- Lesson details
In this series, David Simon shows you his entire process for sculpting a female figure in oil-based clay. In the seventh and final lesson of this series, David dives head first into developing and refining the head, beginning with checking the angles and widths, then continuing down from the head to resolve and refine the relationships and transitions into the back. David then works up and down the model, pushing the forms and relationships to greater sense of balance, before refining the hands and breasts. David ends with an overview of his sculpting tools and leaves us with some final thoughts on his sculpture.
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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a bunch of different things last week.
This week I'm gonna start on this side
of the head, blocking that out. The ear, the shoulder,
just getting some of that up to the level of the other side and then
going back and forth to get that to the level of everything else
and then we're gonna go from there.
If you could just look
down - perfect, just like that.
one of the main things that I'm concerned with and
one of the things that I always have to deal with when I'm
dealing with the head or the portrait on
a figure sculpture is getting the entire
head placed correctly before
I establish any of the features.
And the way that I'm gonna do that is by placing the ear
relative to what's below it. So I'm gonna lay out
a little bit of the folds
shoulder and neck.
and here and then I'm gonna
where the ear is and I have it pretty well
placed I think
right here. And then I'm going to establish the
bottom of the ear
by an angle from the tip of the
nose and then the top of the ear
by an angle through the brow.
Once I have
that then it's a matter of laying out
Here is an angle inward.
That's probably a little - seems severe.
I'm gonna add a little bit back
I'm gonna simplify the whole shape
which essentially moves inward
as it approaches the head
and I'm just gonna check from the
front view to make sure I maintain the proper angle
outward of the ear
from there I'm going to continue
through the cheekbone
and the eye socket.
Just to get everything
in the correct location. I'll do a little bit of
moving things around. I'm gonna move
all of that volume backward
come through and lay in a little bit
of the hair
and how that
moves into the forehead.
I'm trying to
establish a lot at once
sort of dependent on the relationships that
I'm establishing now between
the different elements. So I'm gonna
check a lot from the front view.
push in, for example here at the top of the chin
and then rather than continue to model the chin
I'll move up into the
Adding volume, removing volume,
just to begin to get the relationships established.
And once I have all the major relationships established, then I can
go into an area and look more
closely at what's going on in that area.
But the danger of doing that too early
is that I'll establish really nice relationships in a particular
area that won't really have any
relationship to the overall head or
you know maybe the head is working
but not in relation to the rest
of the figure. And so it's always
a little bit of a dance when you're
a head on a figure or a portrait onto a figure.
And the difference between those is the degree
to the model. You know you can keep this as sort of a broader
study and it just will have a human feeling
head or you can be more specific and get
the head to look more like the model
which will turn it a little bit more into
a portrait. And it's an interesting kind of
back and forth and I think each
sculptor handles that a little bit differently.
I probably have somewhat more of a tendency towards
treating both the figure and the head
as a portrait, meaning my
work will tend to be a little bit more
specific and less generalized
but I, you know, with a figure
allow myself a lot more license
than if I'm focusing on the head and the portrait
exclusively. And that's where the balance ultimately
really needs to come in when there's a deviation
in terms of what you're sculpting
from what you're seeing, which I guess there always is to a certain degree,
but in a figure sculpture it's pretty common.
Figuring out how you
what you're seeing and what you're making to what's in front of you.
In other words, you can't really sculpt
incredibly, incredibly accurately and
minutely and specifically
in one area and then broadly and
more generically in another.
The way that you approach the entire piece has to,
in the end, kind of come together and feel unified.
And I think for me
the best way to achieve that - can you lower your chin a little bit? Thank you, perfect.
Is constantly to be
stepping back and looking
at the entire
and try to get my, you know my
head out of what I'm doing at the moment.
You know right now
I'm working on this side when when I stepped back I saw there was a
a movement in here and the overall, kind of
roundness, of this side wasn't being achieved and then
I thought if I'm going to get the roundness here
I'm gonna have to bring this out
really far or I can bring this point in
and the further in I bring that point,
the less volume I'll have to add to achieve that
feeling of volume. So
I'll put that in there,
through here and then
you know I'm trying my best to be
be careful about being too specific too
early. There's still too many things that need to be
established at this point
to hone in and just kind of polish
up an area or add a lot of detailed
here I'm dealing a little bit with symmetry, which
is why I'm redrawing that center line,
there's kind of a change there on each side.
So everything that I'm doing here
I'm gonna have to judge from the front view to
see if that's working
because ultimately I want
the two sides
That seems to be okay.
Now I'm gonna move up into the hair
and for me every bit
form and volume is important as an
opportunity to convey
all the different movements and
ideas that I wanna get across visually
and so I don't want to leave the hair
lagging behind in any way other than
detail. I don't have to have
every element of
the movement of the hair and all those rhythms
completely resolved but I do need to have
change where one thing stops, another thing
I'm going to
she's got this great ridge, like
through here. Gonna move
temp the size a little bit more. Some of this
volume in the front.
it can come out a little bit more
and so there's this twisted braid that's
And then a volume
underneath it of the hair being pulled back
behind the ear and I'm gonna
turn her a little bit more just to get a little bit of the part
in the hair.
And now I'm gonna move a little bit into the overall
how the face interacts with the hair.
So I'm looking through here and I can see that like
I need a little bit more
volume with the skull here.
So I'll add in here
change that hair line.
So here that
becomes the back of the cheekbone.
Okay now I'm gonna sketch out the brow
how that shadows the
eye socket and the edge of the nose.
here - and this
is, you know, this I would say is probably
two inches from here to here, which
you know is relatively small.
Definitely it's small for this kind of clay.
This is a fairly soft clay
and the general rule
is that the smaller
the sculpture is, the harder
the clay should be. And that
way, when you're working very tiny, if the clay is very hard
you'll tend not to mush things up
as you accidentally touch it with the tool.
When it's really big it's pretty easy to
deal with soft clay and not bump into
the forms because each form is
So this is relatively
smaller for a head. There are some people who work much, much tinier
and it's not something I particularly enjoy.
Working really, really small.
I would say for me, two thirds to three quarters is very
scales are you know just an adjustment
from that. In the end
the idea of what
I'm doing is the same. So it's not -
different in an absolute sense,
you know I'm not doing things completely differently
at once scale than I am at another. Some of the differences are
the tools involved obviously will change the smaller
I'm working, the smaller the tools need to be
and also the amount of information
that the piece can
comfortably hold will
means that the larger
the piece, the more information can go into it without
feeling picky or crowded
and the smaller the piece the more I'll tend to
simplify the information
because I feel like
there are associations that you subconsciously
make when it comes to scale
and around the scale I'm working
and smaller the association to
a doll becomes an issue
that needs to be
addressed in one way or another. And one way that
I'll tend to address that is just to
limit the amount of information that goes into
each area so that I don't
run into this problem of the thing feeling like
a little kind of detailed doll.
And then obviously it's
an issue of
the cohesion of all the different aspects of the
sculpture. So I don't wanna put in so much more information
into the head than what I have
anywhere else because that'll start
to feel strange as well.
So I'm gonna go for a second,
get a piece of screen from my bag
and a pair of scissors and I'll just cut this down
a little bit, which is one of the things
I really like about using a screen. You can shape it
and cut it to the size that you need
I'm trying to get the arc of the forehead
so that it's turning at about the same rate.
our model's on break, I also wanna
take a step back,
look through that whole
area of the shoulder, the head
you know sometimes do this without the model
just trying and figure out
what it needs in a sort of a non
comparative or non pneumatic way. You know I'm not trying to
copy what I see in the model, I'm just looking and seeing like
what doesn't feel quite right in that area.
You know and there's something about the connection
that doesn't quite feel correct
to me and that's what I'm trying to
Not what the problem is but where the problem is.
Once I know where the problem is then I can look at the
model and use her to correct it.
And it could be that I did
something wrong, meaning, you know, one of the relationships I put in
is not correct or it could just be something that I
haven't put in
that I need to in order to allow it to work
So there's kind of a sharpness to the edge
of the jaw line that I'm not really happy
with. You know I think around
the mouth and how that works into the jaw and then how that
works into the neck is something that I need to
begin to focus on
both from the point of
view of the shape and volume
but also from the point of view of symmetry.
So the first thing I'm gonna do is look at the mouth
and try and gage whether I have enough
room between the nose and the upper lip and the
upper lip and the lower lip and then
the lower lip to the bottom of the chin.
Okay so I can
definitely see the angle but I have the mouth that
needs to come down at the outer corner
so I'm just gonna add
a little volume
and then I'm going to match that
on the other side. So here I'm
just kind of angling the tool toward the
part of the lip and then I'll change the angle and deal with
the upper lip and that helps me
create the correct angle and movement and then I'm gonna do that
same thing for the lower lip.
the size of the
pieces of clay that I'm using are
geared towards the size of
the shape that I'm making. So in this case they're gonna be
So here there's more a division
that has to go a bit deeper
and then the other side here.
Now I'm gonna turn Leah and then get a really good
And try and deal with the
symmetry of the chin.
Okay so now from this view I can definitely see
that the mouth overall is too high up.
So I'm gonna make that right there,
the deepest portion of the chin.
So moving it down a little bit
I'm gonna add a little bit to
her left side
and her chin, just so I can match
line here through the chin and get it
even on both sides. And then I'm gonna move everything
down. So I'm gonna lengthen
that upper lip
by pulling it all down
in, just lower down than where it was.
So I'm just alternating between
the inside and the top
and I'm not trying to get it
at this point I'm just trying to see the
interval. Meaning do I have enough length
above the mouth
do I have enough room between the very top
of the upper lip and the center of the mouth, which now moving down
and then do I have
enough room between the lower lip
and that deep part of the chin.
And once I get the interval right, then I'll,
you know, clean up the angles
and things like that.
Okay so that
relationship is a little bit
Come in a little bit deeper here.
And particularly in a small piece like this I'm gonna be very
aggressive about the angles of things.
