Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel. My Pieta is starting to resemble something closer to what I’ve been imagining. After blocking, then rounding; now sculpting begins to bring out the creative flow. Still there is much more work ahead. Sculpting marble requires patients and time.
To get to this stage of smoothing and rounding requires constant review of my various maquettes. Comparing how the stone varies from these smaller clay representations. The artistic approach for me is a methodical process of looking for what does not belong, and then removing it.
A constant series of hatch lines marking areas that need to be addressed, as I work around the entire piece. From hip to hand, shoulder to arm. All the while ensuring each is smoothly carved into its adjacent piece. All this takes time…. And if your not careful, you can lose track of where your actually going; you can lose your perspective.
From the front, the Pieta looks fine, however, when viewed from another angle, the mistake reveals itself. The arm is disproportionately longer than the forearm. Using Michelangelo’s Adam, we can see that the distance from the underarm to the front of elbow, to the front of wrist are approximately the same. For me, a big mistake. However, there is still room to repair
This is were patients really is needed, and why I always leave a little wiggle room within the layout plan. I have space within the stone to adjust the length of the arm by lowering the elbow. With any luck, this may work to my advantage by forcing a more creative line.
Mistakes like this really bring to light Michelangelo’s genius. All I can hope for is to continue to working diligently around the statue, this time paying closer attention to perspective and proportions. More to follow.
I’m not sure why I enjoy plaster mold making as much as I do. Maybe its the texture of slapping muck that makes me nostalgic for grade school arts and crafts. Maybe its the strange science, pseudo alchemy, that tickles my brain. Certainly its the challenge of designing the perfect puzzle, re-engineering a Jenga masterpiece. The smart way to pour this piece would be to separate Eve’s Arm, and Adam’s leg from their bodies. Pour them separately and then reattach later. But Fun and Smart are not always equatable, and I’d rather have fun. So with a little forethought, all the sections are staked out in advanced… with break away lines being predicted. The plan, naturally, last only for the first few sections….
One piece builds upon another.. and my eye is always searching for the hidden lock, avoiding the undercut that would trap the plaster in place. As you can see, there is lots of opportunity to play with plasticine. As an afterthought, one more reason why this is fun.
Keep in mind that plaster is heavy, and so make sure you build your forms strong enough to hold back the weight. Also, don’t forget to use Vaseline between the plaster sections. Plaster sticks best to itself… And yes, in the past I have forgotten this step and entombed my original. With over a dozen sections, just miss greasing on side, and the whole piece is ruined.
Around and around you go… Just imagine all the effort and time invested within that block of plaster. Could be a complete disaster, a colossal waste of time. Did I forget to Vaseline one side?
Plaster mold making is a skilled craft all its own. Many artist prefer to pass this on to trades persons rather than tackling the complicated and time consuming task. For me, I see this as a challenge, and besides, I’m a bit of a control freak. Maybe I’ve got trust issue, but I don’t want anyone else handling my statue. Michelangelo had originally hired the services of a foundry to cast and pour his larger than life bronze statue of Pope Julius II. Complaining that the quality was so poor, that far more time was spent correcting the pocked marked and pitted surface than if he had thrown it away and started over from scratch. I’m sure quality control has improved much since the Renaissance… But still, I like to be hands on.
As with all my other statues, each mold is unique and requires on-the-spot adjustments… ‘Brothers’ will need a spray foam top to ensure it lays flat within the tipping box. Continue reading
Casting St Francis, Brothers, will be my most challenging plaster mould to date. To keep my compact rolling design I’ve compressed the wolf along side and above Francis. Then to emphasize the tumbling motion, I needed to show all limbs including those sandwiched between the pair. With so many undercuts to consider, I need to fully plan each piece well in advance, knowing how they pull away from each other.
Early in his artistic life, Michelangelo spent years studying anatomy through the dissection of medical cadavers. Though this was forbidden by the Church he moralized that his taboo research was to forward a greater good. His first Pieta, now in St Peters clearly displays his knowledge of muscle tone and muscle placement; an uncanny accuracy that he continued to apply throughout his life’s work.
Fortunately today we don’t have to clandestinely divert unfortunate souls from their final journey. By comparing accurate medical resource to our model we can ensure all the twist and turns stay aligned with reality. Continue reading