Monday, February 16, 2009

Horse Head on the Half-Shell

It's been a busy and rather frustrating month here at Minkiewicz Studios, which is the reason for the radio silence of late on this blog-o-rino. I've been struggling with this Haflinger broodmare in unexpected ways, to the point where I wonder -- do I still "have it?" Has my sculpting muse gone up and left for Tahiti? I felt like I was spinning wheels, making repeated corrections to corrections, but still ending up in the same maddening place of "It still doesn't look right." Heck, I've sculpted her dang head six times now and still it wasn't hitting my "EUREKA!" button.

With each new sculpture I aim to do three things: (1) Express a new soul and tell its story, (2) tackle something I haven't tried before and, (3) improve my technique. If I don't achieve all three on a sculpture, I consider it a failure and keep slogging through it until those objectives satisfy my judgment. That vision in my head must be just right, by gum!

My thinking is -- if I've struggled and worked so hard this far, I can go the extra mile to really "feel the burn"; otherwise, I'm simply falling into formula and taking the easy way out. I have to push myself. But that's part of the appeal of sculpting for me -- the satisfaction of finding out that YES -- I can do more than I thought I could, as long as I'm willing to dedicate the hard work and sacrifice to do it. In this light, I also believe each sculpture has something new to teach me, and that I must struggle in order to learn that lesson. No sculpture is so generous as to just hand over the lesson -- I have to earn it.

And so it is with this mare. That's her head sliced in half, on the "half-shell," so to speak (above). I'd gotten the lateral features how I liked them (finally!), but of course, I'd managed to make her head too wide. So rather than redo everything, I figured it would simply be easier to lop it off, and slice it down the median, remove some material and glue it back together. I've never done that before, but yep -- worked like a charm! You even can see the different materials layered in there -- the grey Apoxie Sculpt® at the core, then the tan Gapoxio® on the outside, with the orange burn marks made by the armature wire (it gets hot when you dremel!), which subsequently got pulled out. Now her head is just right, and I sure did learn a lot -- phew. I'm still mentally digesting those lessons!

Now I'm working on her hind legs for the nth time. They have been fighting me from the first day -- they never seemed quite right. My mental library just was screaming at me, to the point were it finally took out a proverbial sledgehammer and whacked me -- hard. I think I actually heard a bell. Now I get it! Of course! So now we're back on track with those hind legs and it sure feels good. Another lesson learned.

Legs usually are relatively straight-forward for me, but I've come to see that this was one of her lessons now. In particular, the joints and legs on her type of Haflinger (especially the lower leg) aren't so crisp and highly defined as other breeds I've sculpted. Instead, they're more like light drafter legs in a sense -- "meatier" I suppose you could call it. This has been a real challenge -- to capture that quality without the legs looking puffy and blobby. I think I'm gettin' it, but we'll see. So many new things for me on this mare!

Her body type is a challenge, too. Getting the body type of a Haflinger is one thing, but getting the body type of a Haflinger broodmare is quite another! That's been a really fun part, to be honest. I've never sculpted those kinds of proportions before, and it's been a charming exploration. I'll definitely be sculpting more broodmares!

So that's the story so far...when she has more to say, I'll let you know! I suspect she's holding out on her biggest lesson until the end.

"Anyone can dabble, but once you've made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it's very hard for people to stop you." ~Bill Cosby

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