Meaning I'm going to
sharpen all the angles
those are what are gonna really carry
a lot of the movements. I'm not gonna have the opportunity to add a lot of
secondary and tertiary
forms in there. So I want the angles to feel really
So here I'm just adding depth
to allow me to get
some of the volume and in other words
there's more volume below
the outer corner of her mouth
own in this area
than there is above.
And so by adding that depth, that will then allow me
to add the volume here above
without losing the
sense of where the corner of the mouth is.
is working okay there.
Sharpen up here.
Probably add a little bit more
volume there before I get too
involved there I wanna get to the other
side of the mouth.
so I need more depth
here I'm gonna adjust
a little bit so the light is
falling a little bit more equally
that outer corner
needs to go back
as I kinda continue through here, I'm going to begin to
deal with how that relates to the neck
and the jawline
on that side and then
That angle is pretty
good and then this angle is much more
across like that and I need more depth
in that corner
and then I can remove
the depth here
and then adjust the width
of the nose.
Now I'm gonna rotate Leah
to the other
from there I can see
that my angle here needs to come
a little straighter.
So you can see I've added a few
guidelines here and here which
when I'm working from the profile allow me to add the clay
in the correct area, you know so I did that
when I was looking at the front view, so I knew basically
the angle here, which I can't see from this angle on her.
But here I can see how far forward it comes
and so as long as I stick to those angles that I
I can focus on the
volume or how far out that comes without
worrying that I'm going too far in or out in the other
So here as well, in this form
of the upper lip. That also needs to
come forward. And every time I
get rid of that line I'll just draw it back.
And they'll come a point where
I start to like really get a
good feel for how all those relationships are working
and then I'll speed up
a little bit. But until I really feel like
comfortable and I know exactly where I'm going
I'll still take my
You know right now I'm looking at the profile of
the upper lip, like how to moves from the nose
down into that upper lip and then into the lower lip.
I can move into
that bottom edge of the jaw line.
Gonna come in here.
One of the trickiest things is moving from here,
under the jaw to get that depth
because you're almost never in a position to see
the reality of that depth, which you can really only see by
looking from the floor upward. And it's caused by
the shape of the skull going
in, sort of the jaw bone is hollow.
In other words, it goes around the outside but there's nothing in the middle.
And so everything tucks up
underneath very slightly, it doesn't
all hang under.
And that's what causes that kind of very, very specific
we're going to
the back portion of the neck.
And again I'm more concerned at this stage about the relationship
of one thing to another
than anything else. Where is that hair line
or the part in the hair.
Basically right in front of the ear
This chunk of hair is being pulled
remainder, the back portion of the hair
is pulled straight back.
And I feel like I need probably a little more
and I feel like that
curve from here
probably needs to start higher up. So I probably want
a little bit more here and then it's
the entire remainder down
and then down. So
in order to not lose the
sense of the skull
I'm pushing or adding to that
and then I'll add a little bit more volume
and then I'll spread that out from the front view because
I don't want it just to be a mohawk there.
now I'm gonna
begin to look at the shoulder
which I think the high point probably
can come up a little bit.
This volume kinda straightened out and then
I wanna get the hair coming
down. It comes down below the ear.
Basically to the middle of the mouth.
Right about here.
And from there
comes up into the
knot of hair in the back.
sharpens a little bit more here,
so I'll push a little bit deeper
I'm going to add a little bit more under
And then clean this transition
in through the neck.
So right now it's a little
bit jumpy through this area. It kind of
adjusted a lot of things without
and I still have a bit left
to go. I feel like this form at the
outer corner of her mouth needs to
project forward more from the side view.
can come a little bit
further forward there.
And then this
would be a little bit
straighter which means I can
add a little bit here
I'm gonna grab a small
to get into that area.
When I'm doing some little
things like this, that's when kinda the
hundreds of tools that I've accumulated over the years
become more helpful. The majority
of work that I do is with, you know, very few tools, but primarily
the X-Acto knife will do
you know a good portion of the figure.
But when I'm getting down
to really articulating some small things then all
different shapes and configurations
of tools become more handy,
you know, because I'll have one that fits perfectly into
an area, another that is a little just
the right size but not quite the right shape
so there are, you know, infinite
variety of tools that can be
made and bought but
for me the bulk of them come into
play pretty late in the process of sculpting.
And you can achieve
you know, most of what you need to without
very many tools at all.
It's that last few percentage points of work
that really benefit from, you know,
a wider variety of tools.
And I will go into
what tools I've bought, where I've bought them,
which ones I've made and how I've made them.
Okay so I'm just kind of continuing
to cleaning it up
and when you get to that stage
it's almost as much cleaning off
the tools as you work as it is cleaning
the clay. If your tools are not
little bits of clay that are adhering to them
will mess up the surface of the clay that you're trying to
Okay a little bit more volume to that lip.
And so with the lip
I'm trying to get that
projection just at the edge of the lip. And when it
comes to this upper lip section, that should recede.
So that there's a little bit of
separation between the lip and the upper
the screen, so I've added this bit of volume,
looking at it from across
to get some of the fullness.
And obviously the
model is on a break so I'm not doing that from
And it's something I checked before
and I knew that all that had to come out but I wanted to wait to get
at least a little bit of the form to the mouth
and the forms around the mouth
before I added some of that volume
into the cheek.
I'm gonna just quickly add some volume to the hair
because I kind of - I can see where
I ended here along that ridge.
I'm just gonna pull that out
I'm gonna pull out a little bit more volume to her neck
and sketch in once again from the front view the shape
of her - of where her
upper lip ends and the cheek begins,
that roundness there where
the eye socket it which I feel like is maybe a little bit
on mine right now.
So there is where the eyebrow will
the side of the
nose. And then let that
come right down
gonna get a little bit with the symmetry
and then soften that back edge
and then sharpen up the
distinction between her upper lip and her lower lip
which in this case
means making the upper lip a little bit smaller
and giving a
little bit of that to the lower lip.
And now I'm gonna come down into the pit of the neck
and sharpen up
the deepest area. And for that
like a rounded tool
initially something a little bit bigger like what I have here
and eventually something a little bit smaller
like this little wax tool is really helpful
because it won't hit
continue to turn
that and it's also a good opportunity
for me to add a little bit of volume to the
Pull that out
and create the transition between
and the upper
turning the collarbone inward.
And on her it's pretty broad
as it approaches the
sternum and then sharpens
as it moves toward the shoulder.
I think I'm gonna lay in the eye.
I'm gonna start with just an angle
of that upper lid.
And then an angle
for the bone above
kind of is at odds with the eyebrow. The eyebrow
moving that way, that bone is moving in the opposite direction
But it's gonna
help cast the shadow
right in here that I am gonna want
and it's also, you know, the roundness of it
is going to be important for establishing the depth
you know as I come across here, the depth of the forehead and the depth
of the cheek bone without that
prominence then you wouldn't see that depth.
So that's kind of helpful there
and then the transition of that
into the cheekbone I'm gonna get from a profile.
Like how far back
her eye socket
So right there is the top edge
moving, it's actually moving
right toward the center of the ear,
draw a line like that
and then from there, this
front section of the cheekbone
actually I think I can pull that back here
so I'll take a little
tool and just create
And once I have that depth
from here, from this depth, I can begin to turn it.
And then I'm going to
get the from top the orb
of the eye from the side. I'm kinda,
I'm looking from the side view at how far forward
it comes relative to the edge of the nose here
and then when I'm actually adding it
I'm switching to the front view to make sure that the volume
I'm putting on ends up in the middle and not
pushed into one edge or the other. So here
I'm looking at the middle,
just need to add a tiny bit more volume towards
the outside and once that
volume is put on
unfortunately when working on
something little, it takes ironically more
time to put it on because I kind of do need to
combine it enough
to make it more
coherent. If it were bigger I could kind of just lay it on and
Okay so I feel like I need more depth top to bottom
so I'm gonna add a little bit more
on the bottom of that,
try and preserve the same angle
that I had. Like that.
the lower lid
and lower portion of the
is really kinda coming down like that.
So I'll take a
tool and just
establish that plane
then I want to
kind of finish establishing the overall
and then this volume behind
I'll just combine it all
come back up and combine it, little bit more at the top
and there are these little holes that are being treated like right here, and as I go
I'm getting rid of the whole
clarifying the main
Still like quite a few little
adjustments that angle the nose I think
needs to come out a little bit,
size of the head I'm gonna double check
not that one, that one's a little bit too little,
a little bit too small. This pair should be better.
the head is a little on the small side
which is not bad
and I think I can remedy that
primary by bringing the chin down a tiny
a portion of the jaw line.
Okay so I'm gonna rotate
to three quarter view from the opposite side
so this side I
haven't dealt with yet but this side
is not too bad. Just sharpen that point
cheek and here all of that
can come out
a little bit as well as the edge
of the chin
with a transition going
that way and that shape
is working okay. The shape of the hair can
lay a little bit more
So a lot of it is, you know, adding from one point
and then turning it and trying to figure out
how you can turn that
volume that was added back into the form
of the head without
causing problems from the front view or the other
side view. And that's how
I'll kind of refine and finish the head,
working from those
three quarter angles to get the placement
of some of the final volume.
So for now I'll just end up
filling in the holes
but leaving the depth.
Alright in other words this is going in,
I want it to continue to go in I just don't want it to be quite
finish off here.
And so I'm still kind of in the process of
adjusting the interval
between everything. Here
one of the ways that I saw that eye was too high up
or not big enough was the distance
from here to here appeared
too great. She just didn't have that big a gap
so by moving the eye downward
that allowed me to move that line downward and then that
closer to what
I was seeing on her.
And it's really tempting to keep
going in deeper and deeper
into the head but
intelligent thing to do
keep going deeper and deeper into the head, the more intelligent thing to do is beginning
to balance what I have, even though I know it's
gonna change, I know I'm not finished with it or
completely, you know, satisfied with where it is right now,
begin to just balance the two sides and then
move into how what I'm getting
scale wise in the head
relates to what I have throughout here.
I don't want the head to feel as if it's
a completely different scale,
the forms are different quality or
volume than what
is going on in the rest of the piece.
