A Note on Referencing: Many of the references I am including in this article are to my own work or works on the web. When doing this I include a link to the article directly in the text as well as in the article. This is purely for the convenience of the reader.
Going into part 5 I mentioned that I will need to focus on the following in Part 5 (Howard, 2020):
- Research and Context, especially with respect to the influences on my work during the part;
- Improvement in use of drawing, especially in larger formats and for experimentation; and
- Working on an investigation and theme, as this is likely to result in better progression.
There is also significantly more scope allowed in this part to complete work according to your own inspiration. The following seem like the most relevant elements of the direction:
“… create a series of sculptures and drawings that develop and explore your passion and imagination for sculpture.(Sacker et al, 2016:64)
Send to your tutor:
• a body of work of at least five pieces of sculpture, (size, material, method is at your discretion) developed from any previous assignment or combination of assignments.
• a series of drawings that supports the development of your ideas
• sketchbook drawings that demonstrate an investigation in your developing pieces. … (Sacker et al, 2016:65)
This implies that there should be 5 works related to the previous assignment work, with documentation of the drawing, sketching and thinking that went into their development.
Review of the course work
To help think about the best approach for moving forwards I reviewed the work I’ve produced on the course. The following stood out to me as some of the work and ideas that I would most like to develop going forwards:
Looking through this list, a number of possibilities stand out:
- Most of the works are Representative/Figurative or Organic forms;
- A few are more Abstract in form;
- As a medium, Ceramics jumps out – and from my background there would be scope for carving in wood or stone;
- The are some forms that would work well as casts – possibly in Cold Cast Bronze;
To get the best out of the part I feel I will need to, at least at the start, focus on an area of investigation. I do have tendency to spread my work across a wide spectrum, producing only one or two pieces within an area of investigation. This means that I can lose out on opportunities to progress the area of investigation.
This was commented on by my tutor in part 3:
During the next part, develop your work around a specific theme and explore this through finding relevant references to include in your research.(Thompson 2020, Research)
Try developing a series of works in relation to an exercise/theme, making alternative versions of an idea and exploring different creative possibilities through experimentation, perhaps trying something completely different to challenge your boundaries.(Thompson 2020, Pointers for the next assignment)
Inspirational Art and Artists
My next thought was to find artists, and examples of their work, which fall into these areas to help consider my level of interest in moving them forwards for the part. I decided to initially focus on the style and forms, rather than media, as there is plenty of scope for each of these across all of the media. I also eliminated the more abstract forms from consideration for the part, as I feel that the representative/figurative and organic forms are a better fit for myself.
Representative / Figurative
The field of representative artists is wide, with many inspiration figures. The obvious starting points are Rodin (Howard, 2019) and Degas (Howard, 2019a). Degas is a strongly representative artists, with an emphasis of expression rather than purely getting the most accurate a detailed representation. Fig. 1 shows this: it is clearly a representation of a dancer, but the study concentrates on the pose and form rather than getting exceptionally realistic detail.
Rodin is similar, but possibly falling slightly further from the expressive and more towards the detailed end of the spectrum. His plaster maquette work, however, is still strongly expressive. (Gough-Cooper and Dyer, 2006:26) I feel my inclination is more towards the stylised and expressive form over highly detailed and realistic work. I can wholeheartedly appreciate the latter, but feel it is not the path on which my work lies.
This leads me to a contemplation of Brancusi, such as that of Fig. 2. This is still clearly representational in nature, but is increasing in its simplification and stylisation. This is an approach, whether human or animal, that I would be interesting in exploring. In Fig. 3, for example, there is a stylised bull by Gerhard Marcks – a piece I first came across in Knauf (2009). This book has a wide range of animal based sculptures across a range of levels of stylisation.
This is such a wide field that there is clearly significant scope for exploration and experimentation. A quick look down even the cover images on my Art and Artists (Howard, 2020a) page provides many more interesting examples of inspirational work. It would be highly suitable as a start point for exploration.
In some ways, consideration of figurative works flows well into Organic forms. Here the names which spring to mind are Henry Moore (Howard, 2019b) and Barbra Hepworth (Howard, 2019c) – though there are clearly many other artists which would fit into this category. These are sometimes somewhat representative, or forms which seem to be derived from nature.
In these works the primary goal isn’t to produce a representation of the original figure but to use the original form to create something new. I find this interesting as it allows for a middle ground between stylised and abstract work. In Fig. 6., for example, I attempted to use Photomontage to illustrate a work designed for a location in situ. Although, at best, the idea was partially successful it was intended to be a organic form based on a couple.
On consideration, this junction between stylised/expressive forms and their further abstraction into organic forms seems to be a fertile area for investigation. My tutor’s feedback on Fig. 6 was that additional consideration of the figurative form of the couple before attempting to abstract them may have been fruitful. I will, therefore, start by considering potential figurative work and then see how they might be simplified and abstracted.
I have used Oil Clay extensively for the production of maquettes for work previously, and intend to use this approach during this part as well. This allows for rapid experimentation with form in a less permanent way than the use of plaster. It is also more forgiving than clay for the production of smaller maquettes, as it doesn’t have the structural or drying problems of clay. Oil clay does, however, have its own limitations – especially as the scale of the works gets larger. In this case I may consider the use of clay or plaster for larger maquettes.
