- Lesson details
Join internationally acclaimed artist, David Simon, as he teaches you his approach to modeling a three-quarter life-size portrait in clay.
You will learn how to build your armature, take measurements of your model, block-in the facial features, hair, and neck, and how to build relationships between them. David will also cover the materials and tools he uses, and demonstrate his finishing techniques.
This course is a comprehensive representation of the sculpting process from a few blocks of clay, a pipe, and a wire, to a finished portrait.
David begins this lesson by comparing the sculpture with the model and identifying the major issues. After fixing them, he works on the eyelids, the eyebrows, and the eye-nose relationship. David shows how to add volumes where it’s needed and how to check angles. In the last part of the lesson, he focuses on the right side of the face.
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into this piece at this point
and I'm gonna begin today by
comparing what I have to Paul,
making a note of every
major area where what I have is
significantly different from what I'm looking at.
It's never gonna match perfectly
because his expression is gonna be constantly changing
and what I want out of the portrait is gonna be constantly changing.
for example I can see that
the left side of the mouth is significantly further in
here than it is here
which I think is a problem. The
angle of the ear is still a little bit of problem, there's
an asymmetry to the chin that I wanna add
that's fairly significant. Those are the main
issues that I'm seeing right now. And after
that I'm gonna have a lot of information that needs to be
modified, adjusted, and related to
other bits of information that I've accumulated. So throughout this
piece I've accumulated a lot of information. A lot of these
sort of little forms and where there are. And I've tried to place
them relatively accurately. Meaning
if the angle is roughly in this direction
I've put it roughly in this direction, I haven't really
paid close attention to minutely
modifying in, out, rotating, pivoting, all those
forms. And that's what probably
the second phase of what I'm going to
do is going to be about. You know I like
to compare it to juggling. I've got a lot of balls in the air right now
and now I have to create a rhythm amongst them
so I can add a few more and get them all functioning
together so they don't all fall on the floor.
where the outer corner of the mouth here
And I'm quite a ways off.
Like it should be out here. I do believe I have it marked
down here. So I'm gonna get
that measurement, check it
against what I have and, yeah, I'm fairly
Pull that corner out.
Immediately that looks much better.
I'm also gonna start adjusting
the angles here around the mouth
by bringing the
mouth as significantly as I just did
certain that I have to
these other angles as well, otherwise
everything is gonna pinch off.
that's gonna have to both
I'm changing this angle
and bringing it out a little bit more, but also adding more
volume to that form. Right now
I don't have a lot of volume to the forms.
I'm much more concerned at the beginning
with placement, getting everything
in, getting the relationships correct,
adding more information,
modifying what was there so that the new information will
fit in and once
I have enough there, which I feel like I'm pretty close to that
I will begin
to think about the volume of the individual forms
and how they relate to one another.
it's always a good idea
to step back,
angles, the angle of the back of the ear for example.
And you would think I mean I certainly did
this at the beginning and you would think that would be enough
but it never seems to be -
seems like every time I go through
the process once or twice
on a particular portrait,
what I thought initially and what I put
down initially changes.
And I think, you know, one of the things that is difficult to
explain and to understand and to really
get is like how, like what level
of attention - Paul can you
tilt your head back a little bit, chin up a little bit? Perfect.
Just like that.
Good. What level of attention you have to pay.
You know it's impossible to be perfectly
accurate all the
And in a lot of ways that can really slow you down
So I don't worry too much at certain
stages as to whether
what I have is exactly, perfectly right. It just has to be
kind of right. It's got to be moving in the
And when I get enough information then I have to reevaluate and what
was kind of okay and good
enough is then not
good enough anymore. And that's kind of the point I'm at
right now. All the things that I did at the beginning
that worked okay, if I don't
begin to modify them now, are going to
really limit what I'm able to do
with the portrait.
looking in general throughout
the information that I've laid in.
Can you close your mouth Paul? Thank you.
what is important.
You know certain little folds and things like that at this point are not
really important and may never be important.
and out of those things that are important, for example
certainly is important but there's a lot going on in there that I'm trying
to figure out, you know, what really
adds to the character, what are structural elements
that absolutely have to be there,
what are things that
addendums to that.
Sort of - they're there but they're
not crucial, I can leave them out without really
hurting the overall feeling of the portrait.
And of the things that are important, what do I have
that's really incorrect.
And a lot of that, if not most
of that stems from
just looking very carefully from a lot of different
angles and noting
various relationships, for example here
how deep is this relative - how deep is this relative
to what's above it. You know
definitely I see that going in but that
movement inward can be a result of everything around
it being in too far. Meaning if
I pull the form that I'm adding here
out well suddenly
this point is further in. So figuring out
whether something really needs to go in or whether everything around that
needs to come out.
And then at the same time
sticking to one area, I'm moving
through. I'm not just gonna get stuck on that chin, I'm going to
through the cheek, into the eye.
And another thing that
I'm going to begin to do is get rid of the
gaps in the
transition. So for example
in this area
between the edge of the lip and the
volume above the lip. Right now I have kind of gap
with holes in it.
I'm gonna get rid of that.
Here I've got a bit of a gap,
let me get rid of that.
I'm gonna move right on up
into the corner
of the eye.
And the quicker I can move through this area
that better off
I feel like I'll be because it's easy
to get caught up in seeing, you know,
things that are
rough or that could be a little more accurate, a little more
ultimately through experience I
know that that's not really
the biggest issue at this point. The biggest issue
at this stage is the relationships. Making sure
that a form up here has correct relationship to
a form down here. And so if I get this form perfect, by the time I
get up to this form I may realize that that whole form needs to come out.
So I'm gonna continue moving through this area, right to
the corner of the eye, here, where I do have
a big hole.
I'm gonna switch to little tool just to
reach into that area so I can fill it
with a little bit of clay.
I'll come back and draw
the edge of that form.
of the eye - can you open your eye Paul?
