Sculpting in Clay for Bronze – The Process

bird bronze sculpture

As I continue my artistic journey, I am often asked how I do you choose a subject. It is something that continues to evolve as I am a self-taught sculptor.

Below is an overview of the steps I follow in creating a sculpture, but the most important part is the concept, which is a reflection of my journey, interpreting the simple and subtle rhythms and textures in nature.

The following is an example of my artistic process and images of how my latest bronze long-billed curlew sculpture evolved.

The Concept:

  • When sculpting, I reflect on an experience, investigated my observations while viewing the bird/animal in the wild, sometimes with the naked eye, other times with binoculars.
  • Then off to the sketchbook with a simple thumbnail sketch, usually only one or two.

Research & Observation of the Subject:

  • For accuracy, reference material is researched:
    1. to understand the anatomy of the subject
    2. habitat, and other characteristics of the subject.
    3. sometimes I am even fortunate enough to have access to a specimen.
  • Back to the field for more observations based on the research.
  • No photos, just imprinting the actual bird in my mind.

After the subject is imprinted in my mind, only then do I start a sculpture in clay. This process can take several weeks.

Stage 1:

  • The armature is created using wire, metal and other materials.
  • The armature is an underlying, unseen, supporting component to help make the intitial model thre-dimesional.

armature for sculpture

Stage 2:

  • I spend anywhere from a month to a year moving the clay, changing the posture until the sculpture captures the essence of the bird in my mind’s eye.

clay sculpture for bronze

Stage 3 & 4

  • Once completed, the clay is taken to the foundry where master craftsmen and women reproduce the sculpture using the lost wax process.
  • The patina, (acids and heat, which create colors in the finished bronze) are directed by me at the foundry to compliment the movement in the sculpture.

clay for bronze sculpturebronze sculpture ready for patina

Stage 5

  • The finale, “Observing Grace - Long Bill Curlew”

bird bronze sculpture

This piece it the perfect example of how most sculptures evolve. In observing the graceful image of their accent and landing I used artistic license to create an interpretive sculpture, full of movement and grace.

This sculpture was chosen for Birds in Art, the most prestigious International Birds in Art Exhibition held annually at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

*****

Ken Newman has been sculpting for over 30 years.  A self taught artist, Ken profoundly loves working in raw forms of wood as well as creating works in clay for bronze. His subjects range from animals to the figurative form.

Ken is an Elected Member of the National Sculpture Society, the Allied Artists of America and the Audubon Artists all of NYC.  He is also a Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists and the Artists for Conservation. He recently was selected as an Affiliate Member of the National Sculptors Guild.

*****

 Thank you to Ken for taking time to share his interesting sculpting process with us. ~Lori

You may also enjoy reading:

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Alla Prima Painting – The Process

About Lori McNee

Lori McNee is a professional artist who specializes in still life, and landscape oil paintings. She is an exhibiting member of Oil Painters of America, Plein Air Painters of Idaho, serves on the Plein Air Mag Board of Advisors, and is an Ambassador Artist to Royal Talens. As the owner of FineArtTips.com, Lori blogs about fine art tips, marketing, and social media advice for the aspiring and professional artist. As a social media influencer, Lori ranks as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter, has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and named a #TwitterPowerhouse by The Huffington Post. She is a keynote speaker, has been a talk show host for Plum TV, writes for F+W Media publications including Artist’s Magazine, Artist’s & Graphic Designer’s Market, Photographer’s Market. Also, Zero to 100,000: Social Media Tips & Tricks for Small Businesses.

Comments

  1. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!

  2. I saw on twitter from Ken that you interviewed him. One of my favorite sculptors and a great couple. Nice article.

  3. What a great resource!

  4. Thanks for your post

  5. This is beautiful work…so glad to have found you.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for Retweeting this post on Twitter, Natascha!

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