- 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.
In the beginning of this lesson, David refines the left side of the face and lays out the facial symmetry. After that, he cuts the sculpture’s neck through with a wire and changes the pose of the sculpture to give some movement to it. Then David adjusts the neck and the lower part to the new pose and adds more details to the neck connection with the head and the shoulders. You will also learn how to give movement to certain facial features like eyes or lips.
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I'm going to deal with two things
predominately. Today I'm going to begin with the symmetry
on this side, on this side of the mouth I'm going to add some of the information
that I put in one this side. The ear.
I'm going to - you can see on this side it's still pretty
schematic and on this side last time I added a lot
more specificity and information so I'm gonna
take what I have here and
add it here, just to balance out the two sides. When I
began to look today I noticed that the chin
was a little wider on this side, the jaw line a little less specific.
I'm gonna deal a little bit with that and then I'm going to
take a wire and cut right through his neck and change the
pose. I always start these portraits
with the head facing forward, the eyes facing forward, the mouth closed,
whatever the final position is going to be
and that helps me lay out the symmetry and get everything
lay it out in terms of depth. So the cheekbones are at the same depth, the nostrils,
the corners of the mouth. It makes it much easier for me to get
the likeness if I start out in a neutral position
but I always never end the portrait that way. I always -
almost always want to give some sort of
movement to the eyes, to the head, to the mouth,
and what I tend to like to do
is as I get to this point working with the model I get a sort of
sense over time of what I'd like to do with them. So I'm constantly thinking
of ideas, of things I'd like to do
and when I'm at this stage I'm at a point where everything is still
you know relatively
well placed but not finished. So I'll be in a
pretty good position once I cut the head to turn it, tilt it, shift the
eyes, do whatever I want, and then finish everything together.
So that's the plan for right now.
interesting the process which
intellectually I know, you know I've been doing it
a long time so I kind of have a pretty good
idea of what's going to happen
so I have a pretty good idea
of the process. And not just, you know, what I should be doing and when I should be doing it
but what it will feel like
to me at
different points along the way.
I think that
there are always points where I'm
less satisfied, less happy with it, more happy with it,
where I feel like things are going well and points where I
feel like things are not going well. And this has
been true for me for years and years and I'm really pretty excited.
At the beginning before I start because I
think wow I think I'm gonna do a really nice
job on this, I'm excited to get started,
and that holds through for the first, you know, the beginning
of work. You know you start off and there's nothing there
and fairly soon there's something
there and you know it looks pretty good
and I'm pretty excited about it and then
I get into the middle phase where some things are working
or some things have advanced more than others and I begin to get
things are not exactly the way I want them to be and they're not
looking right and there's an
ever growing gap
between what I'm seeing and what I'm
making and what's super
helpful for me is the time in between
sessions when I work
and then when I stop, take a break for
lunch or, you know, end of the day and come back
the next day and I see it fresh.
And that's definitely true today.
I remember very clearly leaving this at the end of the last
session and feeling a little bit frustrated about all the things
that I had done that I wasn't
completely satisfied with. And then I came back
today and the same things that I
was working on I saw kind of in a new light and I thought
you know what that actually is working pretty well I just need to deal with
these few other things.
Okay Paul, turn your...
And so you know that's
I think that always holds true, that idea
over not just the course of one
sculpture but over
the course of, you know, an
education, over the course of a career. There are things
that I've done that I've been unsatisfied with
and then I look back, you know, one of the benefits of being
a sculptor is generally the sculptures are pretty durable and they
will last for, in most cases, longer than I will.
And to see them
a month later, a year later, a decade later, things that
I was unhappy with
I see different kinds of value in.
That's, I think, true for a number of reasons. One I think
the process is
so intense and so
rigorous and it has so many components to it that it's very easy to get
lost in the practical
elements of what I'm doing, you know,
moment to moment. And how
each one of those
elements is functioning in a way
that I either anticipated or not functioning in the way I anticipated.
And ultimately that's not
what I see later on. I never look and
see like oh that little wrinkle or that little bump is not exactly
like what I was seeing in the model. That's almost never
an issue later on. Later on the issue is whether
the sculpture is working as a whole. Does it feel
alive, does it have -
does it have an interesting composition
are there - you know there are all kinds of things that are intrinsic
to the work itself that when you are working with the model
and you have this external reference that you're, you know, in some
ways aiming at
really easy to get wrapped up and
obsessed with that and I think it's a
constant challenge, I supposed
depending on, you know, someone's personality. Some people don't care
about that and are really, you know,
I'm assuming that there are a lot of people that are very good
at setting that aside and focusing on what's important.
But for me there's always
a play back and forth of
the technical and the
aesthetic and the
psychological aspects of the work.
