My on-line diary began in the 1990's from my studio in the North of England. After a lapse of ten years, I resumed posting from my present studio on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

From the far beginning, the intention has been to give an insight into my working methods, and to share the triumphs, trials and tribulations of work-in-progress.

My diary pages are followed by thousands of artists, art students and art lovers in over 50 countries.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Butterflies and the other story

Today’s picture shows the formwork for the reclining sculpture of Annabelle’s head and torso. It comprises of wooden blocks wrapped in cling-film. The blocks are kept well below the outline of the final form. They are made from white-pine and save on the mass and weight of clay.

The Maltese Crosses that can be seen hanging at each side are a century’s old sculptural device. They are known as butterflies and serve to take the weight of clay in suspension.

Now for “the other story” that I promised in my last post.

When painting, I work from the live model and never from photographs. I make an exception to this rule when it comes to sculpture in that I make a photographic record of the pose that my model has to repeat countless times over the weeks and months that the work is in progress. These photographic references, along with chalk marks on the modelling stand, serve as a reminder to my model and as an aid to me when jotting down measurements and setting up the armature.

The photographs are intended as a working document; no more, no less. But once in a while, by accident rather than intent, there is one that takes my breath away. One of the pictures taken for my present sculpture is a case in point. As a photograph it portrays all that I wanted to portray and almost makes the upcoming sculpture superfluous. This says a lot because there is only one photograph of the nude in ten thousand that I can get passionate about.

Sorry for you but the photograph is absolutely personal to my model!

By way of consolation, I’ll return to butterflies and the remarkably talented Cecile McLorin Salvant singing "Poor Butterfly".

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