Tuesday, August 1, 2017

#133, plaster cast of Australian Army Colonel

military bas relief
portrait of an Australian Army Colonel, plaster, 14" height, by Sutton Betti

Not a whole lot going on in the studio except lots and lots of mold making on three monuments that will be installed November of this year. Aside from all of the plaster dust and drips that seem to be everywhere, I managed to complete a bas relief portrait of an Australian Army Colonel. The 14 inch tall portrait, here shown in plaster, will be cast in bronze as part of a larger plaque. This is another of my commissioned relief work that is only 1/2" thick.

Friday, July 7, 2017

#132, welding bronze

One of the more important steps in the bronze casting process is tig welding. Tig welding is a delicate welding technique (compared with mig welding) that uses a long bronze welding rod held in one hand while you create an electric arc with the tungsten electrode torch held in the other hand. Argon gas is used as the shielding gas that helps to transfer the heat from the electrode to the bronze as well as protects the welded area from oxygen which can cause problems.

While there are many technical details that one can learn about welding, I don't think it is really necessary to know to be a good welder of ones own work. The main thing is that the welds are good and strong (especially for larger monumental works) and you use the right welding rod for the metal you are welding.

Below are some examples of my monuments being welded together:

Paganini by Sutton Betti

Master Swimmer by Sutton Betti

Master Swimmer by Sutton Betti

Visionary by Sutton Betti and Dan Glanz
Founding Father by Sutton Betti

Sunday, July 2, 2017

#131, Rodin Museum

On Sunday April 16, 2017 I visited the Musee Rodin in Paris for the first time as part of a 10 day trip where I visited parts of Germany and Paris with my mom, step dad and brother. In Paris, we were fortunate to be staying at an apartment/hotel along the river Seine that was walking distance to the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Rodin Museum as well as various other sites. My goal during my short 3 day stay in Paris was to visit 1) the Louvre and the 2) the Rodin museum to absorb as much art as I could possibly see. If there was time for anything else I would join my family. Because it was such a short stay I had to plan carefully so I wouldn't regret my time there since there is so much art to see in Paris. I ended up visiting the Musee Rodin for about 5 hours absorbing as much as I could at the 7 acre sculpture garden and the old sculpture studio of Rodin (aka the hotel Biron, as it was called in Rodins time). The 18th century mansion was where Rodin worked towards the last 9 years of his life and donated all of his sculptures to the government if they would agree to turn the hotel Biron and the Villa des Brillants at Meudon (where he lived outside of Paris) into a museum. The two museums opened in 1919, two years after his death.


Friday, June 30, 2017

#130, concept drawing for veterans park

battlefield cross kneeling soldier
concept proposal for a kneeling soldier with battlefield cross by Sutton Betti

Lately, I have been doing several concept sketches for a veteran park that I’m creating sculptures for. This one is based off of my existing sculpture Remembering. The client likes this bronze sculpture that I made in 2013, but because it was designed to have his raised hand against a column they wanted to modify it so he could be placed in the open with a battlefield cross. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

#129, military portrait relief

military bas relief
Donovan portrait bas-relief, 14 in x 12 in x 1/2 in thick, clay for bronze by Sutton Betti

There is something uniquely rewarding about successfully pulling off a bas relief portrait. I think it has something to do with the fact that not a lot of sculptors do relief work which makes it a rare form of art. After careful measuring and observation I am pleased with how this 14 inch x 12 inch x 1/2 inch thick bas relief portrait came out. The artwork will be cast as part of a larger scale bronze plaque.

Monday, May 29, 2017

#128, Freedom Wings-Composition techniques

WWII bronze statue memorial
Freedom Wings (in progress),  4'10" tall clay for bronze statue

This 58" tall sculpture is of a life size male bald eagle with the US flag and will be cast in bronze in the next couple of months. The 280 pound monument will be installed on top of an 8 foot tall black granite column that will be laser etched with images from WWII. The sculpture will be unveiled on Veterans Day 2017 along with two of my other sculptures.