And the thing that
always is the most helpful to me in balancing those is time,
giving myself the time to be away from it a little bit.
Okay Paul. Chin up, good.
And can you tilt your head toward your shoulder a little bit. Good
That time away
I think predominately
helps me look at what I'm doing as a whole. It's very easy
to focus in because, you know, a certain
extent you have to be good at really
honing your focus and seeing things
not vaguely as they are but really
precisely as they are. Which is, you know, kind of
a very difficult
skill to describe because it's not
you know it's not being good at detail, it's not being able to
to sculpt really tiny things accurately.
It's about being able to see one thing
very, very kind of specifically and quickly
relate it to something else in as
specific a way as
can be done.
So in other words, the - a point here in
relation to a point here and a point here. It doesn't matter if
each one has every single nuance
and lump and bump of the original
what matters is the relationships between
the three things or the four things or the ten things that I'm putting in
have an analogous
relationship to those points on him. In other words
the things themselves that I'm sculpting can be
slightly different from how they are on the model
but the relationships have to be
very, very precisely
related to how they are on the model. That's what
creates a sense of
likeness. Not so much a perfectly
identical nose but the fact that the nose to the mouth to the eye
to the cheek has the same relationship in the sculpture as it does in the
model. And in some ways focus
on too much on the every specific detail
and the properties
of those details can hurt the likeness
because you get very wrapped up in making the curve of the
ear precise but then the relationship of one part of the ear
to another part is less
strong and therefore the likeness is less
So in any event that's what the first thing that I kind of noticed today
was the things that were frustrating me last week
seem less important right now.
And what was
for me the most jarring when I looked at it was the lack of symmetry
the fact that one ear had a lot of information, the other had none
I decided although I do
really want to
develop a pose today
and start making some shifts
I felt like I really
have to begin by getting at least some
of the information that I have on one side into
You know and a question, you know
an obvious question might be well how much? Do they
need to be identical the two sides, do they have to
match in every way?
And in general I think that the answer
is no they don't have to both have identical amounts of
information, obviously the information
doesn't need to be identical because in life
it isn't identical. But
I feel like that the
the information and the
amount of information should balance.
So I don't want twice as much detail here as I have here.
I can have slightly more on one side than the other
but if it begins to really
kind of jump out at me that they're
both quantitatively and qualitatively different
quantitative I mean, you know, the amount of information is
significantly more on one side than the other. By qualitatively different
I mean maybe I only have straight lines
on one side and I have a lot of curves on the other so the
significantly different leading to a problem
the two sides of the head feeling
like they're part of the same sculpture.
it's, you know, it's constantly a challenge
to manage the process
particularly in a
situation like what I'm doing, doing something
where I do have a fairly limited time,
we've got cameras set up and we're recording,
there's a schedule,
and I can't work
outside of that schedule because I want everyone to be able to see what
I'm doing. If this were my
studio I would, you know, maybe
work a little bit in between sessions with the model. If I saw
something that was bothering me
so in some ways this is a little bit of a
process for me, as I would imagine for most
artists it would be.
I'm trying to be -
I'm trying to verbalize a little bit what
those differences are.
And then, you know
it's also challenging because as
I go in, you know particularly the ear,
you know ears are always so much fun for me to
sculpt. In some ways I find them
really easy to do because there's
You know it's just a matter of following
these moving lines around.
And they are, you know, they're very complicated
patterns of movement and line but also
you know in some ways really easy
because they aren't, you know, these very
soft forms that
can be difficult to follow and
you know have all these subtle
shifts, you know they're pretty -
they're pretty straight forward and, you know, I can just
get into spending lots of time
going layer by layer, more and more detail.
You know there certainly comes a point in the
process where the more you do -
even as you're making the thing you're working on better
you're not necessarily making the sculpture better. And so
figuring out at what point you
need to stop or you can stop and move onto something else
you know is a skill that you develop I think over time.
And not necessarily one that
at least for me. You know I feel like
there's lots of times I spend a lot of
time on an area and then I end up getting rid of,
all that information or eliminating maybe
you know, 70 percent of it in order to balance
everything out. And I guess I've gotten to a
you know, a point of being okay with that
but it'd be nice if I could always know in the moment I don't
need to do any more on that I can move on but
sometimes I just get wrapped up in something. You know like oh I really love the way
that moves and I'll create the really nice ear that
has, you know, lots of great movement and
information and a week or two later
take almost all of that information out because
it's distracting from a more important
element. Or I may end up covering all of that
information that I put into the ear with hair.
Okay. You can take a break. Need a cup of coffee Paul?
