entire unit is front to back here
this shadow, is that midway, is it closer to
the front edge, closer to the back edge?
How many forms do I
have to fit into the space that I'm looking at?
And that'll allow me to sketch it in if I can't fit all the forms that I need
to fit I'll redraw it quickly
until I can get all of the information,
all the forms, into that space. And then I may
push forward or backward on the forms
in order to create the relationship. You know
if this form is big and this form is small I don't want to divide it in such a way
that they look equal. And so I'll just kind of go back
and forth, back and forth, making those adjustments.
until I feel like the
relationships basically are right.
I'll move on.
I'm moving down
and then I wanna sink the volume on the front.
You know here's a place I know I need to be
careful of because things are rotating
in this direction and from the point of view I'm looking at it
it's impossible for me to
tell how far in something is. So I wanna make sure
I move, which is what I'm gonna do right now, I'm gonna just come over
I'll come back
go and turn
And again, first thing I'm doing is just checking
the position of the
platform to match that. Once I
feel like that's matching then
I'll look at the
form above it and make the adjustments that I want to make.
Sometimes I have to rotate
the stand just to accommodate
the position of my
arm. You know, the different
elements of the sculpture start - as they get develop start to
get in the way just mechanically of reaching
other things. And so I'll
rotate everything, cut the bit off that I need to get cut off
clean up the area I need to clean up and then rotate back
to the original position.
and I've - you know I kinda
feel like the
people are constantly concerned or curious
as to what the hardest thing to sculpt is -
you know is it the face, is it the hands?
And I think the hardest thing to sculpt
is the thing that you can see the least.
There are aspects in this pose that
are pretty open to being
seen from multiple angles and
there are other things that are really
difficult. They're always -
your view of them is always compromised by
another part of the body that's in front of it
or on top of it.
And those are the things that are the hardest because you're left with
less and less information.
In this area,
where this leg is blocking the inner thigh of that leg
is one of those areas where
figuring out what's going on in sculpting
it is a little more difficult because you're
dealing with foreshortening and looking down
the leg as opposed to this
leg, which you're looking at pretty much flat on.
This angle is being blocked by that leg.
And I supposed that
elements like that are where a knowledge of
anatomy is the most helpful.
You don't need to know that much about anatomy to sculpt this leg because you can see
it. You can see everything about it from almost every angle.
So if you just sort of follow what you're seeing
what you end up with is gonna be, you know, pretty
accurate. Things like her hip where
her hand is covering a bunch of information or the
inner thigh, if you know something about what
is going on anatomically, it makes it a little bit easier
when you can't see it
clearly. When it's being blocked for one reason or another by
a hand or another part of the body or a pull or something else.
Those are where - I'm gonna rotate Leah again -
again clockwise. Those are
where I think
knowledge is the most helpful.
You know and
I've always had kind of a,
I don't know, a strange
relationship with the idea of
how important anatomy or knowledge of anatomy
quote unquote matters.
you know, I am, to a certain degree, hypocritical.
I did study it quite a bit. I've done
you know, multiple human dissections. I've
made écorché, I've
looked into it quite a bit and been interested
And I still am to a certain degree. I have like an
interest in anatomy, but less
from an artistic standpoint to improve
my work than as a, sort of an
abstract idea of, you know, of something that
we all inhabit. We all have these bodies that
are made up of all of this stuff, which I find
really interesting. But in terms of
teaching, I teach, you know, a decent amount and
I have lots of students who point to their
limited experience with
studies, or anatomical information
as a, either a major
or an excuse as to why they feel like their
sculpture and painting and drawing is not better
than what it is.
And, you know, on a certain level I just, I feel like
in that context anatomy is much, much less important than
observational skills and habits.
And that - that feeling I think comes
from seeing a lot of people in my
experience who don't know very much about
anatomy and yet are
able to produce really stunning work.
And others who know a lot about anatomy
who are not able to produce
even technically proficient work.
You know almost
the idea of if you know how to grind paint
really, really well, it doesn't make you a great painter. You can just go
buy a tube of paint at the store if you know the sort of
the fundamentals of painting you can
do great work and
not that knowing a lot about paint itself
and how to make it and what goes into it - not that that's not
helpful and important, it's just is not - one doesn't equal
the other. Turn Leah again.
Okay and again the first thing
I'm doing is checking the angle
that I'm looking at her at.
When I - I can see that I have like a structural
issue with the armature. It's really - it's right there on the
surface. And at some point - and here as
well. I'm gonna have to tap that in.
Get a hammer and just tap it
a little bit.
Okay and I want more
more of a turn
to the knee.
I'm gonna pull in here.
the kneecap I want to move
So I'm gonna quickly move and check.
Okay so that can stay
in that plane.
It’s not ideal in terms of size of the notch, but a notch is really helpful.
I’m just going to tap in at the armature here
We can see it really deformed it, but what I need is the space here.
I don’t need the space here so I can take off the excess in the back and then add on
to the front to make that correction.
I’m just going to turn it counterclockwise just a little bit like that, so I can see
You can see it’s really horribly deformed for the moment.
Now I can add clay to the front.
I can adjust the back.
Keep adding to the front.
I’ve had no room in the front of the leg.
There was just wire right at the front edge.
Now I have that room.
It always a good idea, I think, when you know it needs to be done do it quickly because
the correction is pretty fast.
You can see it didn’t take more than a couple of seconds to move the wire, and now changing
the form takes a little bit more time but will allow me to do what I want more or less
I don’t have to say, oh well, I’d like to push that in deeper, but the wire is in
the way so I can’t.
That’s one challenge of sculpture that initially I was going to say that painters don’t face,
but then I remembered Dega that was famous for gluing pieces of paper or pieces of canvas
onto his paintings when things where running off the edge that he wanted to include.
So I guess it’s not the exclusive problem of sculpture that you sometimes need to make
some major adjustments.
I’m going to rotate and, once again, check my position.
Now I have a better opportunity here to include that depth.
Now I’ll pull out this bone, which is the bottom of the tibia, which is the big, there
are two bones in the lower leg, the tibia and the fibula.
The tibia is the big one that carries all the weight.
The bottom of it protrudes at the inner portion of the ankle, and that kind of little bump
that sticks out of the tibia is called the inner malleolus.
The one on the outside, shockingly, is called the outer malleolus.
That’s the end of the fibula, which is a skinny bone on the outside of the leg.
The thing to remember about those, which is visible through observation, you don’t have
to know the anatomy to get this, but what’s helpful is a reminder.
The inner malleolus is always higher than the outer malleolus.
It’s generally also further forward.
Okay, now I’m going to move up to the knee.
Let’s see if I pushed in enough.
It looks like I have the room that I was looking for to get the depth around the kneecap.
What I’m looking for is the rotation.
That kneecap is rotating counterclockwise.
I want to make sure I can get that.
Part of that is the depth that I need here.
Then the tendon of the kneecap is moving toward the outside.
I can still feel that wire.
I’m not sure if I need to hit it again yet.
