Really had no idea it’s so long since I posted – that doesn’t mean nothing has been going on, but maybe I’m not ready to share it. To update things here, there is a new strange family of clay figures, based on a photo that also provided the basis for some paintings. Very keen to do some drawing now, in a broad definition of what drawing might be, the sort of work I have previously described as thinking aloud. Meanwhile …
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.
On September 18th I posted a picture of some small clay figures, which I had meant to colour and collage with fabric. Having decided I would like to keep the raw clay versions, I made a second set and started to add fabric ‘clothes’. The question was then whether to add paint to colour the faces, arms, hands and feet. I rather like that the figures themselves remain white within the fabric collage, so perhaps there is a case for making a third set that completes the development. Or to make a start on larger interpretations.