Category Archives: Art Journal

Happy With My First Officially Commissioned Project

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Excellent News! The Red Headed Mustache Man was completed and delivered to his new home at the end of November.   All those involved were happy, charmed, and amused by him. Of course, we miss him here at home. My “studio” is the 2nd bedroom in our 2bd apartment, so any project I do becomes a part of our lives and family.  The Lyon and I make little jokes about the characters and objects I create. This one is called Alex.

THE BIRTH OF ALEX

I was commissioned to make a sculpt of my client’s friend “Alex”.  She wanted it to be a good likeness of her friend, wear a specific costume, and have a more idealized body.

So we agreed on a pose, a body, the size, the material (paper), and a price.

She e-mailed me a collection of images to reference.

PLAN TO BEGIN

“The beginning is the most important part of the work” ~ Plato

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a sculptor is to spend more time planning the creation process before jumping into doing the work.  I think I’ve always been more of a doer than a planner.  I love to jump in with both feet and figure things out as I go along.  Many people do make art that way.  It can be a wonderful way to work and can produce compelling results when making work that is loosely interpreted or abstract.  When making something that is realistic it is necessary to plan.

STUDY THE POSE

The requested pose was one that is very common in classical figurative art. A contrapposto pose with the weight distributed down through the right leg.  In preparation for the armature, I had to have a clear understanding of where the figure’s center would be, the proportions planned out, and the gesture (energy flow) of the pose with the hip and shoulder angles drawn up.

MEASURE TWICE CUT ONCE

Out came the anatomy books, the how-to do portrait books, the how-to sculpt a figure books.  Whatever I had, I reviewed, bookmarked, planned 1st on paper, measured, and re-measured.  The goal was to have a realistic looking figure.  Classical and correct comes with careful planning.  I nearly drove myself batty with the preliminary measurements and ‘seeing it’ before it was physically created.

THE ARMATURE

It is debatable whether or not an armature is necessary for a figure of this size.  I chose to start with an armature so that I could have more control over modifying the pose if necessary and I could guarantee that the piece could be more easily repaired if it is damaged.  I could elaborate on that, but talking about my work getting damaged gives me an icky feeling. ya know?

Here are some pics of Alex when he was just a baby… err I mean an armature.

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The armature is aluminum wire, coat hanger, and perhaps some other wire or two for good luck ( I went a little overboard with the wire ).  The aluminum foil was used as a substructure for the paper mache and to start the process of bulking up the body.  I also used an epoxy clay at the joints for strength.

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Yeah, that’s right… Alex could have been an Alien.

THE MATERIAL

Alex is made primarily of paper.  I used a combination of paper mache techniques and recipes throughout his creation.

The first layer was built up from a clay pulp made primarily from egg cartons, fast food drink holders and water.  A little PVA glue was thrown in for good measure along with a dash of saw dust.  Some paper artist’s say that one can simply tear the egg carton up and mix it with water to make a workable pulp.  There is a glue already in the carton as well as additives to prevent mold.  The mixture did not stick to itself very well though, and when dry it comes out too soft for me, so I added glue to it.

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Yup, right again…. Alex was a zombie for a little while.

See that image on my netbook in the background? That’s the pose I was going for and the body. Pretty nice, huh?! He’s got a loong road ahead of him!

For the next week or two I built Alex up in increments with a paper mache clay mixture. I varied and modified my recipes a bit from information I pieced together from around the web. My main recipe source for the clay came from Jonni at  http://www.ultimatepapermache.com/paper-mache-clay

I intentionally built it up slowly to make sure that all the layers would dry so as not to attract mold growth or bugs.

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My process involves much back and forth of building up a form and then carving material away.


THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB

I have amassed a hearty collection of modelling tools and I use them all pretty much equally.

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Many sculptors have a few favorites.  My favorites change from project to project.  In fact, I have so many tools that I choose favorites and then lose track of them throughout the creation process.

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 KEEP TAKING YOUR GAME TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Here comes the sports analogy….

To be a great athlete you have to practice the right things, the right way, you have to conquer self-doubt, and you have to always expect more from yourself every time you compete.  Sculpting is the same way.

Of all the artists I’ve known only two or three were instantly good.  The rest got good through hours and hours of deliberate practice, continuous study, and by conquering that pesky little demon that sits on their shoulder;  who tells them that they don’t have any talent and that whatever they are working on sucks.  There was a time when I thought that  I didn’t have it in me to sculpt an accurate figure much less one that seemed to have life.  I continued to practice.  I learned to get more control over my self-doubt and eventually I started to see results that I could be proud of.