Okay so that's what I'll begin
to do after lunch is deal with
a little bit of balancing the other side, moving through
the neck and into
going to continue working down into the back a little bit.
I don't wanna sort of
get stuck on just dealing with the head so I'm gonna go through the back of the
neck, the back of the hair, the back of the shoulder, all through the back and kind of
start to pull all these volumes together.
after today I'm going to be
bringing this back to my studio just
to pull everything together and finish it up.
I won't have access to Leah at that point
so there are certain things
that I find better and easier to do
from life and others that
I've gotten enough
established in the process that I've made so far
that it won't really be a problem to finish that
from a combination of just looking what
at what I have established, adding
in some photographic information
and things like that, but
I find definitely more than anything the
depth of things, particularly
the depth of things that I can't
see from a different angle.
So for example,
form, which is
predominately a muscle called the teres major,
it turns under the arm
and in life I can see how it's turning but if this were a
photograph, I could just see a shadow, it'd be flat, I could see a shadow there, I'd know
it was going under. But as I turn it, the arm is
blocking my being able to see how far it goes underneath.
And so things like that are much easier for me to do
from life where the sense of depth
is more immediate
and more accurate. You know, your
two eyes can focus on something, give like a fairly good
sense of how far something is moving in space.
Ultimately it's still always better to double check
from a different view point, so if I'm
looking and I'm just gonna grab another tool from my bag.
Here we go. I grabbed my little tool box
but it didn't have this larger tool in it.
It's always better if you can
from a secondary view point what your
depth perception is telling you. It's very difficult to be
precise in terms of knowing how deep something goes if you're looking at it
from above. So knowing
how deep that is relative to that. It'll always be more accurate
if you turn to the side and see how far in it goes. But there are
occasions when you just don't have the ability to
do that. And that can be
a variety - for a variety of reasons.
It could be that something is getting in the way,
you know an arm, a leg, that can't really be moved
without altering the thing that you're trying to look at. And it could also be
the fact that you're, you know, you don't have the
model available, you're working from photographs or some other kind of reference
that doesn't allow you to do that.
So when you are - like ideally
you work from life as much
as possible. I know I try to.
you don't have the ability to do everything from life,
then you need to begin
to come up with strategies for, you know, what's important to do from
life and what can you get away with
not dealing from life and then
make sure that you're focusing on the things that are really important
to get directly from the model.
Which is, you know, a little bit different than what
the piece needs. This piece needs, you know,
a number of things right now and rather than
maybe dealing with how certain things are relating
up here, I wanna make sure that I'm getting the material that I need
in areas that are gonna be more difficult
to understand from
other kinds of reference.
Because ultimately some of the things up here
photographs will provide, you know, an adequate record of and
between what I've laid on from life and what I have in the photographs
I'll be able to finish those areas without
too many problems. But if I ignore, you know, certain things, it's just
gonna make it that much more difficult.
You know particularly, for example, right in here
where her hand is pressing into
her side, right above her hip, because
of the way that her arm is situated
right now and in almost all
of the photos, there's gonna be a cast shadow from
this arm on that side of the body and
from life I can look right through that shadow and see how those forms
are moving. But in a photograph all I'll have is this sort of
bizarre looking shape of a shadow that
that's gonna prevent me from clearly understanding
what I'm looking at. And so
I think it's helpful to get into an area like that
certain aspects of what's going
on. The surface is not so important
I'll kind of develop all together,
meaning I'll develop an approach to it in one
section and then I'll carry that through.
But the shapes and the depth
of the forms in that
area and how that
is turning in an arch is gonna be a lot easier for me to see
now than it will be
later on. So I'm making sure that I lay that in.
this is turned around, how her arm
let me turn her a little bit.
How her arm is meeting the forms
of the shoulder blade under here.
And also how the
transition here works.
Right in here you've got her
shoulder, the muscle of her shoulder, the deltoid
has a head
in the back. And then
it's splitting into a
crease as it comes down
and how that
moves from this kinda continuous plane through
the shoulder, onto the back, into
this area where
it really is completely, separately, the
arm and the torso.
That I think is really helpful
to establish from life because I can see some of the
kinda vary subtle ways
that it's turning much better
and much easier from life and then
a photograph interpreting that
is not very easy.
You know when you have a lot of experience doing it
you can, obviously, make it work
but it feels
much more immediate and fresh and sort of
natural if I can get that kind of
established now while I have
the model in front of me.
and then also
the center line how
I'm gonna move the lowest point
where her spine is, up
will be more -
I'm gonna turn her a little bit.
And one of the reasons this I find
to be really helpful
from life is because she's constantly
breathing and those shapes are constantly
changing and getting more
defined and less defined and when I'm working from life I'm
constantly seeing that variety and I can choose
the moment or the combination of moments that I like
the best, that I think reveals
the most about that area. Whereas
if I work from a photograph I've got a moment
that has been captured. And it may not be the best moment
or the clearest moment or the moment that is the most
And again, you know you
learn over time to work from
multiple images, you know which is
also true. Another really good way is
time with the original forms
other than photography
casts, you know taking molds of, you know, hands and feet
and areas of the body. And while they're definitely much more
helpful than photographs because they are three dimensional,
they have the same draw back that a photograph
has, which is that they're
taken essentially in a moment. You don't get that
constant, minute change that's going on
that allows you to, you know, make their own choice.
And so with both of those methods,
the primary way to
mitigate that, to make it less
of a problem is to have a lot of different
versions of the thing that you're using. So a lot of
photographs of the same area
so that you're going to be
begin to get that variety, just by the fact that you've taken the photographs
at, you know, slightly different times, when she's breathing differently or
tensing differently. And the same with life casts.
If you have five or six casts of the section,
they're all gonna be a little bit different because she'll have been
holding that area, whether it's a hand, a foot,
or the back, slightly differently.
And so you can begin to piece together the information
from each of those areas based on
differences between the reference materials that
display the thing that you're the most interested in. So for example
if I'm, you know, working on this section, I may have some
photos that really highlight, you know, a particular
transition and blur out others
and then other photos that highlight those transitions and soften
others. And I can kind of select from the different photos the optimal
arrangement for what I'm trying to achieve as opposed to
having one photo that gives me a limited amount of information that I feel
kind of like I'm stuck with copying everything I have from
And I think in general, the more options we have
the better off you are, more in control
that you are.
And that's why, you know, it's always best for an artist to take
their own references, whether it's
a life cast or a photograph. If you can take -
you know I'm not a great photographer from
the viewpoint of, you know, making really interesting
compositions and capturing really
ideal lighting situations. But when I photograph
for reference I am better than
most professional photographers who've, you know, tried
to take reference photos for me. Just because I know what I'm
looking for. I'm looking for the light to reveal a particular
kind of pattern
and I'm looking for a certain amount of information within
the shadow and within the highlight. So the photos that I take
for reference tend to be underexposed
because if I have a lot of
mid tones, you know a decent amount of shadows and very
few highlights, I'll be able to see a more information
in that than if I have an equal amount of highlight to shadow
because highlight doesn't show very much.
You know once you have a light area on something, no matter how close you get to it
it's missing the information.
So I'd rather darken that area, make for less
punchy or less sort of balanced
lighting situation from a photographic standpoint, but have all the
information there that I can lighten or darken
if I need to.
Okay so while the model is
on break I'm just taking the opportunity to rotate,
kind of pull in
to sections that I feel like may have
things that I wanna reexamine, mark down
things that I want to
reexamine when the model's back.
Alright because ultimately the model will
disappear and the sculpture will remain and the goal
from a technical standpoint is for the
sculpture to be convincing enough
that you don't question whether or not it captured the model.
There are sculptures that were created five
hundred years ago that I look at
and absolutely convinced that that captured
the essence of what the artist was looking at
and others that just don't. And
I don't have any objective way of
verifying that. There are no photos of the models
that Bernini used or Michelangelo used or
[indistinct] used. There's no way to really know
how accurate the
sculpting was and it's also besides the point. It doesn't
matter how accurate it was. It matters more how convincing it is.
And that's why, you know, I can - when the model's on break I can
look at the sculpture and ask myself, is this area
working, is it convincing, does it seem
believable in the context of everything else that I'm
putting in that that area would
the way I have it right now.
If not, I'll make
some sort of mark, like what I did here,
which is an indication to look at the
model and try and pull out some
information from her that will make that area a little bit more
believable to me.
And in addition to
what I have from her, which for me is always
the best, like going to the primary
source is, you know, the most ideal, I have
in my head a whole library of
shapes and forms and arrangements and transitions
that have been built up from all of the
sculptures that I've made and studies that I've made and experiences
that I've had working with various models
and then I also have, you know, a library of
shapes and forms of information
that come from sculptures that I've seen.
all of those sources
my memory of sculptures that I've
looked at and admired and I'm just
switching positions just to kind of get the clearest lighting
situation I can on the section that I'm looking at.
Between all those different things, you know I have a lot of options,
how I'm going to address
a particular section
that I'm having a hard time with.
Sometimes what I put down directly from
observation works better than anything else
and sometimes I put down something and it still doesn't seem
to be working as well as I'd like it to and then, you know, I'll study
more intensely the
context of what I'm looking at within, you know,
within that area of the model. I'll look at
maybe pieces that I've done before that have
an arrangement that is similar to that,
I'll look at sculptures of the past that I know
that have those things just to come up with a variety
options, you know, ways of approaching the problem
that I'm looking at, that I'm facing.
I'm kind of looking at that shadow, that little mark
that I - that series of marks that I made that are
you know kind of represent the nexus of that area.
You know it's a
an area that I want to both be
and at the same time, very articulated.
The transitions are all
quite soft but
there's a lot of
depth in that area, meaning a lot of
difference between the high point and the low point
so that challenge is
sort of keeping both of those.
