Sculpture Methods - Old and New

This life size, terra cotta portrait bust was completed several years ago. I'm posting it as an example of my work in this medium for a fellow painter who has begun sculpting.
As we discussed, there have been many improvements in mold making and casting in recent years.Things are a lot easier now with rubber, latex molding products.

I thought you'd be interested in seeing the"old method" of plaster casting I was taught by Willard Hirsch while I apprenticed with him in the late 1970's.

Here Mr. Hirsch is seen critiquing my work on a portrait bust at my studio in Mt. Pleasant.

First the completed sculpture is fitted with brass shims and a plaster slurry is thrown onto the model to capture details.

After the plaster mold has been built up to the desired thickness and allowed to dry, it's removed from the original model.

The pieces of the mold are reassembled and wet clay is pressed into the mold to make the final sculpture.

When this pressed form has dried, the pieces of the mold are taken apart and the newly formed damp clay head is allowed to dry.

After drying, it's kiln fired to harden and a patina is applied, if desired.
(See mounted portrait bust at beginning of posting.)

The whole mold making/casting process took anywhere from a week to two, depending on how thick the plaster cast had been made and how long the clay took to dry. The same piece mold could be used to make a plaster cast to be sent to a foundry for bronze casting also.

The process is so much easier these days. But the creative work of capturing a form and likeness in clay remains as challenging as ever.

I agree with you that sculpting adds to an artist's understanding of form and improves painting skill as well.

Best wishes for much success in your new art form.

Willard N. Hirsch-Charleston Sculptor 1905-1982

This is Willard N. Hirsch standing by a maquette of his statue "Cassique of the Kiawah" in his Queen Street Studio in Charleston in 1979.

He was a contemporary of the artists William Halsey and Corrie McCallum in the Charleston arts community from 1944-1982. Mr. Hirsch studied at the Beaux Arts Institute and the National Academy of Design in New York City during the 1930's. He returned to his native city of Charleston and completed numerous public and institutional sculpture projects in SC from 1942 until his death in 1982.

His works are included in the collections of Brookgreen Gardens, The SC State Museum,The Gibbs Museum of Art, Clemson University, The SC State University, The College of Charleston, The City of Charleston ( White Point Gardens and The Gaillard Auditorium), Charleston County Public Library System, Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, Ashley Hall School, and the SC National Guard (bas-relief sculptures on Armory buildings statewide) to name a few.

For many years, he worked and taught out of his Queen Street studio in Charleston.

His sculpture lessons for children progressed from modeling a snail out of rolled and coiled clay, to modeling a turtle and finally an elephant figure in plasticine.
Mr. Hirsch taught anatomical accuracy in these lessons being sure that the snails shell coiled in the correct direction and the pattern on the turtle shell was true to life. His amusing stories brought smiles to his young students faces and life to his figures.

One of his best known and loved works is the"Little Dancer" on the Battery at White Point Gardens.

Another favorite work is his bronze stature, "The Falling Angel" which used to be on display in front of the Gibbs Museum of Art Gallery School, where he taught for several years with William Halsey and Corrie McCallum before the three artists formed their own private art school, The Charleston School of Art for instruction in drawing, painting, and sculpture.

I had the privilege of working for Mr. Hirsch as his studio assistant from 1979 to 1981.

Mr. Hirsch taught me modeling portraits and figures from life in clay and plasticine, armature construction, plaster casting, along with many great stories.

He was a world class story teller, as anyone who had the good fortune to know him will agree. There was never a day he wouldn't greet his clients with a smile and a great story.

His unique personality and talent remain with us in his many impressive works and in the memory of those who knew him. There hasn't been another sculptor in modern Charleston to match his accomplishments.

Pastel Sketch - Piccolo Spoleto Art Show

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Here's a pastel I did of the show today. I'm using it as a reference for a Piccolo Spoleto Festival oil painting.

Today's my B'day so I think I'll celebrate today and paint tomorrow.

Piccolo Spoleto Artwork in Marion Square

Another busy day at the Piccolo Spoleto Art Show in Marion Square.

Exhibiting artists Chris Ritsch and Ray Davenport stay cool during a break from showing their paintings to collectors.

Chris Ritsch, a veteran of many previous Piccolo shows, displays her award winning style.Chris has won several Piccolo awards thru the years, including two "Mayor's Choice" Purchase Awards.

Arts festivals are great places to people watch.I made some interesting sketches today which I'm using in a couple of new paintings. (Click here to see a pastel sketch).

Piccolo Spoleto Art Exhibit and SpoletoTea Room

Information on newer 2008 Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto Events may be found by clicking the art categories "Piccolo Spoleto Festival art" and "Spoleto Festival USA" in the sidebar to the right of this page. Thought you might be interested.

Some of the 2007 show artists await the judge's decision at the Piccolo Spoleto Art Exhibition in Marion Square on opening day this afternoon.

The award winners are congratulated after the awards presentation by Mayor Joe Riley and the exhibition staff members this afternoon.
Pictured is a high school art classmate of mine who won 2en place honors, Anne Hightower Patterson. Way to go, Anne. Mrs. Bolton is smiling down on you.

Artist Bonnie Stabler won a Merit Award.

Artist Floyd Gordon was awarded an Honorable Mention for his acrylic painting on paper "Magnolia Gardens". Mr. Gordon has been juried into the last 27 consecutive Piccolo Festival Art Exhibitions.

Rick Reinert won an award of merit for his oil painting, "Doyle Gallery, Broad Street". Rick's a member of COPA. I've had a chance to see him paint en plein air.

Michel McNinch won an honorable mention with her oil painting "Low Tide".

