Sunday, April 27, 2008

March 27, 2008 - Last day at the Willott

The last day in the J. Willott. A beautiful but very hot Sunday. I did a little online research last night into Hidatsa clothing for woman. Man it's hard to find anything. You do a search for George Catlin paintings of Hidatsa woman and you come up with squat.
I did find a very small photo of a Hidatsa woman photographed by Curtis. It, unfortunately, was taken in the early part of the 20th century. So I've done enough research to know something about the style of clothing on the plains. Styles were just changing in 1805. Especially in woman's' dresses.
I removed the bead work I did last night and changed the style of the yoke of the dress. There was a shoulder layer of skin that was sewn onto the lower part of the dresses upper part. Rabbit fur peaked out of the edge of this upper part of the yoke. In the center of her chest area of the dress would be a doe tail, from a deer.
Below I'm scooping clay that has been directly under the light for a few minutes. This almost melts the clay. I then apply this onto the edge of the upper yoke, and squish and pull the clay, till it kind of looks like fur. You have to be gentle when you do this and fast.

Now Using a lighter, I melt the sharp points, created by the action I took with the very soft clay in the last procedure.

I roll out a piece of flat clay, and lay it just above the clay fur. This makes it look like the fur is coming out from under the skin seam overlap. With my thumb I blend the upper part of the new clay, then with a serrated wire tool I smooth and texture the clay.

Finlay I add the robe or blanket over her shoulders. The angle of the robe is important to the flow of the clay. I try to angle the robe edges to correspond with the design and position of the head of Sacagawea.

By this time I've come to the conclusion that adding pupils to the eyes would add to the emotion I'm going for. So here, with a wire tool I dig out a hole in the eye for the pupal. You might find that when you do something like this, you'll have to do it a few times to get it right. You just fill in the hole and smooth the eye again, and dig out the pupal again. If you have patience, and a good "eye", you'll do fine.

My final effort today is to add some bead ear rings and a beaded head piece with shell where the piece is tied into the hair. The reason I've added these decorations is because, Sacagawea's husband or forced companion, was a trader. He traded trinkets and such with the Indians of the plains. Sacagawea would have made a perfect Mannequin for clothing and beads and trinkets. I'm sure, even though there is no record of it, that Toussaint Charboneau was talking trade with the tribes they came across. I'm just assuming this. I'm probably wrong. I mean, Lewis and Clark might have told him not to do any trading or talking trade, because it could, cause tension, if talk of trade got heated. Who knows. Maybe a scholar would comment on this if they read this. Artist's are always trying to guess what a person would look like and how they would have dressed. This is just one example below.

Well that's it for my show in Palm Desert. Josh P. and Josh O., owners of this fine and very successful gallery were great hosts and their enthusiasm, when it came to talking about my work, helped to sell bronzes.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

March 26, 2008 - Sacagawea Part 1 - A new start, the end of another project

Well This morning I decided that Down from the High Lonesome was going south fast. So rather than spend more time on that piece I decided to retire it till another time. I've done this in the past.
You see, a clay has to sing to me, and this one was humming. I'll set it aside till I get interested in it again, if at all. Not everything I create makes it to the end. It's a fact of life as an artist. The vision dies sometimes, and you just pick up and move on.
So let's start a new piece. This one is called, till I can come up with a better title. "Sacagawea's Homecoming".
Sacagawea's name has been spelled various amout of different ways. In the Lewis and Clark journal it was spelled like this...."Sah-ca-gah-we-ah" and also like this..."Sah-kah-gar-wea. That's how it was spelled in 1814. When her journals were first printed, the editor of the journals spelled her name like this Sacajewea. That was how it was spelled for many years. Recently, historians and offical publicians changed the spelling of her name to "Sacagawea." One reason is bacause "Scagawea" is a Hidats name, and since the Hidats gave Sacagawea her name, it is most likly with a "g" an not a "J." Also another reason is because Sacagawea's nickname is "BirdWomen", and sacagawea means "BirdWomem" whereas SacaJawea means "Boarlauncher". we can't have her known as Boarlauncher. If you want to read more about her you can go to this website.
From Lewis's Journal...August 8, 1805
"the Indian woman recognized the point of a high plain to our right which she informed us was not very distant from the summer retreat of her nation ... this hill she says her nation calls the beaver's head from a conceived remblance of it's figure to the head of that animal "

I live about an hours drive from The Beaver head. The head was blown up by a farmer years ago. He wanted to put through a dirt road. So sadly It don't look like it did in 1805. (picture below is of the Beaver's Head)

I wanted to capture the emotion in the face of Sacagawea as she see's this landmark with the knowledge, that her family was near, after years of being a captive.
I start with a wire frame.

Then I start adding clay...

I outline the shape of the head's profile with rolled clay. This helps me to quickly build up the shape of the head. I also do the same with the sides of the head, to get the width of the head sketched in. Now it's just a mater of adding clay and shaping it.

