Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sculpture As A Drawing Supplement

This is one of the final posts describing what I learned during my time studying at The Cambridge Street Studios.  Things just didn't work out for me there and I will no longer be studying at The Cambridge Street Studios.  I will be continuing the classical curriculum elsewhere and I will continue making blog posts about what I am learning.

The process of modeling form while drawing is so similar to sculpting form in clay that it is beneficial to sculpt in order to enhance one's understanding of modeling form.  I only have experience working on one sculpture copy (which cracked into pieces before I finished it because I was not watering it consistently) but I will explain the process that I used for that sculpture copy in this post.  This post also describes how sculpting enhanced my understanding of modeling form while drawing.  Footnotes are included in this post to indicate which sentences in this post are summarizations of ideas that the instructors at The Cambridge Street Studios explained to me.

Sculpting Tools
I used a variety of tools while working on my sculpture.  Although I don't know the appropriate names for all of those tools, a description of the use that I made of each tool is described below.

- Used early in the modeling process to sculpt the general curvature of forms.  The pointy end on the bottom was used for drawing the shapes of planes and forms into the clay.¹
 Rake- This tool comes in a variety of sizes to generally smooth out large or small planes of forms.¹ 
Knife- This tool comes in a variety of sizes to cut large or small chunks of clay from one's sculpture.¹  I used this tool mostly during the block-in stage of my sculpture copy.
 - Used to flatten out planes of forms.  The pointy end on the bottom was used to draw the shapes of planes into the clay.¹
 - Used to more specifically sculpt the curvature of a form.  The top pointy end was used to draw the shapes of planes into the clay.
This tool was also used for measuring the depths, heights and widths of parts on the cast.¹

- Used to more specifically sculpt the curvature of forms.¹
Wire- Used to measure depths, heights and widths on the cast.¹

Massing in Forms

I began sculpting by quickly placing the large masses of the cast.¹  This stage of the sculpting process is very similar to the block-in process used while drawing.  The masses of clay were quickly placed much in the same way that shapes are quickly placed at the beginning of the block-in process.
The cast and my copy were placed at the same height and placed on rotating tables so that I could angle the cast and my copy to view both in the same perspective while I turned my head back and forth from my the cast to my copy.¹  This was done to make it easier for me to copy the shapes of the planes that I saw on the cast.
I continued to evaluate the shapes that I saw on the cast in terms of animal shapes while sculpting too.¹   I would look at the cast and my copy from as many angles as possible to compare how opposed the planes were in relation to each other.¹  While making these evaluations I found it most helpful to view the forms in profile to get a clear view of how opposed the planes on a form were to each other.¹  Evaluating the opposition of planes in profile has been a great help in understanding the structure of forms while I am drawing as well.

Planarization Of Forms

I then used the rake tool to flatten out the large planes on the cast.¹  This stage of the sculpture process is very similar to the stage of drawing when I draw a few planes in strip of form before more subtly modeling a strip of form.  During this stage it was very important for me to make the large planes very flat and clearly delineated in order to easily evaluate the relations of the large planes to each other.  This made me further appreciate the importance of making the planes in a strip of form very flat and specifically shaped in order to more easily evaluate the relation of planes to each other in my drawings.

This stage of the sculpture process made it very clear to me that specificity in the relation of planes to each other makes the final stage of subtly refining the forms much easier.  With sculpture it is very difficult to adjust masses of clay during the final stage of refining forms so I had to focus on the importance of the large planes as the foundation for the subtly modeled form even more.  I began seeing how specificity in the relation of the planes to each other while I am drawing makes the next stage of subtly modeling form so much easier.

During this stage I had to do much problem solving of how to bend or add to the clay on my copy to more faithfully represent the forms on the cast.  I usually would resort to taking depth measurements of the most projecting point on a form and the deepest point on a form so that I could check the accuracy of those points on my copy to get a better sense of the points that I would have to bend down or up from to make my copy more faithful to the forms on the cast.  This process very much informs the drawing process.  In drawing instead of taking depth measurements I would determine the value of the point on a form most facing the light and the value of the point on a form least facing the light to decide how I have to bend the form in my drawing to better represent the forms that I see.

Refining Forms
My sculpture cracked shortly after I started the refining stage, so I only got to attempt to refine the forms of the eye and upper eyelid.

After the large planes on my copy were positioned and shaped, to the best of my current abilities, to represent the planes on the cast I began to more specifically sculpt my copy by subtly bending the planes away from the point that projected the most.  I modeled each form individually so that I could more easily focus on each form.  

Bending away from the most projecting point on a form is similar to bending a form down in value away from the high form light, plane that is most facing the light on a form, while drawing.  Drawing form is just as sculptural as sculpting form with clay. But with drawing the form can only be sculpted by bending the form down in value as it turns away from the high form light.

In order to more specifically sculpt the subtle curvature of form in this stage I would have to remove small planes that were protruding too much and add small pieces of clay to make areas of a form protrude as much as they should.¹  These small pieces of clay that had to be added to or removed from a form are essentially micro-planes and the process of adding and removing these micro-planes while sculpting is very similar to how one adds or removes dots of graphite in a drawing to more specifically describe the micro-planes that need to face more towards or away from the light on a form.

Through sculpting at this stage it became very apparent how much the shape of the planes are a result of the specific three-dimensional structure of a form seen in perspective.  I became more aware of how specific the character of the shapes in my drawings had to be in order to faithfully represent the structure of each plane.  Much in the same way, while drawing I became more aware of the fact that even the slightest improvement in the accuracy of a shape has much more of an impact in making a form more illusionistic than much improvement in the subtlety of a gradation.  The reason being that the gradation, that is the result of a form's shape and structure in relation to a light source, must specifically correspond to the exact shape of a plane in order to appear illusionistic.  By being able to compare my copy to the cast while sculpting I was able to internalize the fact that no matter how subtle of a curvature, in drawing a gradation, I made, if it did not adhere to the specific shape of a plane seen on the cast it would not appear faithfully illusionistic.

Sculpting was very beneficial to my understanding of modeling form while drawing, even though I didn't get very far on my sculpture copy.  I would often sculpt in the morning before I worked on my cast drawing in the afternoon and would become so immersed in sculptural thinking that I would initially approach my drawing by thinking of it as a clay sculpture. Of course it is not necessary for one to sculpt before approaching modeling form while drawing, but many artists find it useful to at least think of their decisions while drawing as having sculptural consequences.

¹Jeremy Deck, personal communication, 2013.

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