Geese and the sketch book
In my formative feedback Doug Burton said that my drawings and sketch book work needed to be improved. He wants me to use drawing in a creative way so that I experiment with ideas in the way that I do when I actually make things.
To this end I spent time with six geese, observing and drawing.
Strangely, they would not pose nor keep still. I was annoyed about this at first, then managed to capture, in my mind’s eye, the goose pose and put it down on paper after the goose had moved. I got quite excited by the whole experience. I believe that my drawings have gained a fluidity and spontaneity that they have previously lacked. I hope you agree, dear reader!
I have looked at ” creative pen & ink techniques” and love the movement and spontaneity of Rodin’s sketches of the dancer Alda Moreno, and the Cambodian dancers are full of movement and have a lively light touch. I also like Egon Scheile’s style. I saw Egon Scheile’s drawings at the Courtauld institute and was stuck by their strength and apparent simplicity.
I was pleased that my observational drawings of geese made me notice a lot of goosey characteristics that I had not seen before. The goose beak is a straight, boxy affair. It has a large upper portion and a thin but powerful lower part to the beak. I observed that geese do not have foreheads, unlike swans. Their tails are like the famous ‘duck’s arse’ imitated by teddy boys in their hair styles. They are made of soft feathers without the strong lines of flight feathers seen in, for example, kestrels.
They are very sociable animals and tend to do things in groups. They are not clever and if you throw them corn, they take ages to find it.
I decided to make a goose out of chicken wire, muslin and two sticks for legs. In my sketches and in real life , the orange of the beak is vitally important to convey goosiness. I was living 40 minutes from the nearest shops and I managed to find an orange pleastic bag from sainsburies to use as the beak. The eyes were made from black plastic cable ties. Here is the sculpture.
I intended to make a gaggle of geese but sadly, time allowed for only one. As I stated earlier, they are sociable and should be in a gaggle.
I will look at my sculpture in the following categories:-
weight; form; balance; life presence; stance.
My goose is light. She is made of chicken wire that encloses air. The muslin that makes up her outer shell is translucent. Her bill is plastic. She is very light and I wanted this because it add to her goose-like character.
This is a description of the shape of the sculpture.
My sculpture has an elliptical body and a crescent shaped neck and head. It could be described as an elongated ‘s’ shape.
My sculpture is well balanced. It has a long ‘s’ shape to it so that the tail is on the bottom left of the sculpture. This is counterbalanced by the head and neck in the top right corner of the sculpture.
My sculpture is supposed to embody the spirit of goose. I feel it does have life presence .
My sculpture has her head up, leaning forward and looking with interest at something in the distance.
My sculpture is light with fabric twisted round her in a spontaneous fashion. She works well ‘in the round’. She is supposed to be a bit like a three dimensional sketch of a goose which displays a lot of goosey characteristics.
I would like to have had six of them, like the six living ones. I could have shown their behaviour as a group.
I would have liked to have made webbed feet so that they could have been seen in the grass. I wanted her to be situated near the live geese. I consider her to be an emblem of the type of farming that would have been present in many parts of the world prior to large scale industrial farmimn practised now.
My son’s six geese are to be killed at Christmas. They will be the centre piece of his Christmas and new year celebrations. He hopes to sell a couple to cover the costs of the four he and the family will eat.
Picasso was fond of modelling farm animals that he must have seen around. I really feel that these sculptures contain the characteristics of the animals that they portray without being exact replicas. i remember being impressed by how big the goat was when i saw it in Musée Picasso in Paris. It is goat size.
Guardian of Carraignamuc and the Shehymore mountains
wikipedia has the following to say about the Shehemore mountains :-
Geography and geology
The highest peak (also the highest mountain in County Cork), Knockboy (Cnoc Buí, “yellow hill”), is 706 metres high and most of the other peaks in the range are between 500 and 600 metres high. The River Lee rises in Coomroe, a small valley at the eastern end of the range, before flowing eastwards towards Cork Harbour, where it enters the sea. The peaks mostly consist of Old Red Sandstone laid down in the Devonian period. During the Ice Age, the Shehys took their present form, when glaciers carved out the many deep valleys in the area and also eroded the mountains down to their present height. When the icecaps retreated, they left behind hundreds of lakes in the valleys and on the mountain tops.
