A few simple tips and tricks to help you evaluate your artwork
I’m a firm believer that when sculpting you should from time to time step back and take a different look at your art. If you stare at the same thing for too long of a period of time, it can become easy to overlook minor and sometimes major mistakes within your artwork. There are several different tools or methods that I use to evaluate my art when I am sculpting.
1. Use a mirror – I’ve already discussed this one in great detail in a previous lesson. If you have missed it you can read about it here.
2. Turn the sculpture upside down – look at the sculpture from a different angle. A lot of symmetry mistakes will become noticeable when you evaluate your art from a different point of view.
3. Step back and look at the sculpture from different angles – I like to step back about three to six feet from my sculptures and look at them from different angles (sit low looking up at the sculpture, stand high looking down on the sculpture, look at the sculpture from the right and left, etc). I’ll sculpt a little and step back and fix any issues that may pop up. I constantly do this while I sculpt.
4. Use a camera – Take pictures of you artwork and evaluate what your art looks like from a picture. I highly recommend a digital camera in this case so that you can quickly and inexpensively evaluate your art. Sometimes a piece will look good to me from the naked eye but when I look at a picture of it, I sometimes find things that need changing. I don’t always necessarily find flaws but I may find something that I just do not like about the sculpture.
5. Take a break – If you have been putting a lot of time into the same piece then I recommend that you either stop sculpting for a day or tow or work on something else (I prefer to work on a different piece). It usually takes me over 100 hours to complete a piece so by the time I finish something I’m usually spent. Sculpting more than one piece at a time usually helps me keep my ideas fresh. The key is to avoid overextending yourself. Right now I am sculpting three different pieces and have ideas for several more. Three is my limit if I want to complete any of these pieces. I’ll just right down my ideas for future projects for the time being and will begin to work on them as I complete my current pieces.
Tying it all together
In conclusion I do not think it is important to use just one of these techniques, I think it is important to use just about all of them. You may not always be able to turn a sculpture upside down but there is no reason why you can’t look at it in a mirror. In my office, where I do 99.9% of my sculpting, I keep a mirror on my desk, a small chair to look at the sculpture from different angles, a digital camera by my side and one or two other sculptures at hands length.
Lately I have become more religious about using just about all of these techniques. It really is heart breaking to spend 100’s of hours finishing a piece, hold it up to a mirror or step back and realize that the face is fatter on one side or the eyes are crooked (been there, done that). As an artist I am always pushing myself to become better at my craft and these are really simple tips that I believe are helping me become a better sculptor.