Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Details, Details, Details

Getting there. Couple of details shots.

An interesting moment as the texture is added. Form, particularly muscles, tend to look very hard in sculpture. A human body is soft, and slightly translucent. With clay, the form is solid, and we can see the difference clearly. This is one of the problems with adding muscular definition, or veins along the surface. They need to be clear, but if they're too clear, they look unnatural and overdeveloped. In this shot I'm about a third of the way through adding arm hair to soften the the surface, and make it more human. I can't think of many examples of body hair in sculpture, except for the super-realists like Ron Mueck and Evan Penny (they inject silicone hairs with a needle), and sometimes it surprises me. Body hair, after all, is a real thing, with real implication in terms of how we see the body.

On the other hand, as we can see (or not see) from advertising all over the world, body hair is not part of the physical ideal. It makes us a little uncomfortable. It's a little gross, in the sense of being crude, or coarse. That, of course, is part of what I'm going for, and is undoubtedly the reason that my work was recently described, not unkindly, as "not very salable". I'm after that gross, human quality. I don't just like the fat and the hair, it feels important to me. To hide it, or clean it up, is to pretend we're something other than what we are - something less flawed, less animal, less vulnerable and dangerous.

Anyway, here it is, mostly done. It will undoubtedly get a few more passes, softened, roughed up, and softened again, before it's all done.

The pants and belt up by the pocket. For some reason I'm particularly pleased with the seam along the edge. Subtle, but catching just enough light to make a difference.

The wrinkles behind the knees, where I've spent entirely too much time.

New solution for the helmet, which I'm quite pleased with. Those engraving marks were too generalized to work against the rest, which is so specific. This deco-ish solution is happily anachronistic, and works better inside the medium. It's not a solution a helmet maker would love, but clay is not a surface you want to engrave. At some point you've got to follow the material.

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