The Shehy Mountains are mostly covered with peat bogs and coarse grassland, but there are also some small conifer plantations scattered around the area. Plants typically found here include butterworts, sundews, heather, and bilberry, among many others.
The animal species found in the Shehy Mountains are mostly the same as those found throughout the lowlands, but some are more often seen in the mountains than elsewhere, including:
The area has a very long history of human habitation, going back at least 5000 years. Numerous Neolithic megalithic monuments are found in the foothills and valleys, as well as ringforts, fulachta fia and later antiquities. One of the most historic sites in the Shehy mountains is Gougane Barra in the Coomroe valley, where Saint Finbarr established a hermitage in the 6th century. During the Irish War of Independence, the mountains were an IRA stronghold, and continued to be so for the anti-treaty forces during the Irish Civil War
This is a google map of the area.
The area is sparsely inhabited and maybe changed for ever by conifer forests and a wind farm. People lived off subsistence farming a generation ago and now most farmers in the area have to have a second income to make ends meet. My son is thought to be eccentric with his small holding with geese, ducks, hens, a cock, goats a couple of pigs, bees and now a single cow.
I love the land, the area, the people and the way of life.
I want to make something that is part of the landscape. I was interested to see Spencer Byles’ work called ‘a year in a French forest’.
Byles’ work is as if it is part of the forest yet man=made.The circle of branches in the bottom left picture would be easy to miss in a forest and be thought of as part of the surrounding wood. I want to make my sculpture part of the farm and mountains yet man-made. I want him to be a guardian of carraignamuc (which is Irish for ‘the rock of the pigs) and of the mountains. Initially I thought of my sculpture as a custodian of carraignamuc but then I looked up the difference between a custodian and a guardian: a custodian is a person entrusted with the custody or care of something or someone, a caretaker or keeper; while guardian a is someone who guards, watches over, or protects. I want my sculpture to be a guardian. I would like my sculpture to blend in with the landscape and be part of it as Byles’ work is. I like his use of branches and twigs. I would like my sculpture to be a huge bird sitting on top of a hill so that a silhouette of him could be seen, black against the sky.
I also like Cornelia Parker’s work ‘hanging fire’ situated in the forest of Dean.
She made the flames in clay then got them cast in resin. This sculpture is not made of the forest but is striking and looks as if it is at home in the forest.
This sculpture has a magical element to it. I like the fact that it is 25 feet off the ground. The artist had the steel band made in the forest of dean and hoped that the sculpture would rust and age to become part of the forest. She didn’t write in her comments on the sculpture, but in common parlance, ‘hanging fire’ means to delay one’s actions. Maybe this means ‘don’t change this environment’. This is the message I would like to get across with my sculpture.
i found this small image on ‘bing images’. i think the sculpture is becoming part of the forest.
i want my sculpture to be above eyeline and to become part of the landscape.
Ents were tree-like people invented by J R R Tolkein in his books ‘ The hobbit’ and ‘the Lord of the Rings’. My bird will definitely be Ent-like.
I collected dead branches and started to form my bird.
The main, thick branches are making the tail and the wings. the structure is about 8 feet tall.
i started making it in a coppice where the branches had been cut. I added and shaped the bird by putting on extra branches, pulling them into place with plastic electric cable ties and cutting with secateurs. The difficulties in making the bird are:-
It is hard to reach his head to work on and when using a step ladder, it is difficult to see the effect of the changes from the ground.
Branches, being natural things, grow in their own way and not the way you may like. They have to be constrained into the the desired shape.
Because the bird is made of the same stuff as his surroundings it is difficult to see him as a separate entity and not some pile of branches.
After some time it became apparent to me that my bird was indeed in a coppice and not on the top of a mountain. Damn. The logistics of how to get him to the mountain were of great concern to me. An 8′ tall bird and a 63 year old 5’6″ sculptor with a wheelbarrow.
I began my task and luckily a farmer and his wife visited and we put him in the wheel barrow, lifted him over a gate and plonked him on the raised land by the side of a track that goes to the mountain. He has to stay there, there is no alternative.
