It should be no surprise to anyone that has dabbled in clay and wax that sculpting is a very time consuming project. There may be some artist out there that can whip out masterpieces in a flash but for us mere mortals most projects require a vast amount of hours from their inception to their completion. As with any activity that demands a huge investment of your time, it’s easy to get lost in the mistakes. I am also guilty of spending countless hours working on a section of my art only to find out later that the symmetry is off or that the design is just too stale.
Sometimes the best approach for tackling a big project is to know when you need to set aside some distance with it. I’ve found that if I spend too much time on one area of my sculpture that I sometimes get lost in it and my eyes can no longer see the mistakes. Due to my schedule, most of my sculpting can take me into the late midnight hours so I’m already at a disadvantage with tired eyes before I even begin. For this reason I’ve found, although fail to put into practice form time to time, that it is best to jump around the sculpture instead of becoming fixated with one section of it. However, no matter how much jumping around I do there are times that I need to set the sculpture aside and revisit it with what I call “fresh eyes”.
“Fresh eyes” is a term that I use for evaluating my art after I’ve spent some time away from it. In most cases I only need to step away for a few hours up to a day but there are those times when more than a day of separation is needed. I’ve personally found that when I distance myself from my art that it is easier to pick up on the design flaws or symmetry errors with the piece. Now there are times when I need to recruit the opinion of another trusted source but 8 times out of 10 my own eyes will tell the truth when I revisit the piece. When you think about it we used the same concept when we took exams in school. Most of us were encouraged, when time permitted, to go over the questions again just in case we made a mistake on the first pass. Sculpting, in many ways, is a lot like that exam. You can easily get caught up in a rhythm and that is where mistakes can potentially rear their ugly head. It is only when step away and break the pattern that you realize that the path you are on is not aligned with your goal.
Keep in mind that the idea of using “fresh eyes” does not insure that you will make a mistake free sculpture; it only helps you make the best sculpture that you can at your current level. As artist we are, or should be, trying to constantly grow and become better at our craft. The creations that we are pleased with today may be little embarrassments to our future selves however that is part of the growth process. I honestly believe that when we push ourselves and use techniques that force us to become better artist, we shorten the amount of time that it takes us to become masters of our craft.
All the best.