Wednesday, May 29, 2013

#48 "Stella" relief sculpture


"Stella", 17"x13" clay

Last week I visited Santa Fe, NM with a friend and checked out some art galleries along Canyon Rd. With my portfolio in hand I visited about 8 galleries and talked with gallery reps, directors and owners. The first images I showed were various reliefs I've done over the last 1 1/2 years or so. Although a couple of galleries liked my work, the others said only I was technically good, but lacked any feeling with my works. One of them asked how I felt about a particular piece. This older gentleman struck a chord in my thinking and for the last few days I've been thinking about what he said and have tried to understand how I can connect more with my art and perhaps get more 'feeling' as he described. My friend told me to not think about it, I am talented and very good. But this will be with me, why some people love my work and others don't. Is it about feeling? 

I made this relief of the model Stella after my trip to Santa Fe and it is not much different than my other reliefs other than I am more aware of this feeling I seem to lack. What is feeling in art, a connection? A personal expression of an artist? When I make these reliefs of people, mostly models that I hire, I don't know too much about them, but what I do know is they provide me with a form in order to practice my technique and capture a likeness. I learn about them as they model and as they tell me their stories I encourage them to pose as inspiration hits them. I don't usually have any ideas artistically other than move an arm here or turn a head more to the left. I don't think about Greek mythology or religion. Perhaps, I have done a few too many portraits over the last 15 years and have not allowed my inner voice to come out. Perhaps I've been too concerned with making my clients happy and not cared enough about expressing how I feel about a subject. Oh well, I know what I enjoy creating and that is all that really matters.

Monday, May 20, 2013

#47 "Grace in Motion I" mid-relief

"Grace in Motion I", 22"x16" clay for aluminum

The newest completion in my studio is this mid-relief sculpture of the model Anastasia measuring 22"x16". This is the second relief where I have been conscious of the areas furthest back as being almost flat and barely visible. Admiring some of the reliefs made in the 1800's by Clodion has helped me to understand and express that it isn't necessary to indicate every form. Sometimes the mystery of things adds greatly to the overall feel of a piece. Her left shoulder and upper arm are only slightly indicated and I believe this adds a great amount of life and delicacy that wasn't apparent on my earlier reliefs. This sculpture will get cast in aluminum and displayed in the Loveland Sculpture Invitational 2013.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

#46 Joe Gomer sculpture, Iowa Falls, Iowa

"Joe Gomer-Tuskegee Airman", life size bronze

Installed in April 2013 in Iowa Falls, IA at Ellsworth Community College, the sculpture honors ww2 veteran Joseph Gomer. Born in Iowa Falls in 1920 and graduating from Ellsworth Community College in 1940, Gomer later enlisted in the Army and was sent to Italy to join the 332nd Fighter group during the war. The sculpture is life size and cast in bronze through Art Castings of Colorado. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

#45 "Awakening" bas relief

"Awakening", 18"x14"x1 5/8"

Today I worked on this bas relief sculpture of the model Tabitha. Although I haven't yet figured out how to cast this, or many of my other reliefs for that matter, it is one I am most satisfied with. Recently I have been admiring Clodion's reliefs that he made 200 years ago and this is my first attempt at making the forms that are furthest back only slightly raised, as Clodion had done so well on some of his nymphs and satyrs. In the past, I had raised those same areas a little higher, but I've concluded that it's almost more beautiful when there is barely a hint of those forms. I may try casting "Awakening" in aluminum and have it available for this years Loveland sculpture invitational.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

#44 Rain, relief sculpture

Rain, 20"x9"x5/8"

The newest in my series of reliefs is this mid-relief of the model Anastasia. I don't feel comfortable calling it an alto relief even though there is a slight undercut under her right knee, and it's a bit too high to be called a bas-relief so mid-relief will have to do for now. This will be cast in terracotta and made available in a limited edition of 12. Having experimented with different casting mediums for the last several months for these reliefs, I've decided that terracotta is the best look. This will be available for the Loveland sculpture show in August.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

#43 bas-relief and alto-relief description

Allysa, example of bas-relief

Livi, example of mid-relief

For the last couple of years I have been spending a lot of time thinking about and creating relief sculptures, both high and low. High relief, or alto relief, is one where the forms extend to at least half of their full depth from the background. I like to think of it as a relief that has undercuts, as compared to a low, or bas-relief. A bas-relief is one that is flatter and does not have any undercuts. We see examples of bas-relief every day in coins. There is also a third relief called mid-relief or half-relief, but the term isn't used as often as bas and alto, perhaps because its more fun to say bas (pronounced bah, as in bah humbug) and alto. I think it would just confuse people putting things into thirds instead of halves.

Depending on what it is I'm trying to accomplish will dictate it if is to be high or low. For example, if there is some movement in the composition I tend to enjoy making a high relief. This kind of relief allows me to focus on anatomy, but seems to makes it harder to do a likeness well mostly because i am using just one photograph for reference. Low relief sculptures tend to take me a little less time to make, but I feel more confident if it's more of a portrait I am after.

While I do not consider myself, by any means, a painter I get great satisfaction admiring a Royo or Lipking painting (two of my favorite contemporary artists). Sculpting in bas or alto relief is as close as we sculptors can get to the beauty of a painting. With todays' patina techniques, we can introduce a variation of colors that add to the depth of the relief.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

#42 relief sculptures (3)

African American Woman, circa 1900

"Grace" (shown in clay)

"Diedre", bonded bronze

Since one of my commissions is on hold until enough funds can be raised I've been spending much of my free time making relief sculptures. Of course, I wish there were more hours in the day so I can get more of them done here are three of my newest ones. African American woman (top) is shown in bronze and it's the first relief (spec piece) I've done in bronze. The photo used for the relief was inspired by a photo taken in 1900 by WEB DuBois, one of the founders of the NAACP. I will be getting a frame for it soon, the bronze measures approximately 12"x12" and weighs about 10 lbs. A little heavier than I was expecting, but it still shouldn't be a problem hanging on a wall with a frame. "Grace" is a bit higher relief than the previous sculpture and it is a sculpture of a friends daughter named Livi Lundeen. It measures 10"x10"x1" and I will be casting this one in bronze also. The higher reliefs I tend to enjoy more if there is more movement and less emphasis on the portrait aspect. For me, portraits are easier and quicker in a flat relief. "Diedre" is a low relief and expresses the beauty of the female form in a simple pose although I like to think of it as more of a portrait. What struck me the most about Diedre is her unique facial features, she looks like a young Helena Bonham Carter. This pose struck me as elegant and portrait-like, simple yet full of beauty. I will eventually be casting her in bronze.

Although I'm leaning towards bronze for casting many of the reliefs I'm doing, I will soon be experimenting with aluminum (after having talked with a foundry who can cast), terracotta and glass. Aluminum will allow me to work a little bit larger, up to 30"x30" without having to weld together the metal. Also, an aluminum relief at 30"x30" will weigh substantially less than a bronze at the same size, generally it's about 1/3 the weight of bronze. The largest bronze relief I can do, without having to weld together the parts, is 24"x24", but at this scale the bronze would be quite heavy. Terracotta will be another casting material I will offer limited editions of. I've been talking with someone who will help fire them for me since I do not have a kiln. Another material I've been thinking about casting in is glass. Although I have never worked in glass, I recently met a wonderfully skilled glass artist named Dan Dagget and he is interested in working with me to see if we can make the glass castings work.