I’m just going to continue to do what I was doing.
Actually, I think I am going to hit it one more time.
Well, ideally, it’s helpful to have somebody else put their hand in the back of the sculpture
when you do that so you’re not doing what I just did and moving the entire sculpture
as you’re hitting it.
Let me rotate Leah one more time.
You can see that there is a big hole that was caused by shoving that wire backward
with the hammer and chisel.
Okay, so I may be able to mitigate the need to change that by pulling forward
on this form.
Alright, the further forward this form comes, the deeper that point will be.
It’s still a little rubbery in here.
And so I’m going to focus on correcting that.
I’m thinking about the depth that I need here.
Here is the bottom of the fibula, the outer malleolus.
In front of that, I need some depth, and so at this stage I’ll tend to emphasize or
slightly exaggerate that just because I just had to pound in the armature.
I don’t want to do a lot of very subtle mottling and then realize later on that I
need to make them more aggressive move and push something in, and then have the wire
pop out again.
I’m pushing and making sure I have the depth if I want to use it.
And this I’m going to turn and check from the front.
Now I’m going to come back in.
I don’t consider that really a failure in the beginning stages of the armature.
I consider that almost proof of why it’s important to take your time and really try
and place the armature as well as you can because I’d have a lot more of these problems
if I hadn’t placed the armature.
The idea of placing the armature quote-on-quote accurately initially is there because not
only are you going to make mistakes, am I going to make mistakes, is everyone going
to make mistakes, you’re going to change things.
You’re going to say, you know what, I like that flexing more or the model might change.
You might say, I like how that looks now.
The more centered that armature is at the beginning, the more you can make those changes
without major problems.
When you do make a change that exceeds that, which in general is going to be in the lower
leg simply because that’s where the armature, that’s where the mass is the thinnest.
The arms are not a problem because you can just move the entire arm.
There is nothing holding it in place.
The legs are kind of trapped here within this lower armature.
In order to make an adjustment that’s a little bit more work to do, and this area
is going to be, this area, this area, those are going to be the thinnest.
If you’re making a move with the leg inward or outward like that, there is enough volume
in the thigh where the armature is not going to really start sticking out.
It’s most likely to happen in the ankle.
So spending the time at the beginning, getting the armature placed correctly is not invalidated
by the fact that it needed to be adjusted.
If you’re doing good work you’re going to make adjustments because that means that
you’re seeing more the further you go, and you’re making bigger decisions.
It’s actually way worse if you don’t move it, if you just sort of say, I could move
a little bit, but I’ll just leave it where it is.
That’s where my overall kind of philosophy about sculpture
The more you know about the technical aspects, how to do things, how to make molds, how to
cast bronze and cast plaster and weld and build armatures and make tools and everything
else, the more options you ultimately have, and the more ways that you can affect your
It’s not merely pushing around clay.
Understanding how clay or Plastiline or anything else is made gives you opportunities to affect
the entire process, which is not to say that you have to do everything every bit of every
process yourself all the time, but I think it’s really important and helpful
and crucial really to know and to understand these processes and how they work.
That way, whether you do them yourself or you have somebody else do them or you buy
your clay or whatever the thing is, you’re doing it with a fairly clear knowledge of
how it works, why it works.
I’m not the best welder, but I know how to weld, and I know the different processes
of welding and what can and can’t be done and what’s more or less difficult, and what
the advantages and disadvantages are.
That way when I’m working with a welder that’s really, really good, I can have a
dialogue with them and say, you know, well, we could plug weld this, and the advantage
of that would be never see the weld and there would be no edge.
But it wouldn’t be as strong, and we’d have to re-sculpt where
we drill it for the plug.
Those are, I think, conversations you want to be able to have throughout the process.
Okay, so now I feel like we’ve reshaped that leg to beyond where it was before I made
the alteration, and I think that that is okay now.
I’m now kind of, I’m going to close up the form a little bit here.
I’m going to rotate Leah back counterclockwise a little bit.
occurring on that profile here and here that are making it difficult for me to evaluate
that edge as working.
For example, here I just want to get rid of some of that interior noise.
This is a screen I’m going to pass over the surface which does a pretty good quick
job at cleaning things up and allowing me to see what’s going on so I can see a little
bit more clearly this edge.
You’ll see me going back and forth between this really big knife which I love, which
I got almost 30 years ago in Rome, and this little X-Acto knife.
This X-Acto knife is much more precise and will let me get quicker
changes on the outline, but it’s very short front to back.
So if what I’m trying to get is too far away I’ll use this larger knife which will
let me get that depth.
I’ll use the larger knife frequently because it allows me to simplify and keep things including
just the angles that I’m observing not get caught up in some of the littler
movements too early.
Painters talk about using the biggest brush you can to do whatever you’re trying to
do, and I think that’s equally true for sculpture.
If you can save the small tools for either tiny sculptures or later in the process, I
think you’re better off.
Especially if you take one or two steps back, and if the big elements are all in the right
place then omission of detail or errors in the detail are much less important or visible
You can see how quickly and nicely that screen just cleans up that edge.
And so immediately when I do that, all of this noise becomes more visible and more annoying.
I’m going to take a wooden tool.
This is actually something I need more of.
I just am working on a big woodworking project unrelated to sculpture.
Hence, I have all of this walnut in the studio, a lot of off-cut.
What I think I’m going to do is make a bunch of larger wooden modeling tools.
For me, their primary value is in compression.
I like them in that I can get to areas like between the legs and just push the clay together
to create a more unified surface before I then move on to a rake tool to refine.
Then it just become very difficult to get your hand into an area like that without hitting
what’s on one side.
This tool—when I was coming here, when I knew I was coming here yesterday I was in
my studio looking through one of the many drawers of tools I have for a wooden tool,
knowing that I would be getting into this area and just wanting to
compact things and work.
This was the only larger wooden tool I have, and it’s kind of ugly and clumsy.
It’s most likely a Kemper tool, which is a company that makes ceramic equipment.
Wooden tools are one of the easiest to make.
You don’t need really very much special equipment with a grinder or even a sander,
piece of sandpaper, some oil.
You can create most shapes.
You just need a little bit of scrap wood.
I’m not going to go too far because I don’t know what’s happening in these areas.
I just wanted to get some material in there to compact it to make it a little clearer
and easier to see for myself through here.
I’m just adding enough that there is not any big holes.
I can see a hole right here.
One of the benefits of a wooden tool like this is it allows me to keep the convexity
of that shape.
Your thumb, which is a great tool, your fingers are wonderful tools.
They are convex.
When you’re trying to keep this form convex, by doing what I just did I’m creating these
little valleys, which in general are easy enough to work out.
But when I compact it with a wooden tool it makes it—
because the wooden tool is not convex.
It’s essentially flat, and you can also make them concave.
If you have a tool that has a concave surface when you put it on the clay, it helps compact
it into a convex surface, which is what you’re always looking for in figure sculpture.
I don’t use them that often.
I use them a lot in small areas where I need to deliver small bits of clay to an area without
interfering with what’s around it.