The composition of this statue was really fun to work out. Although the idea of a bald eagle and United States flag is fairly common in sculpture, as well as paintings, what I think will stand out with this monument is the attention to detail and the strong composition. While making this sculpture I have been conscious of the different angles that people will be viewing the sculpture. Because the it will be sitting on top of an 8' tall column, viewers will be encouraged to walk around the monument looking at the laser etched images on the sides of the column as well as the statue itself. So, I had to think strongly about composition from ALL angles. The angle of view that people will be looking from will be from below looking up. In compositions, I usually use lines and curves that are meant to be seen from straight on. These lines and curves can follow an arm up to the eyes, dance around a little in the body and then out the other arm, for example. There is usually an entry and an exit point for the eye to follow, but within that composition are all kinds of angles and curves. I like to think of them being composed similarly to a musical composition. For example, for me, the Beatles were musical composition geniuses, as was Beethoven and Mozart. Studying musical composition is somewhat similar to sculptural composition, at least that is the way it is for me. So If I had a good entry and exit point in the composition (i.e. the flag pole and the tips of the eagles primary feathers) than the areas in between that can be controlled with curves and diagonals. The curves and diagonals, though, have to work from below (and also from above which is easier to see since I can't raise the clay sculpture to 8' in my studio very easily). As such, I positioned the flag pole catywonper to the plane of the eagles wings. The head is turned close to the direction of the flag pole but looking up slightly. The feet are positioned crossing the straight line of the pole (as seen in the photo). Then there is the curve of the tail feathers which when viewed from the rear you can see the curve of them. I also kept in mind the side view where you can see the rock underneath the flag. This rock area almost creates a focal point itself due to the different textures so it had to be designed well also. In short, I am making sure that all of the angles will read well from all directions. When Freedom Wings is completed I will post photos in the round to help illustrate my composition techniques.

Friday, May 19, 2017

#127, bald eagle sculpture, in progress

bald eagle statue with artist
life size bald eagle sculpture in progress

Since returning from Europe one month ago I have been working on two commissions simultaneously and today I put the finishing touches on one of the sculptures of a life size female bald eagle. The bronze bald eagle will be permanently installed cantilevered on a 20 foot tall granite column 17 feet above the ground. The sculpture will be one of many that I am working on as part of a large scale Veterans memorial.

Friday, March 24, 2017

#126, Greenberg bas relief portrait

Bas relief portrait of a young man, 10inX9inX1/2in, clay for bronze

This 10in X 9in X 1/2in depth bas-relief portrait was commissioned by a mental health facility in Los Angeles that will go on a larger 28 inch x 19 inch bronze plaque and installed on an outside wall of the facility sometime this spring or summer. I worked closely with the mother of the young man who passed away and although it has been a while since I've worked on a very low (flat) bas relief portrait this came out nicely. The mother, the commissioning agency and the plaque company all expressed satisfaction with the clay original and so all that is left now is for me to give myself a pat on the back.

Yesterday, I spoke with the client and he asked me how I learned how to do relief sculpture. It is a good question and I had to remember back to when I first tried sculpting in relief. When I was an art student there weren't any classes in relief sculpture (at least none that I can remember) and it seems I just learned it as I started sculpting more and more, making mistakes along the way but always learning from them. Some of my early private commissions were creating bas relief portraits of family members and kids. In fact, my very first commission was a bas-relief for St. Mary's College of California in Moraga back in 2001. So how did I learn how to sculpt in relief? There really is no substitute for hard work... and patience!

"Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration."-Thomas Edison

"Patience is also a form of action."-Rodin

Sunday, February 19, 2017

#125, Hendrix bust

Hendrix sculpture
Jimi Hendrix sculpture bust by Sutton Betti

One of my favorite musicians for the past 25 years is Jimi Hendrix and this is sculpture clay bust I have wanted to make for many, many years. I made his likeness a few weeks ago using several beautiful photographs found in a recently published magazine and of course from the internet. The clay bust is 35 inches tall and is sculpted about 125% life-size. It was not created as a commissioned work of art, but rather as something that I will have in my collection for visitors to my gallery to see in person. I'm hoping to be able to sell a bronze casting to the Electric Lady Studios in New York, the recording studio that Hendrix built in 1970 and designed by John Storyk.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

#124, Gypsy relief

Gypsy Girl by Sutton Betti, 15in x 12in, shown in clay, 2017
Finished this 15x12 inch clay relief yesterday. It has been many months since I took the time to sculpt a new relief so I have to admit that I was a little rusty regarding the technique. However, it turned out better than I was expecting and I think my lack of control and uncertainty actually helped to make this a little more spontaneous than any of my previous relief works. Perhaps this adds to the movement and gesture. Normally I would spend a little more time on the clothing and hair, but struggled a little bit and decided to just leave it loose and somewhat undefined. I'll mold and cast this in aluminum and add it to my growing collection of aluminum relief sculptures that I hope to be showing this year or next when I make a return to showing at outdoor art festivals.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

#123, Jimi Hendrix bust, work in progress

Jimi Hendrix bust in progress, 35" height, shown in clay
There is still quite a bit of work left on this over life size bust of my favorite guitarist and musician Jimi Hendrix but I thought I would share the progress anyhow. The total height of the clay sculpture is 35 inches and it's sculpted at 125% life size.

I hope to be finishing him in the next two or three weeks, but I'm in the middle of several freelance sculpting projects that will be taking up much of my time. At this point I'm about 12 hours into the clay work and I guestimate that I've got another 20 hours to go to get him where I'd like him to be. I'll probably retain the looseness of the textures as that seems to fit the sculpture well, but the hair might take me some time.