New Mexican Sculptor

My photo
New Mexico, United States
I'm living in New Mexico where I sculpt and paint. After a long absence from art, I am now creating smaller bronze figures. This blog is mainly devoted to that work.

Monday, October 14, 2013

October Elk Fight

Here is my latest animal art work, the first elk of a 2 elk rutting fight. This elk is the lower elk, probably being defeated my the upper elk. A little more to work on. It will join my other American animals. The entire 2 elk sculpture will be about 44" long, and between 15 and 20 inches high. (Presently this figure is 12" X 26"). I do not know the exact final dimensions because there is still the base, which will be a lot of tree trunks, leaves, and brambles, and also a marble base which will raise it up some as well. Right now I am out of clay so I have to wait a bit until I can get started again. I will need to do the second deer and the base. I have a bear armature started, so that is to be my next animal. I must still finish bits of the bison and the horse, as well as the rider for the horse. After the bear, I think I will sculpt about 5 human sculptures including the rider.

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More to come...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Buffalo (American Bison)

I think I have made a giant leap forward in my sculpting technique. I have discovered a rather easy, nearly primitive way of creating nearly any animals measurements rather accurately. (I need to remember as well that I have been doing art for nearly 40 years, so I am not exactly a beginner.) Now all that is needed is plenty of practice. I am sculpting a series of North American animals. Here is my Bison WIP:

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I am still playing around with the hair texture:
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Big Horse

I want to work "big." I've always been more impressed by large sculpture, and I am getting bigger and bigger in my personal work. Here is a picture of my largest recent piece. I will be putting a rider on this horse. The horse without the tail is 28 inches long, and 18 inches tall. You will see that I have gotten much better with my body measurements. I have discovered a "secret weapon" which I may reveal one day.
Side view:  photo P1010968_zpsbe267d77.jpg "Heroic" head on shot:  photo P1010970_zps858fca72.jpg View of saddle:  photo P1010957_zps0e65ef84.jpg

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Seven Day Mold

When I first began to make molds for my small sculptures, my hope was that the molds would take no more than a week to produce. As fate and mischance had it, the shortest time I was able to make a mold was about forty-five days. Set-up time caused the biggest delay. Each "layer" of mold making material took a good eight hours to cure using the ten-to-one hundred gram measurements I had been using. Shim making also caused a lot of delays. Both the clay wall and the metal shim technique took at least a week each to create. I am here to say now that I have exceeded my previous time by thirty- eight days. To me that is like running a four minute mile. I'm stoked.

I consulted the experts in the lab at Silicones Inc., where I get my RTV silicon rubber. I was told that it was okay to use a 50/50 catalyst split, or even a very hot 100% catalyst mixture. I hadn't know that I could use their "Fast" catalyst separately, feeling it would produce too hot a mixture. As it is, the fast catalyst makes a slightly more brittle, or harder mold. You could use both description. And the mold library life might be a bit lessened, but the library life is already up to fifty years, and I am not too concerned with whether a mold lasts for 50 years or 35. (I'll be dead by then anyway).

I worked upon a few theories that I had developed as I made the other molds. This is how the "learning" curve can contribute to "revolutionizing" your work. My first thought was that a mold that was contiguous, that is, not divided by a shim would leave less of a shim-kerf, and thus be more accurate. It was better to "cut" the mold after it had cured than use shims to divide the mold before application of the silicone. I applied two thickened (Thixotropic catalyst) layers before beginning my shim wall, as you can see here:

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The shim wall itself caused me great concern, and I played around with materials. I had some plastic sheeting which I had gotten as waste from some industrial use, and found that hot glue-- you know the glue sticks and gun used by "crafty" people-- actually sticks this material together.

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Inch by inch I made my way around the figure already covered by two layers of silicone, hot gluing, and in some cases resorting to duct tape, making a "floating wall" with no support on either side. In my mind, it would either be the mold maker's version of Parkour, or it would be an epic fail. Here, you can see that the shim line is not held by anything. This is its underside:

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The next problem to solve was how to keep the silicon, which is sticky stuff, expensive, and nasty to clean up, from dripping off the sides of the plastic floating shims. Hot glue to the rescue again, as well as at least a hundred popcycle or "craft" sticks. Here, I start to hot-glue the craft sticks to the plastic material to create the retaining wall.