You know so that, you know, that's something that happens
fairly frequently. In fact in my studio
I'm working on a piece
which is really just a demo for a class but I'm
kind of enjoying it, the model is really very challenging
and I laid in the ears, you know,
a few weeks ago and
then yesterday I just completely covered one side with clay
because the hair - I changed the
position of the hair and it covered the ear. So all that work
went down the drain. But I think
it's, you know, a very -
a very problematic
idea, the idea of efficiency.
I think that it's
desirable, you don't wanna be doing a lot of
extraneous stuff but I think it's almost impossible
to learn to do this well without
just accepting the fact that you're gonna do a lot of
things all the time that don't work out, that
you're gonna have to redo and
moreover to not see that process of
doing things that end up getting destroyed
and redone, to not see that as
a mistake or a waste or
You know I really feel like all the things I've redone
multiple times in my career, be it figures or
portraits or molds or castings
the only time I view those
as failures or mistakes or problems is when I didn't
learn anything from doing them. You know some of those are more
frustrating than others. You know if you make a mold that doesn't work and you have to make it all
over again, you know it's expensive and
time consuming, it's particularly frustrating
if you're doing it yourself because that time that you're making the mold is time
that, you know, generally i'd rather spend
sculpting. And so to have to
then make a whole new mold, that can be definitely
very frustrating. But almost every - not almost - every time that happens
I learn a lot about why it happened,
about how I might do it
different next time, and I also kind of accept
the fact that just because I learned from that
particular experience doesn't mean I won't
have that experience again.
You just try not to have that experience in the same way, you don't want
to make the same mold and make the same mistake. But
if you're doing really
good work, I think
doing good work involves
contributing something. Even a very small
thing to the way
made and to contribute
you're going to have to figure things out in a way
that people aren't already
doing them. You know and that can be,
you know, as small as the way you
sculpt a particular thing or mold
or, you know, the way that you
handle the process when you do what, the kind of finish you put on,
the kind of patina you
develop to finish your
casting, it can be any number of different things but
if it's not something that everyone does it's going to take a little bit of time
to figure out and that time of figuring it out
is gonna come with a lot of inefficiencies and
a lot of
trial and error.
Okay so my temptation right now is oh keep going, I've got
a very basic kind of block out of
the simple shape of the ear
I'm gonna leave that ear
for now and move onto the
jawline, the mouth, and do a little bit of work right on there.
I'll begin to shift the entire
some of the smaller details, the way things are
are put together with the larger
movement. Sometimes I'll put things in and the
basic - all the basic movements within are correct
but then I step back and the larger overall movement
is not. And it can be
you know pretty minimal,
changes that I need to make to get that
bigger movement to work and
if I have the choice, the bigger movement
is always more important than
the smaller detail.
Okay this needs to come back into
And for me the detail, you know a lot of these little
are really helpful early on
to get myself placed, to say okay that little form is here, let me
lay that in and then this little form is here and it's - there are
five little forms between here and here and I'll lay them in, you know, fairly quickly
and then later I'll just
take a piece of screen like what I'm doing right now and just
remove them or combine them all.
And it, you know, it can seem
in some ways well why did you put all those in in the first
place. And I feel like
often for me those, like specifics, really
help me where I am and the times
that I've tried to not do that
the result looks very vague
and unsatisfying to me. And when I do
add them back, not
not in the sense that I wanna see all those details in the finished
piece but in terms of the process, in terms of making it
when I use those,
when I lay in detail early - not necessarily
finished detail but just sort of lots of very specific things
and then erase them through the process,
I feel much more confident about where things
should be. And I know other
sculptors who are really excellent sculptors who don't do that,
who are able to keep the large forms really
very accurate without ever adding a lot of detail.
And I think what that really
speaks to is that there is no one
correct way to sculpt. The correct
way is the way that works to produce
your best result.
I think there
are certainly things that have been proven to work
better for a larger number of
people and approaches
to sculpting that certain people can make work and
can utilize and turn out
really amazing things. But when
most other people try to do it that way,
they have problems
you know those approaches may
not be the best way to
teach someone because there's a fairly small subset of people that will be able to
use those approaches in an effective way.
But the proof is always, in my
opinion, in the finished work. If the finished work is great then
the way you got there was the right way to get there.
