When working on commissions of individuals I try never to work on more than one at a time. The reason for this is that I have a difficult time separating each. Somehow I feel that the personalities get mixed up within the clay. I don’t know if anyone else can feel it, but I do. I have to wait for what I call my “Peter Pan” stage.
This is how I explain it in the book
“There is a scene in the movie “Hook” where a little boy comes up to the grown-up Peter Pan, played by Robin Williams. He mushes his face around pushing gently here and pulling there. The contours of Robin Williams’ face change like a piece of silly puddy, and then at one point the little boy holds the face, mushed in his hands, smiles as if some great revelation has just taken place and says, “There you are Peter Pan.” It is that same illumination that I feel when I approach this point in the sculpture. Often, in jest with the clay and myself I will push past that point of frustration, and when I capture the essence of the subject it is such an “Ahha” moment, that I will mutter to myself“ There you are Peter Pan.” It doesn’t matter who the subject is, male, female, child or adult, it is just that the childlike wonder fills me up. The Peter Pan revelation is my own game between the clay and me.”
Once I reach this stage, once I “have” the subject then I can proceed to the next sculpture commission. As I documented the last four commissions for the book and my study I noticed that my stage of “having it” may not be what my client perceives as me gaining the likeness. Lucas’ face had to be reworked several times, mostly due to the fact that I had very little good photographic reference and sculpting a five year old with photograph reference that is a year or two old is drastically different then sculpting a seventy year old person with photographs that are even five or ten years old. Children change. But even though minute changes needed to be made I knew I had him. There was a peace inside of me and the anxious feeling of searching for Lucas was gone. With each sculpture there is that anxiousness until I know I have them. The commission of Jeanine that I finished last week was similar. Interestingly enough the mother felt the pain that I felt with the photograph that I was using for her eyes. After changing the eyes a bit the mother felt it was a more peaceful sculpture. Though there may have been pain in the eyes I still felt that Jeanine had reached the “Peter Pan” stage.