Digital presentations are good for getting the message of a design to some clients, as was the case with the Ultimate Frisbee Player presentation. But, in reality there is much work to be done in the clay. More reference photographs were needed before I could proceed with the sculpture. So I hired a young man who was about the size of model to jump up and down in my studio yard, while I video taped him. Yes, video taped him, because I could not click the shutter quick enough to get the photographic reference that I needed on the folds.
Once the piece was complete it is approved by the client. Many clients don’t realize that most sculptures will be cut into pieces for the mold process. The artist goes to great extent to make things perfect for the client, but must redo the work once again when the sculpture is cut apart.
Together the client and I go over the different figures and I learn that securing the figures as we were intending could be construed as a foul. So, we change the design a bit.
Miguel comes to the studio from the foundry and gives me some pointers on the mold. It is a tiny piece and a mold will not be difficult but there are some things I am questioning and I enjoyed his opinion.
Then it was off to cutting apart the piece and making the molds. Which I did outside in the heat, because we are temporarily using my studio as a nursery for 3 feral cats who have given birth and dropped off their kittens on the porch. Everything that is lost ends up at my house/studio. The kittens are enjoying the studio and arrangements are being made to help them, but so I didn’t kill little kitty brain cells, I opted for creating molds outside on the studio porch. Sure hope the kittens are gone before the Prairie View A & M big cat is in there.
Soon we will see the waxes of the Ultimate frisbee player.
I am often asked to create memorials for family pets, or at least sculptures to remind the owner of the love of a pet. If you remember I recently sculpted a little boy and dog, the boy whispering in his dogs ear. When the commission began I was touched when they said the dog was aging and they did not expect him to live long. I had to create the dog as part of the sculpture and did so at no charge. My client arrived at the studio yesterday and informed me the dog did indeed pass away a few weeks ago. She lovingly stroked the piece, attracted and looking at it even before she did her son. I could feel her sorrow. I identify. Her son is growing up, and this dog has been a part of his childhood. I’m going through something similar with my daughters cat of 16 years. I gave my daughter the cat when she was 6 or 7. (you don’t really take into consideration, that when they grow up and move away after college you now have a cat)
Anyway…the cat is not well. I’m more attached to the cat because of what it represents as my daughter’s childhood, then just the cat. The cat and I have both gone through our own struggles as my daughter left for college, and then moved away to Oklahoma. I guess we bonded as we each dealt with the loss, and our goodbyes and coming to terms with the new arrangement. We drew to each other in her absence.
I recently heard someone tell about how their childhood poodle helped them through the difficult times of growing up, through the alcoholism in the family and a divorce and that this poodle dying was so traumatic for them they never again had another pet. I on the other hand, foster dogs, work with shelters and at this point in my life I have two cats, two dogs, one of which is being fostered by us and has come through some horrible physical problems, two turtles and a bunch of fish in the pond, they pretty much take care of themselves and am now the feral cat lady as a mother cat found our house and dropped off her kittens, all 4 of them, which also brought two teenagers. I have no idea what to do with these cats, the shelters won’t take them. I keep feeding them and trying to get them used to people, but something has to be done.
This is my life with cats and dogs and pets. No wonder my heart goes out to those commissions that includes the family pet.
Working on this new sculpture of the child with his dog and knowing how the dog is aging makes me think of the other dog sculptures that I have done. I have sculpted many animals before. Many were commissions of pets or people and their pets. One would think, “Oh a dog that should be a rather easy thing to sculpt.” But really they are just as intricate and have just as much emotion as the humans.
My first animal sculpture was my own wonderful black lab Conan. It was done just after he died. I remember that when I was sculpting my beloved pet I cried. My husband came into the studio and asked what I was doing. “Sculpting Conan,” I replied. He said, “If it is that difficult then why are you doing it.” My response that was said in between my sobs, “Because I have to.” That was when “Puppy Love” ( limited edition of 100) came into existence. I sculpted myself with my dog. In fact, when he came out of surgery and was on the floor of the clinic, I snuck in and cuddled up behind him in a similar position. The doctor said that his vitals changed when I did this, even though the dog was totally unconscious. I still think that is amazing. The dog was old, and a few days later, after we brought him home I was in this same position, but after many hours of staying awake to help him I literally passed out. He died in our kitchen. I was devastated, as I wanted to be there for him when he died. My husband who was on the floor in front of Conan said that every time I spoke to Conan he would see the fight to live in the dogs eyes. But the fight was too much. He had to go, and he could only do so when I was silent. I know it sounds strange, but what I learned from this event was that it is very important to give our beloved animals permission to go on.
I have owned 4 other dogs since, fostered 4 and had 3 that neighbors owned and I interacted with at my studio. I have never allowed myself to love a dog as much as I loved that one. I wrote a poem to go with this sculpture. I’ll have to see if I can find it.
In grandpas swing (bronze limited edition of 10) I was originally going to sculpt just the children, then I found out the dog was aging and not expected to live. I added the dog, which really did make the piece because the little girl is reading, “If you give a mouse a cookie” book to her brother. The little boy is looking at the book and not paying attention, his cookie balancing from his fingers; the dog smells the cookie. Maybe the piece should have been called “Give a dog a cookie” instead of “Grandpas Swing” Yes the swing really swings! The entire food theme came about because at the sitting the little boy kept saying. “I’m hungry.” It is funny to see how a commission comes together.
