Sculpting, My Greatest Artistic Aspiration
Sculpture has proven the most potent creative process I’ve ever experienced. This bust to the right was the first sculpture I ever made. It was the assignment from a college beginning sculpture class at then Utah Valley State College (Now known as Utah Valley University or UVU). The class was taught by a most beloved teacher, Barbara Wardle, who I will always cherish for her instruction and good natured personality, for her encouragement to pursue sculpting, which twenty years later I think I’m now getting serious at doing.
I can recall as a beginning student, working on the neck of this piece and having a hard time of it. Barbara came along and helped me see what I was not trained to see anatomically before then. She had me roll out a very large and thick snake-like piece of clay. Then, we attached that clay up behind the ear at the back of the skull and dropped it down the side of the neck to attach to the collar bone. Doing this immediately brought in magic to the piece. Following the same to the other side of the neck, adding in that muscle just riveted me at the transformation. My sculpture now had a geniune masculine looking neck. It was deeply exciting to see.
Later, dedicated and hyper focused on my assignment, I was in the classroom alone one night and getting to the final touches. The sculpture was very large, much more so than any other student in the class. It was larger than life size (as it would shrink when dried, then shrink again in the kiln) and I wanted it to be large. As I worked the piece, moving around the room and taking differing perspectives, and spraying it down from time to time with a water bottle, the piece nearly became alive to me. I thickened his brow. Then I determined he was complete as he as wet clay glistened and gazed at me as I looked directly head on into its eyes. I laughed. I began to think of the biblical story of God breathing life into the man Adam, also created from dust.
Having a sculpting class was most interesting. Looking at this piece from the side reminds me not only of the novice looking ear, but of the fact that during my semester of this class, I sat and found myself sitting in church staring and staring at people’s ears, trying to remember, trying to understand how to form an ear. I thought I knew, as did all of the rest of the students, but until you are sitting with a piece of clay in need of forming an ear, one does not realize how little attention to specifics they miss. Perhaps this is reason for such books as “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” are so vital as one must be brought to see the world around us in new ways when we embark upon art production.
In college, as a Digital Media major, I was able to get my hands onto clay once again with the excuse of creating a 3D character. I would create it in clay, then digitize it into the computer. I was the first, it seemed, to sculpt a clay character and digitize it. Mexican Actor and model, Eduardo Verástegui, to me at the time appeared as ideal and perfect a man as could be devised as reference of an Adonis. He was my first selection as artistic reference for my sculpture, the second was a footballer on the french Rugby team whose name I once knew but at the writing of this post escapes me. The bone structure of his face is quite remarkable.
In 2011 I attended a week long intensive anatomy sculpting workshop in San Francisco at the studio of AnatomyTools.com. Andrew Cawrse was the primary instructor, and assistant instructor was Eric Michael Wilson who’s Adam and Eve sculpture I celebrate in this post.
In course of that intensive anatomy instruction, I was left laughing and laughing to myself with marvel, delight, and surprise at the repeated ratios of the golden mean found all throughout the human body, again and again and again. Truly, what a divine creation, no wonder the human form is so magnificent and beautiful, by means of these stunning ratios of magnificently appealing proportions hidden throughout. It is a joy to have these illuminated and brought forth in understanding, which knowledge is had by competent artists working with the human.