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  #1  
Old 10-02-2009, 07:18 PM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Various Self Portraits

Hey guys, I know it's been a while since i last posted but I thought you guys might appreciate these. I started them on Monday and did the first (neutral expression) self portrait. I then molded that and cast copies. I made small modification to each copy to change the expression. They're all 1/6 scale (which makes them about 1 3/4" from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin),and they're all sculpted in wax.

Here's the first:



The next head my wife calls the "Goofy Smile"


The next one is a focused/angry face:


And this last one I did this morning as a tribute to Zombie Land (which opens today):



Thanks for looking, I hope you like them.

Cheers!!
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  #2  
Old 10-02-2009, 07:23 PM
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GlennT GlennT is offline
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Re: Various Self Portraits

C'mon, you're much uglier than that!

Seriously though, it is amazing what you can do at such a small scale. I don't personally like the blank eyeball look, as the eyes express so much so that aspect is missing. Otherwise, great job!
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  #3  
Old 10-03-2009, 01:45 AM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Re: Various Self Portraits

I feel the same way Glenn. I think I might go back in an add my touch on the iris and pupil. I just wanted to keep them simple at first (except the Zombie Alfred - which has just a hint of iris but no pupil, to give the impression that it's whited over).

And I do believe I'm less attractive than any of these. it's the first time I've actually managed not to make myself completely hideous (I think I have issues about the way I look).

Cheers!!
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  #4  
Old 10-03-2009, 02:36 PM
GHarrison GHarrison is offline
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Re: Various Self Portraits

Hey these are pretty awesome, Alfred.... \

Do you mind outlining the tools and process for this kind of work?

What type of wax is that?
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  #5  
Old 10-04-2009, 06:12 PM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Re: Various Self Portraits

Thanks GHarrison, sure I'll give you the basic rundown.

I start by doing a Sculpey rough (I call it a rough but it's actually more like 90% complete). I then do a simple mold using a product called Silputty (it's a two part hand mixed silicone putty, that's mixed at a 1:1 ratio - it sets fast so you have to work in small amounts and just keep layering until you get the desired thickness. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to finish a small mold like this and it it's ready to use in like 3 minutes). I then cast my wax copy using a wax called Silwax-C (both of the products listed are available through Silpak). To get a good wax transfer, I have a complicated method of heating then letting the wax cool, doing several slush coats, then filling the mold with lots of little cold pieces of wax, then I fill the rest with hot wax. It gives me a bubble free cast, very little rippling and very little shrink (which can be a huge problem with wax). When it comes time to doing the finish work, it's all done with simple tools (Most of which I've made myself using brass stock and some dental tools), I like to use needles for the really fine lines, and I do the pore texture by first applying a thin coat of lighter fluid (to soften the wax) and then using two toothbrushes (one firm - for ddeper pores, and one soft - for more subtle pores). I have a wax pen called a "Precision Waxer" (I forget the company name though), that I use to do a lot of the small filling and building up of wax wherever it needs it. Other than that, it's all the same as if you were sculpting a life size portrait in clay - observation, good reference, a strong study of anatomy, and lots and lots of practice.

I hope that helps explain it a bit.

Cheers!!
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  #6  
Old 10-05-2009, 11:48 AM
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dondougan dondougan is offline
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Re: Various Self Portraits

Hey Alfred,

Just a query and/or a thought on your self-portraits.

What do you envision as being the end result of these studies? It seems to me they are certainly well-crafted enough to be considered for casting into a a 'finished' material (I know wax can be considered 'final' by some Medardo Rosso or Joseph Beuys to name a couple at two ends of the scale but do you?). If the pieces are to be transposed into another material, where does it go from there? What structure or context do you provide the viewer to make the 'studies' into 'sculpture'?

I ask this because though my own work is only sometimes based on the figure, for the last couple of years I find myself teaching a beginner-to-intermediate skill level clay-modeling class from live models and I am constantly faced with communicating what I see as that very difference (between 'studies' and 'sculpture') to the students. The figure of-and-by-itself is a wondrous thing to view and study, but I cannot find versimilitude for its own sake enough for my own expression as a sculptor. Not to say that others might not find it an end in itself, but for me the material from which it is made, the technical gesture of the tools used to make it, and the metaphorical content conveyed by this conjunction of material, skill, and form is more than simply versimilitude.