Or both of them, not one eye. Thank you.
I'm gonna lay in the form below
You know it's funny when I began
sculpting I would really try and polish off
a lot of forms as I was making them.
And as I realized how
effective that was
and I allowed it to get looser
and looser in these early stages, sometimes
I run into the opposite problem and I need to
kinda clean up some forms a little bit more than I
am in order to really
be able to see what's going on.
It's that kinda the right balance between going quickly enough
and actually putting in
information is useful and important.
You know it's very liberating when
you realize oh I don't need to polish everything
off all the time but
for me that kinda went -
but it can go in a direction where you feel like
I'm having a hard time figuring out where things need to go and
then realizing oh if I just clean it a little bit more
it'll become a little bit more evident to me
and then you can go in that direction,
get too caught up in cleaning things up so it's a constant
back and forth and ultimately you know what I'm talking about is
not how the piece will look
in the end, it's the process of getting there. And
everybody has a different - can you tilt your head
toward me a little bit Paul? Pivot a little bit more.
Perfect, like that.
Everyone has a little bit different ability
to see what
they need to see through
approaches to the process. In other words I know people who can
look through a very chaotic
surface and see exactly
what needs to happen and what they want. I know other people who are very
methodical and need to clean everything and
evaluate it in a very, very kind of methodical way.
In order to figure out what needs to happen
and, you know, I don't
personally feel like one is better
than the other, I think whatever people need to do
to make good work is what people need to do to make good work.
There are, you know, some large issues
that I think are true for everyone, everybody needs a way of
organizing all of the information that they're looking at
and figuring out
address it. Nobody puts on
clay perfectly, accurately, the first
time every time. So everyone is gonna have to make
adjustments in figuring out
the process that you need to go through to be able to see what
the adjustments that you need to make are,
is ultimately a lifetime
kind of pursuit.
of developing your particular approach.
And I can talk quite a lot about
my approach and the elements
that go into more or
less everyone's approach. Everyone has to look
and organize. But I
can't say that the way
one person does it, the way I do it, the way
someone else does it is the correct way.
Right now I'm
continuing to move through
into the corner of the eye.
Moving into that
Increasing a little bit
of volume of the cheekbone
While my model is on break, I'm
stepping back, evaluating, looking at
areas that are just kind of unclear to me. When I
step back, drawing them in.
Trying to look at areas that,
you know, have just
dark holes like the one I just covered up
ultimately preventing me from
seeing what's going on. You know early on it's not that
big a deal because so much needs to happen.
But I'm getting to a point where if I leave those
gaps, those sort of dark
holes that really don't represent anything, they're just the
edge of a form and then the next form doesn't begin
for a little while.
Then I'm losing
an opportunity in that area.
In other words if there's a gap
in the area that I don't have the
even the option to put anything in
so once I get rid of it then I can
a curve there, I can create one, two
three forms that may meet in that area.
Or I can just
kinda soften the whole
So what I'm doing
is just from memory.
From some of the things that I was
cataloging as I was
looking at Paul. For example I was
really noticing how his upper lid
recedes and dissapears
form, you know, in a pretty
and how it follow this arc.
And in general with the eye, the
aspect for me is to get everything almost around the eye,
the upper lid and how it relates to the form above
the eye, the lower lid, how it relates to the form there. The side
of the nose. And the last thing I'll deal with is the eye itself.
And if I've done it correctly I generally find that
I don't have to do very much to the eye to make it
work correctly if everything around it has been taken care of.
And vice versa, if I spend
a ton of time on the eye itself, it
makes it, you know it's very difficult
no matter how much time I spend to get it to look correct if I haven't gotten
the forms around it.
here is both
and the eyelid. They're kind of coming
Push that eyelid a little bit wider.
I'm gonna build up a little volume
on the brow.
And then the form
Right in here that I feel like I need to
And that's pretty
deep in there.
Okay I don't quite have it
low enough. I'm gonna lower a little bit more
But I think I have the general
direction right. So
lay that in
refine the shape a
little bit and then deal with the
inner corner of the eye in that upper lid. So that
upper lid needs to be
a gap between
that and that form I just put in.
And then the inner
corner of the eye
there. And now I'm just gonna cut
behind that. for the white part of the eye.
imagine at one point I knew
the names for all of these, the structures, the white part of the eye,
the iris, I know
which is the colored part, the pupil, the black dot
but it's much less important
in my opinion to know the names of everything than to
be able to
and had some sort of idea about their
general position and shape
whether or not
I know exactly what they're called and
the Latin term.
So I've laid that in, I know
the shape is not quite right. For me the easiest way for me to see the shape
is probably from the three quarter view.
So here I'm gonna just move the
high point in a little bit. So I added a little piece of clay
a little toward the inside and then
I'm gonna turn that
helping and then really push in
extreme in how round it moves
towards the inner corner.
So another thing I'm gonna do is push the
white of the eye a little more extremely inward.
So I'm cutting in here and then
I'll draw the edge and
recut and draw the upper edge again and recut
and then I'm gonna draw the bottom edge and that
allow me to just pull that bit out.
Cutting it away and
getting deep enough in.
I've got it too high up on the outer corner
so I'll just drop that down a little bit
I'll deal a little bit with the bottom lid
which needs to come up.
So I don't,
you know ,make an eyelid and pop it on.
Or make an eyeball and pop it into a hollowed out socket.
Because I'm really much more concerned with relationship
and very specific movements that
I'm not able to
articulate by putting an orb into
an empty socket.
all the way to the profile. if you can tilt your ear toward me.
Perfect, like that.
both at the upper lid, the lower lid, and
the brow, I feel like the brow, the angle of the brow needs to change
just a little bit.
There we go.
To expose a little bit more of that upper lid.
