Starting over…

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Wow – its been a long time since I’ve posted here… a lot of changes in my life. But now it might be time to start fresh and see if i can get posting and sculpting more again.

I’m preparing for an introductory bjd jointing class at NIADA in Florida in August 2013 right now – (check out the full line up of teachers and classes at http://niada.org/dollschool.html

And am in the process of making kits and documenting procedures — so just to get me started – here is a quick concept drawing from the bjd i’m working on for the class :

WIP BJD concept drawing

WIP BJD concept drawing

Jordu Schell class at Anatomytools

I got to take Jordu Schell’s creature sculpting class thru Anatomytools in Alameda in early October. A wonderful class – the sculpts around the room were incredible. And Jordu is fascinating to watch work. He is such a master of what he knows and what he does, he can create perfect forms with what seems like a single stroke. And he showed us how he paints his chavant maquettes to present as concept art – absolutely incredible.

We were asked to bring sketches of an original concept if possible – I’ve been wanting to try some different versions of the preying mantis lady i sculpted back when the world was young, so I started trying to do some sketches.

awhile back, when i was whining about not being good, and being blocked and not being about to come up with ideas – folks suggested some books to read. I got “The Artist’s Way” ebook and started to work thru it. i’m glad i got the ebook – because the first 5 or 6 times i started it i just couldn’t relate to it at all. But since i had it on my phone, whenever i was stuck waiting somewhere, i started opening it and just reading a page or two. and eventually what the author, Julia Cameron, was saying started to sink in, and i can see that it has really helped.

She asks you to turn around the way you are thinking – and i realized she was right – I didn’t want to draw because I was judging my baby sketches against fine artists’ final output and i was too prideful to do something that folk could see i wasn’t great at. Add in, in a couple of workshops I’ve had with him, Andrew Cawrse has told me repeatedly, drawing is a tool for me to get the information i need for a sculpt. not to worry about making a beautiful drawing, just capture what i need to sculpt from.

Ms. Cameron also tells you to relax and let creation flow thru you – she seems to be a deeply spiritual/religious woman – and I found this hard to identify with. But she was right. If i didn’t tense up and overthink things, instead just remove judgement and let idea suggest idea and follow willingly without judging, i started to get closer to the images in my head.

Jordu said something interesting. (actually he said LOTS of things that were interesting) — he said at one moment, when he was starting out, he saw a sculpt and something in his mind said – this is truth. And that is what he aims for now. He feels he only achieves truth part of the time in his sculpts, but when he does it just feels right.

so i’ve started sketching some now – and am finding it really helpful to order thoughts and explore possibilities. still too newbie at it to feel anything but hesitant, but i think i may grow to love it.

so anyway – here is a progression of the concept sketches I worked on for the sculpt :

1. this was the first sketch. pretty conservative, but a start.

first mantislady sketch

2. then started thinking and playing with the body shape

mantislady ortho

3. tried a quick sketch of a possible face – showed it to Andrew and he suggested thinking about the way that insect mandibles work.

mantislady face

4. then followed ideas a little to a slightly more interesting place

mantislady sketch

mantislady sketch

5. and here is the sculpt – I saw her as surreal, smallish, – Jordu wanted her to be earthshakenly large and able to walk – he pointed out that she needed more mass at her abdomen to balance the head, and suggested a large spider like abdomen. I played for awhile and decided i like a carapace, cracked open, with 2 wings extending – and kept the original abdomen with spinneret at the end that shows (faintly) thru the opening

mantislady sculpt

mantislady sculpt

side project 1 – day 7

hmmm – well, i’m pretty happy with myself for staying mostly focused on doing the sculpt a month for this long — so i guess i’m not too upset that i totally didn’t work on the dragon/snake lady at all this week – and worked on the watcher in the corner instead.