I had good feet on him but they disappeared into the grass. I defined them by tying white chicken feathers on to them.
Giacometti said that if you get the eyes right, the rest of the sculpture will follow (Tate modern exhibition video); I tried putting stones for eyes and wood for a beak. I did not want the ‘snow man’ look. I found broken discarded tiles from the old farm house and made eyes out of them. I tried to define the eyes with feathers. I put a piece of wood on for a beak. The head was more of a parrot’s head than a guardian’s head. I needed to make the head smaller and define the neck more. I put a wire around the neck to pull it in.
The top 2 photos show a less structured bird’s head. I love the wavy intimation of the beak. I think it looks good against the sky. It does, however, look too much like a bonfire and not sufficiently like a bird. The lower picture shows the smaller head and the eyes and beak. The head is turned at right angles to the body. It also features the sphagnum moss and shamrocks I used for the breast.
I love the symbolism of this material. Shamrock is the symbol of Ireland. Sphagnum moss is the plant that makes peat bogs. Peat bogs and sphagnum moss make a unique, acidic base that support an ecosystem comprising the carnivorous sundew plant and huge dragon flies and a host of other organisms.
Peat can preserve human bodies for thousands of years because of its acidic, damp properties. It has been used to dress wounds, with some success, particularly in world war one.
In the top photo can be seen the leg with feathers. the head turned to one side and the drooping beak can be seen in the final version of my sculpture. The bottom photo was taken looking upwards, thus excluding the surrounding vegetation. He looks as if he maybe on a hill top looking down. This is what I wanted.
Although my sculpture is heavier than I can lift, it is airy and light due to its low density. Light can be seen through it.
The structure is twiggy and has a pyramidal form. The two wings and the back and tail form the pyramid. It is not a very well defined structure and has a tendency to blend into the background a little.
contraposto and stance
It does not conform to the rules of contraposto but I feel that the head turned through ninety degrees give the bird a relaxed stance.
Yes! my bird has life presence.
In the round.
My sculpture works in the round, although in his present site he melts into the back ground a bit.
I am pleased with the size of my sculpture. He is an ambitious project. I like the body, the wings, and the head. I am not happy with the eyes and the beak. The eyes are not properly positioned in the head. The beak looks more like beaver’s teeth than a bird’s beak. I have sketched the eyes and the beak of an eagle onto the head of my bird.
I could not reach the head well and I was nowhere near a shop to get something beak-like. I did not want to use something like a carrot for the beak because it would look too snowman like. I also wanted to use something from the house or the land for the sculpture. It was a compromise.
I would love the sculpture to have been placed on a high rock so that he would look down on his land. I have done a painting of how I would like the bird to look down onto his land. He would have been very successful on a high rock.
A Flock in flight
Some years ago I went to southern Spain to watch birds. On at least two occasions, I was told ‘look, there is a flock of bee eaters. Twice, I did not see the birds. I was disappointed because they are beautiful birds.
The third occasion I was told that there were bee eaters, I saw them. Previously, I had been looking up and focusing too high where eagles could be seen but not much lower in the sky where bee eaters fly. It was quite confusing. How could I just ‘not see them’ when I ‘looked’ at them.
Similarly , there is a video , which, if you have never seen it before, is really interesting.
We see what we are looking for and not what we are NOT looking for. How can perception be so strange.
Throughout history people have been fascinated by flocks of birds. The fun people have describing flocks of different types of birds illustrates this: an exaltation of larks, a squadron of pelicans and a flamboyance of flamingoes!
What we think we see changes our emotions towards the sight we are viewing. This is well described by D H Lawrence in the poem ‘Bat’
With this in mind, I made a flock. I made seven birds and one aeroplane. I would have liked to make a whole series of things that fly such as a flying squirrel, a dragonfly and a bat. If I coloured them all similarly, it would be interesting to see who would notice that they were not all birds.
I wanted my flying things to be raku fired.This is a process involving getting biscuit fired pieces and putting raku glazes on them. The kiln is fired to about 1000 degrees centigrade, the pieces are observed to make sure the glaze has vitrified, then the kiln door is open when the piece is red hot and it is allowed to cool rapidly.
