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...
For the last several years as I have been bringing students to New York, one of the highlights has been visiting The Criterion Collection with my colleague illustrator Caitlin Kuhwald. Caitlin has been doing great work for them for years so I was very excited to get a call recently from Eric Skillman asking me if I could do the illustrations for the Criterion DVD/Bluray release of Autumn Sonata, a film by Ingmar Bergman, starring Liv Ullmann and Ingrid Bergman. It was Ingrid Bergman's last performance in a major theatrical feature film. It tells the story of a self- absorbed classical pianist who is confronted by her grown-up, neglected daughter. The film was shot by the great Sven Nyqvist, making every frame a great still image in it's own right. My exciting but intimidating challenge was to make a painterly statement to help package the DVD, while remaining true to the spirit of the film's visual language.
A preliminary sketch for one of two interior spots, using the classic two-face Bergman/Nyqvist composition. Too similar a composition to shots in other Bergman films...
I think this was a pretty good painting of Ingrid Bergman...but the focus of this film has to do with incidents in the past...
Mother taking a break from the piano. She's asked her daughter to leave her alone.
The finished cover art. Two very brief flashbacks provide the meaning to the film, and this is the moment that was the most critical. The mother, a renowned but totally self-absorbed concert pianist is absent from the scene, as well as from her daughter's life.
I usually try to avoid using a lot of these warm earth colors but here they are dictated by the palate of the film.
A detail of the finished art. I am trying to develop the ability to work in a way that adds a little meaning through technique. I want to be able to modulate my techniccal approach to fit the problem at hand...I feel like I am finally starting have the ability to achieve this.