Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Morning Head: Tom Waits

Tom Waits
I took up one of my first sculpture commissions of the year yesterday.  Just a few days after pulling Jerry Garcia out of the kiln,  A local woman wanted me to make a Tom Waits patio torch  for her son, a musician down in Athens, Georgia.  Now this is my kind of order.  At the close of last year, I sculpted quite a few musicians from the Jazz, Bluegrass, and
Rock and Roll worlds and I had hoped the trend would continue. Beyond just clay work, sculpting is for me an opportunity to commune with some very interesting folk.  Before getting into the clay,  I usually do a little research on the person, 
check out their career, watch a few of their videos, etc.  For that reason, having Tom Waits on the order board was pure pleasure (not to mention, he's got a great face!).

     The video I posted is a live performance of his "What is he building in there?"  Even in a concert hall with thousands of people, this tune still has the power to spook.    

A Little Back Story

What's with the name of this post, "The Morning Head"

Portrait Sculpting is usually something I only do early in the morning.  You could say it's my pre-dawn ritual.  By the time I finish my morning coffee, I'm usually done for the day.  I do this work in my little home studio before heading off to my "real" pottery shop down the road. 

 You sculpt a whole head in the time it takes you to drink a cup of coffee?  No way.
Pretty much.  But you have to understand, this is not the kind of formal sculpture you would learn in art school. This 
is more street level, gypsy wagon stuff.  One motto for my work might be, "I may not be good, but at least I'm quick."(note to self:  good t-shirt idea.).  Anyway, there is some truth there that explains a lot about this work and what it means to me.

Ok,so how do you do it?

Unlike traditional sculpting where an image is rendered from a solid block of clay, I sculpt from the inside out starting with a wheel thrown clay dome.  Working this way I'm able to render an expressive caricature of a person in an hour or so. The process itself is very fluid.

So what's so important about speed?

Well, just as with pen and ink caricature work, the brevity of the process makes it possible for me to be prolific.....and topical with my subject.  I find that as the sculpture process becomes rhythmic, my creative voice more strongly emerges.  With this process, I'm going after expressive portraits that capture the essence of somebody.  Static realism is not my thing. 

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