And then that movement into the corner of the eye
needs to be
And now I can drop down just a tiny
tiny bit that upper lid at that outer corner
And the main thing I need to do now is
change the angle of the lower lid which
needs to come downward
And then outward.
So I'm just gonna change that and I'm gonna use the knife to push
the light part of the eye in.
Okay. Now I'll just
check how it's working. Step back a little bit.
Not a hundred percent there but
it's much better, much closer,.
I'm separating a little bit right now the eyebrow
form above the eye lid.
Pull that form above the eyelid in
slightly, give it a little bit more of an arc.
Can you open your eyes
Thank you. Perfect. Now I'm gonna pull that eye
the temptation now is to
keep sculpting that eye. And I see, you know, a hundred little
things that I could do to improve on it.
But the smarter thing to do
I think is to move
to the other side,
actually even smarter than that would be to step
back, check the
overall context. I feel like overall
there's a movement here
that's missing that kinda creates a nice rhythmic
relationship that I don't quite
quite have yet.
There's a form on the side of the nose that's missing.
I'll lay in
more just a
I'm gonna begin to pull some of the
information from here over to the other
And probably as I do it I'm gonna make little modifications to what I
have in here.
upper lid here
I'm gonna push inward a little bit.
And then I'll come
I have from the other side, make sure it's roughly equal
ultimately I can immediately say I have the
opportunity to get a lot of expression in this area.
So I can see some
areas where I'm losing that opportunity.
I'm just gonna quickly make a few notes
to myself. I see, you know, these
overlaps I'm gonna try and show it to the camera
how this is coming really out and this should really be projecting
out and I don't have that so I'm gonna add that
is very difficult to see from the front view, which is how I was
looking at it.
But I can
see it from the three quarter view.
So I'm going to
just clean it a little bit to make it
emphasize that movement inward.
That nail is a little too
And I know it's accurate, I measured it a few times so
I can't push the nail in so I just have to bring the clay out
to the level of
that nail. In other words the nail is kind of
sticking just up a tiny, tiny bit beyond
the surface of the clay and
now I'm gonna make sure that it's perfectly in line.
Or in the same plane
as the clay. So you can see it's -
as I sculpt right over the top of it I can feel
that nail with the tool that I'm using.
And now I can bring that
right into the bridge of his nose.
And there's a hole
right in here.
I'm gonna fill that up.
And it's helpful to have a little circular
tool like what I'm using now
deep kind recesses that have things going on all around
them. You know squared off tool is gonna constantly be
hitting things around it, where that rounded tool you can
target it at an edge
and not worry that it's gonna
be hitting things around it. And it's not - you know I don't
use it a ton
for other things because
the benefit of it in an area like this where
I want it to -
essentially do what I am trying to do and avoid
everything else - in an area
like what I'm just switching to a straight tool because that round
one will only hit things
at the very edge of the tool
which will take a really long
time to do a, you know, an entire area with
so I won't really use that for a large area, I'll just kinda use it where I
need to get into an area and not touch everything around it.
Okay so I'm just gonna take a break
now I've got a little bit more going on in that
brow area, the eye area,
I'm just gonna look through what I've done and maybe
in an area like this
fill in la little gap that was being
get some of the
little bits of clay that are inevitably
to be integrated back in.
Make sure that
I have a nice
solid foundation in
here. You know one of the things that happens when
you work quickly or when I work quickly at least
is that lots of little bits
of clay get moved around and
dislodged and when I'm going quickly
I just don't pay too much attention to them but eventually
when I move to smaller areas I need to deal with that
and clean them off,
make sure that, you know, here an area like this
is very unstable. It needs to be kind of
packed a little bit.
And since this is oil based clay, you know, it doesn't matter at all
if there are air gaps but if the clay is really unstable
when I'm trying to put things down, they'll peel off or
not allow me to
do what I'm trying to do. So frequently I'll just take the
back of the tool and push down and compress those altogether.
So this is pretty good.
Just gonna remark
I can see there's a little bit of asymmetry of the nose. I have like more volume
on that side than I do on the other side, so that's
something I'm gonna make a note of
a set of marks. I'll just kind of
make little x's or little lines. And those tell
me, you know, I was thinking about something in that area that I wanna go back and
look at. And I do that quite
a lot as I work. I'll make - you know if I'm not
ready to deal with something because I'm doing
something else in a different area, I'll just put down
a little mark or a little set of marks. Sometimes I'll make little
curves lines which will tell me oh I think I need to add to this area
but I won't do it at that point
if, you know, if I'm ready to do that I don't need to make those marks. But if I'm working
here and then I'm expanding out to look at the broader area and look at the context
and I think something's not right here, I'll just make a few marks
that will indicate to me later on that I was thinking about something in that area
that I need to go back and look at. So I do
quite a lot of just sort of making notes to myself as work.
Because there's always so much
to deal with, to
process and to figure out that you can't,
you know, you'll either get so sidetracked if, you know, you spot something
and then you jump to that that you'll never get anything
So, you know, now I'm starting
to have symmetry issues like that clay I added in here
is bringing that area out, which is good, but it's making that area look flat
so I'm gonna begin this next sitting with Paul
just sort of getting the brow, some of the
volumes in the brow more
symmetrical. You know there really is
no substitute for having a model sitting
in front of you. Like immediately when he sat down I saw
you know okay there's a ton more volume here
and it's -
it is kind of amazing, I've been working with models
for you know 25 years maybe
single time I learn so
so much, which I think is what makes it
fun and exciting
and also another interesting aspect of that is
I've been working with Paul for a little while here, getting this portrait
begun so I've been looking pretty
carefully at him and still every time he sits down
so a new
20 minute session there are things that I discover
that I hadn't realized before.