I should and I think I will begin to use them more.
In order to use them more, I need to have some.
In order to have some I’m going to have to make them.
Since I do have the material around now, that will go on the long list of things I need
to do in the studio, which includes making a whole bunch of molds and finishing a bunch
of portraits that are almost done.
It would be in my opinion right now a mistake
to keep refining and continuing on that leg because this leg is so far behind, the abdomen,
the rib cage, that area is really far behind.
The back needs quite a bit of work.
I think the ideal is to keep things moving more or less together.
Not let one area get too far ahead of another.
There obviously is a lot of things that need to be addressed, and so I’m going through
and just mentally making notes and I guess also physically.
Here is another hole on the side of the navel.
Another down here.
That’s just helpful for me at this stage to fill them up.
I can see where things are, where I want to go.
I do feel like going right up here through this area and this area front and back and
side is something that I’d like to deal with now.
The shift in the hips which I feel is not working.
That’s, I think, where I’m going to start.
Figuring out the tilt in the hip which may be a little bit less than what I have.
So, you know, that’s kind of a combination of, I’ve made an alteration.
I’ve pushed her knee a little bit further in.
In this particular pose it’s slightly closer to what I have than some of the previous poses.
There is a slight tilt inward.
Her hips are relatively flat side to side, meaning one is not
significantly lower than the other.
That’s because even though this leg is bent, there is a block under it.
If her leg were that bent and both her feet were on the floor, in order to account for
that loss of length in this leg because it’s bent her hips would be tilting pretty dramatically.
That’s not the case.
The question is, keeping that tilt relatively flat or eliminating it,
am I going to like that?
It’s kind of a, it’s a complicated question in terms of
the ramifications for everything else.
It’s really important that the pelvis, the two sides of the pelvis, the anterior superior
iliac spine have a very, very clear relationship to one another.
I can’t raise one side without lowering the other side.
I can’t sort of make one side narrow or the other wider.
It’s one of those sort of foundational aspects to the human figure and to
particularly a standing pose.
And so it’s something—not that I can’t change it.
I can change anything I want, which is one of the advantages of making sculpture over
taking a picture.
I can make things longer or shorter or wider or narrower or more or less tilted.
But, by making that decision by tilting it more or less, that’s setting up ramifications
that I’m going to have to take into account, how those will ripple through.
Through this area in some ways like I moved through the larger areas doing a little bit
here, little bit here, little bit here, coming back and feeling the overall sense of how
the area is working visually.
Making additional changes.
I didn’t like that crease which I had going all the way up, which doesn’t go all the way up.
There is more of a hard edge that’s quite soft, but still compared to other things it’s
a bit harder right here.
I really, I also want to repeatedly check my measurement,
make sure this is not too far in or out.
I’m going to turn her in just a second to get a better feeling of the depth
of that area, meaning...
I don’t want to be pushing this too far
back or have it too far forward.
Check it from the profile.
So turning her clockwise.
I definitely need more depth.
I’m going to push in.
That’s one of the things I like about this tool, this citrus zester that I’m using,
it allows me to keep things general but push straight in.
Between those two lines I want to come in, and this is where the pipe gets in
the way a little bit.
We kind of have to work around it.
There is more dynamic, meaning further out to further in.
I began with the depth and now that I have some depth I’m adding to the high point
to increase the dynamic.
The high point of the abdomen, the high point of the oblique and then leaving some depth
in the transition.
I’m going to run into problems as I approach that arm, the arm is so rough at this point
with a big jagged hole.
I’m going to begin to deal with filling that.
Again, a wooden tool is really helpful to take a piece of clay, insert it in there,
and then you can use the wood to press it in.
Press in the abdomen.
I’m looking for that sense of compression where the abdomen, as the arm approaches the
central line is exerting pressure on the forearm.
As the forearm moves outward, the round shape of the forearm begins to take over.
There is this kind of nice contrast between convexity on the forearm
and then the convexity of the abdomen,
and then try to avoid a whole bunch of holes and areas that look jumpy.
You’ll feel them even though they can be difficult or you have to get a very specific
angle to be able to see it.
I almost have to squat down and look up in order to see what’s happening in there.
I can feel that it’s not clean and working well.
I guess what that really means is that on some level I’m seeing tangentially.
I’m seeing the effect of that, and so verbally note my reaction.
It doesn’t feel right.
I literally couldn’t see it then I suppose it wouldn’t matter.
Just packing clay into these deep recesses.
It’s also very important to keep your tool cleaned off; otherwise, you’re just increasing
the amount of mess that you’re making.
I’ll constantly scrape off the extra clay so it doesn’t get transferred back.
More depth here.
It’s the same, what I’m using here is window screen, and it’ll get kicked up a
little bit, but you can just scrape it off.
It’s one of the fastest and most effective ways to combine tool marks and lumps in the
clay into a consistent surface.
The one thing that it’s not good for is tight areas.
You know, when you get to a tighter area you really need to switch to a tool that has an
edge to it that will allow you to really get right into that area in a more
That screen will give you good general movement, but it’s very hard to use it to create a
sharp edge from something that is mushy.
Now there is a problem in this transition.
I’m missing this large bridging form of the lower back.
As things get a little bit closer, I start to see things, or maybe I just start to notice
things that I saw and ignored or didn’t understand as clearly.
It just seems that as I make subsequent passes through the figure, I notice and understand
more, which ultimately to me is the whole goal of doing it.
The resulting sculpture is a biproduct and a visual demonstration of the information
that I learned in sculpting that model or that pose.
I enjoy it so much because there is that deepening understanding every time.
It makes it enjoyable to do.
For the same movie that I’ve seen or book that I’ve read again and again, and I was
just going through the motions one more time, it would get very tedious to do.
I think in almost everything that I do I try and find something new if I haven’t done.
If I’m doing a woodworking project, if I’m doing a patina, if I’m doing a mold, I try
and look for an aspect of it that I haven’t tried, I’m doing slightly differently.
Never just, you know, to be different, to do something that’s different, but to try
and find an improvement.
Is there a way I could do this that would be better than the way I did it last time?
Would it be stronger or work better?
Generally, I learn a lot more when I try something that I haven’t done.
Sometimes what I learn is that what I had done in the past was a better way than this
new way that I’m trying.
It’s not worth all the extra effort.
It’s the only way I’d ever know that.
That’s equally true in sculpture.
I’m always trying to include something, include some aspect that I haven’t before.
I’m going to take a short break.
We can kind of see number of things, we were over here.
What I was seeing right before we took that break was how
this was really the furthest thing out.
At this point right here.
And then it really went way in.
So the question becomes does this point need to come out?
Or does everything above it need to move in?
My feeling is that point needs to come out just
because I feel like this is too close. I feel like this is sticking out too far.
I'm going to put on some clay here.
That goes right up to here. I want to add
a good amount in here.
And I'm also looking at how much I
can see in between her torso and her arm.
I think I need to add more to the arm again. It's where this wooden tool will help.