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Here I am beginning to extend the shim from the body:

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Since having no shim at all creates a thinner shim line, I would remove the white plastic shim after the silicon "side" had set up. I painted on soap as a mold release, and used the craft stick wall as a foundation for the second hot glued craft stick run. Here is the second craft-stick run that has allowed me to pour the second side of the shim. You can see that it is totally floating in this shot:

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I also made one layer of the old cheese cloth method to stiffen the mold, but only on the figure and not on the shims. One gallon (9 pounds) of silicon is expensive, and I was nearing the end of my gallon. After the entire mold was made, I had 200 grams of silicon left over.

Friday, April 26, 2013

French Bulldog WIP

This little French Bulldog is a "sculptural painting." I am basically working the painting as though it is very low relief, working in two colors, a cool and a warm, as well as black and white.  photo P1010783_zps723d4f3e.jpg

Painting like a sculptor

Same Painting, different artistic philosophy... I am working on a mold right now, and will post shortly, in the meantime, I have a few painting works in progress. I still do not think I am much of a painter, and I am not being falsely modest. I just don't know how to do it, other than keep adding crazy "layers" often in weird colors. I seem to know nothing more about color theory other than if it is blue, it recedes, and if it is orange it moves forward. Other than that, I don't have any idea what I am doing. Below is the painting the first time I did it. It is truly awful. I used all the oranges, and worked in large blocks. Bad. I took some turpentine and rubbed the image off, and wondered if I could salvage the canvas. It sat in a corner for a week looking like the big waste of money that it was.  photo P1010807_zps6385797c.jpg All week, while working on other things, I thought about what it was that I had done wrong. Finally, I realized it was because I had been trying to paint like a painter, and I did not know how to do that. I woke up suddenly the day before yesterday and told myself that I could salvage the painting if I painted like a sculptor. (Yes, I had a dream. Dreams have a big part to do with the life of an artist). I was not too sure what that meant, but I had been somewhat successful as a painter only when I kept my color pallet very minimal, and really paid attention to the "topography" of the piece. So, I put the destroyed painting back on the easel, and started to paint like I figured a sculptor would. It is not done yet, but the result is way different than the painting above, and it is really starting to "pop" out of the canvas, even though it is in very light pastel hues. puma 1 photo P1010850_zps76b9cedb.jpg There you go, you can see the difference, can't you? What is going on here? My theory is that I have switched to a different "mode" of execution. I am still the same person, but I expect something different from myself. My expectations are the difference between the two pictures above. I need to get a psychologist to explain this to me.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cow Final

Well, this is the best I can do. As you can see, the tail, the horns and the ears have been removed for molding. I will make a few last minute checks and then start the mold. This cow has been through a few changes. I just keep changing it until it has the certain "cow-ness" that I am looking for. It is almost like "you know it when you see it." There is no real standard. I think that is why they call it an art. These views are of the final form. A few things about the measurements changed. The placement of the shoulder girdle and the length of the neck. I also remember a cowboy's statements about long horns, that "they do not hurry anywhere." In honor of that statement, I made the cow plod along, and just swing her head out slightly toward the viewer. Little known facts about long horn cattle is that the females and castrated males (steer) have the longest horns, not the bulls. The horns come in all types and sizes, though this will be the massive "curly-twisty" type. I have the horns in a mold where I will cast them in epoxy so I can sand them to a fine finish and then make a second mold out of the silicon I normally use. final1 photo P1010812_zpsa0e1b918.jpg final2 photo P1010813_zpsae298700.jpg The "editing" work that an artist (even a sculptor) does is similar to the editing work that a writer does. Here is a view of the earlier iterations or versions of the cow, if you have not kept up with this blog. The first iteration was good but much chunkier and really not my style: I could not really use this kind of cheap school clay. lhbull2_zpsd14f43be photo lhbull2_zpsd14f43be-1_zps5feddda1.jpg This is the second iteration. I had the head thrown way back and thought it looked overly dramatic, though cows can indeed throw their heads back this far. After a while, I saw that more restraint was needed to convey the calm mellow personality of these massive animals.  photo 11713015.jpg