In class I find myself on the one hand pointing-out the flaws in their perceptions of the reality of the model's form as transposed into the individual student's own clay model, and on the other trying to get them to understand that getting the form 'correct' is not the point of the whole idea of sculpture it is making a coherent expression. For instance I show them examples of where not-getting-it-correct works better (i.e., - Michelangelo's 'Pieta' in St. Peters) because its distortions convey the expressive feeling better than if it was truer-to-life in actual form. I find myself professing about the 'proper' use of the figure without having the street-cred of actually working the figure as a whole in my own efforts.

Given that rather lengthy set-up, what I'd like to know is how do you see these self-portrait heads going as sculpture? Franz Xavier Messerschmidt had very specific reasons for doing his wonderful heads (here is an excellent essay on him: << http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuille...idt-1736-1783/ >> ) and though I don't think you are quite so far off the beaten path with yours (zombies aside) <grin> I'd very much like to hear your thoughts on the issue.

Ever curious,
Don
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  #7  
Old 10-05-2009, 02:32 PM
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Alfred Alfred is offline
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Re: Various Self Portraits

Well Don, you forced me to do some research with the word "versimilitude". An interesting expression when applied to portraits.
As far as my own work, these simply started as studies. I had no intention to do anything with them other than photograph them and melt them down afterward. After completing the first three I saw there was potential in these little heads as a completed work. I envision them as being cast in resin with a mix of terra-cotta powder (something I'm experimenting with) and then the heads will be on a narrow chrome shaft inserted into a simple wood base. all the heads would be displayed together (sans the Zombie), along with a few more that I plan on doing. They would all be part of a new series of Fine Art sculpture I'm starting - an introspective journey into my life as an artist. These little heads help to open the door to seeing myself.
Where you students are concerned, I always suggest learning the truth of the form before changing it. The reason Michaelangelo and so many others (Bernini being my favorite) were so successful at portraying emotions in their sculpture, was because they understood the form completely and therefor knew when to divert from that form for the purpose of expression. Tell your students that they DO need to get the forms right (at first), and then they can change their style or the portraits themselves to express more closely what they are trying to convey. You're absolutely right that getting the likeness "correct" is not the major concern when it comes to portraiture. It's capturing the persons essence - but that also means that the structure needs to be recognizable as that person. Studying a persons features and the asymmetrical qualities of their face will help in finding the persons character, then there's also the mood and expression - but it all begins with a solid foundation based on observation, ability and practice. The reason I was able to take the neutral expression sculpt and change it into other expressions is because I understand the forms underneath, and I observed the subtle changes from one face to the next. A finished work of art can only be defined by the artist who created it - meaning it's up to the artist to decide whether a study is a finished work of art or simply another exercise to be discarded when the lesson is learned. When I taught sculpture many years ago, I never let the student keep their first few works. If they wanted they could keep the last one, but I always made them tear it down when they were done. This made them aware that they were at school to learn, and not to make finished art - the time for that would come later. It helped them to not see the work as precious and therefor made it easier to make radical changes when necessary (a thing I call "Fearless Correction"). Get your students learning to walk before they can run. It's good to show them what's at the end of the finish line if they continue, but they need to be aware that it comes with a lot of practice and knowing the rules before they can break them.

I hope that helps, if you want to talk more, let me know.

Cheers!!
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  #8  
Old 10-05-2009, 04:50 PM
GHarrison GHarrison is offline
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Re: Various Self Portraits

Thanks for the rundown of your process!

I have always admired good miniature sculptors.
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  #9  
Old 10-06-2009, 04:03 PM
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timblacktim timblacktim is offline
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Re: Various Self Portraits

Wow!!!! You have a great skill.....its so small!!!!!

How you get that precision is beyond me....Please dont melt them down....I'd hate 2 see you delete them!

Cant you do some kind of Heads for Pens....im sure u could get a likeness of some holywood stars and sell loads?

Imagine a Brad pitt pen or Brittany pen ? In this celebrity culture these icons are sort after....even Elvis fans would buy one.

Keep up the great work....TBT
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