Get into those deep
areas between her arm and her torso where
It's pretty kind of rough and
not particularly attractively sculpted yet.
And allow me to just
compress that clay and create an
even surface to work on.
You know, it's kind of a it's a difficult thing for me to
sculpt and talk at the same time. That's kind of the point of
this video, obviously. It's not for me to
silently figure things out on my own and not explain it.
But the deeper I get into trying to figure something out and concentrate,
the typically the quieter I get.
I'm trying my best to force myself to explain
what I'm thinking and what I'm doing,
which in some ways probably slows it down.
I'd probably move a little bit more quickly without that.
Which isn't you know, neither here nor there.
It's just an interesting observation that I'm having as I work through.
It's probably both good and bad in some ways
in that when you explain what you're doing it forces you to think about it a little bit more.
But on the other hand, there are things that I probably do that I don't think about
and would have a really difficult time
verbalizing that maybe I just am doing less of because I have to
try and explain everything.
Now it's sort of the idea almost that quantum idea of
observing something changes it.
Which you know, it's an interesting idea in this culture of YouTube and video
Video how-to's of everything.
And I think they're enormously powerful
things, but I think there are certain things that
are resistant to being easily
captured, or maybe just the way videos are made me need to adjust to
how certain things get worked out.
Okay, so what I'm doing as I
work through this, even though I know this is, you know,
this is an odd transition right now
I'm mainly looking at that for mine from here down.
This pole is a little bit in my way of seeing the overall arc here.
I know I want more depth here.
Before I turn, you know, what I'm going to do is go back up to her and turn her back
so that I can see. You know, I obviously have this weird edge here that I need to
work through and figure out.
And I want to just get enough information from this viewpoint.
Before I begin to go back.
Okay, so that's what I'm gonna do, then. I'm going to rotate her back counterclockwise
Put this back to there for now, and that I'll continue.
I'm right here.
That should be a little further in.
A little bit more volume here and then this.
It's the turn forward.
I'm just checking the angle.
This arm, I feel like I want it to come in just a tiny bit so that the bone...
And what I'm going to do this cut in where my wire is,
so I'm gonna pull back just a little bit more.
And so I pushed into the clay with the knife here to feel the wire.
If I had more room, I might just add clay in the back and cut off from the front.
But because I hit the wire pretty quickly,
I made the decision to just push everything.
Because if I was adding, doing what I'm doing right now, adding to the back
without moving the entire volume,
I would end up pretty quickly running into the wire there.
So very similar what happened earlier with the leg.
Why did it happen?
It could be that I just had it wrong initially.
It could be that the pose has altered just a little bit it.
It could be a combination of a number of things I don't get too much into.
But why I have to make an adjustment.
I've been doing it for so long and it seems like I always
end up having to make adjustments and so the process that
I use, that I've been going over is
intended to account for that, the fact that there are always adjustments
that need to get made and you want
to start from the point of view where you minimize the need
but at the same time account for the ability to do it.
So that's how I make the armatures it's how I position them the
wire as close to the center of the form as I can get it so that if I,
for many of the moves that I need to make I can just shift the clay forward or backward around
the wire because it is centered.
Okay, so that's better in terms of a placement there.
I'm gonna turn again counterclockwise by maybe
between a quarter or an eighth, right about there.
So right here again, this is one of those times
where our armature is a little bit in the way.
There's a double movement that I want where this
goes almost vertical and then comes out again and then turns under.
Kind of continues up this way and the rib cage
Begins turning forward and underneath, and again, the position of that arm
is a little bit challenging in order to get certain tools into there.
Where I'd like generally to be using a larger tool, sometimes I need to
switch to something smaller just because
the larger one is having a hard time getting into that area.
And come out a little bit.
I'm very focused because I am realizing these movements I'm making right now are so much
involved with the character of the pose, and the character of Leah as a person.
Just how she holds herself is really embodied in how these forms that I'm
dealing with now are relating to one another.
And so, you know where they change and how they change is really crucial.
And so, for example, pushing this part of her
rib cage in in order to give myself
room for this volume to come out.
I'm going to clean that volume.
You can then relate it... This comes out to a point I think is almost vertical.
And then there's an arc in here.
That's been missing right now, that's what I'm
going to deal with. Depending on how clean I am
when I'm adding the clay
will dictate what tool I pick up.
You saw me pick up the screen, and that's because I'm laying the clay on here pretty evenly.
And so to get it to combine into
a consistent surface, I don't need a
big tool to really push around a lot of material.
If I am a little quicker and more gestural in how I apply it,
then I'll tend to pick up this large...
Remove more material in order to get it even.
And depending on what I'm doing, I'll favor one or the other.
You know, depending on whether I'm trying to get that kind of
general movement to feel right, then I'll
tend to not worry so much about adding the clay evenly.
Put it on until I get it to feel right and then take the larger tool and refine it.
If I feel like I'm very close to having what I want, then I'll be a little bit more
careful with the application of clay.
So now I'm kind of looking a little bit more through things,
meaning how this comes forward
and rotates all the way through.
To the back, longer.
How one thing leads into the other,
and then I'll make sure when I'm subdividing it, if I kind of add more detail to the division
that the overall movement is retained.
I still think I need a little more transition in here.
And I can see that I've got a kind of a weird edge here.
You know I could make up the finish to that, but that's something I'm just gonna
put into my kind of kind of,
the list in my head of things that I want to address.
I'm going back and seeing
just a very slight
If there are times when all I'll have in my head pretty clearly what I
wanted to do in an area.
And then I can come back and do it like what I'm doing now, needing to wait for the model.
And other times when I look and I know it's not quite right and I have an idea,
like in here of how I want to resolve that but I feel better waiting to
get a good view of it to allow nature to give me a
suggestion as to how I might want to treat that.
So what I like now is, so this area is starting to have a connection through.
For me it's still a little bit clunky.
I'd like to take a look at it from this angle
how I'm going to resolve that and get more length out of it.
That feels a little bit short.
I know there's a strange ledge here that I can get rid of.
And there's that wooden tool.
This is a great area for this wooden tool,
you know, you can push right up to the edge.
You know, obviously I need to finish
this transition. There was a movement inward and then back outward
And that area is so crucial.
Because essentially it's where the torso and the
pelvis and the leg converged; torso, pelvis, leg all meet in this area.
To get in all those depth
measurements working correctly
is going to either, you know, land a really
important sense of clarity.
It's going to muddle everything. You can see I've got this edge
you know was a result of looking at it
from the three-quarter view and the back view and the side view.
I'm not trying to make
if I were doing this not on video I'd probably move
a lot more quickly and go back and forth
and refine things a bit more
directly. Doing it on film, or video,
be aware of not necessarily doing something
as soon as I see it and doing it necessarily in the same way that
I might do it if I were by myself, but doing it in a way
that I can explain clearly.
And so when you do it
in your own space, with your own model,
on your own sculpture you don't have to sort of respect
the constraints of the camera, making sure
it's clearly visible or making sure
even that it makes sense sequentially.
