Saturday, February 16, 2013

Classical Elements Sculpture Update

It has been awhile since I have blogged on this series, but I have been working on the four sculptures.

To see the latest images look on my web site at this studio link.

You might be surprised to find out the amount of research time that is involved in a piece like The Elements. Hours and hours of searching in books at a library, yes, I am old enough to remember how to do research in a brick and mortar environment using real books and the Dewey decimal system. Then of course there is the all powerful Internet.

The something unique I envisioned was to combine all four element figures into one sculpture, and to create each individual element image combining the beliefs from the ancient Greeks and Romans, Wicca, Babylonia, Hindu, Christianity, medieval alchemy and astrology. It has turned out to be a daunting task, but one that after years of thought and searching is coming together rather nicely. Here is the chart I made up to easily see all the important pieces.

Classical Elements
B= Babylonian, G= Greek, H/B= Hinduism & Buddhism, J= Japanese, T= Tibetan, A= Astrology, W= Wicca, C= Christian

Direction: North  (B,G,H/B,J,T,C)
Season: Spring (G,C,W)
Animal: Bird (W.C)
Elemental Symbol: (G)
Tool: Wand (W)
Qualities: Freedom, Creative, Intellect (G,A,W)
Astrology Signs: Libra, Gemini, Aquarius (A)

Direction: West (B,G,H/B,J,T,C)
Season: Winter (G,C)
Animal: Dolphin (W,C)
Elemental Symbol: (G)
Tool: Cup (W,C)
Qualities: Emotion, Love, Compassion (G,W)
Astrology Signs: Cancer, Scorpion, Pisces (A)

Direction: East (B,G,H/B,J,T,C)
Season: Summer (C,W,G)
Animal: Lion (A,C,W)
Elemental Symbol: (G)
Tool: Sword (W,C)
Qualities: Energy, Passion, Strength (G,A,W)
Astrology Signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Direction: South (B,G,H/B,J,T,C)
Season: Fall (G,C,W)
Animal: Bull (W,C)
Elemental Symbol: (G)
Tool: Staff (W)
Qualities: Mature, Stable, Order (G,W)
Astrology Signs: Virgo, Capricorn, Taurus (A)

I find it interesting the similarities between the religions/cultures and how beliefs are intertwined.

The next stage of the sculpture is developing the concept of the piece to where I can start creating and designing the figures. Since I am classically trained, I begin all my sculptures by drawing. Because this is a public forum with includes younger people, I will forgo showing you my initial sketches and just say that I have filled many pages with drawings of many, many figures.

Then I needed to do the metal armatures. This is where I deviated from my initial thoughts. I decided that I would sculpt each figure separately. This will allow me several options in the final piece. First is that if there is an interest in any one of the individual figures, I can easily cast them separately. Second they are supported by their own armatures for more total stability. Third is that by sculpting them separately I have more freedom moving them around each other to create and refine the final piece. Because even though I think I know what the piece will look like, in the end the clay tells me how it wants to look. Over the years I have found if I am smart I will listen to the clay, otherwise I end up not liking it and toss it, or I change it.

I am starting with the Water figure since she lies on the base that will become a rock or cliff that all of the other figures emerge from. That is why the foam base. For the stability of form and it is light weight. Covered with clay it makes sculpting the rock easier.

One of the important parts of the final piece as with all of my sculptures is that with all four figures combined, there is not a front or back to the sculpture. As a graphic designer, I feel that the piece should be seen from every angle, every view and the sculpture should stand as a well designed piece. So in this piece from every side you will be able to see the front of a figure.

And in the beginning there was aluminum wire, galvanized pipe and foam. I’m afraid I did not take beginning photos of Water when she was all wire. Like all of my sculptures I add a heart to the wire frame giving it a soul, then start with the head. The head sets the proportions of the body, 8 heads high, 2 heads wide at the hips and shoulders and 1+ heads wide at the waist, legs are 4 heads long, etc.

Once I have the head formed, I finish the face. To me finishing up the face first - adds a personality to the piece and the rest of the body flows from that.

Then I work on the forms of the body and I work from the inside out. First come the bones then I add the muscles, then the skin. That way it looks more real even though it is an impressionists view I want it to be believable. What is important are the proportions and how the muscles that carry the weight contract and are bulkier while those that don't are in a relax state and are smoother. These subtle changes add weight and movement to the piece. As an artist I'll take it one step farther and accentuate the tension or lack of it and the curves to move your eyes around and through the piece.

I decided that the alchemical sign for each figure will be a tattoo on their chest. 

And here are photos of the other elements as they are now:
   EARTH      AIR