For Marianne, sculpting is drawing in three dimensions.
I bend the armature to express the gesture of the pose. Then, I apply enough plastilina clay to create the bulk and gesture of the body. Using the largest clay tools I can for the size of the figure, I carve out the contours, with attention to the relative sizes and direction of parts and the negative shapes between parts. The sculptors in my weekly group move around the model in the center of the room as needed to complete different views of the pose As I switch to smaller tools to express the subtleties of contracted muscles, curled fingers and curved nose, the ‘drawing in clay’ gets more refined.
What results is a classic life sculpture specific to that person, a unique individual, awaiting immortalization in bronze. The bronzes are expressive and intimate because they are particularized, just as people become more known to us the longer we are with them.
Sculpting from life allows me to fully express the beautifully diverse female form.
When I got invited to organize a life sculpting group at a friend’s studio in 2008, I jumped at the opportunity and after a year, and my sculpture career began with four pieces.
I have drawn from the live model regularly in life drawing groups for thirty years. Relying primarily on contour and negative spaces to express the shapes, I've learned to express on paper what that model presented, rather than an ideal form. Moving from 2D to 3D proved relatively easy — it was “drawing in clay”. My decades long experience with ‘seeing’ served me well.
It is "knowing" that most often interferes with seeing what is actually before us – if that knowing can be discarded, the foreshortened arm, the hand, the foot, the head, all become a series of shapes to be recorded without preconception or judgment.
Cast at Shidoni Foundry in Santa Fe, the first pieces were mounted on multi-colored granite as seen in the enlargements. More recent castings now sit on the surface without a base (or a base can be fabricated). All standing sculptures are mounted on black granite bases. Customization of presentation is available - just imagine, and then ask!
These were two prolific sculpture years. Generally, pieces take 6 months from building the armature to the finished work. I do "cast only" at Madd Casting in Berthould, CO, preferring the control that making the original clay and then the wax, gives me. My molds are made by Bryan Honeycutt, who also chases, patinaes and mounts the work. I have learned most of what I know about the wax-making and dressing process from him.
The Honest Women Series - 2010
"I make sculpture to express the special beauty of imperfect and unique individuals. In a culture where the ideal body is so idolized that many starve themselves, work out obsessively, and undergo surgery to achieve society's concept of perfection, the simple beauty of real women goes uncelebrated. I work to celebrate the diversity of that beauty."
Casting multiples from a mold, I have generally worked in Plastilina, an oil-based clay that stays pliable, and can be finished after the initial 5 hours of work from life in a studio setting. Gesture and general musculature can be captured in the initial work. I can and does use photographs to capture details of a pose that I want to cast.
I also prefer to make my own waxes, because I like the opportunity to improve on the first one. True to original multiple works of any sort, some slight and subtle variation appears in each replication of a sculpture. The mold becomes successively worn; each wax varies some depending on the season it is made, and the wax used; time spent and tools used vary from piece to piece, the nature of the run at the foundry, etc.. Thus, the 12th of an edition is as original as the 1st."
In January 2012, Marianne completed her 13th piece, Awakening. At 6' tall and 120 pounds, the model presented a wonderful challenge to her , with the final piece elegantly expressing her particular beauty.
May brought the release of Expectation, embodying the excitement and uncertainty of the future life of many young expectant women.
A Loving Couple
Celebration, a commissioned sculpture of a couple very close to celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, was unveiled in October of 2013, about a year to the day of her meeting the subjects. What a wonderful experience she enjoyed — telephone communication after their purchase of Ruben's Muse, and after working out terms and a price for the commission, traveling to Seattle for photographing and measuring. The ensuing clay completed and approved via emailed photographs, Brian made a huge mold, and Marianne completed and dressed the first wax of the piece successfully. Off it went to Madd Casting in Colorado, and within a few months, the piece was completed, arms and legs (and heads) welded back, flaws repaired, sandblasted and patinaed.
Having continued to sculpt clays from life during most of the years of William's illness, Marianne chose one to cast and The Notebook was finished in fall of 2015. The model was a beautiful young dancer of Ukrainian heritage, whose parents fled the Russian repression of the Jews in the Ukraine in the early nineties. Nina grew up in Brooklyn and was a professional ballet dancer until enrolling in St. John’s College.
The Notebook was the first piece she had had cast since 2013. Though she continued to work from the model during the years of my husband's prolonged illness and subsequent passing, the circumstances precluded carrying anything further.
The model for "The Notebook " was a former dancer, a graduating senior from St. John's here in Santa Fe, and a lovely lively young woman. A first generation American (Ukrainian), and excellent model, she provided me opportunity to sculpt a number of works which may come to life as bronzes in the next few years. She was cast at Madd Castings Foundry.
The polished walnut base (the stone was too heavy) is 14.25L x 7.25w x 2"H. With the attached bronze the piece is 4.5" H.
"Twenty-Something" was unveiled this past spring and includes an animal, a cat, for the first time. Our young twenty-three-year-old model was in Santa Fe for a time, living with her friends out where I do, working part-time for a leather designer down the road, and modeling for artistst and life-drawing groups in town. A thoughtful young writer, she is collecting experiences and making it up as she goes. As an artist, I see the importance of her openness to all of the possibilities, especially as a young woman. She has moved on, to Austin I think...