An older man sat in a chair when I came into the studio today. When he saw my sculpture, his face seemed to say what the frack. He said something like "We're going to talk today about how the different parts work toward the whole. That way you won't end up with spaghetti arms and legs." I asked if he was Barney and he said yes, so I introduced myself. "This is my first time ever doing a sculpture."
"Well it's not mine," he laughed. His handshake was warm and firm.
He then told me that it wasn't a bad job for a first time.
I let him know that I wasn't supposed to be present, that I wasn't supposed to start until next week. "What is this "supposed to" stuff?" Then he dismissed such nonsense with a wave of his hand.
"How do I soften the clay?"
"Tear it down and start over. Sometimes it helps to do that to your art. Makes you and the work stronger. Art is about action. Just like life. Sometimes it's all about the mistakes." After a beat, "Sounds like my sex life."
So I pulled hard chunks off my armature, and then began placing fresh pieces of clay bit by bit. Every now and then Barney offered advice to someone in the class. "You might want to make that ear smaller" or "Come over here and look at this piece of muscle. See how it connects" or "The lats are the widest part of the body."
And he'd entertain us with anecdotes every once in a while.
To me: "Don't get lost back there. Get closer to the model. Don't be afraid. No one here bites." and "Don't work too long on one piece. When the model turns work on something else. You don't want one part of the body to take over. You're working from the top down, try working from the bottom up."
I felt more confident and not as much in my head as the previous class. The model still fascinated me, but his last day of the month is today. We'll have a new model starting next week who will be around until the end of the month.
I tore up my two-hour sculpture to be prepared for the new subject.
See you next week, Barney. Bottoms up!