So what I'm doing is
going back and forth
through things that I've already done.
So I'm not
really breaking any new territory while the model's on break. I'm just seeing oh
that could go a little bit deeper and that line could
be a little bit cleaner.
Okay so the first thing I'm gonna do is turn Leah
counterclockwise so I can see a back view. I want to
then do a little bit
based on the light. Light's
a little bit better right there. Which is why I didn't go all the way
to a back view.
is the transition for the
is the edge there.
Okay. Now I'm gonna walk over
to my right just a second I
can see here.
Here's where the forms begin
to get a little more complex, where
once form may be pushing behind another, whereas
the form that's behind is coming
out on the other end. So remember it's here, this is out
and it's moving inward. And here this is in, it's moving outward.
Which is creating this double
effect where it seems
like that's one form from the side
but if you make it into one form it looks really heavy and clunky
and awkward. So by
pushing in here
And then leaving this ribcage out
that will help.
And that silhouette
we can keep going in even more here.
And then I'm going to turn this
here and sometimes
just like walking is helpful
and just getting close enough to really see
Fill in right by the
Okay back to you.
About like that. And then
at the sacrum. That can really
And that all can turn
and I wanna come back
to this view.
just gonna shave a little bit
away from the
And come in a little bit more here.
And turn in even more
So. You know I'm missing quite
a bit of volume here.
I wanna come in a little bit more.
As you can see I'm doing a lot of
because each element
that I adjust is affecting every other
element. So when I am dealing with the lower part
of the ribcage
that's gonna affect the sense of the turn here.
And when I deal with
which is essentially the line at the bottom of the
the edge of this leg where that
And I just kinda cycle through
a few tools, I pick them up and I thought nah I don't wanna use that.
And I don't think I wanna use that either.
Because what I wanna do is create a rounded transition
that's a little bit - got a little bit more depth
right here. So I used the rounded tool even though it was
kind of a more finishing
tool, it let me get a rounded
edge on that transition.
Which was helpful in that
at that moment.
continue turning her clockwise.
Okay so now I'm right about here.
Going to adjust that in.
I can see I need more depth
And sometimes the most difficult or most complicated
things are just turning a form very
quickly from one depth to another.
Which sometimes I'll call the
speed of a turn. You know when something move very gradually
that would be a slow turn, when something moves
significantly in a fairly small space, I would call that a
rapid turn. And changing the speed of those
turns can really affect the character
of the form.
You know it's always a very good
feeling when you feel like you're just beginning to understand what
combination of things you need to do in order to
achieve what you want to.
And then that
makes it super frustrating when the buzzer goes off for the model's pose right
at that point where you feel like oh I know exactly what I wanna do.
I'm gonna look at that and you have to take a
break. That's not necessarily a bad thing
but it's definitely a frustrating thing.
So there's like - there's more length here
than I have and that's because I have this high point
and then a low point that is less
pronounced from this angle.
And that's where, like the silhouette can be really
helpful. You know I'm just taking
off a tiny, tiny amount right
on that silhouette and then
Keep that line moving with less interruption.
Okay so turning the
whole thing, which
is important. You can see like I've got some bizarre things.
Like this growth coming out of the side of the leg, which
obviously has not been integrated into the leg. I need to
like figure that out from the front. It obviously doesn't keep coming out in this
way. It could be that it comes out and then comes back in.
But that's something I'll need to, you know
figure out from this view, maybe that is
a volume out here that comes back
and that we'll do, you know, all the things
I need it to do.
This can come in even a little bit more.
And I want that to be in because that'll help
the feeling of this coming out. This can continue
to come out right in that
spot because there's a
inward movement to that shoulder which means the bottom
is a little bit further out in order to achieve that.
Fill in some of the
distracting right here.
May be more volume here.
I wanna turn
back a little bit.
I'm gonna turn her counter clockwise
and go pretty far all the way
to the front.
So I can figure out a little bit
what's going on in here.
So in some ways that extra volume,
all this stuff that I added is going making it easier for me
to get the depth there that I had intended maybe
to cut away
but I felt like from here to here it
didn't turn in enough.
But having added all of that
I have quite a bit of depth.
I just have to make the movement
go into that area because right now it's
The clay that
I'm putting on in this -
right here is the view that I have of the model.
When I add over here I'll turn it just so I can
see where the clay will end up.
So I want that secondary movement
here which is why
I'm moving that material
from up here.
what I'm doing now - I'm gonna quickly turn
the back to make sure I still have the outward
movement. Which I do. Meaning
from this view I wanted that to continue to come
outward, taking off that little slice that I just did
But there's no way I could know that without
turning to check.
Okay so if I turn back I wanna see a little bit
more of that line. So I'm gonna go clockwise.
walk over a little bit.
So it seems
the bottom here can come in.
Which will let the top move
outward. Right if I
push in here, that's going to increase the feeling that
what's above it is moving outward. The further out I go here that
will change the angle of the top.
Okay so I'm gonna turn back counter clockwise
and begin to deal with the
other side so I can begin to get some symmetry into
So a few things I'll do in that regard
I'm gonna deal a little bit with the center line.
Meaning, I'll establish it. Sometimes
it's helpful just to hold
this straight edge
then there's a fold
here if I
can get that
all to the center line that will help
show me where the
asymmetry is. Meaning it should be coming
in a convex
amount on either side of that center
creates right here
is kind of a nice linear.
When I get back I'm gonna continue to
deal with working on the
right side of the hip to get this entire pelvic area,
front and back, really solid and then we'll build from there.
addition to eating, having some coffee,
and resting for a few minutes, I also got an opportunity
to look at the sculpture from a variety of distances
which is definitely helpful. You know it gave me
some ideas of what I wanna do. But I do
wanna start where we left off.
Addressing this area. In addition to that, you know,
I'll explain this as I start working. In addition to that
we also changed the lights a little bit.
Which I think is gonna help
quite a bit in terms of allowing me to
see more clearly the
effect of what I'm doing. You know it's hard really to
over state the importance of
lighting in sculpture.
They say that paintings carry their own light source
with them. That's one of the things painters do is create
lighting situations. And that's one of the things
that sculpture is completely
dependent on. And you can't -
you can't really
get very far. I mean you can bend an armature and get some basic volumes
bad lighting or lighting that's difficult to see under
but to really go far you need to have
like a very clear lighting
situation going on. And now the lighting is
so much better, it's so much clearer and easier to see for me
that I think it's gonna make everything going forward
that much easier.
so again I'm gonna check the
base, which I'm pretty - I'm matching pretty
And now I'm gonna come over here.
you know one of the things about having
good light is it allows you to be a little bit more aggressive.
I can see really clearly, I don't have to
be as hesitant in making large
I'm gonna turn
Leah again clockwise.
I really want to establish the depth
here. And I'm also, like in this
pose, the hands are almost -
certainly gonna change as they have set to set,
week to week, session to session.
They'll be - they'll come a time where
you know I'll ask her to set one position to the hands.
