Creating Your Own Sculptural Muse
sometimes in the studio when I need a little inspiration or I'm feeling like maybe working in two D. Is feeling a little lackluster. I actually make sculptures and the sculptures I make are actually taking often taking found objects and binding them together with ribbon. Sometimes it's fabric. In this case I have this red satin ribbon. I took a welding glove out of my husband's studio actually and I took the welding glove and I tied it together with some old cotton fabric turquoise fabric and then I took one of my electoral clamps and clamped it all together and then just wrapped it. And this is something um that you know, is quite unique. It's something that is a sculpture that I would have never really been able to sort of come up with in my head without perhaps making it first a form. And I find that like actually turning it in space is quite satisfying. I like how it looks from multiple views. So I started making these sculptures and I thought well how could these maybe be an inspi...
ration for paintings? Like how would I use them in that way? I mean they're interesting just in and of themselves. But as a painter, I'm always trying to find ways to paint things. So I decided that it would be interesting to paint them on a surface where you were adapting the scale. Like some could be large sum could be small, they could be seen from different views and the device that I find most useful for doing that is an opaque projector. So this is a little projector. I have it hooked up to my phone. I did a little photo shoot of this sculpture and I chose a couple of photographs that I wanted to project and trace and then ultimately paint in. Now some people might say, oh using a projectors and that cheating. But actually people have been using projectors uh in ways to project images for quite a long time. So I'm going to show you how I've taken the sculpture. I projected it before we met here. Very large on the page. So these dark lines, a very large projection because I knew I wanted something big, I wanted something up front and now I've moved the projector closer in and I've chosen a view that's a little bit different and I've just tucked it in this lower corner here. So this, you know, this one is at least like half the size of that. And if I draw it in such a way that the larger one is overlapping the smaller one, then there's going to be an automatic sense of space. Once I've traced that smaller one, I'm gonna bring it over to the painting table and start to paint in smoke paint colors and just take a look at how they start to relate to each other. So I'm just gonna do a quick tracing here at the wall. I like having a firm surface behind it to do the tracing and with a dark pencil. I'm just gonna start by going around the exterior of the sculptural form and just finding some of the key shapes. It doesn't matter that it's projecting in black and white because I actually I have the sculpture, so it's no big deal if that is what happens. And I'm I'm, you know, paying attention a little bit too line quality. Um but mostly just trying to get the projection down in a pretty graphic way. In a pretty solid graphic way. So I'm coming around the glove here and up here, I'm coming around the clamp the electrical clamp and what I really love about binding objects with string or binding objects as I make the sculptures with the satin thread, is that the thread or the binding starts to take your eye around around the form. And in this case, choosing the red satin is, in a way for me, really exciting because I really love the way the red satin looks against the turquoise. So now as I'm drawing right here, I'm gonna stop at the edge of the big projection right here, just like I stopped right here at the edge of that so that this little guy feels like it's behind the front one and I'm just gonna come down and finish drawing the clamp. Now you can get a projector. Um you can get a projector for pretty inexpensively. Um You can also use an overhead, like an old fashioned overhead projector. Um you can use a slide projector if you still have one of those lying around. There's a lot of ways that you can project things on the wall to kind of as a shortcut for painting. So I'm just, I wanna make sure I get this little um snippet of the satin there and I'm just gonna double check sometimes when I'm doing a projection, the way I'll double check if I've got it all is I actually like run my hand across it so I can see the lines without seeing the project action upon it. And I'm just noticing I'm missing just a little missing piece here. Alright, so I've projected it and now I'm excited to paint it. So I'm going to take this piece off the wall and I'm gonna walk it over to my painting table and now that it's off the wall, you can really see how this sculpture in different positions, right, has provided me the opportunity for abstract shapes and sort of a relationship, a dance. Not only that, but the fact that I projected it at two very different sizes and overlapped one behind the other starts to create a sense of depth and space. That wouldn't happen if maybe I just projected them all at the same size. So I've mixed some colors based on the sculpture and I'm really just sort of interested in maybe painting in just a little bit of opaque color in the areas where um these two pieces come together So you can start to see how that overlap starts to create a sense of depth. So I'm using a really opaque paint. And this area right here I know is turquoise. Um this area right here I know is beige. So let's just sort of paint them in just a little bit using this opaque paint. I'm gonna give it a little stir and just start to see how they start to coalesce. And I actually enjoy keeping some of the line visible because this is definitely gonna be a rather uh dramatic image. It's painted very flatly because this is an opaque paint, it's a paint that dries quickly and I don't mind that. Like I like the flatness of it, I like the flatness of the opaque paint. So here's one section I painted in and now I want to see what that looks like against the beige color that I mixed for the welding glove and just sort of see how they start to relate to each other. So sometimes I'll start a painting from a relationship. And I'm also taking off some of the extra water that's on my brush because I want these colors to stay opaque, I put too much water in, they start to dilute and start to get transparent. So let's go in and oh yeah, that's like a luscious, very luscious, beige color for that glove. And I tend to sort of paint in when I can the whole shape. And that's the nice thing too about, you know, mixing colors and having them in little containers with, you know, uh, colors that dry to the air. Is that, you know, I could work on this for a while and then I could go out and get a coffee or take a break and come back and if I've closed up my paint containers, I can just pop the tops off and dive right back in. So it's quite forgiving. So there's these two colors coming together. And I'm really curious too about what happens if we use a little bit of this bright red uh to create a relationship between. So there's a little bit of bright red here on the rim. And again, I was really interested in seeing that bright red against that turquoise. So let's see how that looks. It's like a candy red one more. So as I bring in that red against the turquoise, it starts to get really exciting where those colors start to come together. And at a certain .2, you can move back in with a little line with a little more kind of drama in terms of where the things are overlapping each other. So this practice of working from sculpture, this practice that I love to do, where I'm working with a sense of scale change. I thought that it might be interesting for you to see one that was more finished just to give you a sense of where it might go. And this more finished piece is a piece that actually has three, three different um sculptures, three different sizes. One sculpture, three different sizes. This is a sculpture I made from dog toys with a long pink ribbon. So again, another bound sculpture. And in this one when I painted it, I did the exact same process that you just saw. And I worked with three different sizes, a large medium and a small and in this case I really capitalized on the ribbons moving around the image, creating a dance, creating a sense of movement. And when I painted in the colors, I kept them very flat, very matte and I think very beautiful. So this possibility of taking everyday objects, dog toys, fabric gloves, whatever you might find making abstract sculptures out of them, potentially taking a projector and projecting those sculptures at different sizes to create a dynamic image that has scale change depth and colors moving all around, I think is a really amazing way to create abstract image. Is working with opacity and really occupying the page in a beautiful way. So, if you've never tried sculpture before, you might give it a go. It's um you know, really just about binding things together. And I'm sure you'll find your own way in. You could even use natural materials like driftwood, um anything that you might find out in nature, flowers, and make your own pieces that you can use for inspiration for abstract work, so absolutely give it a try.