It's easy enough to
hyperarticulate all of it and make it look cartoonish and very anatomical
but I think that would make it not feel
And at the same time it can get so soft
that it'll lack
some of the structure of what's actually happening.
tend to kind of jump around
in that area
this portion of the arm, the bicep and
the tricep and how they're rotating
because I know that that's also gonna be really difficult
to get from a photograph
I'm gonna be very, very limited as to
what the camera can do because this is turning
through here and there's no way to get a camera
where her torso is that's being
blocked. So we're figuring out the depth here
They'll definitely be clues
when I'm looking at the back angle I'll be able to see
the rotation to a certain extent.
If I can get kinda the basic arrangement and feeling of those
shapes and how they move from the back
to the front I think that'll be helpful.
out like that.
I also find it
helpful to get the really the big movement
from life. It's so
easy in some ways to be confident
when it's right in front of you. You know that comes out, I
can pull that out quite a bit without
feeling a sense of doubt. When I'm seeing that
in a photograph and I'm kind of trying to interpret a photo
and trying to
figure out if what I think I'm seeing in that particular photo is what
should be happening,
I'll tend to be a little
a little more doubtful when I'm working from photographs that
something should move fairly radically, you know meaning
push really far in or pull really far out,
whereas when I'm working from life it's pretty clear
if something has to go in or out in a major
sense and so I try, if I have the ability to
combine, you know, doing some work from photos and some from
life to get a lot of those really big movements
from life so that I can
you know add some of the sort of secondary
elements from a photograph if I need to.
And sometimes I'll just
use a photograph
it's not, it doesn't make a lot of sense to say use it for reference, but not
really - I'm not really using it to get the information, I'm just using it to check
that the things that I wanna do,
the changes I wanna make make sense within
you know the overall reality of what's there. So in other words
rather than going in and figuring this out from the photograph,
I would use what I have here and push and pull to get it more volumetric and
make it fit in better with everything else I have and
just I'll use the photos to make sure that what I'm doing
isn't, you know, out of line with
something else that's going on.
So I'm gonna
rotate her back a little bit
and I'm just trying to match
with you and then
I can see that -
I can change that shape
from the bicep,
I can increase the volume right
here in the tricep.
increase the volume here,
part that comes up
and now I can begin to
push in the depth here
And I think, you know, finishing this
in my studio, I'll reduce
by quite a lot the number of lights.
You know the lights are great in shooting the video to be able to
change cameras so you can see what I'm doing from multiple angles,
but it can kind of confuse
the forms, you know if you have light here and light here,
it'll tend to flatten out the form that you're working on
and then when you get it under more directional light you'll say
you know that - maybe you'll see oh
that's way too puffy because you're adding a
lot of volume to compensate for how flat the light was
making it look. And once you get it under a clearer light,
that extra volume now doesn't look right any more. And that's, you know,
that's one of the many challenges with sculpture is that
it is so dependent on the light and if you're
working under lots of different lighting situations, it can really
drive you crazy. You know one day it looks great
and you turn on a different light and it doesn't look good any more and you change it to make it
look good in that light and turn on your original light and now it doesn't
look good under that any more. So in a lot of
ways there's not one correct lighting situation
and there's not one solution
you know there's a lot of questions that
you need to ask yourself and answer before you figure out
what the best working situation is.
A sculptor like Daniel Chester French who did the Lincoln
Memorial in Washington D.C. had
traintracks in his studio and when he was sculpting
the Lincoln he sculpted on sort of a flat bed
of a train so he could push the entire thing outside to see what it would look like
in the sunlight that would be hitting it when it was
installed on location. So in a
case like that, when you kind of know and can have
you know reasonable certainty of the kind of light
that will be hitting the sculpture, that's, you know, a good way
to judge, you know, how
you should be looking at the work and what kind of light you should be
evaluating it under, you know with
a sculpture like that it wouldn't really make, it wouldn't make any difference if it looked
great under a
gallery type lighting situation because it would never be seen that way.
Unfortunately with little sculptures like what I'm making now
it's hard to know, even, you know, even with a
situation where you make it look good for the kind of
lighting that maybe a gallery will show it under
and then somebody buys it and puts it in their home in a different
lighting situation and it doesn't look quite as good in that
one of the challenges with
sculpture is that it's always kind of
changing based on how it's being lit.
And I think as
kind of as an overarching rule - I'm gonna turn her a little bit more -
as an overarching rule the more
situations we can see something under, the better off
you'll be. The fewer the surprises
will be. You know if you have one kind of lighting
where you're working and that's it,
that can be a rude awakening when you move it
to a different situation. If you have the
ability to see multiple lighting situations, ideally in the space
you're working in, you know you have some halogen lights
that you can turn on or off and some fluorescents you can turn on or off and
some LEDs you can turn on and off and really directional lights and really
diffused lights, you can kind of look at it under a variety
of situations, that doesn't necessarily
tell you which of those situations you should aim to
sort of resolve the sculpture under
but at the very least you won't be shocked when you get it out of your studio into
a gallery or a different situation
that has different lights to it.
I guess that's to say that the more
you have the more you know, in general the better
off you are. Just having the information
again doesn't give you the answer
to the puzzle of, you know, how you deal with the fact
that it looks different under different situations but it
certainly will allow you to mitigate the
worst effects. You know if one lighting situation really, you know
calls up a whole lot of terrible aspects of the piece,
well you can eliminate those under that lighting situation
and go back to a different situation, make sure that it's still working fairly well under those
and then overall you'll be in
a better situation going forward.
So here, you know I'm doing this
with kind of particular attention
because I was looking at it from three quarters from the front
and I felt like that was a particularly problematic view point.
It really felt like it was collapsing in
much too far, it looked very cut
in a way that I didn't really like
and so here I'm expanding the width
of the abdomen
not the abdomen, the oblique,
and the transition between the ribcage
on the front and on the
back and the hip and how those
are moving into one another. I'm sort of
dealing with that transition
there and trying to add
for some subtlety to it so it doesn't cut as
extremely. And that, you know, that's something that
I may have handled differently on a different scale.
You know generally when the figure gets to be a small
scale and I would, you know, this is maybe 24
inches tall, it's not large by any means
but it's not tiny, it's not an 11 inch figure. When I
go down to a quite small figure
I might want a little bit more extreme in the
dynamic. As I get larger,
when it becomes hyper articulated,
I think for me that's
a problem. You know the bigger it gets the more
subtlety it can hold and that
kind of movement in I wanna balance out or
off set or mitigate with
another movement so it gradually moves in and you
have that feeling of twist but not
So I was kinda talking about that briefly
in my head, that you know a different size head
can hold different quantities of different information and
while I think that's, in some sense - I'm not a big fan
of making pronouncements
that are absolute. Like all sculptures at this scale can hold
this much information. I think in general the bigger the sculpture the more
information it can tend to hold without feeling busy
but having said that I'm seeing, you know, super talented sculptors
put immense amount of information in little sculptures and have it work really
well. What I can see is that I have a very hard time
doing that in my own work without it beginning to
take on the feel, at least in my own eye, of
a doll or something that
sophisticated than what I'm trying to do.
It's all getting a little
wider here, moving some of this form back, and now I can begin to move
a little bit of that ribcage,
the lower ribcage, outward.
And all that
in combination will make it less cut in.
So I still wanna resolve
down here, this area that's going into
here, how that falls off,
how that falls off.
One of the downsides of having a lot of
tools, at least that it's really easy to
amass them in your box and not find
the one that you're looking for.
You know a tool like what I'm using now,
which is like a little tiny version of the much bigger rake,
somehow it gives me a very slightly different
feeling to the way that it cross hatches
than a wax tool like this. They work
differently, that's one kind of
tends to make
a flatter surface, the one with the
hole in it where it's just that front leading edge that's cutting it,
I tend to have an easier time getting that to
have a sense of volume.
You know in some ways it does a very, very similar
thing to the other tool. But in other ways, I feel like I can
get one to
provide me with more of a feeling of depth than the other
so sometimes I'll prefer the wax
tool for what I'm doing and other times I'll prefer
like a little rake like what I'm using now
particularly, you know, to get into
an area like that and provide a little bit of depth
and then I'll take scissors and
here and go in and just from the depth that I've
and then pull in.
So here my objective is to soften that to the point
where you don't see
beginning and end
it just feels like a natural depression
but it's the
nexus of all these different forms
kinda coming together.
I adjusted the lights a little bit,
toned them down so I could see a little bit more clearly what I
was doing and it
definitely, it's not perfect, but it's a huge improvement.
Again, like I was mentioning earlier
the, you know, the compromises that
you have to make to be able
to see me doing what I'm doing as well as
the model and the sculpture make it so that
you know, you've got to compromise a little bit
on each one to get a balance between them.
This though I think is a much better
compromise. I can see what I'm
doing much more clearly. You know and when I get
fairly late into the process
the way we are now,
you know it's that much more important to be able to see like how the
shadows are operating on the sculpture and if
the lighting on the sculpture is
you would think that would make the modeling flat, it actually tends to make the modeling
way too aggressive because
I'm trying to compensate for the fact that I can't
see any shadows by pushing everything really, really deep.
And I push it deep and I still can't see and so I'll push it
deeper and deeper and then when I do get a good clear, strong light on it, it
looks much too deep. All of the forms end up looking much too deep.
So if I have like a really aggressive light on the sculpture
you know I generally have a much better ability to judge
extreme my forms and transitions are.
I'm kinda going back and forth balancing
both the volumes and the transitions
and making sure that I have
a connection between the lower back
and the upper back.
And as I do that again I'm expanding out
to get that to work.
And so there's this relationship here
between the bicep and the tricep where as
it moves up toward the body, the tricep is coming much further out
and the bicep's moving much further away. And as I move toward the
elbow the bicep is moving out and the tricep is moving in.
And that's an arrangement that is very
common throughout the body. It's almost like a,
you know, an interlocking
type situation where as one thing moves in, the other
moves out and they essentially flip positions
from one end to the other.
You know it's a useful thing to
exploit rhythmically and
formally. It'll tend, you know,
to make things feel very organic if you
kind of highlight that relationship.
So here by the time
I get to right before the elbow, there's
that is coming at us from
the upper part of the
which is, you know, on the opposite side.
