Thursday, November 25, 2010

Open Book Stone Carving

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Today was a glorious day! 84 degrees, partly sunny, a wee bit windy . . . my favorite kind of stone carving day! I like to stop work each day in my studio – whether indoor or out – leaving something unfinished. I have found that it is a way to stave off a creative block. Monday I left myself with the start of an idea, but not a full answer.

Today, I began to focus on the top portion of my marble sculpture. Those who either read this blog often or have taken a class from me might remember that I often feel that the most helpful information about the form will often be found by the view one is least likely to have, that is, the bird’s eye view.

Thus, I began today’s work by getting out my trusty stepladder and having a look. I decided to pull back the woman’s rib cage, emphasizing even more the arching gesture while pulling her into the male’s form a bit. Then I figured out how the lines I drew Monday on the stone might work and connect up with one another on an artwork in the round.

I love triangles, but I did not really love this idea. However, I did not have another at the moment. When this happens to me, I try to determine whether or not I can cut into the stone to explore the current idea without losing something that I later will want. For me, this is the challenge of direct carving. For collaboration with the stone to occur, sometimes I must remove material so that an idea emerges.

After I chiseled out the diamond in the neck, I stepped back to take a look. (See the second image.) I felt nothing. Well, not really, I actually decided that any upward hint of a neck actually detracted from the lines I have carved in the marble torsos. However, I still loved the “S” curve of the clavicle (collarbone). So, I decided to emphasize that line.

As I was chiseling away, my mind drifted to my friend and mentor Vasily (Fedorouk)’s work. Over the years that I have known him and studied his work, I began to notice that certain shapes or poses seem to reoccur in his sculpture. Like Leonardo da Vinci’s solo finger pointing up, I guess all artists have some gesture or line that has some personal meaning, however subliminal.

And then it occurred to me . . . I had carved this shape before on another torso in marble back in 2004! This particular "S" curve of the clavicle reminds me of an open book. And an open book could be interpreted as a type of vulnerability or perhaps accessibility. It is also a form of generosity. I will let the psychologists take it from there.

It felt great getting this resolved today, for I still am unsure of what I want to do with the base . . . There is a cold front expected tonight, so I stopped work long enough to get all the plants indoors and bring up some firewood to the house. The sun had set by the time I returned to the marble.

Of course I could see her whiteness in the dying light and I needed nothing more. I am close enough to the final shape that I use my fingers more than my eyes to feel and refine the form. I love running my fingers along the weaving landscape of muscles and my sense of touch gives me much more information now. I used the rough end of my carbide file to remove the tool marks of the day until it was almost pitch black outside. A good day’s work, to be sure.

Gratitude is best when expressed. So in the spirit of the American Thanksgiving, I just wanted to say thank you for your interest in my journey. I could not do it without you.

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