Once I have the head blocked in, I smooth and shape it. I then draw a line for the center of her face, from the top of the forehead to the chin. I then divid on that line for eye sockets, bottom of the nose and where the lips will be located. You can refer to any book on drawing to find what these measurements are.
I add nose and start the shape of the mouth. I add the cheek bones, or at least the shape.

Now you can see the face is starting to take shape. I'm 2 hours into the clay by now.

Using my Pasta Machine, I roll out clay into thin sheets. Fold it in two and then place it on the head like hair. I'm blocking in the hair this way. Just want to see how it will look. Yes I use a Pasta Machine. I actually use anything that helps me achieve the desired end.

Here is the head with blocked in hair. This is four and a half hours into the piece. After this I take an hour break and go to a gallery opening next door. and smooze.

Now I'm going to show you one of my secrets. I want to make a row of poney beads on her dress. I don't want to use real beads. I could, but why do that, when you can make your own. I get a comb with large gaps between the teeth. Poney beads were pre-1850's out west, and they were large. I roll out a piece of clay into a long string. I then place the comb on the string of clay and press the comb down gently, rolling the comb back and forth till it impresses into the string, gaps between the beads. It's a slick and quick way to make sculpted beads.

Here I'm shown adding the rows of beads to the dress. Kinda cool ain't it?

I add a blanket over her shoulders to see how it will add to the design and after 5 hours, I'm done for the day.

I'll probably finish this piece up tomorrow. It will be my last day at the J. Willott Gallery, then on Monday I pack up the van and head back north to Montana.

Friday, April 25, 2008

March 25, 2008 - Befuddled

befuddled - perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements; filled with bewilderment; "obviously bemused by his questions"; "bewildered and confused"; "a cloudy and confounded philosopher"; "just a mixed-up kid"; "she felt lost on the first day of school"
Well I was bewildered and confused today. I knew the clay was going great, till about 1pm, then my mind started to tell me, tear it up and start something else. Every artist goes through this stage. So you get up from the clay and do something else.
I got close to Monet and Einstein. I sat on a park bench with the French Impressionist, Monet and watched him paint. Then walked next door where Einstein was contemplating his navel.. or something deep, and got friendly.

Then I went back into the gallery. Sat on one of the leather covered couches there and just went into a kind of trance. I stared at my clay, and tried to figure out what was the speed bump I just hit.
After about a half hour, I saw what I needed to do, and went to work on the clay. I took the Indian saddle off the the horse with the lady, and changed it to a padded Indian saddle with a blanket over it. I wrapped a blanket around her waist and then started to experiment with her hair.

Next I moved her horse back an inch and a half. This opened up the space between the head of her horse and the figure of the mountain man. Looked much better.
Sorry there were so few photo's today. Just had a rough creative day. It was hot to. Very hot. That makes the clay very soft and hard to work with.
Tomorrow is a new day though.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

March 24, 2008 - Starting to add Detail to Clay

The following pictures shows the progress on the Indian Woman. I start by, using wax, making the Indian Saddle she'll be ridding in. The wax is dark brown.
I then add the blanket that she'd have over the saddle. Worked on her dress. Then start to create the face.

The last thing I do for the day is change the position of her right arm. I put a ridding crop or quirt in her hand and she points to something down in the imaginary valley.

Tomorrow I'll create a bust sketch for the woman. Check back in tomorrow. Think I'll go for a swim.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

March 23, 2008 - Arrived at the J. Willott Gallery

Woke up this morning to a beep ..... beep ..... beep.... in my motel room. The power was out in the whole county. Great way to start the day.
Here is a photo of a cliff just east of Saint George Utah. Beautiful country here.

These photo's were taken in Arizona. Actually the Virgin River Canyon. Going from St. George to Nevada you have to pass through a few miles of Arizona.

Arrived in Las Vegas just before noon. first Palm trees, and a couple of buildings, as I whiz through town. I entered with just as much money as I left with... broke even. Actually by not stopping you come out ahead.

West of Barstow about 40 miles I passed these two signs in the middle of nowhere. Had to chuckle.

Just before I got to Palm Desert, I passed by thousands of these wind generators.
All set up in the gallery. I spent a couple of hours sculpting. Tomorrow, my appearance starts.

While I was traveling... back in Belgrade Montana...
Just thought I'd add these photo's taken yesterday at Art Castings, a foundry in Belgrade Montana, that is currently producing a life size bronze of a cowboy I created. The title of this bronzes is "Working for the Brand".
Below are a couple of photo's of the clay.

The above photo's of the clay were taken before I took this clay to the foundry. I created this piece about 12 years ago on spec. I had a left over armature from a life size I created for a client in Jackson Hole Wyoming. So I decided to use that armature to create this cowboy.
Life size pieces are very expensive to cast. So the clay stood in my studio for quite a while. It's now in the process of being cast into a 6 foot 3 inch tall bronze. The photo's below show the bronze in pieces.