Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This and that and the other thing

I started my next Tarot Card. I've been working on the concept of it for a few weeks now. I finally sketched out the polar bear yesterday, in between painting another Buddha piece and twittering. For now the Buddha painting will remain hidden, as I'm re-working it and not satisfied enough to share...yet.

I also got a commission. Just a small one, for a replication of one of my dragons from my Dragon A Day project. Even if it's not a load of cash, it's nice to make another sale. I've about wiped out my funds and until I make some more sales I can't get my paintings imaged or purchase any more canvases. I still have one blank canvas left but I don't imagine that will last long.

To remedy this apparent dry spell I've been doing a lot of promotions on Twitter. Gotta admit, fabulous marketing tool. Besides the fact that my followership increases dramatically every week, I've been meeting some very cool and interesting people. I especially enjoy Elevensestime and the wonderful group of people who attend. In fact, that is where I met the woman who has commissioned me.

I haven't done any sculpting in ages, so it was particularly fun to get my hands on some Sculpey once again. She's not entirely done, as I still have to spray her and let her set for a bit...besides having to figure out shipping and packaging, but she's mostly done and I'm chuffed with the result.

Because a lot of people ask about how I do my sculpting I decided to document this particular project. I can't say exactly how long it took me as I was painting the background of the Magician at the same time (Gives me something to do whilst the paint dries) but I'd say it took me about an hour to make her.

First you get your Sculpey together. I use Sculpey, which is a brand name. Most people are familiar with Fimo. Fimo is the older of the two and essentially the same but I prefer Sculpey because it's always soft. Sculpey is ready to go when you are. The only problem can be when it's a bit too soft. In this case, the purple I was using was particularly gooey. It just means I have to leave it to rest for a bit after each stage, so it can cool from having been played with. The heat from my hands only adds to the softness so a few moments left untouched makes all the difference to firm it up.

Not to worry, neither Sculpey nor Fimo can fully harden until they are baked.

Next I get my body shape. I changed the shape of my dragons heads but the body is generally always the same. In the case of this one I was replicating a dragon I've already done, so I consulted photos of the original Lilla to get the correct shape.

Following that I add the tummy accent, in this case a strip of silver, and the hind legs. I have many variations for the hind legs of my dragons. Sometimes they have three toes, sometimes two. How I sculpt them really depends on the position the dragon is in. This is probably the most complicated leg design I do, when the dragon is turned on its side.
The front legs are quite a bit easier and they provide support for the head and neck. I've tried making my dragons with a wire frame but I find it simply doesn't work. The Sculpey doesn't stick to it and usually the wire actually ends up poking out and causing more damage than being helpful. I imagine it would be better with larger scale sculptures, but Lilla fits in the palm of my hand.
The wings are always fun. I developed my wings in my clay dragons and transferred the technique to Sculpey. The shape is key to having them stay attached. I always do a long curve and cut them so they look slightly folded. To get the duo colour scheme I roll out my interior colour first. I get the sculpey quite flat and then let it cool for a bit. I cut one wing and use that as a template for the next one. This way I have two the same size. Next I flatten out my primary colour and lay the two inner pieces on it. It's so important to lay them out opposite each other or you might end up with two left wings or two right wings. I've done this many times and it's simply frustrating.
After the wings are cut I gently go around the edges and nip them together with my fingers, so the two colours hold. The thing about Sculpey is it's quite adhesive to itself,especially when it's a bit warmer from being played with. I usually use my fingers to smooth and attach different sections, but occasionally a nice shaping tool is useful.
Attaching the wings is a delicate process. Not wanting them to collapse requires steady hands. I always attach them to the back of the dragon first, before shaping or positioning them how I want them. I smooth them down on the shoulder blade, usually with my finger. I will push the interior into the body of the dragon with a tool, especially as any tool marks usually won't be seen there.
Then I curl the wings so they appear to be folded in on her back.

The last step is the eyes. I use a ball of white and then whatever my colour choice is for the iris. In Lilla's case it's yellow.
Very important tip when using Sculpey : The darker colours tend to leave a stain on your fingers. Purple, blue, red and some of the greens will leave residue that will transfer to lighter colours like yellow or white. To avoid 'tinting' your lighter colours wash your hands between stages.
To make the pupil I take a small piece of black and roll it on my work surface. I roll it so it makes an itty 'snake' with the ends coming to points. Using my knife I cut off the two tips and push them into my iris. The last step is adding the eyebrows, which I sometimes blend in or build up so they appear spikier. I leave Lilla's 'raw'.

And voila! The 'finished' product.
Now I just need to bake her, spray her, pack her and ship her!
And if you would like custom shoes, paintings or a mask or if you like something I've already made and want to help me get more things imaged, please place an order! I have prints of most of my work available, I do custom shoes and of course, dragons.
My prints start for as little as $19.00 CAD. I just need to sell two prints to make enough to get something else imaged or to buy two new canvases. So not only will you get a really amazing, different and inspiring piece of art work to decorate your home or office, but you'll also have the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you've helped add to the creativity and energy of an independent artist.
And as usual, thank you for reading! *blows kisses*

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