If the finished work is not good
then however you did it was not the right way for you to
have done it.
why certain teachers work really well for certain
people and not for other people. The way I
sculpt makes a lot of sense to a certain group
of people and for them I'm a
really good teacher and may not
make a lot of sense to other people for whom I wouldn't
be a great and
And the other thing I think - or another thing that occurs to me
doing this is that one of the challenges
and making sculpture and that combination
was highlighted to me by
a painter friend of mine who refused to teach
and, you know, his reason that he gave to me
for refusing to teach is that he likes
take a lot of chances in the studio
do a lot of things that you would never want to
tell a student to do
because it, you know, it seems counter intuitive and
many times it doesn't work at all but sometimes it leads you
to something really interesting. And he was afraid that if he
started teaching painting
that he would almost unconsciously
stop taking risks in the studio because he would
constantly be telling students, you know, this is the correct way
to paint and it would be harder and harder for
him in the studio to
counter that. And frequently you do have to do things
that are completely
antithetical to what you would tell someone
in terms of what a good
approach to the process is. And that,
you know, that's really
something that I can understand
as, you know, as a challenge
because I feel like all great things in almost every
field come from challenging the way
things are normally done.
to teach someone a process
there needs to be
some sort of agreed upon method
even when you're trying to challenge something if you've never learned
a particular way to do something then challenging that
way is impossible because you don't know what that way is.
So when you're teaching you're almost by default putting together
a method that is
reproducible for a number of people. And if
you're trying in your work to challenge the idea
of one way of doing something
to whatever extent you're doing that
ideas can come into
pretty well. So there's a lot going on
in here that
I'm just barely
touching on because I know once I turn it
I'm gonna see it differently.
So I'm just going to get into the corner of the mouth a little bit
And then begin a large changes.
that I'm gonna make.
not that everything is completely resolved but I don't
want to be resolved at this point because I know from experience that
once I shift all of this, you know, once I
turn the head some of this
will change and my view of it will definitely change. I'll be
able to see things more clearly. So Paul
I'm gonna ask you to turn your head
to the right. So I'm gonna take
this piece of wire that I've
strung between two
screws and I'm
gonna slice through the head right
below the neck.
I guess I didn't get a big enough wire.
Let's take a five
minute break. So little technical problem
my wire broke so I used two pieces and I braided them
together and I just pulled that wire
all the way through the neck to the armature
underneath and then I'll pull it out.
And now this
plane of his chest and his collar bone
is going to be parallel to this front edge of the base
of that wood and I'm not going to change that unless I changed his
position. So right now he's sitting in a chair, facing forward
and this is the front plane of the wooden
square that he's sitting on.
So the way I'm going to position the head is
relative to this flat. So I'll say is he looking at the
the square he's sitting on, is he looking at the center of the square is he
looking in between. So making sure that you have a square that
the sculpture is on is important. Okay.
So now he is both has his
head turned about
to the corner, about there.
it's also tilted
to the side.
I'll trim that
And then it's also
And when I do this, when I try and figure
out the tilt, what I'm doing is holding
my knife up and lining up the tip of his nose
and the tip of his chin and comparing where mine
is. And then I'll also do the tip of his brow to the tip of his
nose okay and that's pretty good.
And then his
Meaning his right and
left shoulder are the same height
and facing forward.
In fact his right shoulder may be a tiny bit
higher than his left.
Push it on that side.
Just a tiny bit
I need to rotate his head a little bit more.
And what I'm looking for when I'm doing this is
on Paul I can see just the tiniest bit of
the ear here and I'm just
matching on my sculpture
so I can see the tiniest bit of that ear, more of
the ear on that side.
And still this
is going to
need to change I think.
Once I have
which I think can be
a little bit more,
the turn correct
which again could be just a tiny
Probably too much right there.
Good. And then the tilt
which has to be done from the profile.
Okay a little bit more.
Check it from the other side.
All the way to the
That's good. One more time from the front.
This could come back just
a tiny bit.
I'm going to begin to kinda heal up
the cut that I made and
modify the neck
to pull everything into
this new configuration.
Can you lower your chin just a hair Paul?
So I'll have to pull off
a good amount on
Add quite a bit
to this side.
So this is also like the very, very
beginning phase where
I move very quickly through different views
constantly checking and rechecking.
can come forward.
Bring your chin down quite a bit.
There we go.
muscle of the neck,
the sternocleidomastoid is going to come forward,
and then a lot of this will go away.
The trapezius in the back, all of this
basically needs to shift
I'm gonna measure quickly.
Paul pull your t-shirt a tiny bit, that's it.
collarbones really need to come up
quite a bit.
quite a bit here.
Let's see this
should be right,
measure one more time.
So much much higher than
what I had
all that can come up
of this needs to come significantly
You know and kind of a
trick - it's not really a
trick it's sort of a thing you have to, a mindset you have to
get into to do this effectively is
just to not think of the
aspect of what you're doing.
People who are too literal about, you know, this is
the neck and this goes from here to here, tend to get the position wrong
because you don't necessarily think that something can't
possibly move as much as it may need to move.
Shift to thinking of just sort of points in space.