The glazes may contain copper salts, cadmium or even silver salts. The speed of cooling determines the effect of glaze achieved. If a copper-based glazed piece is removed and covered by saw-dust straight away, then the copper precipitates out, leaving the most amazing coppery glaze. If a piece painted with the same glaze is left uncovered by saw dust for a while, the piece will be green in colour.
I made my birds very roughly and daubed the glazes on quickly and without attention to detail. The birds were placed in the kiln by Austin Gannon, an extremely experienced ceramicist. I removed them using long metal tongs and wore protective face shield, gloves and jacket. It is hard to take the birds out from a red hot kiln without dropping them. Hooray, they all came out in one piece.
When they are cool enough, they are taken out of the saw dust and cleaned. A blackened lump of pottery, covered in burnt saw dust is taken and washed. It must be a bit like panning for gold. It is so exciting to see the colours and textures of the pieces as they are cleaned. Large pieces often change colour in front of your eyes as they still take time cooling.
I was so disappointed with the photos. These photos only hint at the finished articles and the excitement of their discovery.
I took them home and put shoe polish on them to seal them so that the silver and copper do not become dull and oxidise.
I now need to decide how to display them. Some have their wings placed upwards in the flapping involved in flight and some have their wings flapping downwards. One is in flight in the pose seen in the photograph of the bee eater. My birds are not actually bee eaters, they are just based loosely on them. I an not interested in replicating a bird exactly.
I decided that a dark background would work best. I wanted to photograph them in front of Birmingham engineering bricks that were used to make the walls by the canals.
I made a frame of bamboo and suspended them using black button thread.
I think this has great potential, however, three birds broke in flight. They are SO fragile. One beak broke just because I tied a thread around it. Sadly, it is not feasible to suspend them. I display them on my kitchen table.
Before arranging them, I decided to photograph the surfaces so they could be appreciated properly. The results are very exciting!
I love the colours and the textures in the glazes. I think that the pixellated image at the bottom is also of interest. I have painted a picture of part of a glaze.
My birds are in many ways very successful sculptures. They have my ‘loose style’. I wanted the birds to be rough and not highly detailed and representational. I wanted them to give the impression of flying birds. I wanted the aeroplane to be the scale as the bird so people would say ‘Oh! it’s a plane’. (They do!) Their raku glazes are very successful. Where they have failed spectacularly is in their ability to form a cohesive sculpture which can be photographed with a neutral back ground. I imagine the seven birds skimming across a clear blue sky. I would have liked them to be suspended in air with the engineering bricks as if flying past. I could imagine them flying up towards the sky as if in a tornado.
i have decided to learn to carve in stone. i love the rotundity of Barbara Hepworth’s work (see research) and found Andre Derain”s ‘nu debout’ interesting.
As far as stone birds are concerned, I love Henri Gaudier Brzeska sculpture ‘rechercher’. Jacob Epstein’s ‘doves’ is charming. The latter piece looks incredibly hard to carve with the large gap between the two doves.
I had not done stone carving before i signed up to do a full time five day course at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
My reservation were thus;-
I have done a lot of figurative modelling in clay and the way i do this is to work and re work the proportions until I am happy with them. This involves a lot of adding and removing clay until it’s ‘right’. With stone, once it’s gone, it’s gone. No adding back. Terrifying.
I was concerned that I would be chiseling away for days and hate the result.
Slow, hard work and poor results were my concerns.
Before I signed up I looked at the work of the tutor for the course.
Her name is Marcia Bennettmale. She is a trained sculptor and a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. She concentrates on sculpting vegetables out of many different types of stone. I love her work. The pieces are small and self possessed. She often makes a stone plinth on which the piece sits. Her carrot sculpture conveys a sense of fun in the way it sits cheekily on it’s plinth. Her fennel is elongated and sophisticated. Her cabbage leaves are sensuous and curvacious.
Understandably, i could not sleep the night before the course, full of excitement and fears.
