Sunday, January 9, 2011

Stone Carving the Head

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I have been able to carve stone these last few afternoons – the weather in this part of Texas has been quite lovely and surprisingly warm for winter. Continuing work on my “Gymnast” marble sculpture, I decided that it was time to tackle the head of the figure.

The critical part of myself admonished me to just start on it and botch it early on in the process because I would hate myself more if I did all of that work on the rest of the figure BEFORE ruining the face. Thankfully at my age I fully understand that this is only the voice that spurs me to take care to do my best work possible, but …to get to it. The other reality is that my training is to work the figure all around, developing the composition to the same level everywhere.

When I find myself hesitating, I have learned to stop to figure out what my brain is telling me. When I find myself unable to make one part of the stone carving smaller even when I KNOW it must be done, it is because another section of the stone nearby is way too large. There is another part of my brain unwilling to make the necessary changes because it is still seeing the (spatial) relationship that currently exists. And thus, the next step is to take an action that allows the parts of my brain to come to an agreement. Seriously, this is the way that my brain works.

In this case, I am referring to the fact that I could no longer make myself carve the face smaller until I reduced the larger mass of hair surrounding the face. In these first two images you may see that I have begun to carve away the hair above the ears. I am also beginning to remove the “Helmet Hair” effect, by carving the marble closer to the surface of the temple and forehead. Hair lies on top of the skull, but when pulled back, it is not such a bulky form.

In the last two images, I show you how I did the same thing to reduce the size of the left half of the face of the figure. Because I want her ponytail to fall over the back of the gymnast’s neck in an asymmetrical way, her head remained bulkier on the left side where I had left lots of stone for hair. To help myself see just how much I needed to carve, I redrew my centerline down her back and remeasured.

It is true that everything is relative. And also: that making one change affects the other relationships in the composition. All I can tell you is that one of the best feelings in stone carving is not being able to remember what the stone looked like before you made your cuts. Thus far, I have not botched her face!

An aside: I have been getting a few inquiries about whether or not I will be returning to Italy. I am aware that some people read this blog because I have written so much about that charming country. Yes, I will be returning this spring. And in a few weeks, I will be visiting London. I hope to be sharing some tidbits about my museum visits from that trip as well.

I am at the stage in my stone carving of the “Gymnast” that there will not be dramatic changes happening within one or two days’ work. And with the weather becoming more winter-like even as I write this, my time with this project may become more and more interrupted. I am not sure if it will interest you to see every little detail of this carving, so I will try to share some more of my images of Italy and art in general.

Feel free to send me requests for writing topics. I never want to waste your time.
Thank you!


Casey Klahn said...

Gymnast is very evocative!

I am interested in your process, since I have no experience with carving. Wonderful narrative!

Kelly Borsheim said...

Thank you, Casey. I am so impressed that you find time to support so many artist's blogs, especially when you write such a good one yourself.

I will try to keep up ;-)
Happy 2011 and continue with your great pastel art works!