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Painting Cows

I keep going from "I'll never paint again" to, "I'll paint three paintings a week." It is kinda silly really. I like painting, but want to sculpt more. Never the less, the economy has made me think that I should not give up painting, since painting is a lot easier to sell than sculpture. Hence I told myself that I would work to finish up the sculptures I have started so far this year, and will go on to create some more oil paintings for sale in smaller galleries. So, I ordered 40 small canvasses, and am working to stretch a few large ones. This time around I am going to do big, bright, bold and hopefully more modern style paintings. Another "rule" I am using is to try to finish the smaller painting in no more than 2 days (the 2 days do not have to be sequential.) The bigger paintings can take as long as one week, but only one. This has been one of my major flaws as an artist. I work in little drips and drops. I think I got used to that when I tried to steal a little moment here, a half hour there to do my art. I need to really put my nose to the grindstone and work full days on these paintings. I am pretty sure that the smaller ones will be sold on ebay or another art site, while the larger ones will be for sale in brick and mortar galleries.

Well, here is a sample of my cow painting. As I said, I wanted them bigger, bolder, more modern than I have so far done. 30X30 inches -- so it is a pretty big piece.  photo P1010770_zpsd82305a0.jpg

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sculpture: Pregnant Woman

I am still working on figuring out my own style. I thought the snake woman was not very "genuine," so I went back and made a pregnant woman. This was not intentional. It started as a kind of a "doodle" in clay, but It was turning out so well, I decided to take it to the end. (It has a few more days of smoothing and small detail to go). This is meant to lie lengthwise on a long base, and will be slightly "floating," that is to say held up by pins about one inch above the surface of the base. It is more or less Queen Maia, mother of Guatama Siddhartha, but also reflects the deep bond to the earth of any pregnant woman. I was fixated on the pull of gravity on the belly, breasts and other details. I am still not a very good "miniature" sculptor. Once again, I did not use any reference photos or actual woman to make this. I did use a few anatomical charts to measure the bones and check other details, and I used my own measurements. The artist is the best anatomy chart ever.  photo P1010757_zpsf79bfb17.jpg  photo P1010755_zps451470e2.jpg I wanted to show this one because someone asked how to make plastaline clay "smooth." Between my fingers, perhaps you can see a piece of cloth. This is canvas, soaked in kerosine. The kerosine "melts" the plastaline slightly, and the canvas acts as a kind of "sand paper." Window screen is also a good "smoother" but if you ultimately need absolutely smooth surface, you need to resort to canvas, or cloth, or chamois, or leather, maybe sponges, and then finally your own fingers because even the canvas or cloth leaves little lines. The next day, the kerosine would have evaporated, leaving the clay hard, and smoother.  photo P1010746_zps3ef00458.jpg  photo P1010747_zps03edaab0.jpg In a few days I will begin to make a mold.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Girl with snake update

I've been feeling ill recently-- little end of winter cold I guess, so I have not been working as quickly as I could. A few more things have happened to slow me down, but I won't get into them. I've made a major substantial "edit" in the woman with the snakes sculpt, in that I had the snake looking away, and I now have it looking at her.

I want to devote a later post to the "editing" that an artist does in a piece-- shifting it this way and that. I was thinking of the longhorn cow I am doing. The head has turned this way and that, and surprisingly a lot of the edits happen late in the sculpting process.
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Monday, February 4, 2013

Some Real Action!

I have been hard at work when I have not been doing household chores, or taking care of the dogs. The horse is nearly done. I am working on a new type of mold--here is a preview:


My plan is to create a pourable mold that does not take up a lot of material. The outline you see would be cut out of insulation foam, blocking the liquid rubber. I'll write a special blog article on it. Hope it turns out well.

Here is the "nearly" finished horse. I decided to make her pregnant, because she looks in such a pensive, waiting mood. As many people I know have said, "who would be interested in a "blah" sort of pose like that?" Despite it all, I like the pose. It looks the way a real horse would behave.