Having said that, I still had a lot of self-doubt to conquer while working on Alex.  I thought that I needed to be more familiar with the material to do a good job.  I thought that my lack of experience of working on a small-scale would interfere with being successful.  I especially thought that I was too rusty because I hadn’t sculpted much for many years.

Instead of buying into all those thoughts of worry, lack, and limitation; I chose to be confident that if I focused hard enough, worked diligently enough,  continued to re-sculpt the mistakes until I got a better result, and most importantly; I believed that the final result would be something special.  All I needed was time.

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COMMISSIONED ART IS A COLLABORATIVE PROCESS

This is where I give kudos to my client who pushed but was not too pushy. Alex is a better man. Um errr…  Statue because of her critiques and requests for changes.  It helps to have a fresh pair of eyes on your work.

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He started to look much much better as you can see here. Next came some finishing touches.  A tickle here, a tickle there.

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PAINT

I painted Alex with water-mixable oils.  That added quite a bit of time to finish him because oils take a long time to dry.  I felt that I would achieve better and richer results with the oil paint though.  I think that I would like to use acrylics in the future.

By the way, the base was a pencil holder I picked up in a thrift store.  I flipped it upside down, removed the shells and starfish ( client’s choice)  and made a mosaic with paper beads where the shells once were.  He stands 13″ tall without the base.  The base is about 6″ high.

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Now on to other things.  Completing old projects.  Starting new ones. Perhaps a commission for you!

Happy New Year!

~ The Mouse

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Think about your experience of those moments when you are most creatively engaged. What does it feel like? Being in a creative “flow” can be ecstatic and, simultaneously, there is an often surprising sense of urgency to bring into being that which you can sense is possible. That’s why great artists or scientists will work day and night, neglecting to eat or sleep. They are driven by a vision, something just beyond their reach that will not let them rest until they have brought it into reality. That drive is the very same impetus that caused the whole universe to burst forth, fourteen billion years ago, and is now expressing itself through the body, mind, heart, and talents of an inspired human being.

When you feel that creative flow, often you discover a part of yourself you are not normally aware of but which feels more like your “self” than the person you usually think you are. It’s like plugging in to a deeper source of energy and passion that transcends whatever limitations you ordinarily assume. A deeper, more authentic part of your self is creatively released. That’s why such moments are so fulfilling—it’s not just the creative work you produce, but the experience of being more alive, more connected, more in touch with a sense of meaning and purpose.

~By Andrew Cohen, Spiritual Teacher

Good Morning, The Mouse here.  I saw this on Facebook and thought it worthy of pressing into our blog.  It encompasses so much of what Living Fun Loving Life is all about.  It is the reason why I am always thinking about making art and perhaps the reason why I keep encountering obstacles that keep me from making it!

Our pastor, Dr. Therman E. Evans repeatedly teaches that the devil throws those obstacles in your way to prevent you from getting closer to the almighty God.  We are also taught that God puts those things in your path to prepare you for the success that you desire.  What do you think?  Does it matter?  How do you deal with the obstacles?

The Creative Flow

The Mouse Here

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Hi! I have so much to share. Please bear with me as I find my niche. Should I only blog about my journey as an artist? Shall my entries be an art journal? Shall they be random thoughts and realizations about life and the journey that Mark wrote about in the earlier post? livingfunlovinglife our way of sharing our journey with the world. We have met many people who appear to be going through life robotic-ally and without passion. We aim to inspire and motivate others to not only pursue the passion that they already have, but to also spark something that has seemingly been lying dormant for others. Now Mark, …ehem.. I mean Lyon, believes that we as a couple are entertaining and that we will soon have a following of folks who tune in to our escapades just for the purpose of living vicariously through us or perhaps more likely, to have a good laugh. Oh the pressure of it all! That makes me self-conscious. Am I being funny yet?  Ahhh!  I have to set my mind straight. I have to just be and begin. So I will start with an art journal of sorts. Currently I am working with polymer clay and paper clay. These are both relatively new materials for me. Also, I am working on very small projects which is also a new scale to me. So, I feel as though I am born again as an artist. Just learning to sit up and crawl. I feel great about it though! What an exciting place to be! I know that my past experiences and muscle memory will enable me to eclipse the learning curve rapidly and that within a few months MouseSculpts  ( the name of my studio ) will have a portfolio that showcases my great talent and style! ( That’s my affirmation 😀 ) When that happens I will  dedicate a page on this site for my creations and studio. I will also have an Etsy shop, and will upload images of my work on http://mousesculpts.deviantart.com/  among other places. So be on the lookout! In the meantime you can follow our blog and see the many journal entries I make about my process and other hoo-ha!