And then that's
turning and becoming
this kinda full part of the forearm.
pushing that down
more toward the bottom
of that shape.
bend the bone
coming out there
and now I'm gonna soften that transition
between the bicep and the tricep. So all this on the top here
is the tricep. There's no hard edge here,
much softer edge. And I could do that with screen but I
have to remove a lot of the edge
with the screen which is gonna end up clogging it up.
So I'm gonna start off
with a tool just to
get rid of the volume or the
larger portion of the volume of
the clay that needs to be removed. And then I can go in with the screen
and remove the rest around it and
kind of finish up,
return there with that
can't do this with screen for like, there's this
real kinda strong shadow here
and I need to
achieve that with a tool that will allow me to
push in more surgically into an area
Once I've pushed it in then I can use
some screen but still
I wanna switch back to the tool because I want a cleaner
sense of that.
Okay and now I'm gonna turn her and
get a different view of that same
turn in the back of her elbow.
And that'll give me a clear indication of
how far out that needs to come and also
how far in
this bicep needs to come. So definitely I think this needs to come in a little
bit more than what I have.
And at the bottom
right here, moving into the forearm,
that needs to come out more than what I have.
And now I can kind of come back
to that view,
finish off that
roundness. And now I'm gonna pay a little bit of attention
to how I'm adding the clay now
and be a little cleaner with it because if I do that
then I can go right into that screen and combine
it without using any other tool.
You know if I were a little sloppier with how I
put the clay on then I'd have to take a rake tool,
combine it all before I went and moved
to the screen. But if I
add it carefully - and I only really
do that when I'm very, very close to resolving something.
You know earlier on that's much more important
just to get something on there and be able to see it and begin to compare
it to what's around. But now where, you know,
I'm fairly close to getting that
completely resolved I start to think
a little bit more about how I want to finish
and how I can
be a little bit more efficient
in that process.
You know there are times like right now where I absolutely
need to use a tool and then
if I want to get
something that's really consistent and even
like I would with a surface that I've gone over
with the screen, I have to do it after I've
modeled it with
the tool, which is the case for like a bony element, like
what I'm dealing with now, that bone would be,
you know, at the bottom of the elbow
because I want that sense of
A good way to achieve that is by using
a tool to change the direction quickly
and then, you know, I can very
gently come in and soften
tool marks and, you know, deal with
other aspects of that but
by and large that's all working well.
And I'll just begin to expand
all of that
to get a broader swath of it working along that -
rotate her back the opposite direction.
there's a movement
right here and that's kind of, you know, this brings up
an interesting point
in the relationship between, you know, the knowledge of anatomy
and then the implementation of that
knowledge and use. You know and I have
a pretty clear idea
anatomically of what's going on in this area
not, you know, not in a medical sense and
they're certainly people who know a lot more about anatomy than I do
but I know like basically what's going on
but at the same I do my best to like
go a little bit beyond not thinking about it
in some ways just erasing it from my mind
and responding to what's in front of me. So like how
that's rotating and flattening
and then at times I will
marry that kind of
observation with what I quote unquote
know about the area
of I think
the additional information that I'm putting in
will enhance my objective
in that area. And the objectives in a piece
like this are purely aesthetic.
You know what is the section doing within the context of
the sculpture - I'm gonna rotate her a little bit more.
What do I
want this particular area to feel like? Should it feel tense, should it feel
relaxed, should it move your eye in a particular way?
You know certain areas
I'd prefer to have less information because the more
information you get, the more
it will attract your eye.
And if it's not really fundamental
you know the center objective
aesthetically of the sculpture than
you know you wanna be somewhat careful about pulling
people's attention to a
And that's where the
sometimes anatomy or too much knowledge
or attention to anatomy can really screw things up.
So you know, you know so much about this particular
area and you wanna express that and put all of that information in
and you get it all in and there's this gorgeous forearm with
every muscle articulated and yet overall
it draws an
unwanted amount of information to an area that really should just
be there to support
other things, it's like an actor in the
really hamming it up in the scene
that kinda ruins the feeling of what's supposed to be happening.
you know, the most important thing is to have
a sense of what's important
and make sure that consistently that
is what is
and when it's not
having, you know, lots of different options
for correcting that.
You know sometimes an area that
should really be central to the feeling of what's going on
doesn't have enough information
in it and if you know
a lot about anatomy there could be things that you sort of highlight or
pull out that are less apparent
either because of the lighting or because of
the way the model is trying to
rest the particular area.
And you can just sort of
articulate that a little bit more to make it clear.
I generally find the opposite to be more the case.
It's more often that I find that things are
and that, you know, I'm better off knocking
them back a little bit.
You know it's funny I remember when I was
a young sculpture
student and I knew nothing.
You know I was
really interested in everything being clear and that's
you know I studied anatomy a lot so I'd know, you know, where things are
how to make them stand out and everything
was about articulating and
in the many years since then in a lot of ways
I think I found myself both
backing away from that more and more and more
and realizing that it's not,
it's not really the one or the other. It's not like being
superarticulated or super
subtle and blended and softened
It's more about having very, very few but
very, very specific things
clearly articulated and
having everything else really stay in it's place and play a supporting
You know I think I certainly
understand why I wanted that, I wanted
that feeling of control
to know that like in every section of the body
I could, you know, make the abdomen, all the muscles of the abdomen super
clear and all the muscles of the forearm you know pop out
you know, once you can do it, and then
you start looking at really great sculpture you begin to realize how
you know great sculptors really choose their moments
as to, you know, what they're going to articulate, when they're
really choose to hit those things hard
and, you know, so often that
overused statement is true, but more
is less. Which is
to say the exact opposite. Less is very often
Okay so I'm beginning
to get both the overlap,
you know all of that working better. It's a little
even for me right now
but I also know I have a limited amount of time
with the model so
you know the fact that I want it to be deeper and then getting progressively shallower
you know that's something, you know, I can finish
without her. It's important to get
those relationships and then beyond that the kind of the
the refining of them once they're there
is not so hard. So now I'm gonna begin to move around to this side
of the arm and into the hands.
So, you know, getting
exactly where that peaks and begins to turn
and then all the forms - I'm gonna rotate
You know Alberto Giacometti
who did the beautiful
utilizing, you know, thousands of lines intersecting
to create volume is very famous for
these portrait sculptures he made that were
fairly wide front to back and very, very - or side to side - and
very, very thin front to back. And he
worked very much the way
I work on portraits which is the majority of
the information being gleaned from the side view
in terms of all the different depths and then once you have them beginning to pull
out form the profile. And that's what I think
he found the most difficult or what he said he found
the most difficult was sort of that moving from the side view
to the depth.
And in the same way moving around
something, you know, is
challenging in keeping all of those relationships
accurate as you turn
from one view to another.
there's almost like a leap of faith
when you get one
view working and you begin to understand all of the different things that are
making it function well and then moving to another side.
You lay things in in a way that is more
a kind of hypothesis of, you know, like if that's there, that kind of
should probably be a round there and it should come out about that far
and you have to do a certain amount of work with it
before it reveals
itself to be either true or not true. You think
that'll probably work, you do a bunch of it, and then it does work
and then you keep going or it starts to not feel like
it's working and then you have to reevaluate, you know, did I put it on
the wrong place, is it too low, did I put it on too deep?
you know, that I really like about
sculpture is that kind of
lack of ability to ever hold it all
in either your brain or your eye.
You're constantly turning the piece and checking what you did
from one angle, from a different angle, to see if
it works or not and you're constantly developing
ways of working that will allow you to
be very kinda specific in what you're saying
about one thing and at the same time not
necessarily applying that to adjacent areas until you're
ready. So you'll that I, you know,
putting on very thin linear pieces so that I can pull out without adding
all through that area. You know here
I'm pulling out because that's what I see and then I'll combine that in
so I'm not getting this too wide, I'm just starting to get it to
turn and then at a certain point
I'll feel like of yeah I think that's all working
and then I can broaden everything out. But until
I've got enough information here to
kind of make me feel
like I understand what's going on
I'll tend to
use a lot of different tactics to
reduce the risk that I'm gonna have to redo major
You know I just wanna get a feeling that like oh yeah now
all that's working well and once you hit a
certain critical mass where you've got, you know
four or five elements of an area working, then it starts to speed up
fairly rapidly and you can see as the clay goes on
how it's kind of pushing everything in the right
direction but there are definitely a lot of
points in the process in which, you know, there's so much
up in the area - I'm gonna turn her again - that
you're just really
for a long time not quick sure
if what you're doing is gonna ultimately
lead you where you want it to.
You know I've heard a lot of interviews with authors
who, you know, talk about writing and
in a similar way. You know it's almost like they're following
this character and they put him in a situation and just
write about him in that situation and see what he does
eventually things fall into place
and they begin to understand it and then
it moves forward
but that sense of kind of wanting the
thing that you're creating to kind of lead you
into a feeling of
the rightness of where it's going or the
if not rightness the kind of logic of
where of what the direction is and how
it makes sense for the thing that it is.
You know there's a certain
feeling that begins to emerge as
you sculpt a particular model.
And all of the
elements and decisions that you make ultimately come out in
support of that and not just like well
I know that the deltoids there, I'll put in a big giant deltoid there.
It's quite easy to ruin that feeling
or to replace it
with kind of a sense that you, you know,
you know better. Which I find almost never to
be the case. I, you know,
the artwork that in almost every media
that is the most interesting to me
is where the artist, at least in the, you know I get the feeling
that the artist is being lead by the work,
into all kinds of different directions.
You know I'm at, you know, in a
and simple format, you know
can be true the technical but it's all the more true
kinda the content, what it's about
so you know obviously a writer in how they
kind of use the language
is not necessarily influenced by
situation that they're creating
for their character, it's more the content
that's being guided.