i know it sounds silly, but there has been a sense of a presence watching while i sculpted the dragon lady — nothing scary or strange, just the knowledge that there was someone there kind of shyly watching. so she got formed from clay this week —-

working on her got me thinking about my experiences with a friend who is an incredible artist, combined with a true performer’s soul who can spin a story to captivate her audience thru speech, drawing and sculpting. Me – on a good day i don’t stutter or drool too badly when strangers want to talk to me. Or heavens above – when an artist I admire speaks to me? hopeless. I just can’t string 2 words together.

so when i sensed this little person standing in the corner watching the elegant snake lady perform – I realized it was like me watching my friend enspell any group of artists she meets, or like me in the workshops, watching the artists I admire so much, but can’t talk to.

kind of felt nice, or comfortable to sculpt her.

wish i could do better detail in this paperclay — i think i want to find a tiny bladed but strong knife to work with….

she is about 10″ to the top of her head.

geek in the corner, day 7

geek in the corner, day 7

geek in the corner, day 7

geek in the corner, day 7

geek in the corner, day 7

geek in the corner, day 7

project 5 – day 24 — progress, mostly fleshed out…

I’m partly really happy to see that she is taking shape ok in the premier, and partly OH SO READY TO MOVE ON!!!

i guess its a moral victory that i’m sticking with her – for me, the fun part is just doing the quick gesture. i have a dreadfully short attention span and really want to move on to the next fun thing instead of staying and refining. But she is coming together anyway. still a lot of work to do, and this is the last week… be interesting to see where she is at the end of it.

snake/dragon lady in paperclay - day 24

this pic shows a bit better what is going on with her right shoulder – i didn’t realize how ambiguous pictures were last week….

snake/dragon lady in paperclay - day 24

snake/dragon lady in paperclay - day 24

snake/dragon lady in paperclay - day 24

snake/dragon lady in paperclay - day 24

project 5 – day 17 – slow but actually sure progress

you know, i’m not at all sure how correct my naming of projects is going to be…. not that it is terribly important! but that is one of those weird things that throws me for a loop sometimes.

I got horribly frustrated with the snake/dragon lady and ended up smashing her back leg with a hammer and rebuilding it – and feel much better about it now. so after that I started laying in the snake/dragon body which got me sidetracked into reading about snakes. figure this snake is something like 12 feet long (i think she is a tall lady) – so wanted to look at body types etc on snakes that get that big. Wow – definitely not an anaconda/boa constrictor type – they have those wonderful sumptious bodies but would easily weigh 250-300 lbs. heavy for the woman to hold up, unless its a dragon with wings/magic.

so figure it must be a reticulated python type – which would be thinner but still heavy. so am thinking harder about some sort of wing structures so the lady isn’t squished.

as i was working on her I started seeing a dwarf woman standing to one side watching her. so might start that sculpt too.

anyway – posting in the round for the pain factor – keep myself working on her.

snake/dragon lady day 17 progress

snake/dragon lady day 17 progress

snake/dragon lady day 17 progress

snake/dragon lady day 17 progress

snake/dragon lady day 17 progress

snake/dragon lady day 17 progress

snake/dragon lady day 17 progress

project 5 – paperclay figure

my workspace is a table in our spare room. these chavant figures don’t pile up on each other well —- so i’m running out of space. And I want to go to NIADA next year, so i need to have some finished figures to take a long. So I figured it was time to switch to paperclay and see how it goes.

boy – the chavant really spoils you. Paperclay is so much harder to work in, the first week it was all i could do not to literally take a sledge hammer to the blamed thing.

part of it is that the premier is so soft, I can’t leave it wet, or i squish it out of shape the next time i pick it up. So i lay in an area, dry it in a 170 oven overnight, then carve away and add more on, and dry again. I find it really hard to try to make the figure fluid in it – and the whole process is so very slow. But at the end I have a figure that i can seal and/or paint and take around with me for shows…. or give to friends so at least i don’t have to smash it to make room for more…

at this point i’m starting to be sort of ok with the figure – it was supposed to be a woman with one of those long thin wind-dragonslike in Spirited Away — but she is starting to look more like an old-time carnie painting advertising the snake charmer…..