This point to this point, what's the relationship,
will tend to be much more successful at getting things
in the right spot and then you can switch back,
at some point, to thinking of that point
as a neck and how you want it to feel.
But at least for myself I know that
when I think of
these things as ears and necks
and chins, I tend to
have a harder time getting them placed correctly
and if I can just think of them as points in space
that need to have a specific relationship.
If they're just two points, two points can have kind of
just about any relationship
in other words there's nothing in my head
relating to two random points in space, I can make them
do anything. But I do have a lot of preconceived notions of
necks and cheeks and eyes and things like that and how they
can and can't move and what should and shouldn't
happen and I try and turn that
off especially times
like this where I've established a lot of
things and in some ways you know all
I've done is cut through the neck and turn the head so why should I be adding
you know so much volume on this side, it doesn't
in some ways make a lot of
sense to me initially.
You know theoretically it seems like you just
cut through the neck, turn the head, fix the cut, and you're done,
But more often than not you end up having to add a lot
on one side, take away a lot from the other side, shift
your volumes, raise other things,
and so I
do try to
not think about
things I'm representing. Meaning
like this is the back of the neck and that's the ear and just sort of
look at them as points and relationships.
And you know right now
the big relationship I want\ is to get that plane,
side, higher than the left.
You know the distance between this and this is much, much too big
Put that here.
Fill in that crack,
close up the gap here,
I'm gonna take a quick measurement
here and here.
needs to come up
and that, you know, that's
kind of telling, you know,
I brought it up quite a lot and I was
unsure to a certain degree if whether I needed to keep going.
I think what was happening - you can take a
break Paul - I think what was happening was my eye was telling me
is still too big but my mind was telling me I added
like an inch of clay, how can it still be too big? And so I
took the measurement and, you know, sure enough I needed to come up
a bit, still a little bit
and that's like a really good
example of that phenomenon, you think like okay
and you know the funny thing is I just said it, I just said
try not to do, try not to think of this as a shoulder
and yet some part of my brain was
still thinking of it as a shoulder and thinking I can't keep bringing it up, can I?
And the only reason why
I'm gonna be pretty accurate and get this to the
height that it needs to be is because
I've done this so many times that I know that my
rational mind has to be questioned and
deal with somehow in order to get this thing
right. And once it gets pretty close to where it needs to be
I'll be able to see it
better and it won't, you know, I won't have that problem any more.
But when it's at that point where -
where it's in between where, you know,
it was a forward looking, sort of very static head
with a, you know, a rather schematic
piece of chest and
collarbone to where
it needs to get to where, you know, all of those elements become more
specific and more specifically related to the head. That
transition is one that's
really super rational and super easy to
to accomplish purely
analytically. Saying okay this needs to come to
here. It's very mucha visual
process - I'm gonna change slightly the height of the stand because I feel like I'm a little
bit too low.
a little more,
right there that's good.
This angle is wrong.
Now the other side.
needs to go up quite a bit.
Let's take a look at the angle
of his nose to his chin.
It's pretty good.
This will come much
It's gonna come in, that's gonna come in.
This can come out.
All of this
can come out.
From this view
this really comes over.
It's working pretty well.
Just wanted to see that collar bone.
A lot of this needs to come
pretty far out.
is gonna come forward.
Can you lower your chin.
That's gonna have to come way in.
I realize I've kind of, I got a little bit quiet as I was
doing this stuff. And this, you know, really
takes a lot of
attention and brain power to like keep
all these things in my head at once, you know where
is this point, what's this angle, how far out from the chin
is it. You know it feels like I'm juggling a lot of things
at the same time and there are
definitely parts within the process
where, you know, things slow down, it's not that
complicated, you're moving along
in a way that kind of you understand pretty clearly where you're
going and it just takes time to get there.
You know maybe
the relationships you're playing with are, you know, are pretty
circumscribed, you're not dealing with like 12 things at once.
it's like two things and you're playing with them and pushing them and turning them a little bit.
looking and seeing how they feel. And at points like
that it's not that difficult to verbalize
what's going and and talk and chat with your model and
listen to podcasts and things like that.
And there are other parts like what I'm doing now
where so many things are changing
and I'm trying to keep so many things in my head at once.
that it is much more
give some of my
brain over to talking.
And while, you know, over he many years I've been doing this
it's gotten easier.
Still I feel like - I feel two things. One,
is that there are things that are
still really, really difficult and
two that I want them to be difficult because
you know the fact that they're difficult I think
means that I'm
dealing with them honestly. I'm not
sort of taking some sort of shortcut to get an effect.
I'm really trying to figure out
relate to one another and that's
tough no matter how long you've done it. One of the things
that makes it easier
is just the confidence to know that you've done it before.
