Friday, December 30, 2011
One day in about 2001, I'd been cleaning up the studio after a day of sculpting. There were scraps of stoneware on my table I picked up and pounded into a ball. I thought I'd have a little fun and played with an elfin face, enjoying the freedom that comes when there's no pressure to create for the public. This one would hit the scrap can in a few minutes before I would close up for dinner. The clay betrayed me and became the most charming old woman in no time. I rolled some more clay on heavy canvas, creating a kerchief for her head. This was one of those moments when the sculpture begins to practically create itself, dragging me along! I wrapped the head in plastic and left it for the night.
The next morning, she looked at me so lovingly from my hand, I couldn't help hollowing her out, smoothing the details and beginning a streamlined body form that harmonized with the spontaneity of her expression. Wanting a form that seemed more a shadow silhouette distorted on a wall than a 3D human outline, I sketched several small shapes before the right one appeared. I enlarged it with a grid to cut out a template for the body slabs. Once the soft clay slabs were cut, a series of old towels and foam indentations held them while an elephant ear sponge stroked and coaxed the clay into it's curves. Once stiffened with a hair dryer, the edges were seamed together with clay coils and slip, a stiff rubber rib compacting the problem areas smooth. At that time, I was still playing with Dragon Ribbons carved on the surface of some of my forms, and this one gave this female a sense of motion without elaborate costume folds. A suggestion of dance.
Once her head was positioned, she told me her name was MaryAnn. I didn't ask why. Before long, the foundry had cast a beautiful bronze duplicate, and my patina artist, Adam Fah, evolved the perfect patina to showcase her attitude. She became one of my top three bestsellers. Many women exclaimed I had recreated their mother. I assumed that was a compliment, as they were purchasing her for too much money to want to throw darts at.
Art On The Boulevard in Vancouver, WA, has a MaryAnn on display. If you are in the Portland area, go by and check her out. She's one hot Mama!