Getting to Know Evelyn

This is from a blog I am doing for my client on this project. The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center Sculpture Blog.


Reference for folds

Yesterday, my client was kind enough to take time with me and allow me to thumb through old photo albums.  It is interesting… I’m looking for photographs of my subject, but it is seeing the family photographs, hearing the stories, this is what makes me feel bonded to my subject.

I’m trying to not only capture a likeness, I’m trying to find Evelyn. Watching her playful side in photographs, some that I have never even taken as reference, hearing about her parents, my clients and the relationship to them, even talking about death. All of these things add an element to a sculpture that you  can’t get by just “doing the work.”

I once heard an artist say, “posthumous sculpture is just another commission.”  It is so much more to me.  This is a life lived. It is someone’s mother and wife. It is a person whose life made a huge difference and will continue to make a difference.  How can I honor that?  Who are you Evelyn?

My client also took time for me, and posed in a similar sweater like Evelyn is wearing in the key photograph. I needed to see folds all around. Folds are so important.  In a recent sculpture of a young man playing ultimate frisbee I hired a young man of similar size to be my model. He spent an hour jumping up and down in the yard of my studio while I took video. Photographs were impossible as I could never catch the folds I needed when he was at the high point of his jump. So I filmed him, and then took stills to use as reference.

I could have had a friend pose for me, in a sweater like Evelyn’s, but even this little detail of having someone she knew and love pose, this makes a difference. We are cocreating. This is not just “my” artwork it becomes “our” artwork.

Figurine Statue Bridgette Mongeon Houston Texas Artist
This is a small bronze figurine about 20″ tall—One of my favorites. Folds are very important. To get referencephotographs for this sculpture a young mancame to my studio and jumped up and downfor an hour while I shot video. ( If you would like to seea larger version of this art just double click on the photograph)

I’m becoming intimately familiar with the stature and physical nuances of Evelyn.  I study the photographs. There are photograph from many different ages. Some  are taken at 20- 50 even 70 year of age. This process is much easier at this age. Once I had to do a sculpture of a little boy who had passed away, the reference photographs I had spanned from ages 1-4 and 7. A child has huge changes  in facial and body structure at that age. This is not so much with a grown person.

Tracing the reference photographs
helps me to see elements without a
lot of visual distraction.

I’m spending time today tracing some of these photographs.  I can set them over my digital sculpture image the way I would use them comparing them to shape and form traditionally in the studio. Again this process is giving me the general shape of Evelyn, so that I can have it enlarged for an armature to put on the clay.  Tracing these images helps me to see the basic shape without a lot of visual disturbance.

Length of Skirt

My client helped to confirm the length of the skirt. We  changed the length and, as mentioned in a previous post,  the height of the figure.  Much more to do on this model before sending it off. My goal is to have it to the enlarger before I leave town at the end of the month. That way, if I am lucky, the armature will be waiting for me upon my return.

We shortened the skirt. Now I’m working
on details for my armature and model.
I can’t wait to get my hands dirty.
All of the digital preparations are nice,
but I long to be with the piece physically.

I’m looking at the pearls and wondering, where did she get them?  My husband gave me pearls. I don’t wear jewelry, not even my wedding ring. It is hard to wear jewelry when you have your hands in goo most of the time. But pearls are all I wanted, a simple strand to wear when we go out.  So, I think about these intimate details as I work on the sculpture.

Some of my thoughts, broad back, slight overbite, questioning her earrings, thinking about how she brushed her hair, who did it for her?

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