Memorial Sculpting for Grief Recovery 6...Blocking in the sculpted forms

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With the armature built it is time to rough in the clay forms. When producing sculpture it is all about the forms, the bony landmarks and the stance/weight distribution. It may seem like unnecessary work and certainly it can look a bit awkward in the beginning stages but it it is imperative that the work is built on solid forms. Surface things like hair and clothing must be placed on top of correct anatomy and form. Rushing into hair and clothing is a temping mistake and one that you will come to regret. Hair and clothes cannot mask errors in the pose or anatomy - they only muddy the problems making them difficult to identify and correct. These first stages are spent building up the forms and basic anatomy. It isn't necessary to over-do the anatomy, however. Sculpting every minute detail isn't necessary, just the basic forms and shapes.

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You'll notice that I have removed the hand armatures - I'm working very quickly at the moment trying to block in as much work as possible to get the relative sizes and proportions. I'm using very simple tools - mainly my hands, Jmac Classic Clay in firm that has been warmed up, a knife, two wooden tools and a pair of calipers to check size/scale as I work. The board is constantly moving - rotating so that I work on an area no more than 15 minutes before rotating to work on another area. I am using an older more European style of working in that I am applying small balls of clay all over, building up a tiny bit at a time and compressing the clay bits once I reach a certain point before moving on to the next area.

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The dabs clay are added in a way that accents the anatomy - look closely and you can see the shape of the sternum, the clavicles and the skull.

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And so the process continues...add bits of clay, stand back and access, rotate and work on the next area. The goal is to to work on the piece in such as way as to bring all areas up to the same level of completion at a time. Resist the temptation to work in one area very long.

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In this photo you can see a bit better what I mean about the touches of clay following anatomy. You could certainly take larger chunks of clay and sculpt the  sternocleidomastoid muscle as one unit, but in this method of sculpting you take the smaller portions of clay and build up the muscle a piece at a time. I find that it slows me down and allows me time to consider the relationships between forms more accurately. Building the general shapes of the ears, nose and bony eye sockets and brow begins to define the head shape and gives some direction to the piece.

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At this stage it is still very rough and forms are being put in methodically without attention to likeness. This seems counter-intuive - after all, it will be a portrait. My concentration at this time is size and form relationships - the joy of bringing out a likeness is something that will allow myself once the overall sculpt is built up enough that I am satisfied that the body shape, pose and anatomy are well under way. Next I will begin laying in the basic forms on the little brother and ensuring that the size/scale and pose is relational between the two before progressing into getting a likeness on them both.


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