I just finished photographing my newly completed sculpture commission. It is carved in poplar wood, and then painted in casein paints. I have titled the piece "Lupine Love", and its dimensions are 20" h. x 14" w. x 2" d. Below is a view from the side, which maybe gives a better idea of the depth of the relief. I shipped the sculpture out to my sister Leslie, who commissioned the piece, yesterday.....I hope she will like it.... Ride on Sister!
I just recently finished off a bunch of unfinished terracotta pieces, some from quite awhile back. Then I photographed the newly finished pieces. Pictured above is one of them. "Shelter" is finished with casein paints, and its dimensions are: 11" h. x 15" w. x 4" d. Now that that task is finished, my thoughts turn to my next project.....
Way back in February, a dear friend of mine mentioned that she and her husband had had to cut down a large basswood tree that was growing in their yard. Of course my ears perked up when I heard this! Basswood, (also known as Linden or Limewood) brings to my mind the great German renaissance era sculptors, such as Tilman Riemenschneider and Viet Stoss, who carved masterful works from this wood. Long story short, I was interested, and they were very happy to have me take whatever I wanted of the tree. Back in June, when the snow was all gone, I managed, with the help of good friends, to get the largest logs into the back of my car and make it home...in two trips, one log per trip.
Then I had to get them out! Thats my wife Akemi helping, and the ramp we rigged up to slide the log down and out of the car. So the logs are now sitting outside of the studio door, just waiting for me to figure out what I am going to make of them. Tomorrow, I will start playing with clay, and we'll see what happens...
Life being what it is, all kinds of things came up and slowed the work on this carving. But yesterday, I finally finished!
"Collateral Damage" Poplar, casein paint 14"h. x 26" w. x 2 1/8" d.
Now that the paints are out, I'm planning on painting and finishing up a bunch of fired, but unfinished terracotta maquettes.
I guess its been a while since I last posted and an update is in order!... I recently started work on a carved relief. Here is the terracotta sketch that I'm working from. It is an expression of the sorrow and outrage I feel regarding the tremendous amount of harm being caused by the power elite's seeming addiction to war and militarism... an addiction which destroys not only human lives, but also the lives of so many others....including, as in this particular image, the lives of those in the ocean who have been exposed to the extremely loud blasts of Navy sonar.
This photo shows one of at least 12 Cuvier's beaked whales that stranded and died in May of 1996 during tests of NATO low-frequency active sonar in the Kyparissiakos Gulf of Greece. Before, and since that time, numerous other mass-strandings have occurred as a result of naval sonars.
This photo is from a January, 2005 mass-stranding event that occurred in North Carolina. At least 34 pilot whales (6 of which were pregnant), 2 dwarf sperm whales, and a newborn minke whale stranded during and following US Navy sonar exercises.
And here, one of at least 3 beaked whales that stranded and died on Guam in March, 2015 as a result of sonar exercises being carried out by the US Navy and Japan's so-called Self-Defense Force. The sonar-caused strandings in these photos are just a few of the many that have occurred over the years. An important question to ask is...how many more animals have been injured and killed as a result of exposure to naval sonars, but whose injuries and deaths remain unbeknownst to us for the simple reason that they never stranded? It is widely believed that the dead and dying whales and dolphins that we do see on the beach are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg of harm that is being needlessly caused by the US and other navies. I say needlessly, because there are many measures that could be taken to greatly reduce the harm being done, such as simply avoiding sonar testing and training exercises in areas at times when it is expected that vulnerable species are likely to be present. This is thought to be one of the most effective mitigations, but...the US Navy, in its arrogance, simply refuses to do this. And so the great harm to marine life continues, and with it, my need to vent my outrage!
But back to the sculpting....
I'm using more of that nice wide poplar I have for this relief carving....Here it is being run through the planer.
Now that the surface is nice and flat and smooth, I place my scaled up drawing over the board so I can then transfer the design on to the board.
And the carving has begun!
One of the reasons that I love doing relief sculpture is that I find it to be very challenging, as it combines illusionistic drawing with 3 dimensional form. As in most carving work, there are no real sign posts in a relief carving telling you how deep to carve a certain area, and in the early stages of a carving, where things are largely undefined, it is very easy to make a serious mistake that can ruin a sculpture. So, I take it slow and try to establish the major forms and make them relate to one another to achieve, in a convincing manner, the illusion of depth in space that I'm after. Its a challenge to do it well! We'll see how this relief progresses......
It has been a while since I last posted here. That is largely due to my computer having died right after I last posted. I will spare you the details of the computer saga...But finally, now we have a replacement up and running. Some of what I was doing this last month (besides nashing my teeth and pulling my hair over computer stuff) was working on some terracotta maquettes for possible future wood carved reliefs. Not having done very many relief carvings, I realized it would be helpful to do the maquettes so as to give me a better idea of how to place the forms at the proper depth. Of course with clay, one can take away, and add back on. Not so with wood. The clay is still drying. After it is dry, I'll fire them, and eventually paint them in casein paint.
I think that I will probably work from this maquette for my next carving.I love clay, but it will be good to get back to the wood too!
As I mentioned in the last post, I have been wanting to do some carvings in relief. For my first one, I decided to use this recent sketch I had done as a potential design for a drypoint ( and I still might use it for that too!).
Cutting a piece of that nice wide poplar board to use for the relief carving...
Taking the warp out of the board, and cleaning up the surfaces on my joiner/planer.
The next step is transferring the enlarged design (which I have changed a bit from the original sketch) to the board. I do this by going over the lines with a pounce wheel, which is shown in the photo. The four little circles you see mark the locations of the lag screw which attach the board from the back to the carving stand base plate. I chose those locations as the wood will remain fairly thick in those places, with little danger of carving down to the screw.
Now the carving has begun. Initially, I just carve the background areas down, leaving the figures at full thickness.
Then I begin rounding the forms in the figures.
The challenge in carving relief is in making the figures appear to be in the round...Here I have just started. We shall see as the carving progresses...
The carving is finished, the oil is dry, the pedestal is painted and dry...finally, its time to photograph the piece! The photography is not my favorite part of the sculpting process, but its a very important part. It is always a challenge for me...trying to find the right combination of lighting elements, and then placing them in the best positions. It is almost always the case that when positioning a light or lights to best show the form in one area of the sculpture, it isn't so good for another area. Its often the case that finding the best mix of lit and shadowed areas involves compromises. There are an infinite number of possible lighting setups, but having only finite time in life, one has to limit the number of setups! I'll often rearrange the lights 15-25 times for each position I photograph the piece from. Thats a lot of photos to sort through to try to find the best ones. But from out of all those photos, there will usually be a few usable ones.
Another view of the "photography studio".