I found working with clay quite inspiring in Project 5 (Howard, 2020b), and so I will look to try to follow this through – using my wife’s firing facilities to create more permanent work where this seems worthwhile. The firing of the work to produce a finished piece, however, has significant additional complexities – and so is an area of investigation in its own right.
Carving in wood or stone
I have past experience in carving both wood and stone, but both processes are relatively time consuming for the time limitations of the course. It is unlikely, therefore, that I would be able to complete all of the Assignment pieces in these mediums within the time available. It may be possible, however, to complete some work in these materials within the course.
Lastly, I also have some limited experience in the production casts using silicone rubber for the making of a mould. I have then used plaster, Jesmonite, polyurethane and resin to make a final works from the mold. This is, again, quite time consuming for work at a larger scale, and so can be considered for the course work but may be impractical.
In essence, my approach during the part is likely to be a series of iterations along the following lines:
- Start with an idea or seed;
- Complete some initial sketches, and do some research around the idea;
- Iterate around a maquette and sketching to develop the idea, with additional research as required;
- Start to develop one, or more, works around the idea moving towards simplification and abstraction in working drawings; and
- Making one, or more, works to developed from the original idea.
At this stage it is difficult to know if this is going to be one cycle producing 5 pieces or multiple cycles. I would expect to be going through this for at least a couple of cycles to produce at least 2 or 3 small sets of work. If I end up with more than 5 completed works I will simply choose the best for submission.
The following give some initial ideas from the course which I believe have significant scope for further development:
- The Raven is a fascinating subject for me, both in the wild and symbolically. I could add to this other birds, especially birds of prey. I have a significant collection of reference photographs taken over the years.
- Plant forms are of interest, and I’ve done some works in this vein during this course. There is plenty of scope left in the subject though.
- Shell forms are very interesting, especially for their internal/external form. I tried some pieces in this style previously, but there is plenty of scope left to try.
- Lastly, many of the life drawings I’ve done over time have just been waiting to become sculptural works. This is probably a bit of a stretch target for the course though.
List of Illustrations
Fig. 1. Wikipedia (2020) [Photograph] of Degas, E. (1885) The Spanish Dance, Cast posthumously in 1921. Bronze 46.3 × 14.3 cm. At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_Degas#/media/File:SpanishDance_c1884-DegasPC20080120-8849A.jpg (accessed 04/12/2020)
Fig. 2. Macholz, K. (2018) How Constantin Brancusi Brazenly Redefined Sculpture [Photograph] of Brancusi, C. (1913) Mlle Pogany, version I. At: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-constantin-brancusi-brazenly-redefined-sculpture (accessed 10/12/2020)
Fig. 3. MutualArt (2020) [Photograph] of Marcks, G. (1950) Spanischer Stier, 1950. At: https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Spanischer-Stier/5B4E92FA0CF99959 (accessed 11/12/2020)
Fig. 4. Tate (2020) Henry Moore’s sculptures. [Photograph] of Moore, H. (1938) Recumbent Figure. At: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/henry-moore-om-ch-1659/henry-moores-sculptures (accessed 12/12/2020)
Fig. 5. Wikipedia (2020) Barbara Hepworth [Photograph] of Hepworth, B. (1963) Sphere with Inner Form. At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Hepworth#/media/File:Kroller_muller_museum.JPG (accessed 12/12/2020)
Fig. 6. Howard, D. (2017) Project 5.2: Photomontage [Photograph] of Howard, D. (2017) Photomontage. At: https://david515893.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/project-5-2-photomontage-2/ (accessed 12/12/2020)
Gough-Cooper, J. and Dyer, G. (2006) apropos Rodin. Thames and Hudson, London. ISBN-13: 978-0-500-54319-1
Howard, D. (2019) Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) At: https://david515893s1.wordpress.com/art-and-artists/auguste-rodin-1840-1917/ (accessed 04/12/2020)
Howard, D. (2019a) Edgar Degas (1834–1917) At: https://david515893s1.wordpress.com/art-and-artists/edgar-degas-1834-1917/ (accessed 04/12/2020)
Howard, D. (2019b) Henry Moore (1898-1986). At: https://david515893s1.wordpress.com/art-and-artists/henry-moore-1898-1986/ (accessed 12/12/2020)
Howard, D. (2019c) Barbra Hepworth (1903-1975). At: https://david515893s1.wordpress.com/art-and-artists/barbra-hepworth-1903-1975/ (accessed 12/12/2020)
Howard, D. (2020) Assignment four. At: https://david515893s1.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/assignment-four/. (accessed 26/11/2020)
Howard, D. (2020a) Art and Artists. At: https://david515893s1.wordpress.com/art-and-artists/ (accessed 11/12/2020)
Howard, D. (2020b) Project 5 Clay modelling. At: https://david515893s1.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/project-5-clay-modelling/ (accessed 12/12/2020)
Knauf, S. (2009) Giraffe, Pudel, Dromedar. Edwin Scharff Museum, Neu-Ulm, Germany. ISBN 978-3-9812935-1-7
Sacker, Chris et al (2016) Sculpture 1 Starting out in 3D, Open College of the Arts. Document Control Number: SC4SCL040516.
Thompson, A. (2020) Formative feedback [Attachment to email Assignment 3 feedback sent to Howard, D. 20/07/2020 ]