The horse with some light on it:

Photobucket I ended up demolishing the steer when the new clay came. I made a new version. I have a problem with one of the measurements, so this one has been put away until I can find some actual cows to measure. Photobucket Next, I began a new female nude sculpture: This is way better than my last female. I am just new at this, and so every piece I do, I get better and better. My work is becoming faster, and I am starting to develop a more mature style. This piece is close to the more "mythological" figure I did when I did the Birdman. Here is the armature I began with: Photobucket What makes this different is that I began with a small pelvis model and measured out, radiating from there. I sculpted the torso first, then the legs. Finally I "floated" the shoulder blades and arms, and last, added the head. It seems like an unusual way to do it. I will try it again to see if this method has anything to do with the way this turned out. Photobucket Here is the nearly finished work. No face, upper arms or hands, or fine details, but you can see how it is turning out. I feel that this needs another week of work, then I will let it age a bit before committing it to a mold. Photobucket Photobucket

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

I moved back to New Mexico not long after my friend died of cancer. I had been allowed to stay in his house a few months after he died so I was not thrown out in the streets immediately. When the time came, I put my belongings in storage, and went to stay in the basement of a friend of the deceased. It was a shock to find that I was actually what the Government would consider “homeless.” It had not been planned that way. I had a job promised up in Omaha, but the job fell through suddenly. I went to “orientation,” and the personnel director called me in and said that I was not acceptable to the company, even though I had been invited to orientation. This was a shock, and I started scrambling to find work. It was near the holidays, and not a lot of companies hire at that time.

On November 6th, my birthday, and also election day, my brother called and invited me to move to his small town in New Mexico. I still did not have a job, but I jumped at the opportunity.

For nearly 15 years I have pined away for my beautiful New Mexico. I am sure that anyone who has lived there for a long enough time knows that there is something “different” about the state. Well, I do anyway.

Taking the rest of any money I had, I bought gas for the car, and literally coasted in to the Land of Enchantment totally broke, followed by a Texas cop, who gave me a warning ticket for a burned out light bulb. My brother (he is my younger brother) is a great guy. I ended up sleeping on the couch and looking for a job. Strangely, although employment eluded me for nearly 5 years up in Omaha, I found a decent paying job immediately in New Mexico, strange as it might seem.

With a little income, I began sculpting again. I bought some cheap “school clay” which I will never be lured into again. This stuff was soft, bready, and would not pick up any detail. It was like working with fondant (the stuff bakers use to decorate cakes with). Although I had received a paycheck, I waited for the day after Christmas to order my first half case of good old Roma plastaline #3 (medium-firm).

So far in all my sculpting life, I find that Roma #3 is the best for the smaller sculptures that I do. I heat it up a little by putting it in a box in a warm spot before applying it to the armature. Beware though, Roma plastaline contains sulfur so you need to be careful about which molding materials you buy, and make sure that the sulfur will not retard the set up time.

Something that has been on my mind since beginning to sculpt again after a long absence has been “what kind” of art should I make? What genre, so to speak. Since I actually want to sell it and at least make a partial living as an artist, this question is actually important. I do not think that simply deciding to do “whatever” will work with galleries. You need to have a bit of a direction.

I decided that if by the grace of age and nature I receive another ten years of artistic work (hopefully some more than that, but we can never be sure), I feel that I would be happiest sculpting animals in action, or something like that. Western and Southwestern art is a way to go because it suits my interests in both illustrative and (anatomically correct) figurative art. I am not saying that all of my work ought to be horses and cowboys, but a lot of it should be. I also think it should be more contemporary--

I suspect people who work on art have all kinds of inner discussions about what exactly they should be doing.

I began to work on two sculptures in late December, carrying over into January now. One was to be the horse rescue sculpture, which I feel is my most “realistic” horse to date. Another is a long horn steer which I have decided to continue as a cowboy/horse/steer tableau. 

Unhappy horse-- The horse is a mare and is a separate sculpture. I may sculpt a little colt as well.

Longhorn steer bellowing--Another horse and a ranch hand will go with this steer.

Neither are totally finished. The steer is still a little "stiff." He needs a little more softness, but I am waiting to get the second horse roughed out so I will be finishing them both at the same time. I should get the horse finished shortly because I have already ordered the molding materials. 

I have decided to try to make blogging a weekly things. I will try to upload a blog on Wednesday or Thursday each week. 

C. R. Larkin