As a beginner, I was advised to chose limestone. The choices were from Ancaster, Tadcaster and Clipsham stone. Ancaster and Tadcaster are fine, fairly smooth stones. They have a consistent texture which can be highly polished. Clipsham stone has been used in Lincoln Cathedral, the House of Commons and the Oxford colleges. It is sandy in colour and contains lumps of quartz in it. The quartz is hard and the sand is crumbly. It has little shells embedded in it.
The Ancaster and Tadcaster was mostly hewn into neat blocks whereas the Clipsham was like irregular lumps of rock. The Clipsham was intriguing. i was not drawn particularly to its sandy colour but liked the organic forms and its irregularities. The stones appeared to have a form and character already present and awaiting my discovery. I chose a piece that was best described as diamond shaped.
When making jewellery I study my piece of silver, which is frequently an offcut from a previous project and think about it. I think about its character and what it could be formed into. I do a similar thing with gem stones. This process can take a long time. Similarly, I studied my stone. I had the feeling that there was a bird inside the stone waiting to be expressed. I know this sounds a little far fetched but what I am trying to describe is that I like to work in response to my material if possible. I studied geese in Ireland and sketched them. I did not want my bird to be a goose or an eagle as such because that would restrict me to a certain form which might not be in the chosen stone.
I managed to locate the bird within the stone. It was difficult to make an exact drawing of the creature because it evolved during the carving. it was to be a representational bird not an abstract bird. Initially I did not know how much detail I would put into it or in what style i would carve it in. I was too concerned that it would have a head, body, tail wings, neck and breast!
Initially I used a punch chisel with a tungsten carbide tipped (TCT) head to rough out the bird. I then used a claw headed chisel which leaves 4 or 5 lines marked on the stone in its wake. I went on to use a 20mm flat chisel and a 10mm TCT chisels to get more definition and to enable me to do finer carving.
I roughed out the bird and Marcia advised me that she felt that the neck was too thin and the head was too small. “You can always reduce them in size later on.” “A very good point“ I thought. The Clipsham is not easy to work with and is friable in parts. I found that my stone had a dent in the back of the bird so that I had to take the back down so that there was not a depression on the left side of the back. The whole bird was leaning to the right with its (her) head tucked in to the left side of her body. The wings were open a little and she was crouching in that position. Marcia was not happy with the curve of the neck. She felt that it didn’t work as it was and asked me to take a lot of neck off the left side of the bird and increase the thickness on the right side. I did as suggested and this gave the bird a lovely smooth supple curve which was an improvement on the stiffer one I had given it. Initially I had tried to portray one of the wings with an upper and lower set of feathers with an angle to curve the wing inwards. Apart from anything else, that was what the stone was doing. Marcia was not happy with this arrangement and felt it did not work. She suggested inward curving wing feathers.
I was not happy with this because feathers do not naturally curve to that extent so I took the angle out and angled them with a slight curve inwards which I felt was satisfactory. Strangely, the eye of the bird seemed to appear in the Clipsham and I just defined it more.
I was disappointed when the bird was mistaken for a vulture. I think this was to do with the head size and the curved beak. I altered the beak to be more of a straight powerful goose beak with no forehead. This suited her better. I was not happy with her ‘ducks arse‘ tail (so beloved and copied in hair styles by teddy boys). I made the tail have more defined feather like that of a swan’s tail.
Initially I thought of leaving the breast undefined with rough chiseled marks between the wings and the neck. There were a few reasons for this. Firstly I felt that it would give more of an idea of the stone from which she came. Secondly I liked to see rough stone in a sculpture like some of Robin’s sculptures. Thirdly, I was inexperienced at carving and found getting rid of large quantities of stone very daunting as large amounts of energy would be expended inefficiently in its execution. On the afternoon of day 3 I found that my technique was improving so decided to tackle the the breast excavation. Marcia helped me marry up the back of the bird with the breast, not an easy thing to do when the whole of a sculpture cannot be seen at the same time.
In order to effect the breast shaping without chipping the friable lower edge of the sculpture and not ending up in hospital with debilitating back pain, it is essential to lay the bird on her back, upside down to do the work. The land marks I was using on the back were no longer visible but I proceeded to turn her from front to back regularly and finished the job.
