I was supposed to have a really social week…

If all was well and normal in the world, this week I would be at Reitz Ranch Center for the Ceramic Arts, teaching a figure building workshop that I was very excited about. I also recently found out that my July workshop at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts has been cancelled due to the corona virus pandemic as well. I’m very hopeful that both of these classes will be rescheduled in the future when we’re able to move around freely again. To those of you who planned on joining me during this workshop season, I sincerely thank you and hope that we have the chance to meet up soon!

For now, I thought I would share a little bit about my studio practice and how it influences my approach to teaching a figure building workshop. Most of my idea development starts in a sketchbook, or on scraps of paper that get taped in there eventually. The sketches are scribbly and messy and usually include some sort of text, in case I later have no idea what I intended with my drawing. This is an example of sketches that are influencing a piece I’m currently working on in the studio (I’ll post some images of her when she’s further along):

One of the most important studio practices for me is when these 2D sketches get translated into 3D sketches, or maquettes. I can’t even overstate my love for maquette making. It allows me to alter a composition, plan a surface treatment, play with color and problem solve. Sometimes the idea that I have for a piece works well in my head, but just doesn’t transfer from my brain to a 2D sketch. Or, I have a really specific vision in a sketch and it doesn’t work the same way in a 3D form. Making the maquette helps me figure out what I need to change in order to create something engaging without pouring hours into a full-size sculpture that I would have ended up scrapping.

There are times when I don’t end up changing very much between the maquette and the final sculpture, but I’ve also completely altered the path of a piece just because I have the advantage of a small model that I can manipulate quickly. In some cases, a maquette has helped me decide that a sculpture would work better as a wall piece.

Surface is admittedly one of the last things that I tend to address in a sculpture. Sometimes it ends up playing a big role in the narrative of the piece. Having a miniature model to play with surface loosely has led to some solutions that I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to just test out on a larger work.

In this case, I knew that the surface was going to be very intricate, and planning out how it would lay on the piece was an essential way that I used the maquette.

Some of these guys have lived with me in the studio for years before I decide to turn them into a finished piece, and some of them still live with me in miniature form, hoping to get my attention some day.

If we were together in a workshop today, we’d be filling the tabletops with little maquettes. I love seeing their gestural little forms, filled with potential. I wish you all productive and happy social distancing in your studios, and I hope I get to see you sometime soon!