And it can be like a very, very kind of
you know in a sculptor or painters practice when, you know, when you know you have a
model coming it really focuses everything around
that. You think about, you know, what you wanna do, what your
trying to figure out, what you wanna learn. Because when they're not there
you just don't have
access to that information. Even if you have photographs, even if you
have, you know, the next level up from a photograph in terms of
usefulness is a cast, like a cast
taken directly from life. Even with that you don't have what you have when you
actually have a model in from of you. And when you do have
the model in front of you you know, you know you have that opportunity to get
in there and so I'll find when
you know I have a model scheduled to come to the studio then I'm
working with that I really - I can't show up
at the same time that they do, I have to get there early
and kind of just go through the process of thinking what am I,
you know, what am I trying to get today, what am I
looking for, what do I wanna figure out?
And that, you know, that includes looking at the work that I'm doing
getting a feeling for, you know, what I feel is missing
from the work.
using the experience that I've had to that point with the model
to try and think of, you know,
Oh he does have or she does have the aspect that maybe I can
look for and pull that a little bit more into what I'm doing.
And then they show up and what you had
in your head invariably is
based on what's actually in front of you. And I can
change it day to day
session to session within, you know, a day of work.
The model is constantly providing
different bits of information
and different opportunities,
meaning he may
glance off to the side and you may suddenly
see something pop out in the forehead that
clarifies a bit of structure that
you were having a hard time figuring out, you know, where -
why is that line there how does that work with everything else suddenly
he glances over, his forehead furrows little bit and you see like oh
it goes all the way through like that and then you push
a transition all the way through and suddenly it works much, much better.
So I'm constantly trying to
be as attentive as I can be
to what's happening
with the model.
ideally, you know, dictates almost everything. You know the music I'm listening to,
the lighting situation
I have, how easy it is for
me to get close to the model. When I'm doing a portrait
I wanna be really
fairly close to the model
to be able to
precisely as I can the relationship of the forms.
Okay now I'm getting a better sense of volume in the
Now I'm going to move
actually step back for a second, take a look
So this form of the brow
I'm gonna just simplify right now with the
a piece of window screen
just kinda take, know it back
and then draw the edge of the eyebrow
and that really, I just
looked from three quarters, the really needs to go inward
form of the nose.
Now I'm gonna check from the front
and then on the edge I can really come out.
Okay now there's a really strong line
here. So I'm gonna drop that
line of the eyebrow.
So here is, you know, a good
example of a relationship
where, you know, I want that eye to appear
deep set and one way of doing that
is just cutting in the upper lid very deep.
Another way to do it is to pull the
eyebrow down and
right now I haven't really touched the eye at all
I'm just dealing with
getting the eyebrow into the correct
relationship. And then ideally if I've done that well
I should have to do less work to the eye
in order to make it feel like it's working correctly.
that seems to be good.
Okay so I'm just going back and forth
can you open your eyes Paul? That's good.
I'm gonna turn
him a little bit more to the profile.
Yeah so I feel like I have much to much depth
from the side view
so I'm going to pull
the back of the eye socket forward.
And back to the three quarter view,
cheekbone of that forward.
You know now it's a little
clearer to me. It's funny, you know, you do it, you put
it in, it looks okay and then
only later you realize like wait that's not in the right
location. And you wonder how you could have not
seen that earlier.
And it happens so
now I feel like I have a better idea of where the
back corner of the eye and the eye socket
needs to be. So I'm gonna begin moving
all of the form in
this area. So that whole eye
is tilted too far in here. So
that whole eye needs to pivot outward, cheekbone needs to pivot outward
so very carefully I'm just gonna take
the work that I've already done
and modify it
to accomplish that.
So it's very
rarely - it's very rare that I'm just making
a correction. Meaning that something's wrong
and I've got to fix it. I'm
improving multiple things.
When I see something, you know, that's tilted too far in, as
I move it out it's not just moving it out, it's also
changing the shape slightly as I move it.
In other words I see a lot more as a result of these little
modifications than just
the element that left me to what I'm doing.
So in other words I saw that that was too deep, both from looking
carefully at the three quarter and then confirming it from the profile.
And then as I add to that outer corner I can see that
the upper lid needed to project more
deeply into the
socket to make it look less
so as I pull out that corner I'm
the upper lid and now I begin to pull out
the lower lid.
And so it doesn't feel so much
to me like an error,
although it began
as an error but more as an
opportunity to modify and
refine and improve.
the relationship to the nose, like moving from the eye
to the nose is kind of a long movement.
Can you open your eyes
Paul? And tilt your head towards your left ear - perfect.
That to there and then all that below it
really needs to come out
a bit. I'll try and rotate it back as I add
that's much better now.
check it from here.
Okay so the shape of the eye
is not right. Can you tilt your head towards your left ear, perfect, just like that.
So that point is okay.
This angle need sto go up
where it's nearly...
and frequently I'll use just
the end of an exacto knife
to push in
the shape of the iris,
the colors part of the eye.
Just a quick way
to get around
shape in there I can modify the later.
you know everything is falling
apart for me as I get to the inner forner of the eye so
I'm moving in that direction
as I peek
just slightly toward the outer edge
the eye and then it really
pretty aggresively or quickly
as it approached the inner corner
and it -
at the same time the bottom
edge is coming out.
So like figuring out how to get from this high point all the way in
to that lower lid
Is a real challenge.
It's a whole little
landscape going on
of things moving around and changing direcitons and the angles
I'm both adding clay,
it so that is a little more
paying close attention to angles.
And to some degree it can a little bit
about the effect
that I'm looking for.
Predominately right now meaning the kind
and quality of the shadow
that ultimately I wanna
begin to see in that area.
Pushin a little deeper.
And re kinda -
repack the clay. You know the
roundness of the exacto knife
handle is nice for pushing in
but in a situation like this where the upper and the lower
lid are cutting
circle of the iris
there's a limit
to how I can use
that handle because I'm just cutting into the upper and lower
lid again and again as I
push that angle in.
So I'll use, you know, I'll use pretty much anything.