The Mr. Hevrdejs had me sculpt his wife and their two Rhodesian ridgebacks. I never got meet the two dogs as they are in their home in California. I was thrilled to have a piece of my work in their collection because Mr. Hevrdejs is a collector of art. In fact they have a wing in the Museum of Fine Art-Houston. Photographs were provided of both animals and I was surprised that after viewing them I had a sense about each of the animals. The same sort of feeling I get when trying to sculpt deceased loved ones. I went to Mrs. Hevrdejs and said. Porsche, she seems like she is one of those dogs that needs a lot of attention and would rather get that then even eat. Symba, on the other hand has a cat like mentality and frankly could not be bothered. Turns out I was right on. I sculpted Porsche waiting for the bone from her master and Symba turned away not really caring.
Playing Ball ( limited edition of 10) was another commission of master and dog. I loved getting to meet these dogs and taking the pictures of them. It is interesting that meeting a dog for a commission is quite similar to meeting a person. You get a feeling about them and you bond. I have learned that one of these dogs passed away a few years ago. I am glad they have the sculpture to remind them.
Jack- ( bronze limited edition of 10)This was my first posthumous dog commission, other than my own dog. Jack passed away. I visited the family and got to view his seating place, his toys and his bowl. The death of the dog was very difficult for the client and in turn having the sculpture come to completion was also difficult, as it sometimes can be when sculpting the deceased. I am sure they love having this piece.
I have been working on this new commissioned sculpture of a little boy and his dog. I was not actually commissioned to sculpt the dog, but when I saw the two together in a photograph, and heard that the dog is aging… well it pulled at my heart strings. Besides the photograph of the little boy whispering in the dogs ear is to say the least so cute.
Here a quick roughed in sketch of what I am going for. The dog and boy are two pieces. That way the parents can place them around the shelf. You must remember David. He is the other child in the family. I love that the mom had miniatures made of the children.
Now that I look at them together I can see the placement. Maybe David is not looking down at his toys, but at his brother and his dog. What fun!
The studio has been busy. Bryan has been helping out with the Dick Hathaway satchel and also has helped on the molds for both the life size bust and the wax of the woman and baby. He is a good worker and a pleasure to have around. As I stated before, we are documenting that entire process of mold making on the new forum. We took a tour of the foundry when picking up the wax of the life size bust. Bryan has been with me for only two weeks and has had quite a bit of exposure to the entire foundry process. Next week he will learn to work on waxes as we will be pouring many waxes and working on them at the studio. Besides mom and baby and the bust we will be working on seven small newsboy sculptures.
I have been enjoying working on sculpting the small baby. The head is not attached as I alternate between boy and head. The head has a dowel in it that attaches to the body. I had to replace it with a longer one as it fell off once and smashed on the floor. Little heads are hard to keep on in clay, I have had this happen before. I still have a lot of work to do on this piece but it is a very pleasant distraction from mold making and computer stuff.
After days of doing the detailed version of the mom and baby I spent the night working on the simplified version. Ugggg… I groaned, searching for inspiration in contemporary sculpture books. Funny it feels like I had to get the detailed version, the emotions and passion from it to get capture that it the simplified version. Hubby came in and said, try this, this and this. I don’t think it was anything anyone had to say or advise. I just think sometimes you need to spend time with a piece. Enough time and enough pushing and you get to what you were after, even if you never knew what that was supposed to be when you started.
I also though I would post this little tiny head from the other version. I always think it is funny when I am holding a tiny little body part in my hand. I think I am just drawn to miniature things- dollhouses, and stories of little people.
Is it mother and baby or midwife in baby in this logo? I wonder, and yet the mother in me says it is mother. My child is 22, last month, graduated from college and headed off to live on her own, but staying with us for the summer. What a long journey from that moment of adoration, connection, dependency. The rest of the journey is spent breaking away, growing yes, but breaking away. This commission comes at an appropriate time and I fine myself reminiscing and thinking about many different things. What this logo depicts is an incredible moment, unlike any other. I remember the world could have disappeared. It might have even done so as I sat in the hospital 22 years ago. I want to stop working on this and then create a simplified version, now that I have found the passion and the connection, the movement I just can’t stop working on this sculpture.
I wanted to create the mom and baby sculpture in a more contemporary style. It would force me to “Work outside the box.” Mark Twain once said, “If I would have had more time I would have written you a shorter letter.” Ah, I can identify with that in writing, I also identify with that in sculpting. If I had more time I could have simplified it. Here I am two days before my client is to come to the studio and I have gone from a quick contemporary sketch to a detailed piece. I could do it again and simplify it, make it more contemporary, but the problem is… I love what I am doing. The sculpture is developing into a more art nouveau style, a style that seems to be a part of my deepest soul.
Given the opportunity to play it seems I play art nouveau.
This is the logo that was to inspire me.
I am surprise I took on a commission where it is going to be created in ceramic instead of bronze. There are design limitations with such a project. And I rarely create something in fired clay these days. The chairs were provided and I wound up a wire armature and roughed in David with wax based clay. This is easier for me to manipulate and to pick a pose. I think I like this one. My husband asked, “What is he looking at?” So I plan on sculpting some really tiny cars. I’ll place one on the floor next to the chair. SO MUCH FUN… but can’t get to it now. Must get other things done for the other commissions and oh yes, the web site updated. UGGGGGG, sometimes business stuff is not fun at all. But it is oh so necessary. I am thrilled with the updating of the website. I have not put any new work on there in five Years! I am also excited about the new bells and whistles and the interactivity.