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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

#556 In the studio: Clay sketches . . . outdoors




Modeling outdoors with oil based plasteline clay presents several problems for the sculptor, but the rewards are sometimes worth it.  One ingredient in plasteline is wax which is very sensitive to the heat of the sun.  Typically, if I plan to sculpt outdoors, I try to be in a place where I can find shade quickly in the event the sun has too much of an impact on the sculpture I'm working on.
Some brands of plasteline respond to the sun's warmth in a more forceful manner and are simply not suited for outdoor work if it's too hot.  I remember using a specific clay once and after leaving my sculpture outdoors in the sun, I returned to find a puddle of melted clay surrounding my pipe and wire armature!


The rewards of using a soft, buttery clay to create a spontaneous sketch can be dramatic.  The sculptor must have a
firm plan of what is to be sculpted and approach the sculpture stand with purpose.   I spend more time constructing
the armature, researching, drawing, assembling my "scrap" or reference material, and PLANNING what I'm
going to do outdoors in the sun than I actually do during the sculpting process. 

 The figurative sculptor of both the animal and human figure must have a thorough knowledge of anatomy,
structure, proportion, joint articulation - which determine waypoints -  before success can be achieved
on a quickly executed and spontaneous clay sketch.  For every 20 to 30 outdoor clay sketches I create . . .
I deem only one, perhaps, worthy of casting in bronze.   

Below, are images of a Labrador Retriever head study executed on the deck of the Colorado mountain cabin last month.
My "scrap" consisted of research photos in books from the small library at the cabin as well as interpreting
anatomy and form by using my Brittany as a model.  Also, I had the pleasure of working with a
 Lab in the studio recently, and had modeled several studies from life, resulting in a set of
Lab Bookends shown at the close of this blogpost.







  Below, the clay sketch will be completed using a model before casting.  As I mentioned earlier, not all one-sitting sketches are worthy of casting in bronze!  When I finish the piece for casting, I will attempt to retain the surface freshness by returning to the outdoors to warm the clay.


By understanding the similarities yet analyzing the differences between breeds, the sculptor can use what's at hand to make headway on a clay model.  There are times when an analytical approach works well.
Below, the head of a Brittany is wider across the dome, the skull is rounded, has a lighter, tapered muzzle and has short, high-set, triangular ears.  The Labrador Retriever has a broad skull, a thick nose, and a wide muzzle.



Lab Bookends
8"H 12"W 7"D

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Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish



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