I can find the end of the bowl,
you know, the end of the nail just to be able to
get in and compress the clay
in the way that I'm trying to get the effect that
like inside the eye. Right now all I'm looking for is
you know a reasonable shadow.
And the first thing I'm really doing is trying to get,
for example, everything pushed
forward here. I've got this ugly line where the
whole back of the eye socket was and now the new back
of the eye socket. So I'm not, you know,
I'll get rid of that
but the first step for me is kinda the structure
and moving the structure around and getting the structure to
a point where I feel like it's
functioning correctly and then
the effect, you know, is generally
a little scattered. And so I'll sharpen
all of the angles and I'll sharpen the
put in the structure and
really gotten to a point where I feel like I understand what's going on.
Which ultimately is what makes the process
exciting. It's not creating a certain effect, it's this feeling that
suddenly I've understood what's going on.
And once that happens then
I feel a certain sense of control over
what's going on. And so I say okay that's turning in that way and that's moving
Then I can let myself kind of see the,
you know, the effect of how it looks and sharpen and
it up and polish it and adjust it and do all the things
that kind of lead to the finish.
It's very unsatisfying for me to work toward that
without having a very clear understanding of
what's going on. And that does, for me, take a
bit of time of like working through
the process. So
I'm gonna move from the inner corner
of the eye
where I need
to fill a little bit of the gap
the information, there's a hole there.
Fill that out. Another opportunity
to use a little round tool
to try and avoid
hitting the sides.
there's this long pull
from the high point of the eye
toward the corner. So I'm gonna have to
take the white part of the eye
get it out of the way.
And that's gonna give me a little more room
to take the eyelid
and turn it
and pull it into that corner.
And then take the bottom lid
begin to move it
toward that corner.
And then there's the
angle is a little different from what I just put in.
More like that.
that movement toward the inner corner of the eye
you know it's so important
both in terms of
understanding what's happening and creating a sense of life and depth
in the portrait. It's one of the more
areas to really kind of figure out because so much is happening
in such a confined
that's working better. And I'm
gonna move down through the nose
and into the mouth. So now
that I've done some work in the eye I can see
upper part of the -
the upper part of the lower part of the nose, this sort of area of the
nose is getting a little too wide.
A little bit of caraciture that needs to come in just because
now that the eye is there I can see that it was
blocking a little bit of the
view of the eye so I'm pushing in
just a tiny bit, you know that's a good
example of something that I saw kind of generally
at the beginning but now that there's more information around it,
suddenly I see it more urgently, more
specifically, and more as an important feature.
And you begin - you know there's certain things that you
can tell right off the bat when you look at a model that are going to be
important to capture, to understand, and
to represent. And that's sort of goes
toward caricature, you know, what are the main features.
And then as you
work and you add information you begin to see
secondary things that you didn't notice as being -or you noticed but didn't
kind of realize the function they
had in the likeness.
You know there's
a break right here
I'm going to need to have in order to
get the nostril
So in other words, this
edge here is caused by
the volume above it going in and allowing
that to come out.
That can come all the way across.
Now I can round
And now just by pulling it out a tiny, tiny bit
all I need
because the width of that
nostril is dictated not just by how wide the widest part
is but by how deep
this area above it here is.
The deeper that is
the wider the nostril will appear.
And then the
ending of that nostril and how that moves into
the inside of the nose is also pretty
in terms of creating a sense of delicacy to the
subtle thing and one that's
easiest to get into
just physically to get tools to go in there and create
those smaller movements.
But it will
ultimately be, I think, important
especially in this portrait
because it is
invisible on the profile.
Just because something is visible
doesn't necessarily mean it will be
easy to execute.
Things tend to be more difficult
when they're deeper
inside of the structure so, you know, getting
inside the nose, inside the mouth.
You're just kinda dealing with sculpting something and
at the same time avoiding hitting
things around it and also balancing the
represenation of things that are very, very near
to one another.
You know you generally have
that problem in the eye but, you know, when you're doing a portrait you're
always having to sculpt the eye so you kind of get used to
it to a certain extent. So having to sculpt the inside of the nose
or having to sculpt the inside of the mouth
are things that are a little less common.
And I suppose if you do
them a lot they become more common and not as challenging.
But that's generally
not the case. That's generally fairly rare.
So I'm pulling
down here to create more shadow
inside the nose.
I'm going to pull out a little bit
that gap I have.
I'm not gonna finish up that area, I just wanted to add
a bit of structure and information
to help move me into this area
of the upper lip.
Just have almost a
that I want to
some of this volume.
And then the movement
the corner of the
nose, which I feel like I can come forward
just a tiny bit of this form now.
it's above it,
Ultimately getting into - I have a hole
created there that I
need to deal with and to figure out
where I'm gonna
go with this area. You know it's certainly
a recess on him but not
anywhere near as deep as I have it.
But at this stage I'm not just gonna fill it up.
I want my
dealing with it be
part of refining
this whole thing and getting that whole area more
volumetric. So in some ways I may need to go deeper
in parts of that, like right in here I wanna make sure I
can turn the form
and turn the
And I can see I'm
gonna need to come out just a bit here.
Right about there.
this cheek will need to move
And then I think I need just a little bit more volume
from the outside.
turning that back.
And now I'm gonna combine that all
with a bit of screen just to
see the main elements that I
laid in. And the screen is great for pulling things
together but it also erases a lot of
things that were put down, you know,
presumably for a reason.
So, you know, it's a real
double edged sword. You draw a lot on the sculpture
and that provides you a lot with a lot of
ideas and information but it also can fool you
into thinking you have a lot of form.
And then when you
combine everything together using
screen or a tool, you can
suddenly see that all that drawing
was masking the fact that there really wasn't a lot of form or
or a lot of volume or a lot of whatever you thought there was. So sometimes
I'll just pull things together and take a look
at the result.
at the result.
I think right now it's being pretty
helpful, it's really showing me this really
intense hole right here that I do need to get rid of.