But I like all those changes because it gives -
you know I'm constantly, even when I'm not working on something like that, I'll just glance
over to see what their doing and see
like oh do I like that relationship? Do I like that relationship? Rather than
constantly say please put your hands by your - that finger a little bit higher.
I'll just kinda
keep an eye out for arrangements that
I think compliment everything else. And then later on
when I get to the point where I'm really
establishing the hands
then I might, you know, ask Leah to
you know, could you put your left hand
over your right hand? In fact, normally
what I would do is when I found something I liked I would just ask
the model for their
phone and take just a shot on their phone of that thing that I was
interested in. And that does a couple of things. Number one
it gives us a photographic record of, you know, what
the thing was like
whether it's, you know, the position of the hands or the feet or how their hair
was. And number two it allows them to have the confidence
that their image isn't getting out into the world, it's just on their own
phone. And that
usually I think it's a polite way to do it.
Because sometimes they're just like little things like
oh I love the way your hair is falling in front of your eye. And then you'll never
be able to replicate that unless you have some sort of photo of it. And even then it can be
tough to replicate. But the
hand position, that's like a - it's very
difficult to try and describe to someone
what their hands were doing and how, you know, well that finger was
above that and it's just way quicker to do that with a photograph.
Okay so I've been pushing this area way, way in.
Which is helpful.
It's so great having the light the way it is now.
It opens up so much that I can
see that I was guessing at before.
The one thing that I might ask
Leah a little bit later is that pull right now is like right
in a very awkward spot.
So maybe on the next pose we could do a little bit
where we remove the pull because I don't see
grabbing on to it too much. And then we can put it
You know I'm trying to get the shift
here outward. And in some ways the pull is helpful because
if I can replicate that with my knife
it certainly shows me
where the leg should be. Meaning
all that is behind
the pull. And if the pull is right here
I'm seeing a gap. So that,
you know, kind of quickly tells me that this stuff needs to come out.
But having said that, it
casts this bizarre looking shadow across the leg and
it blocks the edge
of the leg so it's hard to see the silhouette.
Sorta interesting. There seems to be
a space here that I don't have.
and then I'll
bring that up a little
And then there's a volume
coming across. You know, I could
detail what anatomically all of these
shapes are. But
in some ways I prefer not to.
For a couple reasons.
One is I think it
sounds a little oppist to
say and here's the
rectus femoris inserting into the
blah, blah, blah. I don't think it -
and I think that it gives the
impression that knowing the names of all of the
bones and muscles and then origins and
insertions is more crucial than it really
is. I prefer to both
call them and think of them as forms
moving in ways that aren't pre-
determined by my
supposed knowledge about their position and origin
and insertion. Meaning, you know, I can read
books and find out where muscles begin and end
and then I can look at the model and see things -
for example this form, to my eye, is
moving more diagonally
than anatomically it would seem
to wanna do. Anatomically it seems like it should move that way.
Visually I'm seeing it moving that way and
I don't want to allow, you know, what I've read
or what I think I know to
replace what I'm seeing.
Having said that I don't necessarily ignore all of the things
that come along with
learning about anatomy. And when I see that happen
when I see it go off at kind of an unusual angle.
I'll kind of compare
that to what I know about that form
and also, and in some ways more importantly, what I've
seen in the past with other models and other poses.
And use that - those kind of elements together
and say, okay well in this case I'm seeing it coming
this way but I know it seems like
it should be going that way. Am I seeing
a shadow from her arm that makes me
think that the muscle's moving in a different direction? Am I seeing
something other than the muscles moving in that direction?
It just - it kinda of gives me a richer combination
to combine what
my sense are telling me
and what I have experienced in the past
and kinda more abstract, academic
information like anatomy and structure and
things like that. And I think that makes for
for better sculpture. For better work in general
when you have the richer, kind of
combinations of things to draw on.
But from my own perspective, and this, you know, I think
can differ from sculptor to sculptor
and be perfectly valid
in multiple, you know,
multiple different ways of dealing
You know some people may choose to give - in my own
kind of experience of modeling from
life I generally give
primacy to the model, to what I'm looking at.
Because it's the whole reason I'm looking at the model. If I
ignore that then I feel like I'm
using the model more as a
mannequin, just to arrange arms and legs and
a particular position.
Move Leah again.
So all of this I
wanna pull back.
this as well.
So I'm gonna come across.
That's the bottom of the knee cap.
Come outward here.
Okay so I am going to
do - remove this post.
Is that okay?
And should be pretty easy. Just unscrew it from the base.
And lay it down.
And then if I want
to put it back I can just screw it back in. But that's gonna help
this view. It'll help me see where I
You know I know, both for myself and for the
model that having a nice long,
you know, an hour long break, is going to really
reset the pose. You know she's fresher
and as a result there's more movement,
particularly in the legs
and their relationship to the hips.
And so I like that
and I'm going to take
advantage of that and shift that. And that meant adding a lot here and
removing some from the inside.
Just gonna get rid of
Pull that outward.
I really - I'm gonna need to see this
pole was really in the way.
So right now
I'm gonna redraw
of the pelvis.
And then combine a little bit
and clean up a little bit in here.
Clean up some of these
I'm, you know, happier with the movement
through this raised
leg, which when we began today was
not very good and very broken up.
This is still very stiff and heavy.
And I think needs a lot
of thought on my part as to
like exactly how I wanna
deal with the
movement of it.
How it relates to
How it -
forms are compressed and then how all these forms approach
the knee. I think all of that needs a little bit more
thought and attention.
I'm just cleaning up
this area because there's a lot of gaps and
holes and I know that
kind of - there's gonna be a feeling of compression in there
is gonna rely on having a fairly clean
a little time going in there and cleaning that up.
Okay so one, I think, simple way for me to get
movement in here is just to take
this - it's a little bit complicated to do on my own
but I can
pull it back that way and that begins to get
increase in movement.
Now because we changed the surface that she's
standing on and added that rubber mat,
the footprints she was standing in are underneath
so I know that the legs were probably a little bit
or the feet are further apart than they were. But I like
where they are. So I can change it.
However I'll never get kind of that full
movement backward without moving that foot.
So I'm kinda of going almost
is and what was.
Okay so transition
Gonna apply the
form. Here's the bottom of that. The
forms of the knee and
The form of the back of the knee is gonna come out.
Okay I'm gonna sketch in a little bit
of this nexus where the hands meet
Change the plane
of the top of the hand
that's angles in toward the body.
joint to the thumb.
The thumb pushing in.
And then I'll just take out
what's behind it.
Come out here.
Another finger going back in.
I'm not super concerned
right now with the detail of
last movement of the hand, I just wanna get like a rough
the fact that this plane
of the hand is tilting downward.
And that's the edge of the
hand, beginning of the fingers.
You know I think it's helpful to
establish the larger direction
all the fingers at once and then divide
otherwise you run the risk of the fingers
not feeling part of a whole.
You know and not
establishing the gesture.
Okay that's enough for the moment.