always wanted to do a really dark, old fashioned carnie series…..

and as usual – photos in the round really show lots that needs to be worked on.

snake charmer in paperclay

snake charmer in paperclay

snake charmer in paperclay

snake charmer in paperclay

snake charmer in paperclay

project something, day 7 – 1 week down

oh man, there is never enough time. one week into the 4 weeks, and fumbling my way to knowing who this person is.

i get overly philosophical sometimes – there is something about squishing clay that lets my mind wander free and it is far more presumptions than i am in real life. but i discovered this person didn’t seem to have eyes which started me thinking about a blind sword fighter as a metaphor for life – and i really liked that – grace, alertness, and never able to see what is about to clobber him… so started with just leaving the eye area blank, then gave him a blindfold, and now i’m playing with a hood like falconers put on hawks and falcons. no telling if he will keep it for the whole month, but i like it for right now. got to figure out how to braid 7 or 9 strands correctly though…. or fake it better.

the armature is really in the way to work on the back of him, or to take pictures in the round, so i may take it off now. not sure how sturdy he is.

blind sword dancer

blind sword dancer

blind sword dancer

project something – day 3

I’m starting to like this guy – about 20″ tall if standing upright – and i’m starting to see a chinese dragon – or an insect like dragon that he is fighting.

thinking a bit about some overthetop gothic leather and buckles clothing – maybe —— saw some outrageous half-corset black leather things that had no practicality at all….. or maybe he needs some variant on chinese clothing? simpler to leave him nude – but what kind of idiot goes to fight a dragon nude?
chinese sword fighter in chavant nsp medium

chinese sword fighter in chavant nsp medium

chinese sword fighter in chavant nsp medium

Project 2 day 14

I’m torn between kind of liking how she is turning out, and being terrified because her month is half up and every time i work on her, more things need to be done.

worked a lot on her back and arms (I think her elbows are off by about 20 degrees each!) but not ready for pics. Also started playing with detailing her abdomen – even though her feet are way behind. bad thing to do! this keeping her all at about the same level is hard. trying to give her just a hint of a 6pack but it is too even right now, as are the ribs – no serratus anterior in place yet – and hardly any latissimus dorsi showing wrapping around.
day 14 reclining lady

adding 2 new projects

i’ve got a couple of issues that keep me from being a good sculptor.

1. I have no idea how to finish a piece. once i’ve got a line that i like, or a mood – i tend to just drop the piece and move on. I really need to work on my skills at bringing the entire sculpt to the same level, and truly finish it.

2. I have no belief in myself as a sculptor. I love pushing clay, making shapes – i can’t seem to not do it. totally a part of life like breathing. but each piece is a race between the part of me that loves bringing the shape into existence, and the part that asks who i’m trying to fool – why am i wasting good money on clay and wasting time that could be used for useful things, making sculpts that aren’t worth it.

so i don’t finish much, and toss a lot. the 2 issues feed each other – if i never finish a piece, it doesn’t have to be judged by other folk, and i won’t have to admit its not very good.

part of my problem is lack of realistic goals. I really admire graceful, gentle, beauty. in classical sculptors – I would love to have some portion of Bernini’s ability to engage you and pull you in. But those aren’t my skills. I need to accept that . I need to figure out what my strengths are, and work on making the most of them, even if they aren’t strengths that i want or admire in other peoples’ work.

i think i’m back to thinking there should be a 12 step program for artists. one that has you admit you have a problem, then gives you steps to work on dealing with it.

so all the blithering aside — i’m kind of stumped on the reclining woman – and want to give her a day or 2 to ferment and hope i figure out what to do next. I started another armature last night and hope to start claying it tonight – and meanwhile – have a household project of plastering walls that is requiring i clean out 2 spare rooms that i’ve got random stuff stashed in. found a cat i started awhile back and decided it was worth trying to work on some more. the clay is sculpture house’s non-sulfured plastilina (oil-based) and its really soft. if nothing else, it will give me some practice in working with sticky clay.

cat slink

cat slink