I'm not filling it up, I'm essentially pushing clay into the
very bottom of the hole. So
once I turn it
it's still a recess, it just doesn't have a whole bunch of
junk at the bottom causing a lot of darks.
And right now it's a bit angular, you know, which I'm not
crazy about and I'm not
sure what's going on here in this transition.
I'm going to
clean up and clarify the depth
of the back of the nostril.
I'm gonna sharpen -
you know these are = some of the things I'll do
when the model is on a break
are, you know, when I was
working on something with the model I tend not
to be very fussy about it because
there's so much I'm seeing the model so I wanna, you know, move on
new information, and then when they're on a break I'll just kinda go back
and look at areas that I may have kind of left a
little choppy and just clean them
up, you know, clean that transition right in here
by drawing two
lines and then just very gently pushing in
in between them.
And I know I'm missing a little bit
I'm just taking a
a look at some
of the big relationships where I am
making a few little notes -
turn your head a little bit that way, perfect,
just like that.
Can you lower your chin
a little bit? Perfect.
And I'm looking at
you know, large, you know, structural
may have become more apparent
when I dealt with like details around the eyes and the
nose and things like that.
And you know I'm seeing
you know the skull, some of the volumes
I want to
reemphasize and clarify and
make sure that the volume
in those areas. Like I feel like I have a problem
in the movement between the ear and the head
where it's just kind of -
there's a jump in level,
jump in height and in volume. So I'm
gonna deal with that right now.
Again I've got that nail right there, which is helping
quite a bit to figure out
where things are, what's going on
so I know
with a pretty good degree
of specificity like these forms that are right around
it because I know on his head what
that nail represents. And so everything
right in this area is
pretty clear to me the direction
and the height, where it needs to be.
So right here
for example that needs to lower
work into the earlobe.
But now I've gotta move from there
into the cheek.
And there's some big movement
want to put in.
These are kind of rhythmic relationships.
This line that's going from
the back of his jaw
up toward the corner of his eye
is one that
a connector, a visual connector for me
to make - to give it a little bit of a sense of elegance and
purpose to the forms,
you know, as opposed to looking at this in isolation
this little transition, I'm connecting it up to
something else. You know if I were to draw
a line through that area, where would it end up?
And that both helps me to see the angle accurately but also
I think helps to give a little bit of rhythm
to the -
to that area of the portrait so it's not just
a kind of a little line made at a
You know rhythm essentially
involves connecting to
to unlike areas with a particular
kind of relationship
and so in
sculpture it's seeing the relationship between this area and this area
and giving it a particular
connection even though
they stay separate
in doing different things.
So I'm adding a little more volume.
I'm looking a little bit more for certain
rhythmic relationships, I'm -
but ultimately what I was seeing from the front view that made
me jump over here to do this was
a lack of volume to the head.
quickly after I add this
little bit of volume here
I'm gonna shift back to the front view and see if adding
what I added was enough.
I know I don't have a ton of room to add because of where
that nail is. I can't come out much.
because that nail represents the high point.
So I'm gonna turn
the high point to the front view.
that is definitely
helping. I think I need a little more
Yeah that's definitely helping things
stay a little bit more
where they need to be,
more volume here helps hold the information in the
eye and the nose.
In a better relationship
volume wise and size wise the eyes look
kind of more appropriate for their position and size with
more volume there. The mouth doesn't pop out
as much with that
information there and that's not gonna lead me into this
Still feel like I could connect up a little bit more right in here.
go into here.
So that's gonna
let me pull that form forward.
Right to that line.
And when I'm doing this I'm just gonna
constantly turn it to the front view
to check where I am.
You know it's one of the challenges of
sculpture is it can look great from the view you're working on
and then you turn it and realize everything is in the wrong
spot. Can you move your chin up a little bit?
Perfect. So here.
I'm gonna move forward.
seems like there is a -
that can come down.
Coming off of here.
Off of that cheekbone.
This could come even a bit more forward.
And then move
And I'll move - I kind of got
side tracked for a second seeing
that direction of the nostril but now I'm gonna move back.
The cheek bone
like I'm gonna move right into
I'm really gonna begin
by focusing on the angle
I can move into
the basic movement of each of those.
So the ear is another area where a rounded
tool is really helpful for getting in
into the deeper
So the ear is, you know,
You know my approach to dealing with it really is
the angles and turn the curves as much as I can
now it's gonna come up,
this is really gonna
And then I know I can get rid of
a lot in here.
Change the angle
of the back of the ear a little bit. Come
can go to about there.
this will be about here.
Right in here will be
Build up a little bit of volume
And that will certainly help
work out that entire area. Now that I have a little bit of
And again I'm trying
basically to keep the level of
finish, the level of information,
the level of relationships,
consistent through the entire piece so, you know,
the ear has some information but is not
detailed. The eye
has some information but hasn't been completely detailed. The brow
all through these areas has a similar amount
of finish and information and it's getting
to a point where I'm beginning to
see things more clearly. There are still areas,
like in the mouth, which are very schematic and not
well thought through.
Areas in the brow and the hair
certainly the back of the ear,
the back of the skull, all that needs
a little bit more thought and
but I'm pretty happy with
information that I
have. I'm beginning to feel like I understand it better. I feel like
in terms of the way it looks, this area is a problem.
You know it looks a little bit
unresolved even though I have a fairly
clear idea of what I wanna do there. So
when he comes back from break I'm gonna
address this area a little bit more, probably go up into
the brow. And I'd like to move
from here into the corner of the mouth
to figure out a few things
in there. While I'm waiting
there are certainly
holes that are
sitting in these areas that I can
I'm gonna come up into
the eye socket
and get a little bit of information
So I'm moving from
the corner of the eye
in and around the lower lid.
It's such an interesting area, things happen so quickly
you know it moves way, way out and then way, way
way in in a relatively
small amount of room.
