Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Growing up I was always surrounded by paintings, home made models, and sculptures. One of my favorite memories was the gigantic canister my father always had of  a type of grey clay. I would sit at his drawing board with a big lump of it, along with assorted sculpting tools, and try to make things. Nothing I did was really all that great, but I had fun. I can remember the way it smelled, how my fingers looked when it would dry on them, and all the things I wanted to make with it.

When I decided to try sculpting, I honestly didn't know how it would turn out. In my mind's eye, I envisioned the unstructured mess I made with clay as a kid. Instead I found a different way of learning how to draw.

In an earlier post I mentioned doing three dimension anatomic studies with clay. In addition to this, I wanted to learn how to create with clay. I went to the art supply store and bought a package of it but wasn't really sure where to begin. I had been doing quick sketches and a little bit of painting at the Palette And Chisel Academy Of Fine Art. They also offer not only classes for sculpture, but also open studios for members to sculpt from a live model. 

The way it works at the Palette And Chisel is this- each scultptor has their own little table with wheels. The view  is of one side of the figure, which is worked on for a while. Once that view is done, the sculptor moves around to a different side. This allows the artist to render the figure from every angle. This is far different that merely drawing a two-dimensonial representation from one side.  Not only is the artist able to see the figure from all sides, the literal hands on shaping of the clay allows for a better understanding of how the body is put together. It brings about a total change in the perception of the figure in general.  In understanding the figure, The artist also understands anatomy better.

The front of my first sculpture.
I worked on her for approximately 4 sessions, 5 hours per session.
The back of my first sculpture

My second sculpture started as a "quick sketch" That carried over
for 4 full session. This one was a little different: a standing pose requiring
an armature to prevent it's collapse.

 In addition to approximately 20 hours of sculpting, I also did a couple of "quick sketch" sculptures. These were sculptures that were worked on for only a couple hours before moving onto the next pose.  The most interesting of these was done for the Palette & Chisel's involvement in the Chicago Architecture Tour's Open House, in which people are invited to visit different buildings throughout the Windy City. The P&C participated by having open galleries, as well as painting, drawing, and sculpting demonstrations. Our model had on a vintage wedding dress which made the sculpt more interesting. Instead of a month of complete it, however, mine had to be done in one 6 hour session. I ended up working a little smaller than I had previously.

Overall, I've found the entire experience of sculpting extremely beneficial. Not only has it allowed me to try something completely different, it's also changed the way I draw. It is far easier to imagine the form in 3-D: making sure the planes of the face are correct and thinking about what a foreshortened figure may be hiding on it's other side. This has allowed me to envision the figure as a whole, with depth and character - taking me away from a flat representation. I am able to understand the human body more, which only improves my work.