I hope the weather stays as great as it was today- cool, sunny with a light breeze. Perfect weather to enjoy an outdoor Arts Festival. If you can make it to Charleston in the next seventeen days, this is one event you'll want to see.

I'm showing two large oil paintings across the street in an exhibit at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church. The Charleston Artist Guild is exhibiting artwork as part of St. Matthew's Spoleto Tea Room and Art Exhibition thru June 3ed.

Please come by to see the artwork and enjoy afternoon tea. St. Matthew's Church is across from Marion Square at 403 King Street. Tea, other drinks, finger sandwich plates, and homemade desserts will be served from 1pm-5pm. May 25-June 3.

"Charleston Farmers Market"

This is the painting I'm working on this morning. In this "Charleston Market" painting, I'm boosting the color and using a "Colorist" technique to give the painting a sense of the activity and excitement of the busy crowd in the market.

I'm taking a break from painting to run down to the same location ( Marion Square) to see the opening day artwork of Spoleto Festival, USA and Piccolo Spoleto Festival. More about all the exciting artistic (performing arts, music,visual arts, and more) events later. Off to see what's happening in this wonderful 2 week long International Festival of Creative Arts-Spoleto Featival USA.

"Charleston Farmers Market"
Oil on cradled wood panel
Size: 11" x 14"
Price: $375.00

Jalapeno and Hot Sauce - "Hot Stuff"

I recently made tacos for dinner. The bright colors and spicy flavors of the ingredients made a good meal and I think, an interesting painting.

This is a postcard size (4"x 6") oil painting on a wood panel. Bright colors, Spicy flavors. The title of this painting is definitely, "Hot Stuff".
In the collection of Mr. Fred Jenkins.

"Sweet Season" for Strawberry and Cantaloupe

The fresh strawberries this year are the biggest I've ever seen. The strawberry in the painting was the size of a small plum and twice as sweet. So was the cantaloupe.

This is a postcard size (4"x6") oil painting on a wood panel. I've just finished both the fruit and painting. Both gave me great satisfaction. The title of this one, "Sweet Season".

Price: $75.00.

Sunlit Geranium A La Impressionism

"Sunlit Geranium"
Oil on canvas panel
Image size: 8.5"x 11.5"
Framed in gold leaf: 14"x 17"
Price: $225.00

I enjoy painting the first flowers of spring. I used bold, loose brush strokes to give the "impression" of the warm breeze and bright sunlight I felt while painting this early blooming geranium.

Charleston "Haint Blue" Shutters

The Gullah culture in the Lowcountry at one time believed that painting the openings to homes sky blue would keep bad spirits (Haints) out. They believed if a spirit came to a house in the night and saw the sky blue color, it would think the sun was coming up and leave.

This folk custom can be seen in the color of the sky blue shutters on this historic house in Charleston today.

I painted this plein air painting on a brilliantly clear afternoon. The sun reflecting off the white building was blinding and in stark contrast with the beautiful, cool blue of the shutters and sky.

The crisp edges and sharp angles of the building add drama to this 14"x11" oil painting.

" A Charleston Child"

I used a light touch and high key palette of colors in this portrait of a fair haired Charleston Child. The subject of the portrait, Miss Ella comes from a family of many southern beauties (see June 3 posting, "Summer Breeze" a portrait of Miss Maura). I'm glad to have painted the girls in this stage of life.

"Charleston Child"
Pastel on paper

11" x 14"

Price: Sold

A painting of "A Walk To The Beach"

My young son and mother used to love going to the beach only minutes away.

Both are older now than I have portrayed them in this painting which brings back many happy memories.

The Charleston area has many barrier islands with wonderful beaches. The Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Folly Beach, Kiawah and Seabrook Island are all popular places to live and visit in the Lowcountry.

Price: SOLD

A Plein Air painting of Roof Tops along St. Michaels Alley

This is a plein air painting of the roof line along St. Michael's Alley. The loose brush strokes and sketchy treatment of the composition gives the painting a nice feeling of spontaneity.

The painting has been bought by a couple who live downtown and often pass this spot during their evening walks.

Charleston is a wonderful city for walking. Many residents and visitors walk the tree shaded streets as a way of seeing the "sights" and relaxing

Price: SOLD

Night Painting by Moonlight

Moonlight on Church Street"

Charcoal and pastel

Dimensions: 18" x 12"
Price: $250.00

It was challenging to paint with the Charleston Outdoor Painters Asso. (COPA) tonight (May 1, 2007) on Church St. in the dark. I decided to create a tonal painting using a limited range of charcoal and pastel.

The moon rose about 10 PM making this interesting composition at the corner of Church and Chalmers St. I think the finished painting gives a sense of the quiet and calm of this busy street corner late at night. I call it "Midnight" since that's when I finished painting.

Other COPA night owls are Lisa Willits ,Caryn Smith, and Margie Connell. All the painters agreed that night painting requires good lighting of both subject and canvas. Night painting is a unique challenge but not without it's rewards.

Lisa and Caryn painted in the street using the hood of Caryn's white jaguar car for supplies. I was amazed she didn't end up with paint on her beautiful white car in the dark, but she's a pro and didn't miss a stroke off her canvas. Lisa was so well organized she was able to fit all her painting gear on the back of her bike which she rode from her home in Ansonbourgh.

Portrait of Tyler

Here is the finished portrait commission of Tyler, a handsome young man with a happy smile and a slightly quizzical look.

I used Judith
Carducci's "under painting" with a pastel wash technique in the first stage of the portrait. (See postings from April 11 and 19 that describe Judith's work). This added a brightness to the color intensity of the finished painting.

Although I wasn't sure how the flag background would work when it was requested, I now think it adds color and interest to the final portrait.

I'm glad I was able to finish the painting in time for it to be a special Mothers Day gift.

Price: SOLD