And, you know, move up
And I keep
turning it just to make sure
what I'm putting in
fits within the rough
the projection that I
established. Meaning here I don't want this arm
to arch out in any kind of way that might
become a problem once I turn it. I know I'm still probably
underneath the volume, which I think
is where I'd rather be when
I'm establishing it from
one view point, right. As I come out
here I don't want to be over the volume because that means once
I turn here everything will have to go in. If I'm a little bit under the volume
but I'm moving in the right direction, once I turn
the model then I'll be able
to come out the final
little bit with a little bit more precision.
So as I do it I'm looking here
and here. Here and here. Just back and forth checking
the relationship. So now I can see that's all
flat. So I wanna
get rid of the flatness. I want to
increase the depth
Okay so that, for now, is fine. I'm gonna rotate
And now I can see a little bit more clearly the
projection now. And you can see I'm pretty
significantly under. But I'm in the right direction, meaning this is in
and it's coming out. And see this is really
flat so I'm going to
increase that movement
great light is allowing me to see
what I'm missing.
The volume up here.
seeing this nice projecting. It's almost like a
point. Right there.
I wanna push all that forward a little bit.
Now there's so much going on from this view point.
suddenly around of depth
I'm trying to take
of all of the
information I can see from this viewpoint and now
focus only on the leg or the arm or the
but combine all of that
and I mentioned earlier
this is one of those times when I'm just seeing so
many things and their relationships it's really difficult to
narrate at the same time.
Almost because your brain is reshuffling oh
if that's there that needs to come out but that needs to go out and that needs to shift
that, you know. And while you're
doing that you're
reassessing everything that you're
seeing and saying to yourself as, oh wait no that doesn't
need to go out, that needs to go in. When you're narrating you have a
tendency to wanna, like even
you know micro sort of sense
have the next few words that you're about to say
processed in your brain. And it's hard to narrate something like this
because it's happening faster than that
process of narration can take place. In other words
I'm seeing it
and seeing the relationship and then
exing it out and saying no that's not right that needs to come forward, so quickly
that I'm not able to
articulate that process in real time.
And when I'm talking I'm trying to
phrase things coherently. And so
the result is that I just sort of slow down verbally
as I get more
focused and feel more kind of in tune
with what I'm looking at. And
that happens for me in the studio as well.
You know frequently I'll be kind of having
ongoing conversation with my model, we'll just be talking about
whatever we're talking about and then I might
just start getting quiet because I get
figuring something out or seeing something and so the conversation just
sort of quiets down and goes away for a little while
really won't work in a video.
Okay so I've moved through like a bunch
of areas of the neck
and there's another example of that just as I said that.
I saw something else. That little form
of the sternocleidomastoid I want a little bit further
in than where it is.
Tucking that in. Tucking
that under the jaw line.
Firming up the jaw line.
Now I'm gonna move quickly down to the leg
and say okay if that's right there than that form
shoulder be right around here.
And then this can come
I'm gonna come back and just clean up a little bit.
Now I have a tendency to
to move through sometimes when I'm seeing a lot
very, very quickly and just moving things
forward and back or moving material, adding material
in a way that is helpful for me
in some ways because, you know, I'm making notations everywhere
I see. But in terms of, you know, the process of
finishing ends up leaving a lot of
areas that need to be
reassessed a little bit
what I'm doing. I had areas
that were pushed in but I hadn't
followed them through, you know, like that was
ending flat so I'm just coming in
some of those rotations of the form.
You know there's something in here I'm not sure
about but I'm not gonna deal with it yet
because I don't have the model, I don't wanna
go in here and say oh that's gonna
come into here and finish that way and then have her come back and see
it's something different.
So, you know, it's pretty safe when I'm in a area
like this. You know there's obvious
holes like here that I can fill.
Well that - that
You know things like this
hole that's developing there, I'm gonna take
care of that.
I do wanna deal more with this,
more with this. You know I
feel like I'm starting to pull things
together. There are few areas that are
You know they're still there, all of this,
all of this, a couple of areas here. In here
up in here. But there's a lot here. There's a lot of jumpiness in here.
But there's also more
areas that are becoming more well defined.
More depth here.
Come in here
Just firming up.
Definitely there's a strange
wiggle in here that I want to
finding all of these little areas
are bothering me
and just doing a little cleaning,
refining the edge
when I get an opportunity to get a good view
and really analyze it, the clay will be ready
for me to
deal with. I wanna turn her
counterclockwise so I can see the back
Great. Okay so
all through here.
I've got -
essentially needs to go away.
That's gonna come out.
Sort of shaped like a
that, all that.
and I'm just gonna check
the side view.
this needs to come up.
Rotate that way.
So, you know, what I've been seeing, you know what I saw
initially was sort of a micro movement. You know a lot of
little kind of adjustments there. Now what I'm seeing is this entire
form is rotated toward the back.
And so I can
pull all of that around.
because that's coming out
everything here is
Not as hard
of an edge here. Soften that.
Get that all to rotate. Now I'm gonna check
from this angle.
I need a little bit more
By the time
it gets to here
it's well underneath.
the volume here.
Volume moving through
And we'll let that all
come right through.
I'm trying to get a view of the larger
how that needs to move in
And now I'm just
going down that arm
pivot out a tiny bit.
side, there's a very small
change in direction.
Which is helpful
because right now it feels like it's pulling out just
a little bit too much to that pull.
there needs to be more volume
All through here.
This should be a little straighter.
A transition through here.
And then I'll
go through here.
working better now.
Just gonna sharpen up that angle.
Clean up that edge.
I'm gonna rotate
a little bit to there
which will help me kind of see
the movement through here.
Needs to be a little higher.
So what I'm doing here is looking at this shadow which represents
kind of a bunch of things, but
primarily the bottom edge and the back edge
of her shoulder blade.
And then I'm looking through to see where it would
intersect - where that line would intersect on her forearm.
Which will help me keep the
up here to down here.
And that'll keep that portion of the back feeling
a bit longer
than if I
put it where I initially placed it if I placed it here.
it would make the upper half too long, lower half too short.
So one way to help with that is
to go all the way through and see where that would hit.
Just gonna clean that edge. And
So I'm gonna go in a little
pull some of this together a little bit.
Just to make it clear.
Sometimes you can have all these lines
drawn and all the hatch marks and the tools and it'll
look pretty good and then when you combine
it altogether with the screen
you'll realize that it actually looks kind of flat and you need more
depth. Meaning, what you were seeing is
primarily the shadow of the tool as opposed
to the shadow of the form.
You know the
tool, the way it works
on the clay is it takes off high points.
You know particularly the raked tool
removes high points. And
it allows you to create - consistently create -
curved surfaces for that
matter that's what the screen does, it'll remove the high points.
Okay so here
it needs to come in.
I'm gonna come out a little
Come down here.
now I'm gonna deal a little bit in here. So I have a pretty good view.
Now we're on a break
so I'll just kind of accomplish what I
was just seeing.
There was a
break in here.