And so as tough as it is you feel like that you'll be able
eventually to do it again if you've done it before. And that, to me,
is the biggest sort of benefit
to experience. In other words it's
not that you know now how to make a head,
and so you can just rely on
that knowledge and go on autopilot,
it's much more that you have confidence to know that
if you follow a particular process
eventually work out and get you to a place that you're
happy with. But coupled with that
is the knowledge that if you don't follow that process,
sort of go on autopilot that
it may not work out.
But you know again, with more
and more and more experience, you can take more chances,
you can go off of that process and then if it doesn't
work out, you can steer
back to a process that you're comfortable with, knowing that you can get
get back what you lost.
You know and that's
how I think individual people's processes evolve.
You get very comfortable with it, you get comfortable to the point were
you've done it, you know, many, many times and maybe
you get a little bit bored with that and you try something else.
You know having the confidence to know that you can
already do what you wanna do in one way.
And then you begin to try other ways of doing it.
And those are really obviously where, you know, the most interesting
Okay so that's all
Interesting so it seems like
that throat all needs to come out a little bit.
needs to come even more
There's this triangle, this inset.
And I've run into a little bit of my armature.
I think I can just kind of
we're up here. So essentially
I moved the collar bones up quite a lot.
And all the structure
I had in the bust needed to move up.
And all the volume
to move up.
can you turn your
head a little bit more to your right.
And lower your head just a tiny bit.
Gonna need more volume
I'm trying to kinda keep a lot of my
head at once. So where
optically this form is crossing the ear,
how much this ear comes out before I see that form,
what the angle of that form is
as I bring down where
the line of the trapezius crosses it, how
it crosses it,
at what angle.
Okay take a break.
Can we do the next one maybe without
your shirt? So I can see - can we do the next one without your shirt?
Okay and so for me
having done nothing at all to the face but just changed
the position of the head and it's relationship to the body
I feel like a lot more
of his personality
is coming out
and I wanna get
enough of the balance and anatomy
Not necessarily all refined but just sort of
the placement of everything
so that I can then start to balance
some of the features, the hair,
maybe the set of the mouth, the
shift of the eyes to
all of the information now that I have.
both in terms of
developing a bit more, the shift of the head.
You know in other words I feel like putting all
the, you know, making those decisions is pushing
the portrait in a direction that now everything
within the portrait needs to
needs to begin to have a dialogue with.
You can't just sort of shift the head and the shoulders and call it
a day. By doing that you begin to
within, you know, the way certain things were modeled initially.
There are other areas that
may be beneficial, they may kind of -
in other words by
changing the position of the head,
changing the set of the shoulders etcetera.
Some of the things that, you know, didn't look good initially
may look better
in the context that they're in now.
So there's a lot of decision
making at this point of, you know, what to change, how to change it,
and how to pull everything together
so it all makes more sense
as a complete portrait. So doing
what I've done in terms of the
movement of the head and the neck and the shoulders.
That's probably the most
important element of
dealing with it as
You know the
beginning steps of measuring out the features
and their relationships and all of that stuff
is certainly crucial to make
the piece look like the model.
But to go from that to having sort of a portrait that
has some sort of feeling of the person
in it the way their head
is set on their shoulders, the way their eyes shift,
all of those sort of subtle elements can
convey personality much more than a perfectly sculpted
perfectly sculpted eyes.
at this stage it's almost like an editor of a film,
you know you've got a lot of information
you may discover that you don't have enough in a particular
area you gotta
do reshoots, get more information.
and you may discover that some of the information that you have is too much and you don't
need it or want it and you just edit that out.
there's also the issue
of finishing the shape
of the bust and how you terminate
You know and it's one of the elements that you have
kind of the most freedom
and amount of options with.
Even within, you know, a fairly
portrait sculpture, you know there's a
myriad number of ways to terminate
the busy from a more classical kinda simple oval
to a more ragged edge to
adding more of the body
or less of the body having only the head and neck. And each one of those
will imply, you know, different
elements within the
portrait. So it's both
a question of the artist and
what their overall
interests are within pursuing
their work and how they want
pursue that. It
has, you know, something to do with the sitter
and how the artist really wants to convey
the personalty of the sitter.
You know I think
in good portraiture there's always that, you know,
attention and combination between the two. You know an artist is not
suddenly change all of their interests and their approach
because I have a different model in from of them.
But at the same time
I think a good artist doesn't do the
same thing now matter what their working on. I think there's always
attention and a balance between what the subject matter is
and what the history, interests
ideas of the artist vis a vis
the kind of work that they're pursuing is.
You know in other words if you're -
if you've made a bunch of portraits and each one you've begun to include
the body and you've gotten more interested in how
imply the sense of an entire body without
sculpting the entire body, that is probably something
that you'll bring to whatever portrait you're doing.
