Sunday, November 28, 2010

Student WiPs: Cartoon busts

Since the 3D class is a foundational course and most students come to me with very little advanced visual art understanding/technique, I try and give them a course that is explorative (is that even a word?) in nature.   They work with as many different types of materials/mediums as I can figure out of the budget but one of the most popular of all is when we work with clay.  We have a kiln and I used it last year but I'm still not great at it and hate using student work as "guinea pigs" that potentially become ruined because I don't know how to fire the kiln correctly. (But I am getting better and will be firing it up within the next few weeks.)  Anyway, I favor air-dry clay for the students and one of my favorite brands is called Boneware.  It comes in gray, white, and red but I always get the red because (I believe) it's usually the cheapest.

Before I came, they did clay egghead sculptures in the style of Robert Arneson.  It's a good inspiration to take and follow because the egg shape is simple enough and students can really explore the human expression of the face but after doing it one time around with the kids, it was clear that it wasn't enough.  The students wanted more room to do more heavily detailed work and I wanted to give them more creative freedom than what the egg shapes allowed.  Enter: claymation art.

I really brainstormed to come up with something that would not be overly unfair with regard to the students' limited/novice skillsets but still forced them to focus on the subtle details that lent themselves to facial expressions.  Human figure/form was out because it was a little too far out of what would have been fair to ask them to reach but then I got to thinking about cartoon characters.  They were mostly of simple shapes (to teach form) but still would require them to create facial expressions in order to properly bring the character to life.  And doing cartoons in bust-style was a fun take on the ol' classic of so many of the classic and legendary bust sculptures of so many in art history.  So I kicked the idea off in the Spring of last year and it went reasonably well but I learned from my mistakes (and the ones I let the students make) and really improved for this time around.  Bear in mind that these were sculpted and I gave them almost a full week to dry and they will be fully painted and detailed within the next week.

Materials and tools used included the following:
- Sculpture House Boneware clay
- Boxwood tools sculpting tools, class set
- Buckets of water at each table
- Small individual wooden platforms (these are rinsed/washed and reused every semester)
- Gallon storage bags with the slide zippers (one per student) and wet paper towels to keep the clay workable until the student was finished

I'll post pictures of the finished works in coming weeks but thought  it would be neat to show them in this state.

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