Meaning, you know, you come up with a character who you
sort of begin to write about and then you
put them in a situation without really knowing
where it's going and you try and
say okay well I know this character, what would he do if I had somebody say this to him
or that to him and you allow the
content of the story to be guided by what the character does in the situations that
you put him in. And that doesn't necessarily have to do with where you're putting
periods or commas or semicolons or, you know, the kind of
vocabulary that you're using but it's
more the sort of the content of
the writing that's being
formed that way. But in
sculpture and in painting or drawing I think that
you know all of it,
you know when it's done really well is being guided, is both guiding and
being guided by
the content, by the model
by the idea, but the - sort of by the experience
of doing it, you put material down and
no matter how experienced you are, no matter how many times you've done it
something happens in front
of you that is only partly
under your control when you're doing it really
at the highest level.
force it into a shape but be
responsive to those things that are happening.
Come in here on the -
I think I'm gonna turn her a little bit because of the weird shadow on the arm.
Once I can get rid of the shadow
then I can see a little bit more clearly
what's going on.
Now I'm looking for that knuckle of the thumb.
Facing that in.
You know and this area
has changed and will continue to change
with many poses like this the hands will
just, you know, every -
every 20 minutes when the model gets back in the pose
they'll be just a very slightly different arrangement,
you know, thumbs tucked in or it's pushed into the body or
it gives you opportunity to kind of see a lot of different
variations and figure out, you know, which
ones do different things. You know
visually, you know that kind of is nice
because it highlights this or it really, you know, when she does that it really pushed in,
you know gives this feeling of fleshiness or
I prefer it laying on top.
And that's kind of what I'm going back and forth with
on this area. You know part of me wants to push that thumb
into, you know, her side where I
can get a sense of kinda compression.
Right now it's kind of laying more over that
Anyway I go I wanna get the feeling of
this section of the skin being stretched forward
kind of the edge of the ribcage
through this compression.
I wanna make sure I have that
you know, the way
on and there are times when I'll lay on
sort of the thumb and draw it in and kinda block it in
the way it is now and then take it out and change it
to something different.
And it's interesting that
you may look at it, doesn't seem like anything
special and then you start sculpting it and you find
things in the way that it's arranged
even though from life it doesn't seem to be that,
present you with that many
possibilities but once you begin to kind of simplify
it into sculptural terms you find,
you know, I do like that much more than what I thought I was
I'm just kind of simplifying that,
coming forward with
you know here I'm switching, for the same reason that I
talked about earlier, that wax
tool had a tendency to flatten and I want that depth
to the abdomen, you know where it's meeting the ribcage
there's a like really great transition there that I wanna keep
but I want it to be
kinda rounder. And by being able to push
in a little bit quicker in that area,
using a tool like this,
it makes for a transition
has a fuller feel to it.
going into this
area, you know between her hand, her breasts,
ribcage, and it's
you know I think a really
Everything is focused
in here on this pose. Her hip is raised
on that side, her head is turned toward that side, her hands are clasped
at her side
right there. Everything is kind of coming together here
and so how that
area is resolved and how the other areas
move into that
will determine the
success or lack of success of the
So it's something that I want to get many
views of as I can, which is why
I'm turning quite a lot, you know I'm checking it from here
going back, checking it from behind, making sure that
what I'm doing from one viewpoint
is not hurting the overall feeling
of it from a different view point.
But ultimately I think I want, you know I wanna
get back a little bit, look at it ,
from here like I've got this knuckle and the front of that hip
almost in line with that front of the ribcage
and I wanna check that on her and see, you know, my gut feeling
is that this may need to come forward
and kind of be pushed in that direction and kind of -
that's something that I wanna check
and so when, you know, when I work, when the model's on break,
you know there's a lot of like house keeping to do, there's like a little
hole here and here, there's some stuff going
on here, this is a little flat, so
those are things that are, you know, running through my mind as,
you know, as I work when she's not there,
you know what's standing out to me in the
absence of the model. Meaning I'm not looking at the model and saying
that looks different than what I'm seeing in front of me, I'm just saying well what doesn't look right
that looks awkward or kind of
problematic and then I'm
doing a little bit
in those areas and then reevaluating the whole
and generally I kind of have a set of things
by the time she gets back that I wanna check
that I feel like okay I fixed some of the holes,
I fixed, you know, some of the
things that were obviously problematic but
I'm still getting a feeling of
you know, maybe this is too narrow or maybe it doesn't turn enough
and that's kind of the first thing that I look for when the model
gets back from break and so the break is not necessarily always
kind of time off from, you know, for me. It's
an opportunity to kind of get a sense
of what I think that area feels like or what the whole sculpture
feels like on its own. And when I find,
you know, generally when I'm doing that I find like I'm not crazy about this particular area
then when she gets back I have, you know, a very
specific thing that I'm looking for. So right now
I see this beautiful transition on here,
through here, moving forward, which I essentially,
her thumb pushing
upward and outward. And she's like got
so little body fat that
while, you know, there's a sense
of some softness to it, it's also
kind of linear.
You know it's moving from here
kinda like that. So with her in the pose
I just add all the nuts, for that section that's a pretty
significant amount of clay that I just added.
But it's pulling everything
into this nice, clear
like I would have - I know I would never have done without her.
You know just kind of looking at what was
there, a big move like that is
really pretty straightforward when it's
right in front of you.
gonna try and
add into this area between her
hand and her stomach.
These are always the most annoying areas where you're just trying
to - reminds me of the old game
Operation. You're trying to pull out the liver of the
patient without hitting the sides. And if you do then
those lights up. We're trying to get clay into this area
messing up everything around it.
And then once I do have clay in there, to get it
shaped the way I want it
is also a process
of avoiding everything in the neighborhood.
And now I'm gonna rotate her a little bit more
because I can get a sense of
the shape here.
can come out,
That's a little bit more volume here
And again if I
am careful with the way I'm adding
I can move from
my hand right into
the screen to even it out and
combine it without
needing to get another tool.
And that's particularly true for
volumes, you know,
thigh or calf
areas where things don't, you know, change quickly.
This needs to come out a little bit more
so I'm getting this side
view to make sure I'm not going too far back or too far forward
but I'm putting the volume right where it
needs to be and then I'll get the front view to
check the shape through here. Right now
I'm feeling like this is maybe just slightly too far in
so that I can have just a tiny bit
more volume to the outside edge
and then again
just combine that all.
I'm just gonna look at the abdominal
muscle shapes here
there is where I want
Okay now that I have that I'm gonna pop out over to
I need a little bit more width
to the bicep so I'm adding a little bit to the
inside and then
just incorporate all that together
there and now
I wanna come down to the forearm
and kind of knock the top edge
so that the volume
here is a little bit lower down so I'm taking
a little bit from the top, particularly the top
outside as I turn here.
outside as I turn here.
I'm wrapping that outside. I can leave a little bit
of volume in the middle here
at the top. Now I'm just
knock that back,
that so it can go a little bit more
linear, meaning that this is moving all
the way down.
adding a little bit more
Okay now as I move down towards
the wrist, this -
clean off my tool here, this
portion of the back
of her hand I want to move inward
so there's a movement from
the end of the bone
into the hand.
You know with the hand to the wrist
it's important to have an offset,
meaning the wrist stay as high and then the
hand drops down and that's true both
outside, the side with the little finger, and the inside,
the side of the thumb. So the entire plane of the wrist should be
higher than the plane of the hand.
And then once that's kind of
accomplished, you have a lot of
freedom, you know there's not
like there are a lot of artists who do have
kind of a formula for dealing with the hands.
And I think that can go anywhere from
having kind of a general idea
like what I just mentioned about the wrists
staying higher and the entire back of the hand dropping down and
that can go as far as, you know,
very complex formula for first do this then do this
then lay out the fingers in this way and then subdivide them this way.
somewhere in between I think it's helpful to have
kind of a template or a schematic for certain things
particularly things like hands and feet that are very complex but
tend to line up
and fall in similar ways all the time.
But at the same time
I try and
place all of those
elements within a framework
of observation. So, you know, I don't say first drop this, then
raise these, then line that up. I'll say, for example,
the back of the hand always
is in the same plane as the back of the wrist
so this plane here
should match this plane here and not be twisted.
But once I've got that offset, then
you know I'll just draw what I'm seeing, like okay that's there
where exactly is the high point here,
where's the little finger, where's the
pointer. This volume does it drop back
having the model in front of me right now I'm not gonna do
too much there at the stage that I'm at.
You know I wanna wait to see her to like get a
back view and see like how far in
the feel of her hand
go. Just as I said I'm not gonna do it.
But definitely from this front view
I can see that the knuckle is
pressing backward and that whole heel of the hand is
and so by turning
back here I can fill
that hole and at the same time
press that in into the side of the body.
And again I wanna be careful about
you know not over articulating that but getting that
to a certain point, adding that, adding that
so that everything starts to balance out, then I can kind of step back
and make adjustments all over the place that are, you know
relatively small but
end up kind of pulling things together. If I get too
much information into this, that's going to force me when I get to the other
hand into this wrist, it may force me to move everything
that way toward that hand because ultimately or initially
I didn't make that hand large enough or the knuckles far enough forward. So I
don't wanna end up in that
position so I'll kind of make a few marks about where I think
the palm ends and then move, when she gets back, into the
other hand. So for now I'm gonna step back
take a look at where I am
think about how I'm going to -
how I'm gonna establish this. I have a couple of options, I can
start right here, you know,
around that knuckle and relate it to that.
I can start here in the wrist,
I can start in that thumb
and deal with that. You know the number of
locations I could look at to try
and figure out where
I wanna go.
That I like. That's starting to
Okay so yeah, I see
other things that I need to resolve about that
wrist and hand.
And so I think I'm gonna start with the
you know what I have is that bending quite a bit further
the hand off of the wrist. And I think I
need to get the wrist to move inward
a little bit more toward her stomach.
And if I can do that
I will reduce the amount that her...
The back of her hand needs to be pushed in and at the same time
I can pull
the knuckles out a little bit,
which will also reduce the amount
change that I'm gonna need. Right like -
like right now this change is pushed in this way. I wanna pull it out
a little bit. So by pushing the wrist in and by pushing this point
or pulling that point out, I'll get a reduction
in that bend.
In addition to that, that thumb really needs
So pull that out.