You know and one way
I'll deal with
that truncation typically is I'll sculpt more
than what I'll end up with
and then draw back
the shape that I want or the shape that I'm thinking that I want.
And that way I can
draw it onto this larger volume,
see how it looks, and
once I'm happy with it then I can
remove the material.
Push in here.
for how I'm
might cut that.
You know right now I'm thinking it would be interesting to
have a little bit of an asymmetrical
situation where I tilt
this line in a little bit.
And sometimes I'll leave that,
you know, that sketching in for a while as I address other things
and let my eye kind of come back to it
a few times before I make
a final decision as to what,
how I'll cut it. And sometimes I'll cut it a few times, I'll
go in and
cut it off at a certain point and then realize that
maybe that's not working as well as I thought.
and I'll add back or I'll cut back more.
Again because it's not - there's no right or
wrong way to terminate a portrait.
It's more of a
sense of whether the way the portrait has been terminated
is highlighting and
enhancing other aspects of the portrait, whether those
the physiology and the anatomy of the model,
the personality of the model, the status
of the sitter.
You know there are a lot of different
ways to approach
you deal with all
of those different elements. And that's, you know, in
my opinion like where
the art is in portraiture. It's not something
simply getting the thing to look like the model that's, you know,
it's a fairly technical and pretty
thing to do.
You know not to say that it's easy
but because there is, you know, there are measurements
and there are, you know, a certain amount of
certain number of elements that
you can control, you know,
get your measurements right, check your different
angles, make sure everything is matching, you know that's
not as complicated as developing
a sense of personality or
capturing something intrinsic about
the model's sort of
physical presence or psychological pretense or
status or, you know, any of the other sort of more
ephemeral things which ultimately make a great
portrait a great portrait.
Evidence of that is we have so many phenomenal
portraits from history and specifically from
points in history where
there was no photography to show us what the
sitter actually looked like and there are,
you know, important enough
individuals who have been sculpted and painted, you know, so many times
that you can tell a good portrait of them
from a bad portrait of them. There are a lot of, you know, portraits that we've
had handed down through history of a portrait of a man or
a portrait of a lady where the single portrait is
the only representation so it's, you know, not
necessarily easy to judge
both the accuracy and the
sort of the feeling of the personality and how it was captured.
but with sitters who had
paint and sculpt their portrait you can, you know, you can really
see the difference between a great portrait and
even, you know, a good portrait, a competent portrait, a portrait that
technically fulfills a lot of
the requirements of
portraiture. But the hard thing to do
is get a portrait to do
more than that.
And to do that I think you just have to constantly be
both sensitive to
because I guess in my opinion, or at least
in my experience,
personality and feeling and
psychology is not like a dial that you can turn up or down.
If you begin to get
some of that into the work that you're
doing you have to be - you know it's more like a plant.
You have to be sensitive to and
when it begins to grow, give it
water and sunlight.
You know when you see something happening you make sure you don't
get rid of it in
any of the other aspects of the
work that you have to continue to work
on. You just kind of always
do your best to
figure out what's working well, what's not working well
enhance the things that are working well
and at the very
least don't get rid of them
while at the same time minimizing and
eliminating things that are not working well.
And that for me is like the biggest
Both in terms of recognizing it and knowing hey
that's good, that's working, I would really - I like that.
You know that can be challenging.
And also then
enhancing it, getting it to work
better, you know it sometimes involves
you know a little bit of risk. You're like oh I love the dark right
you know in this particular area. You know you think well if
the dark is good maybe more dark would be better and then you change it
make it more and it's not better, it was good the way it was.
And you just have to - you know sometimes you have to do that just because you
wanna try. But if you're cognisant of it, if you're
aware of what you're doing you can generally say oh that didn't work, let me
go back to what I had.
You know the really, the tough - when that
that becomes tough when you do it and then you do 20 other
things and then you realize it's not working and then you try and go back.
If you kind of are aware that you're
taking a little bit of a risk and that what you're changing is already working
and you change it and you look at it immediately and it's not working,
it's usually not that tough
to undo what you had done.
So if you can maybe punch out a little bit
more of what I'm doing
is looking at the
large relationships. Can you pull out at all?
You know it's not so much like pushing in this
spot or that spot it's more just looking
at the overall - it's actually even helpful for me to
see it on the screen, to see like how
this and this are relating. This I think
whole thing needs to go in.
You know I might have mentioned this
before but getting
other views of what you're
working on, be that, you know, a view in a video monitor like what
I have now or a view in a mirror, which
I do very often in my studio, I have a bunch of
big mirrors. Or photographing your work frequently
and looking at it photographically, you know, they're
all essentially ways to
perspective, your viewpoint.