I had the difficult job of carving the breast in a confined space with the boundaries of the head, the neck and the wing making it difficult to reach inside to complete the carving. Marcia helped by doing a little of this then left me to define the top of the head, the beak and the neck with a longer chisel that would reach inside this area.
With the help of my knowledge of geese I have decided that I would like the neck and head very smooth the breast less so and maybe the back and upper wings quite rough with the flight feathers quite smooth too. The latter may be difficult to achieve as they are at present fairly rough because the stone kept braking off when I used the chisel on it. I have one more day on the course to finish my bird. I will see what tomorrow will bring.
I used special files used for stone carving called ‘rifflers’. A lot of sand came off and I proceeded to coarse (no 40) sand paper. Eventually I graduated to 140 wet and dry paper. I was disappointed with the effect. It looked muddy in colour. When Marcia used a flat chisel she left a pristine surface in which I saw glistening flashes of pale blue quartz. I wanted to show this surface, smooth and bright on the neck of my bird. All I got was a muddy surface. Marcia suggested that I brush off the muddy paste made out of the powdered, sanded stone mixed with water from my sculpture. I did not manage to achieve the surface I wanted. I need to do more work on this and then protect the surface from rain with a special wax. I was pleased with the feathery texture I made with a pointed chisel. The wings need more work so they are smoother, but not polished like the neck.
My carving was a major undertaking, taking a very long time to finish and was physically tiring.
This sculpture is heavy and looks it.
The sculpture is diamond-like in shape.
I am not entirely happy with the form. From a distance it does look a bit like a blob!
The sculpture has life presence. She is preening herself and looks introspective. She looks maternal to me.
the bird is bending over and preening her wings.
She is carved by the artist as was made popular by Branchusi, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. This is a traditional, craftsmanly piece of work.
I am pleased with her neck and her wings. I like the texture of her breast and intend to work on the neck to see if I can get the sparkle of the quartz to show through.
The Grenfell tower disaster shocked the world. The horror of it all. When I grieve I try to do something to heal the wound. I wanted to make a memorial to the dead people and a symbol of what good could come out of this terrible disaster. I went past the tower when driving into London. It is a ghostly spectre. I wanted to make a phoenix arising from that skeleton.
This is how I started. I knew I had a metal sphere I could use but did not know what I would use for the rest of it. It needed to be metal so it could arise from the cinders of a fire. It had to be from found objects from a city to convey its message.
I liked the ‘trees in Yorkshire Sculpture Park (although they are far too pristine for my liking)
I had a frame that had once been for a swinging garden settee. I had my washing line pole, the stand for a dress maker’s dummy, a couple of wooden stake holders, a drill and bolts. I wanted the wings to be rising triumphantly from the ashes, like the posture of the eagle on the American dollar bill. I found some discarded spiral squiggly things that could intimate the decoration that my painted phoenix has around the eye. To get the scrap metal into this pose was difficult. I bought a drill bit for drilling metal and with the help of my friend Eeyasu, I managed to drill holes and put bolts into the swing stand to make a beautifully curved shape for the wings. We had to drill once more to fix the washing line pole in place. A rectangular column was embedded in the lawn and the phoenix was born. The next morning he was dead. Couldn’t stand the wind!
A little disheartened, we set about the task of resurrecting him. This time my elderly friend used a heavy mallet to bury a large stake holder into the ground. I stood by ready to do cardiac resuscitation if necessary! Finally the phoenix was stable.
I decided that he needed a unifying colour. Peter Stevens, executive director of David Smith’s estate states: ‘white can be used as negative space.'(1)
In London and in other parts of the country too, it is customary to leave a painted white bike, often with flowers on it in a place where a cyclist has been killed or severely injured. This acts as a memorial to that person but also as a warning to drivers to be aware that they need to share the road. White it is then.
The next step was to make cladding and add something to indicate habitation. I used cardboard for cladding and fabric for this.
We put petrol on the panels but not enough. the fabric burned well. I wanted the metal to be a charred skeleton. I wanted it to rise triumphantly with new feathers on it.
I had to paint it black.