So it's a fun area to deal with
but also a pretty challenging
And one, you know, for which I generally probably
have a lot of drawing information
that I put in and lots of different angles
and notations of things that I'm seeing.
But then later on you'll get
Because again it's not about, for me
it's not about the effect,
it's about kinda feeling like I really
understand what's happening. And once I understand it,
well. Like I can simplify it, I can
have more intense or less intense shadows.
If I don't understand it, you know,
have enough experience to kind of fake it in a way
so it looks okay but ultimately I feel like it really
number one it's not very satisfying to do
and number two I feel like I don't really have as much
control when I don't have a real clear sense that I've figured out
what's going on.
portrait is, you know, such an interesting thing as opposed to a figure or
even more generic head. You know you can
study anatomy and you can study kinesthiology, you can study
all of the
underlying elements and get, you know, a pretty,
you know, pretty good figure, a convincing
human head, but a portrait is really different. A portrait
a deep understanding of an individual's -
the way they look, something about the way they
hold their features and how their features sort of
interact with one another, which to me
is really impossible to glean from a
book or from knowing
general ideas about anatomy.
You have to look
very, very carefully
and you have to
have the patience to kind of figure out
the connections and what makes someone really
feel the way they feel to you.
And so it is
I think super
and satisfying when it works out
And generally it's
easier to do a portrait when you do have a fairly strong
someone's appearance, about the way they look, you know, when you
say like wow that person really is interesting looking or oh I love
the way they're eyes are, you know,
related to their mouth, that's so interesting. When you don't really have any
feel for someone it can be very challenging
to do a portrait of them. And Bernini
typically would do these caricature
sketches of the people that he did important portrait commissions of.
And it seems to me that that was a good way
for him to kind of figure out for himself
what elements were important to him
in representing their personality.
And it's particularly fascinating in Rome where
I teach every year there's a gallery called the
Doria Pamphili Gallery. And in that gallery
there's a portrait Pope Innocent X -
actually two - well there are actually quite a few portraits because that was
his house but there are two very important portraits of him
in the same room. One by Bernini and one by Velasquez.
And it's relatively rare
to have portraits of the same sitter
by two such important artists of the
same period. And it really
exemplifies and shows
that you can pull out completely different facets
of someone's personality and their
and get two great, great portraits
that say completely different things. You know which
in some ways is to say there's not a right or wrong thing
to find interesting or important or
critical to what you're doing,
what's important is to have something that you
want to communicate with the
portrait. Something about the person that you find
interesting. Whether it's a
personality trait that is revealed by
their - by a certain aspect of
their physical presence or whether it's just an interesting
sort of physical
idea. Something that you look at and say oh there's something fascinating
about the way that looks.
Having that in your head I think is really important for a number of
reasons. Number one it gives you something overarching
to judge what you're doing against
if all you say is oh I just want it to look like him
and you don't have an idea of what that means.
Meaning okay, for Paul I feel like he's
very, very wide across through the ears and goes super narrow
to his chin and overall there's a big triangular shape
to his head. His head is wide here, narrow here,
the eyes go dark, they're very deep set and the mouth is
wide. You know that kind of set of issues is something I
can constantly kind compare to what I have. And if I'm not
seeing that, no matter what else is right there's obviously something
wrong with what I'm doing. If all I say is
oh I want it to look like him, when I step back I don't really know I'll just
kind of catalogue okay that's a little different and that's a little different, but
inevitably things are gonna be different.
You know the clay sculpture
the marble sculpture or whatever medium I'm using is not
gonna be identical, nor should it really be.
You know these days you can take a 3D scan of the person and get
you know very accurate representation which doesn't necessarily mean
that it's going to be a good portrait. A good
portrait is much more about the
artist who's making it have a clear idea
the work that they're making
and expressing that idea.
And the idea doesn't have to be purely intellectual,
it can be technical,
you know there can be a technical element that I'm
interested in exploring and I work with
a model or a sitter who
lends themselves to
that idea coming
It could be psychological, something that
I want to explore psychologically in the portrait.
But what it can't be is nothing. I can't have no idea.
That's always a problem.
And sometimes the idea that I
began with will change as I work.
I may work with the model and get to know them better and see things about them that I
didn't know at the beginning and want to
kinda focus more on that than what I initially thought.
And that's what's so much fun
about working with the model, you do get
that constantly evolving
relationship both in terms of what you can see
and how you feel about them.
So I'm feeling better now about this area.
And I think I'm gonna move
a little bit
into the mouth which
is probably the weakest thing in my view right now.
I'm looking across it
from a three quarter view is generally pretty
helpful in figuring out some of the
And one of the things I think that's challenging about
you know I don't like really the term realistic because that has
there are so many different ways that you can
make a portrait that feels real. You know I think of the great
portrait sculptor Houdon, French
18th century and
Bernini whose portraits I really love
and they're completely different. They both -
in isolation if you
just look at an individual work out of
context with other things feel
very real to me.
But when you begin to compare them, Houdon's work is much
more realistic, strictly speaking.
than Bernini's work is.
there's something, you know, very kind of
primal for me about Bernini's portraits
that they really - the two
that I consider his best, his portrait of Cardinal Borghese and
his portrait of Costanza Bonarelli, they both
have just such a kind of a
clear feel to me that that portrait
represents really who these people were.
And any exaggerations or
deviations from pure realism
only seem to highlight
who they were in terms of the
way I react to them.
So I don't like the term realism
because it doesn't really - I don't think it says a lot.
You know is it realistic in terms of its feeling, is it
realistic in terms oft he fact that if I measure
the model it would be closer to the model than a different kind of a portrait.
But the challenging thing about, you know, quote unquote
realistic portraiture is that
all of those things about how somebody feels have to be
put into the context of
the rest of their physical attributes.