Take a break.
Okay. I'm gonna try and deal a little bit with
this armature that's in the way right here.
So I'm just gonna grab a
screwdriver and a hammer, gonna bang that in.
find where that is, there.
will push it out of the way.
And then I can just pack that area
with fresh clay. And
that will allow me to get more depth.
the jaw line.
around the mouth.
I'm separating out
the edge of the lip.
And this is, you know, a good example of,
you know, I'm seeing the overall angle and
relation to what was happening down at the neck
and feeling like
a rhythmic relationship between here
and what's down here. Right now I feel like that
light above the lip is too even
and too much all the same direction.
So I'm going to
try and find my knife.
That frequently happens, it's right in from of me and I can't
see it. And I'm gonna change
the angle here.
And now I wanna
get a little more dark above here.
So change that angle.
So everything that I'm
is sort of trying to contextualize the relationships between
some of the - lower your chin a little -
smaller bits of information that I had
in the face
and now the movement through the neck
that I've added.
You know in some sense,
you know, what I'm doing right now is to try
and kind of compartmentalize, create a kind of movement to the entire
shape around the mouth.
of this process is
the back and forth between
and the large,
the observed -
the things that I'm observing on the model and the things I'm
observing in the sculpture so that
you could say the beginning
of the process
almost everything I was putting in is
what I was getting from the model
at the point that I'm not at now I'm
in some ways a little bit more
heavily weighing the information that is in
the sculpture already. Kinda the feel of it
the tilt, all of the sort of accrued
decisions that are here are - can you lower your chin a little bit,
perfect - are guiding me
more than trying to match everything that I'm seeing in the model.
And that I think is for
representational sculpture and probably
painting. You know it's
true of all of it. You know you start out
if you're working with the model, getting all of your information
from the model and then by a process
putting that information in,
relating it to other information, and
especially in processes that unfold over time
like sculpture and you can not get all the
information in in 20 minutes
and because of that, the model will change. They'll change
pose, they're expression will change, all these little
nuances will change and so unless you're going to
essentially forever, at a certain point
your work will become a collage
more than a copy. It'll be the mouth
as seen when you were sculpting it on
Monday, the eye as seen when you were sculpting
on Tuesday, at which point the mouth may have been doing something different
but you're not working on the mouth. And so all of those
elements begin to change
and then your work really does become more of a collage
and at some point
rather than pulling
more and more information from the model, you begin to look for ways
to unify all the
different bits of information that have accrued.
And certainly the model is still
important for that
but they're important in a different way, you're not
looking so much to the model as
you know something to copy information from
as much as you're looking to the model as
a motivation, you know, you say this area needs
X, Y, or Z and then you look at the model
for that and say okay do I see a fold
in that area that I can use to guide the eye in this direction?
And if you
find it, most likely you'll find
sort of a more satisfying,
complex version of what you are looking for
than had you just sort of said I need a fold here, I'll invent one and put it in.
You'll find what you're looking for and then
because nature is so rich
and unexpected, you'll
what you'll find very
frequently will do what you want it to more or less but it'll also do
maybe a few other things as well.
But my main point is that you're not just sort of
at that point looking
through the piece at what is different between
your sculpture and the model. You're
looking at your sculpture as something that is an almost complete creation
and the model as
can help you
complete that. So here I've been
the eye and closing it a little bit.
Interesting I feel like I could go
Wanna do the last seven
Thank you Paul.
Okay so do you wanna
Get this light on.
So today obviously
we cut the head
from the neck, repositioned it
you now I began to change the eye
on this side. Not actually
sure that I like it right now. Kind of
maybe prefer that. So next time I'll
step back, take a look,
get an overall feel for
what I think needs to
happen in terms of combining
the expression with the movement,
add a little bit more information to places like
the hair and to the
you know particularly the transitions.
And get it to a point where everything is working together.
And at that point it'll probably be ready for more
sort of minuscule
adjustments and reevaluations
and I would probably go into, you know, things
like the back of the ears,
which right now are completely unresolved and make the piece feel a bit
heavy. Sort of movements of the hair
which are not there. I've, you know, separated a couple
of components but, you know, figuring out
how I want those to work, vis a vis
everything else. So those are the things that I'll
try and get into a little bit next week and maybe
I'll take further on my own.
Free to try
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
36m 55s2. Adding information to the left ear, the temple, and the cheek, laying out the symmetry
24m 37s3. Changing the pose of the sculpture
30m 0s4. Adjusting the neck and the lower part to the new pose
19m 11s5. Adding more information to the neck and its connection with the head and the shoulders
28m 49s6. Adding movement to the eyes and the lips (the left side)