The boring stuff:
The material I use to sculpt with is made by Padico in Japan and there is only one distributor of it in the US. It is typically sold in craft stores – although we purchase it in bulk directly from the supplier. It is made from paper pulp, talc, water, and some binders and whatever else it is – is a mystery- the formula for it is proprietary.
Most sculptors sculpt with chavant like clays – the kind that never dries. When I started sculpting I used the same. I hated it. Sculpting something that is permanently attached by a pipe to a board is frustrating to me, partly because of my eyesight, partly because of my temperament.
The material I use has it’s own unique characteristics and challenges but sculpting with it adds a unique element that makes the sculpture I do look different in bronze than all the sculpture originally made with non-drying clay. It has a bit of a life and will of it’s own.
I am very nearsighted so I wear glasses or contacts to correct that. For me it is a very good thing though – for sculpting – because it means that (even though I am of an age where most people need reading glasses to see close up) my close up vision is really really clear at about 9″ from my face.
If a sculpture is attached to a board I cannot see parts of it well. So I have to be able to hold a sculpture in my hands for most of the time to work on it – this cannot be done with non-hardening clay – as I would just end up burying my fingers in the very thing I am trying to create.
Non-hardening clay is also very heavy and the paper clay I use is extremely light so the long legs of the horses are not too weighed down by their bodies.
The esoteric stuff:
The reason many sculptures are being done at one time is because rather than image just one horse, I imagine them in groups. I saw the house horse series (look, relax, itchy, leap, watch, and step high) all in one day and made their wire armature forms that same day before I could forget how they were to be.
They were imagined in 2010 and the last one has just been finished. It seems to take FOREVER to make them this way. I know galleries enjoy prolific artists – I guess I would not be that – but consider that “prolific” and the annihilation of creativity very often walk together.
I work on them until they are how they are supposed to be and that can take time, most certainly takes inspiration and an uncluttered undistracted mind. For example, I can re-carve a face 3 or 4 times until I know that is the face that sculpture is supposed to have.
I once was very determined to be a rich and famous artist. But I have been learning that’s just common ego – doesn’t most everyone in their head think that being a rich and famous this or that is what they must be to be seen and respected in the world as “somebody”?
But polluting what happens in the only time I know I have because I am “working” to get to a place that may never be – also gets in the way of creativity (and happiness)…and is something that could cause the work of any creative endeavor to become stagnant, uninspired, and derivative.
I am asked what is the style of my sculpture. I respond with – what do you see? Do you see an “-ism” there? Impression-ism? Expression-ism? a school of this or that? Art is it’s own language; to describe art with another, different language – is an act of reductionism. Translate a Haiku written in Japanese into English and you invalidate its beauty.
There is freedom that comes with the belief that the sculpture I create does not belong to me – that it belongs to the world. I believe all art that is made public belongs to the world and is meant to enhance everyone’s experience of being…here. That means the world will decide what happens to it until the day it becomes a part of the history of art…long after I am gone.
I consider what I create to be a collaboration and that is the reason why I will occasionally ask collectors, gallery owners, and consider unsolicited comments about my sculpture. It isn’t that I am insecure that what I have created is good bad or uninteresting. I only saw what I saw – and made it and there it is. Where did it really come from? The absolute truth of that cannot be known. But maybe I can get closer to it if I consider and leave myself open to other relative ideas and possibilities…