So I'm just gonna put that in
and then stand back
and take a look. You can see it like right here it's more challenging to get
into that area.
Take off some of this.
Okay so I'm getting closer(sculpting)
You know there's definitely something very weird about
this - the movements in through here. Pretty
rubbery that I don't like at all. It doesn't - you know it doesn't bother me from a
process standpoint. The way I went about figuring it out
I think is fine and I think in the end the whole piece'll be stronger
for having done it but at the moment
it looks not
very convincing. A little rubbery, kinda blocky,
there's some problems with it. And that's one of the reasons I think that
it's helpful to
have a process. You know if somebody
shows you a process, as I'm doing now, that's
even better because you kind of have a certain amount of
confidence or proof
that it works. If the person who's showing you the
process has good work you can say oh well
they do it that way and it seems to work.
You can develop your own, which I think is
great and everyone ultimately needs to do that.
It's a bit more difficult just because
you know you have to go all the way down the road
and try out all the aspects of that process
and it may not work. And frequently it doesn't work the first time.
You know you need to figure out
a lot of things. And sometimes it's gonna be
you know, when you see something like this rubbery leg you
can abandon the way you're going about it
and say well that doesn't look good and then just try and make it look good. And that -
you know, in that way you're just abandoning the entire process
and then you're really kind of - maybe you'll get that
leg to look good, but in the
larger picture, you may be sacrificing an understanding of
how to get everything else into alignment.
So because I've been doing this for so long, I look at that and say
oh that doesn't look good. And rather than trying
to make it look good, my response to that is I'm gonna have to analyze that
a little bit more in the same way that
I've been analyzing everything else. And
if I do that, I'm pretty confident that
I'll be able to correct it. You know and
that I think is probably the biggest
aspect of mastery
if that's something that anyone
can be said to attain.
The biggest aspect of that I think
is confidence. If you're pretty confident then
anything that goes wrong, you feel like you can
rectify. And if you're not confident
the minute something goes wrong you panic and you try - you abandon
everything that you've been doing and just try and fix what went wrong.
best way to attain confidence is through
experience. You do it - you do something. You do it again and again and again
and you get more and more successful at it
and that success breeds confidence. You feel like oh I've done that before and
I can - I know I can do it again. If you've done it once before
you're not super confident you can do it again. If you've done it
a hundred times before you become pretty super confident that you can
achieve that same thing again. So the longer you do it
the more times you do it, the more
confident you'll get and
the more confident you get the more you can take risks
and try things out because you feel like if anything
goes wrong you can always figure out how to fix it.
It's a good feeling. It makes the whole process
more fun and more
vibrant and vital.
And even in like a piece like this where
you know honestly I've never done a video
like this. I've done many, many sculptures. And every time
I make a sculpture I'm
trying to find something new. Some little
aspect in how I'm going about it. It can be how I built an
armature. It could be how loose I'm keeping things.
You know like oh I'd like to try and keep things looser
for longer than normal and see how that goes. It could be
limiting how I'm using certain tools or
anything. And even on a piece like this where
I'm being filmed and so I want it to come out well
I'm still experimenting.
You know I'm experimenting with keeping
things a little bit more open for a little bit longer.
Not going quite as quickly to tighten up
And I know if I feel like it's not
really working out there are definitely
things I can do to quickly
resolve it. If that's what
I want to do. But I've done enough
sculptures to be
able to go a little bit longer, you know, without
panicking and saying oh that doesn't - I don't know if that's working. Maybe I should just go back
to what I know.
And teaching also helps. When you teach
you're doing nothing but fixing problems.
You know and you're forced to do it really quickly.
Especially if you have a lot of students. Around
a classroom with 20 people, have 20 different
problems with a single
pose if they're all working from the same model. And
it's my job to very, very quickly evaluate what the
biggest problem is, what the most efficient way -
actually before the efficient way to fix it, why it happened
or why it is happening. Then
what the most efficient way to fix it is.
And then communicate that to a student. And that's
I think certainly made me a better
Because it's forced me to
be able to do that in my own work. Evaluate quickly,
figure out what the big problems are, come up with
strategy to address it.
Okay I'm gonna rotate
Okay so it looks like
this came out a little too far.
Okay I'm gonna rotate a little bit more.
So there's a little bit of
shifting going on. Her foot
is a little bit further away -
this right foot -
on her than it is on my sculpture.
And so what I had done was
pulled this out as far as her knee
was out. And that was causing the
lower leg to become in a pretty eccentric
and trying to get back to that original
So what I'm doing right now is splitting the difference a little
I'm coming back in a little bit more
around the knee
but keeping a little bit of that kind of
movement from the
outside here into the
Now I'm gonna establish the
or the bottom of the tibia.
You know which is pretty
pronounced because of how
She's rotating that foot
or pivoting it rather.
And so there's a real kinda
sharpness to the point of the ankle there.
do a real quick clean up of
just to get
everything into the same plane.
And then also
clean a little bit.
So right here I'm just going in and hitting the high points.
You can kind of see the low points be
revealed as I go across.
So essentially everything that the screen
is not hitting is a low point. So I've got a bunch of
And I can just take
a little clay and
fill those in.
There is a
lot of depth
the way that the knee
is articulating here.
So I'm gonna
begin to pull in
some of that depth.
So right here
I'm gonna rotate
Okay. So today
made a good amount of
progress closing up some of the open forms,
the hips and how they're articulated, dealing with the legs
the shoulders. I feel like everything is
beginning to pull together. I've kind of
begun to block in the position of the hands. There are
a couple of things that are bothering me that
I haven't addressed at all. This shoulder to the
chest to the breast to the upper arm is a bit of a
problem that I want to address next week. The forearm
and how it's interacting with the abdomen
I don't feel like that's quite working the way I'd like it to.
And those are really
the things that I find are
problematic. That's not to say that everything else
is finished. Everything else is, you know, pretty far from finished. There's nothing done on the head,
the feet, the ribcage.
Those obviously need a lot of attention but I don't
feel like they're moving in the wrong direction or there's anything
particularly problematic about them.
And that's why I've identified like this whole area
for me right now is flat and stiff and a problem.
And that's what I want to get rid of. Once there's nothing that's really a
problem anymore, then I'll start to move deeper into each area
refining and finishing them.
And then all I'm looking for is balance
and harmony, movement, all of those things. But right
now I'm just trying to get rid of any glaring
problems. So that's where we'll begin, as always, next week. The first thing I'll do
as I did this week is check everything over, look at it
see if there's, you know, any angles that aren't right,
try and address any problem areas that I haven't yet identified,
and then I'll move into addressing that area.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview1m 2sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. A Fresh Eye Sees New Problems17m 55s
3. Priorities: Finishing & Placement26m 6s
4. Adjusting the Lower Legs17m 23s
5. Thighs & Hips30m 45s
6. Left-side Contour Alteration24m 55s
7. Lower Back & Left Hip25m 50s
8. Shop Talk: Lighting & Process39m 50s
9. Right Shoulder Blade & Leg42m 33s