That still needs to come out
This will come up
in here all of that
portion of her wrist will
get knocked in a little bit.
Add a little more volume to the bottom.
And I'm kinda gonna do a combination
here of pulling in a little bit
on the back of the hand while pulling
forward on that wrist
just to create
So this is turning
and then that's
of the joint of the thumb is
and also moving
at a different angle.
And then from that knuckle that's moving
in the opposite direction, sort of her -
from out inward,
helping to create that side plane
you know I'm just very roughly
the shape of the thumb
and the location of the end
of the knuckle of the other
and then changing the
plane at the top to get that
thumb to move behind, the one in the front.
cleaning up that edge,
filling in that little hole.
And again I know I'm going to have to
sort of simplify and
a lot of these components to make them
work. I can see already
the thumb needs to push in more against the
side of the body.
But I'm just kind of looking at this point for a nice kind of
fluid arrangement of
forms. You can see from here
I've pulled that knuckle outward,
once I've done that
that's gonna give me room for the hand
behind it. If I can move some of that
And then pull that
and then clarify
a little bit more of the back on the hand
through the knuckles and how they're
turning slightly downward
in an arc.
And the same thing with this,
I want like that hand to kind of come out
from between the fingers of the opposite hand.
So I want that coming out
I'm gonna add a little bit
to up there.
right now this finger is moving
around the hand
kind of like this,
allowing me to show
the rest here of that hand.
I'm getting -
a little bit more downward.
Today I did a little bit
more with the head. It's still, you know, obviously
I still have to even it out and kind of make it work a little bit
more, I didn't deal with the hair yet. I began to work
through the back into this arm and how it
moves down into the hands and I began to play with how the hands
are relating to one another and how they're relating to this side
of the body. So what I'm gonna do from here is I'm
gonna bring it back to my studio and from what I've done here I'm going
to refine different sections,
kind of pull them together, fill in areas that I just didn't have time
to deal with like little holes there,
resolve the differences in between
areas and pull everything together. And then I'll come back
and go over what I did in the studio
in terms of both
my thought process as to how I finished things up
and then I'm also going to explain a little bit some of the tools that I used
and the different materials from the kind of clay that
I'm using, the different types of tools to some of the materials
for finishing, the screens, brushes, different
solvents and powders that I'll show you,
and then we'll wrap everything up. So
that'll be next time.
work on various elements of the piece.
I have not taken everything to a complete
finish because I wanted to kind of connect different
areas to how I go through the process.
I have taken some areas further,
left some areas fairly close to how we left it last session.
So I wanna talk about a couple of areas in particular.
To begin with I wanna talk about the feet.
So her left foot
I spent time, you know, drawing the entire
separating the toes,
articulating how the foot moved into the ankle.
I know that that
pull can be in the way. But all the way around
I wouldn't say it's completely resolved in terms of the surface, that can be
cleaned slightly more, but I want to contrast to
an earlier treatment of the opposite foot here.
You can see the only real
difference - and I'm gonna move this so it's a little clearer -
we'll talk about those jars in a minute.
The difference between
where I left this last session and now is
literally all I've done is drawn with an X-Acto knife
the division between the toes. Everything else I had
pretty much established the week before. However I
didn't clean anything up the way I did
in the other foot. So for example you can see
the planes much more clearly separated
as the instep, this upper section of the foot, moves
in toward the inner part of the foot.
On the other piece, or the other foot rather,
I have kind of refined how those move through.
So I tried my best to treat this piece
as sort of
an in between, rough sculpting everything
and beginning to finish everything. As opposed to
going through and cleaning everything
all up so that you couldn't see any evidence of the way it had been
before. Given that,
I wanna talk a little bit about the tools that I used
to make this piece from beginning
through some of the things I used in the studio to
attain different levels of finish.
So I'm just gonna go through these briefly and not get too involved with
what they are and either where I got them or how I made
them but I wanna talk a little bit about them and why
I used them and what they're for. So here one of my favorite tools
is a large knife
and technically this is a mold knife
and it works very well for that but I like to use it because it allows me to get
away from the sculpture when I'm drawing and I can
grab it, hold it from the end, and
draw kind of big, long, sweeping lines that allow me to see things
a little bit more clearly because I'm not right on top of the sculpture.
And then probably the tool that I use more than any other
is an X-Acto knife. And this is a
standard X-Acto knife with a number 11 blade, which is the one
that's the most common. And it essentially becomes
a pencil for me to draw on the clay with. So I can
draw out various forms, I can sketch out the
transitions and where I want the shadows and it allows me to
map out and imagine where I'm gonna go in the future.
So probably the tool that I use more than any other.
Very early on, in conjunction with that knife,
I use a variety of measuring tools,
calipers, and these rounded ones are
technically called calipers and these straight
edged ones technically are called dividers.
But they perform the same function. And one of the
differences is that if you're measuring something and you need
to get all the way to the ground, it's very hard to do that
with the rounded ones. So the
edge you can see doesn't want to go to the ground because of that curve.
Whereas if you're measuring something with the large, or with the
straight ones, it's much easier to get to the ground.
But even with those, if you're trying to go straight
up and down, you can see the tip here doesn't quite reach the ground.
And for those occasions you can just switch them
around and now you can get directly to the ground.
And that helps me - those two
tools help me figure out the sizes of
various elements in the sculpture, particularly
important when I change scale. So
each piece that I do may have a different
overall scale. Meaning the overall size of the sculpture might
vary between very, very large, maybe 10, 12, 15, 20 feet tall
to very, very small, maybe 10, 11 inches tall.
And it's very difficult when you're working at various scales
to always know how big different elements in the sculpture
will be relative to one another. So, for example,
the size of the head relative to the size of the
leg becomes really difficult to know
as you change sizes. If you always work in the same size
you begin to develop a very good sense of how big things should be
relative to one another. But it's particularly
problematic when you're changing size and also very early on in the sculpture.
So the sculpture takes, you know, a significant amount of
time to unfold from when it was just a wire armature
until it's a fully fleshed out clay sculpture
and the problem with that is when you have some clay and some wire
and you can't really see where things are, it becomes very difficult to visually
judge whether or not the
head is the right size, if the leg,
if the knee is too high or too low. And so for those instances I use
these calipers or dividers to help me figure
things out until I get to a stage where it's pretty clear
where, to my eye, whether I want to adjust the head
bigger or smaller or move the knee slightly up or down. It gives you
a way to place things early on before you can see
their context. And so that's what I use those for.
So we've gone through the knives.
I'm just gonna move those away. The calipers and
the dividers and then I'm left with
things that are essentially all variations on the same tool.
Or four things that are variations. These are all variations on what's called a rake tool.
This one is homemade,
it's undergone a lot of use. And essentially what it is
a saw blade. So let's see if we can get really close up
on this tool. There we go. So
you can see that there are little teeth
that are formed by
taking a saw blade, heating it with a
blow torch, and adjusting it to the shape that I want
and then I take a file and I take the sharp
edge off of those teeth and
that results in a tool that will cut through the clay and create
essentially a textured but very even surface.
It acts like a rake, cutting through the clay.
So I want you to be able to see those teeth
and now I'm going - if we stay close - this tool
is essentially a round version of the same
thing. It may be hard to see because they're so tiny
but all around that little perimeter -
try and hold it as clearly as I can so you can see it.
All around that edge are little tiny teeth
and I'll flip it over and this is a smaller
version of the other end. And that
has little tiny teeth. And obviously
smaller teeth and more of a rounded shape make it great for getting
into the eye sockets and any rounded
recess where a larger tool like this one would
hit in areas that I don't want it to.
Also, this tool,
if we go close us on this, this also has teeth
up and down the side and this edge
has a curve to it, which is helpful in getting into certain
areas and the other end is the same but straight,
which, you know, is helpful for long areas. These
teeth are very, very small so I'll use tools
like this and this for areas in the face and the hands
and the feet and what the
purpose or the intended function of these tools are are for working with wax.
So wax working tools are something that I really
like to work with. This is another home made tool
and this is made by taking a number of
very, very thin wires - and I say a number because it can be
anywhere from two up to, you know, maybe even five
that you lay side by side and you spin
together. You can spin it in a variety of ways.
This one I spun using a drill and so you're creating
a braided wire. And then that braided wire
I took and I bent it around a form to create a circle and glued
it into a piece of tubing to create a tool
and what that does is rake through the clay in the same way that those
other tools do and creates a
textured but very, very even surface.
From there, I'll use
window screen. And I used to use
something that was called - let's see if I
remember what it was called - it was called dry wall screen and
drywall screen is like an open weave, like what
this is, and by open weave what that means is that -
you can see through it. This is kinda clogged up with clay
but you can kind of see right through it. It's not
backed the way what you would traditionally think of as sandpaper
has a backing to it so you can't see through it, so an
open weave drywall screen is what people
use to sand drywall and plaster so that dust goes through it.
It works well in the clay but it has an
abrasive built into it to get into the clay
and I used to think that was kinda the price you paid
for using it, until I found this window screen, which
works very similarly to the drywall screen but it has no
abrasive in it so you never have a problem of anything from the screen getting into the
clay. And window screen comes in various densities, meaning
how tightly woven it is, and those will
change the affect on the clay. But
essentially what it is is a whole bunch of little tiny teeth,
just the way these other tools are,
but it's flexible and it's less
aggressive. So once I've shaped the clay using my hands
and some of these rake tools, then I can remove
that texture that I talked about these tools leaving with the
screen and in reality I'm not removing all the texture, I'm
essentially leaving a much smaller texture.
The last tool I wanna mention is probably the
simplest, it's just the simply wooden
spatula. This one is small, it's maybe half
the size of a finger.
Smaller ones are helpful, larger ones are helpful. And all they really are there
for is to grab a little bit of clay and place it
in an area that would be difficult for you to put your hand without
damaging something that's around it. If I'm working on a
form that's very convex, I'll just use my hand because I can
reach around that form and put clay on. If I'm reaching into
an area I'll tend to grab a tool like this and place the clay
into an area that's harder to get to. Now
within this I have many, many variations of these tools.
