Friday, November 4, 2016

Figure Gestures in Clay

gesture: the essential movement or action of a figure

Wax figures by Degas
Why study gesture?

Gestures studies will teach you how to find the essential movement and energy in the pose of the figure. 

A figure with an incomplete gesture is unconvincing, dull, and lifeless.

Master drawing with main forms

How do you practice gesture studies?

Sculpting with a model in short poses, you focus only on:

-the volume of the main forms (head, ribcage, pelvis, limbs)
-the orientation of the main forms (tilts and angles)
-the big lines of movement connecting those forms
-the essential line of gravity (how is weight distributed)

As you progress, you can also look at:
-correct proportions
-accurate contours (to find likeness of the model)

How long does the model pose?

In sculpture, gesture poses encompass poses ranging from 10 mins to 2 hours. The model is turned every few mins so you can study from all angles.

(In drawing the poses are shorter as there is only on angle to capture: artists often use short poses of 30 seconds to 5 mins in length to sketch gesture studies.)

50 min study from life

What materials do you need?

Here are 2 common options when using clay, along with their pros and cons:

1) clay on a wire figure armature. 

- if you want to turn one of these studies into a finished work you must make a mold and cast it in a different material.
+ proportions already built into the figure
+ can do standing positions with ease
+ can alter the pose easily throughout the process by manipulating the wire

2) clay without a wire armature

+ can be fired into a finished work 
- can only do standing poses with structural support (ie: column)
- harder to adjust positioning partway through the process

From the Musee d'Orsay

How much do I need to practice?

The more often you practice, the faster you will develop. If you are new, it will take some time to train your perception. It takes discipline to focus just on the big shapes and ignore the all too alluring details of the figure. However, as you improve in your ability to see, the practice will become its own reward. It will become very fun and inspiring.

Once you feel adept at seeing and creating figures with gesture, you must keep up the practice! It is an excellent way to keep your eye sharp and develop new ideas for longer projects.

*To learn more about gestures in sculpture, you can join the 3 day workshop with Melanie: details here *

Saturday, June 25, 2016

SCULPT ITALY 2016: the first days

Sculpt Italy is a clay modelling course in Pietrasanta, Italy. We welcome students to a historic sculpture studio in this artistic centre of Italy and 4 professional sculptors join forces to offer a rich and in depth program.



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sculptures of Staglieno Cemetery - Genoa

Staglieno Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in Europe, and is a masterpiece of funerary sculpture. It was founded in 1851 and is located in Genoa, Italy. The sculptures are well worth the visit.

The movement of the grieving figures and the individuality they manage to convey is impressive. The majority of the figures are done in marble, with a few bronzes. The attention to detail is incredible. You can see the texture of the fabrics, the lace, coins and even effectively rendered eyelashes.

The cemetery is not a big tourist attraction, and is free to view. When I was there mid June I saw at most 10 other people. It is not kept up, as you can see in the photos the sculptures have years worth of dust built up which adds an intriguing inverse highlight to the form.

Here are some photos of the sculptures:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

ROME: Capitole Museum

Rome is an incredible city for sculpture. On the way to the Capitole Museum we stopped for a delightful view of the Roman Forum. Here of some of the highlights from the museum (including Bernini's Medusa from many angles!)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Paris Artist Residency - Break'Art Mix

June 2 - 16
2 week Artist Residency at Break'Art Mix
Paris, France

I had the unique pleasure of being an artist in residence this June in Paris. My project included sketching at the museums, life drawing at the historic Grande Chaumiere, and creating several studies in clay working with live models.

Paris is a city of incredible history and was home to many of my favorite sculptors through the 18th and 19th centuries. To walk the quiet street of Camille Claudel's studio, to sit with Maillol on the lawn of the Tuileries, to study Rodin's exquisite experiments in plaster and in the same day visit Houdon's masterful portraits with their eyes sparkling through terracotta... it is a feeling of knowing oneself through their hands.

A sculptor's spirit is always alive in Paris.

Working on a mini portrait from imagination

Portrait study from life in clay

Finished piece after 2 hours with the model

Soaking up the sun in Luxembourg Gardens

At the end of the 2 weeks, we hosted a small exhibition of the work created. Drawings and sculptures are my own, and photographs are Simon DesRochers, who was also in residency.

Many thanks to the lovely hosts of the Break'Art Mix Residency!

Beautiful space in Paris near the Seine 

Figure study in clay created in residency

Finished portrait study in clay

Selection of sketches from museums and life drawing

With sculptor Edith Lafay and her husband Jacques 

Lovely to meet new faces in Paris

all photographs courtesy of Simon DesRochers