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