I have now made 21 clay figures, still intending about 30 but it gets more difficult to vary the poses without breaking right out of the format so far established. This photo shows three stages in the making – one figure is just finished, several are dried and waiting for firing, while the ones that have been fired are obvious from the colour change.
This yellowish stoneware finish is not what I expected – they were fired at a higher temperature than anything I’ve previously made with this clay – but it gives them a characteristic of age which is in keeping with my sense of who they might be or represent. So I’m thinking maybe they don’t need colour, and I should plan a second sequence where I can experiment more with surface finish. That suggests they could be a bit larger and possibly made by wire and plaster construction rather than direct modelling, though modelling in plaster is also an option.
Following my preference for the small informal clay figure shown in the last post, I have been making more of them similarly, modelling the shapes quite roughly and allowing textures to occur naturally over the surface, just by the movements of my fingers and basic tools. Every pose is slightly different, I am aiming for about 30 of these which will then be given colour treatments.
Life has got in the way of art for the past couple of months, but I have begun new projects, among which are small clay figures. It’s early days on these and the time it takes to do them is not in proportion to their physical size. The first one is a representation of one of the mummies I saw in Palermo (photos show work in progress and the finished figure).
The final effect will depend on the surface treatments. I won’t be using ceramic glazes but intend to use various forms of paint and collage.
This worked out pretty much as I intended but I wasn’t satisfied with it. It seemed too clean, too organised, compared with the way I paint. At the end of my work session I created a very rough, simple form based some watercolour drawings. Although it’s quite crude, I feel it’s the more effective way to go, just squidging the clay roughly and using hands as much as tools. Again, the addition of colour will be part of its evolution.
This picture of the figure sculptures represents the unfinished stage they were at when I shut down work to do the open house. They were always going to be clothed and have faces, an as yet unfamiliar development, as the small versions didn’t go that far. Now as it turns out, what seemed ok in my mind’s eye is not satisfactory in the real. They will change, maybe quite a lot.
I mentioned in a previous post that the slowdown in posting here has been due to getting involved in sculpture, where it takes a lot of work to get somewhere. So even though I am a long way from finished, the photo shows the current stage of a pair of figures I’ve been working on.
Although it’s possible to make some changes as it goes along, I have missed the spontaneity and happy accident that is a crucial element of my painting. At one time I would have been tempted to abandon such a project, in fact from years ago I have a wire mesh figure that kept falling down, and I did give up on it. So, lessons learned, these are both seated and a bit smaller than life size. Can’t wait to get on with surface treatments now. I need colour.
Can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted on the blog, partly it’s because I’m working on 3D pieces that take a long time to start to look like anything. At the same time, I need to get a sense of spontaneity into them that reflects my processes in painting, I want the development of a sculpture to represent its making history, rather than to be disguised as it may be if only a technical means to an end. But I am learning technique at the same time as image-making.
For now, I can post a painting and related small sculpture, inspired by a mummy I saw in Madrid, in the Museo de America. The painting is gouache and oilpastel. The 3D piece is a relief made of thick card, overlaid with fabric and paper collage. It’s fine, but doesn’t quite do what I intended, so more exploring of medium and method needed.