My favorites are probably the one that I make, like these.
And one reason for that is I can make it
any shape and any size. So if I'm having a hard time
in a particular area or getting a particular effect that I'm interested in
I can just grab a few tools, make a tool,
and now I have an additional tool. They're very inexpensive to make
and they're very, very handy. I've made these,
you know up to where the head of the tool is this big, for
working on very, very large monuments and maybe half the size
of this little loop for working on very small things.
To sum up my thinking about tools, I think
you actually can begin with very few and they're
a core number of tools, maybe three or four, that I
use 90 percent of the time. But as you get deeper
and deeper into sculpture and you get into more and more situations
in sculpting things that you wanna take further and
further toward a finish, you begin to accumulate lots and lots
of tools and each one will have a very specific
and narrow function
but I would say a knife,
a pair of calipers,
a wooden tool to help place clay
in difficult to reach areas, and a larger
rake tool. With those four tools I could have done
95 percent of the work on this sculpture.
As sculptors get more experienced obviously they wanna do more
and I've got hundreds and hundreds of tools in
various tool boxes that I use but
I do try and take my work as far as I can with the fewest number
of tools initially and then when I really, I get to a
point where I can't continue using those tools because they won't reach the areas
or perform the kind of function
on the surface that I need them to, then I'll start reaching for more
specialized tools. So I wanna convey the idea that you don't
need thousands of dollars of tools to begin with, you need a small
number of really good tools. And I do encourage you
to buy the best tools you possible can.
You only need four or five really to do most of the work
and I know a lot of people will try and, you know, get the cheapest things
that they can to get running but if you spend
money on those four or five tools and get the best that you can, really good
knives, this is a handmade Italian knife, really
good calipers, and what distinguishes a good pair of calipers is the joint.
You know you can see when I shake these and when I tap them
they don't change the measurement,
cheaper pair of calipers might have a wingnut here instead of a
sealed joint and it'll start to loosen up
and as you move it around this'll start to move on its own. And that can be
beyond frustrating, it can make them very inaccurate. So good pair
of calipers. An X-Acto knife is a great tool and it's cheap.
You can get these for maybe a dollar and a half or two dollars and
it's probably the tool I use more than any other.
I mean I have that these are best to make because
more and more now it's hard to find well made
wooden sculpting tools. Most sculptors I know
make their own. And they're really easy to make, you just need a good
piece of wood, you can use any hard wood like walnut or ebony
and you just start by cutting a rough shape and sanding
the rest. You just keep sanding it until it gets the shape that you want it to have.
This is a really old one and you can see I broke one end of it
and I've copied this piece into various materials.
other kinds of wood as well as metal because I like the shape
so much. And then everything else
can be made or bought one at a time.
The way I accumulated most of my tools
is when I got into a situation where I knew I needed some little, tiny
round tool with lots of teeth I would go to every store I could get
to and just start trying all the tools that I could find there
until I found one that would fit what I needed at that moment and buy that
and over the years I accumulated a lot of tools.
In addition to the tools that I use for
kind of the real aggressive shaping of the clay, I also use
brushes toward the end and a brush like this
this is probably a dollar, dollar fifty, generally the cheaper
the brush the better it works for sculpture. What I like
are flat brushes, you can see that there's no
arc to the top of it, if I show you
the side of it, the flattest I can find, with almost
no width, and then this starts
out probably three times as long in terms of the bristles, and I took
a very sharp pair of scissors and just cut it down. And the reason why
I want that is because that
resistance, when they're long they're very, very
weak in terms of the resistance on the clay. The shorter
I make it, the firmer it is and the more I can push the clay around
with those bristles. So this one
you know is probably my favorite even though I've made, you know, probably
dozens of them. And I don't honestly know why
that happens, I try and replicate it, and for some
reason certain, not only tools like this but tools
like this, which are hand made, you know certain ones just feel
really good and other ones work okay but they just don't
feel quite as good, which is why, you know, I'm always
reluctant to bring them to various places because I don't wanna lose the ones
that really I use all the time.
But brushes are great at the very end for smoothing the surface.
I'll use them in conjunction and back and forth
with screen. Screen is good for taking a larger surface and making
it really even in every direction. A brush like this will have a
harder time doing that because I'll have to go more
times over the same area to hit everything
than I will with something like this. But getting around the
nose and the eye, the mouth, in between toes, the
brush is really handy for that. So getting back
to what I did on the sculpture
you know another thing that I took a little bit further was
the head and the hair.
Again I didn't go all the way through and clean and polish
and texture everything but I
separated out more of the forms on this side.
I just sort of deal with a large
shape of the ear, whereas on the other side I began
you know to articulate more of the inside of the ear.
And this, you know, if a fairly small sculpture.
I didn't really get into portraiture.
I wasn't so concerned with making this look exactly like the model
I was more concerned with balancing
sort of some of the forms of the
braids with how that worked with the back of the ear into
the shapes of the back.
And that kind of gets me to
the idea of function
and form. You know I'm not a big fan of
having a uniform treatment to
everything that I make. I tend to try and
gear the way I finish something to what I wanna use it for.
That can have to do with the scale
that it is, it can have to do with whether it's
a demonstration piece that's don't purely to demonstrate how
a person, a sculptor, can deal with
different situations, it can have to do with whether the piece is
part of a large group of sculptures that have an idea
behind them, and each one of those categories I'll treat very
differently. And so a piece like this
I've probably taken
in some directions that I might not
take my own work normally because I, you know, a piece like this
which is a study from life, what I'm generally interested in doing with
these is capturing the energy and the
pose, the balance, the interplay between
the large forms and the smaller forms and not really dealing
very much with surface finish and the
trying to create a feeling of, you know, of skin and
softness to a smaller piece like this that's a study from life.
When I'm doing work that
is more part of a large body of my own work, I may be
interested in an idea that's separate from
whatever the model happens to be doing in the
sense that I may have a broader idea that the body
is trying to convey. And so I will
mute down certain forms and highlight others
because of the idea behind what the sculpture is.
And that gives me a reasoning for why I'm finishing
various things in a certain way. In this particular piece I did
want to show you different ways of handling different areas
and so there's not one unified idea behind how
I went through kind of bringing it to the point where it's at.
If I were to finish this sculpture, it would be
less about going in and finishing each section
in the same way that I've kind of finished -
I wouldn't say I finished a foot like this but I've taken this foot a little bit
further than some of the other elements. I wouldn't
necessarily apply what I did here all the way through and then that would be finished.
I think what I would need to do is reevaluate
what I wanted to convey about this model and this pose
and the mood and all of those things which, you know,
honestly was not the focus of what I was doing here.
I was treating this much more as a technical
explanation of how I approach
all the various stages of going through and sculpting something.
Particularly sculpting a figure which it has
its own set of challenges and issues
from the fact that, you know, it has to stand up
and I have to control the weight of the piece through the armature,
it has to convey a sense of balance and
a sense of movement even though a piece like this, you know, is
relatively static in the sense
that this pose doesn't have a lot of shifting
in terms of the pelvis shifting from the ribcage. The ribcage is fairly vertical,
the pelvis is fairly vertical, one leg is up and
one leg is down but, you know, there are a lot of things that
are in line with one another. So I wouldn't say this
particular sculpture or this particular pose has a lot of
dynamism to it, it's not the most dynamic pose
but I had to figure out, I would have to
figure out like what do I really wanna convey and then
once I had, you know, a basic idea of what I wanted to get
across, that's how I would then approach
the techniques that I use to finish it. In some pieces I might leave
a lot more texture, a lot more tool marks, a lot more
evidence of the process, in other pieces I might soften it
a lot more. And that may, you know, have something
to do with the ultimate intended treatment, whether
it was gonna be a bronze or a plaster, I might at that point
begin to think in that way, well if I leave these elements
it'll read much better in bronze if I
use a reflective finish, so ideas like that
would begin to come into play if I were to take this to a complete
finish. So in some sense I feel like you know where
we're leaving this is in a midway point where
some things have been very resolved, namely the
proportions, the relationships of all
the big forms, the relationships of a lot the smaller forms.
You know for example the fold in her abdomen that's caused by
her hand pushing forward to the scale of the forms above it
and her shoulder, those are all pretty resolved
and then other things have been blocked in like her hands,
this foot, her hair
you know for example on this side the hair is
really just a kind of a basic shape. And
once I figured out, you know the overall direction that I wanted to take it,
I would have
reasons for making adjustments and changes.
Because obviously this is a probably a 22 inch tall
clay sculpture, it's not the model. And once the model
leaves I'm free to adjust it and change it
in any way that I want that most
effectively gets across what my ideas about it are.
You know and that's sort of a whole other subject.
You know it would be the basis of a whole other video
of starting with the model and figuring out a pose that
is interesting and exciting in and of itself, as opposed to
something that, you know, is serviceable, to get across
the basic ideas of starting with nothing and building
a figure sculpture. But having said that I think
that what we've done with this piece
illustrates a lot of the issues that are central
to sculpting a figure from life.
We talked a little bit about the positioning of the model, the height
of the sculpture relative to you, how
to work with the armature, how to
apply the clay, how to separate the forms, all of those
things I think are central and are necessary to have
like a real strong sense of control over
before somebody moves from
creating something that is believable to
something that is sculptural or has
idea and foundation behind it. You can't, I think,
it's very difficult to immediately begin
by having strong feelings about what you wanna convey with
a particular model when you don't have a clear sense
of how the proportions work or how to make the
overall weight of the clay and armature stand up without
falling over. So that's what I was trying to
get across clearly and hopefully effectively
in working through this piece.
And I wanna thank you for watching and following along
through the process. I hope it was
informative and I hope that you enjoy
trying it on your own.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview27sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Placing the Head Correctly34m 35s
3. Angles and Depth of the Head38m 44s
4. Working Down the Back20m 25s
5. Lower Back and Pelvis23m 17s
6. Balancing the Back and Lower Arm32m 57s
7. The Hands and Breasts40m 23s
8. Tools and Final Thoughts31m 48s