Monday, August 15, 2011

Too Big, God Damn It, Too Big

Got a late start in the studio this afternoon (afternoon!). I had the kids all the morning, and couldn't get in until after lunch.

For my birthday, my wife gave me some solitary studio time, so I spent all last weekend in the studio, while my (sick) wife took the kids down to visit their grandparents in Baltimore. Given this rare, uninterrupted opportunity, I pushed hard to bring this smaller piece close to resolution. Practically speaking, that meant spending a lot of time trying to make a convincing portrait of a thicket.

This thicket is going to work as a kind of screen inside a frame, with a rabbit hiding at the bottom, and arrows protruding from the upper right side. An ambiguous brer rabbit, maybe. The rabbit and the arrows are obviously going to be the focus of the piece, but it's important to get the branches right, too. First of all, I wanted them to look truly round - not flat planes intertwined, like Celtic knot work. Second, even though they are necessarily stylized (positive/negative space issues, only one plane to work with), I wanted them to have the irregular character of real branches. They needed to swell, and bend, and break off in unanticipated directions, just like the real deal. I did not want arboreal cartoon; I wanted a portrait of trees.

That said, it's terribly boring work, making branches, and I was more than a little burned out when I went this afternoon, and that's why I was apparently overeager to get started on something more rewarding, like the rabbit. Even before I got started, I predicted the outcome to my able assistant, James. This is a bad idea, I said, as I poured out liquid Castilene. I will pay for this later, I said, as I started to eyeball the proportions. This is is a mistake, I said, as I spent the next two hours fooling with subtleties of rabbit anatomy. And I was right.

Too fucking big. Not by a lot. Maybe 25%. But since there's NO SCALE TOOL in sculpture, if it's too big, it's too big. Start over.

So I did. In the hour or two I had left before I needed to get dinner started, and the kids moving through the usual slow-motion bedtime ballet, I started again. And now, because I was behind, I eyeballed it. Again. But this time I eyeballed it a lot more carefully, and it's working better. Although now, as I look at it, the change doesn't look that dramatic. Still, I think it's better, and there's a lot of room left in the modeling to move thing around.

All in all though, I'm excited. It doesn't photograph for shit, but in person it's looking very cool, and I can't wait to see whether my idea to cast the branches and leave the background is going to work. Plus, I've got an interesting idea for color, and a title - "You And Your Romantic Notions" - which I think fits. Let's see what happens tomorrow.

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