I have now completed it with feathers. On each feather is a number (there are 23 of them. For each feather there can be a message for what good the observer would like to come out of this dreadful tragedy. It can also be prayers or memorials. In Japan, on shrines, people tie pieces of paper with prayers on them. I want the phoenix to be similar.
The messages so far are :-
- change of government.
- The voices of the marginalised dispossessed are heard.
- building regulations are tightened up and enforced.
- The gap between the rich and the poor to be narrowed.
This works as a sculpture.
It appears light because it is thin and airy. Its form comprises arcs of a circle, a sphere and a triangle. It has a good balance to it. I like the way one wing is higher than the other which is counterbalanced by the bird’s head being turned to the side of the shorter wing. Does he have contraposto? Well, maybe! His stance is of an upright bird taking off.
I have not worked with steel before and was pleased that he didn’t collapse. I liked him white and I liked him black.
I wish I had been brave enough to contact the association for the survivors of Grenfell Tower to offer him to them. He may be a bright, colourful sculpture outside the skeleton of a building. I think people like posting positive messages as well.
Although the background to my sculpture is ‘busy’, for this sculpture I think it works.
I was disappointed with my furnace. We were not brave enough to put enough petrol on the panels. I was not happy with my cardboard panels. They should have been painted properly and left to dry. (I was beginning to lose the will to live at this point)
I like the feathers and the ideas they may represent. He could get covered with lots of feathers with messages. He would then look like a very plump, magnificent phoenix.
the watercolour sculptor
I have been trying to work on my drawing and observational skills. To this end I enrolled on a weekend watercolour course. I started by sketching the subject which was Rosa Rugosa. This plant has voluptuous (rose)hips!
After drawing lightly in pencil I added an appropriate wash to my painting. I used a technique called ? wet in wet, where two colours can be applied while wet, and moved around on the surface of the paper. The washes were left to dry and I applied fine detail with a fairly dry brush. The brush was ‘rolled and dragged ‘ prior to painting. I don’t think I’ll make it as a botanical water-colour painter. Two days for one small painting and it was still only a two dimensional piece of paper at the end of it all.
I did learn a lot. Teacher liked my painting and said I had a nice ‘loose’ style. I like to think that my style is similar to that of Shirley Hughes, the children’s author and illustrator (Dogger etc)
I feel that this exercise has helped my observational skills, my use of paint and colour. This will help me in future in my depiction of sculptures either real or imagined.
reference 1 for the phoenix.
appraisal of the whole of assignment assignment 5
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
I have learnt a whole new skill of stone carving during assignment 5. This is a hard skill to learn and I am pleased with the outcome of my first stone sculpture. I would like to work on this skill further and use it in a more adventurous way.
I used my visual skills to capture the geese that I drew in my sketch book. I need to do more sketching and sculpting from life.
I learnt something of working with found metal objects and used a metal drill bit with a drill to put bolts through the metal to hold it up.
I learned to capture the essence of a goose with wire mesh, sticks, a plastic bag and muslin.
I learned how to fashion large branches into a bird using secateurs, plastic cable ties and found objects.
I demonstrated my skills of making clay birds and biscuit firing them myself. I demonstrated my skills in raku firing and learned when to cover the piece with saw dust to get the best effect.
quality of outcome
My most successful pieces as far as quality of outcome are the stone bird and the phoenix. I felt that they both worked very well as sculptures.
I would have liked my flock to have been better in its final display but I was too ambitious for it.
My goose could have been the start of a grand project but I had to leave Ireland and the scope of a single assignment, by necessity, must be limited.
My ‘guardian’ is statuesque in its size. I would have loved to make his face more fitting to his role but time did not allow for this either.
I would have loved to have made massive rose hips moving in the sky, similar to Phyllida Barlow’s submission for the `Venice Biennale’ called ‘folly’
demonstration of creativity
I feel that the sculptures I have made are ambitious in their vision and original in their execution. The materials used are wide ranging and demonstrate the armamentarium of skills I have at my disposal.
When a potter throws a bowl , you can see from its shape that a particular pair of hands has formed it. My water colour teacher described my style as ‘loose’. I think my creative style is for big gestures rather than precision. The overall effect is is what I aim for rather than fine detail.