You know it may be something about the way they hold their mouth or about the
shift in their gaze, how their eyes move
that you feel is really kind of capturing
who they are. But you can't deal with that until the skull is
the correct size, until how far out
the hair comes relative to the nose is accurate,
all these things that may seem you know
ancillary or secondary to
getting someone's personality to read correctly have to be
included and present
before you can deal with those elements of
really capturing someone's personality and
the feeling that you wanna get. And that I think makes
I mean representation in general, it's easy to get
caught in the technical and the, you know, get it to
measure correctly and get all of the
the elements that technically need to be
focusing on those
and missing the more
important feeling of the work.
And yet you can't deal
with the feeling of the work if you haven't done all that
other stuff. And so in some ways
experience and doing it many, many times is the only
way that you can deal with all the technical elements
correctly and confidently
and still have the
ability and the
the leftover energy to deal with
what's ultimately important. You know I'm willing to
compromise some of the technical elements to make the
the way I want it to feel. But generally I'll put them all in
first. I'll get it all, you know, pretty accurate
and then it doesn't bother me to lose some of that
kind of strict accuracy to get something else
and if I screw it up I've done it enough times
that I'm pretty confident that I can put it back. So I'm
willing to take more chances later on in the process
and, you know, generally people who don't have as much experience are
just a little less willing if
something technically is working well, you know, they wanna keep
that, which, you know, is really understandable
and something that I struggled with
early on. You know it didn't feel quite right but
there are certain things that I wasn't really willing to let go of.
And once we've done them, you know, 30, 40, 50
times it's not as hard to let go of those things.
You know you'll have another opportunity to do them if
you give up,
you know, what you take out, if the portrait
is worse without it you know you can put it back, it doesn't feel
quite as -
putting a lot of little -
making a lot of little changes around the mouth
to try and
and I'm at the
a similar level to what is around it.
Sometimes there's just a ton of different things going on in this area.
Very often I'll put in, you know, a bunch
and then just edit it down, you know, because
I don't want every wrinkle and fold
in there. Some are important and some are not
important. And ultimately
more does not equal more - less doesn't always equal
more or the less are a -
if you've eliminated important things and left unimportant things
then more would be more. So it's
figuring out like what's important and what's not. And sometimes for me that
means putting a little more information.
You know if I see 12 forms I'll just sketch in all 12.
And in the process of doing that very frequently I figure out
oh yeah those three or four really are not,
you know, they're not connected to anything, they're
just noise. But these other ones are really kind of important
because they reinforce the rhythm or they do
something I realize is important by
by putting them in. By putting them in
I'm kind of beginning to form kind of a relationship
with them, beginning to understand like when I
look at them, when I just kind of see like oh there's a bunch of wrinkles there.
a first step but that doesn't have anything to do with me really understanding what they're
what they are. When I say okay let me put them in, suddenly I have to
think about okay what angle are they on, how close are they to that center point,
how far away are they from the lower lip,
and in that process of figuring all that stuff out I begin
a little bit more to understand, yeah, they're not that.
That particular one that's not really that important.
So for example this shape I'm making now I'm beginning to
kind of see how it relates to
the rest of the chin.
It's gonna actually I think be fairly important, it's gonna come more
and more in here.
And it's gotta come closer to that line.
And it's gotta come out
closer to the level of that nail so it's actually
I actually had it quite far
off from what it should have been.
And I'm gonna use the screen again
to simplify that area.
here and then that whole shape needs to
right there I'm gonna hang that
pull this all down.
All that in
around. So definitely
that's making the chin more
And now turning it this way, it's much -
hanging down much to much compared to
what I have on the other side. So moving that
So this is a pretty good example of what I was just saying,
I put in a lot of information
and I just took it all out and simplified it, all that
information was pointing me kind of in a direction
of just having too much mass
underneath the chin. And once I
kind of got that idea, I didn't need all the little lines
and information I just
needed to remove a lot of material, which I did. Now I'm gonna
and look at
a few of those lines that I feel like are kind of critical
line here is really defining
the back edge
of the chin and how
it's moving underneath.
And once I have that
then I have
a pretty good division between the chin
and everything else
I can kinda come in
I can come in a little lower there.
And now I have a much
better feel for this whole
area. Although it doesn't
quite look like it right now.
I'm missing a few elements and I'm gonna put in
and then this
And I've gotta make sure
this comes out a little further than the
comes out a little bit more.
So that's definitely
to me even though I'm not super happy
with how it's
finishing right now. You know this area
needs a bit more
I feel like I understand it much better. So I'm
it'll be much quicker for me
to deal with it.
I'm concentrating more
on the mouth
be important in how the chin
and jaw gets resolved in that area and I wanna know
how deep am I going to end up with
this portion of the lip.
Everything is so
that I can't just get the jaw accurate
absent having an idea of
some sort of resolution in here.
Okay so today
I added, you know, I added the eyes,
did a bunch of work around the eyes, around the
mouth and the chin, the nose, the ears.
And I'm beginning to get
this thing a little bit closer to being a portrait.
There's still quite a bit of
information to deal with, relationships
need to be
balanced. But I can kind of
see at this point the direction that it's taking
and then the next session
I'll work a little bit to expand
some of those areas of information onto
the, you know, onto this side. I spent, you know, a bunch
of time in here. I'll work to
move that through, also work to deal with the hairline
and how it meets the brow, resolve the ears a little bit
further, and continue to
pull things together. And from that
point then I'll start to look at the overall kinda feeling
and expression and work on manipulating
the darks and lights to get
a clear feeling of that through the piece.
Free to try
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
30m 55s2. Comparing the sculpture and the model, fixing the major issues
32m 16s3. Working on the eyelids and the eyebrows
30m 43s4. Building the relationships between the eyes and the nose
29m 0s5. Adding volumes, checking angles
37m 7s6. Working on the right side of the face (the eye, the cheek, the mouth, and the chin)