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The Third Dimension

OCTOBER 28, 2013

I have always been interested in three dimensional artwork - even though I think of myself primarily as a painting illustrator, my painting is evolving towards a more textural, expressive surface...and to the extent that I am a realist, sculptural elements can enforce the notion of realisim, even when the final presentation of the work is two-dimensional.
I have always made reference sculptures and set-ups to help me visualize images that I paint. Lately I have had opportunities to add some three dimensional elements into some illustrations and to create and cast some sculptures as personal work.  I thought I would post a few of my recent  projects which incorporate a three dimensional element.
A few years ago I had an opportunity to observe my career-long mentor and friend Bruce Wolfe do a portrait sculpture from life-- in one sitting. I was deeply impressed by the experience and it made me consider the possibilities of working three dinensionally in my own work- and perhaps to do some sculpture of  my own as well.
The above video was  shot by photographer Robert Houser, while modeling  for the head of one of the hockey players in Bruce's Pittsburgh Penguins monument (Mr. Houser is seen here modelling). I am the one in the hat- allegedly assisting, but in fact, just learning from Bruce as I always do when I am around him.
Bruce Wolfe's monumental sculpture of Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh.
a reference sculpture for an illustration.

This book cover lent itself to my first opportunity to incorporate a sculpture into a finished illustration. It is in plasticine clay, about 8 inches in diameter, painted with bronze powder.

The finished cover

a three dimensional "sketch" for a recent cover

Another three dimensional sketch, another way to express the same image

In the end I wound up making a wax seal with the image.

Anubis for a recent project

A clay sculpture of a sort of mutant dinosaur. I did this piece some time ago but recently decided to try have it cast in bronze.

A mold is made from the sculpture, then a wax casting is made. This casting then must be worked over for detail.

Wax being worked on. Each casting (this is an edition of no more than ten) has to be worked on individually. For example, the teeth have to be re-done in wax each time. Each base is also carved and sculpted from wax.

The wax is then placed into a shell filled and then burned away by molten bronze. The result is amazingly accurate...

The patina process is an art unto itself. I was fortunate to have a chance to work with Aiya at the foundry who worked patiently with me to get the finish the way I wanted it.

after patina, before waxing.

I like doing this. I think this process has a lot of potential. Thanks for looking!