building a new maquette: 4

The new maquette is finished. I’ve made a number of spare parts for him… various heads and extra hands… so that he’ll be versatile as a studio aid. (The extra hands are hidden on swivelling bars behind the forearms, so that I can switch them quickly when positioning the maquette.) I wasn’t thinking of a particular character while I was making him, but I’m pretty sure now that he’s the blind saint from Brittany, Hervé.

So I’m back in the world of boys and their wolves, and I’m already at work on a series of new compositions.

My last Hervé works were this painting…

… and this drawing, both produced in 2011.

So, on to new work.

21 thoughts on “building a new maquette: 4

  1. Quite surprised when I locate and view an artist with the freshness of perspective that you have developed as a painter. I am still at the point of taking an idea of a character and then creating some type of end product-puppet-doll-painting a backdrop. (that is the best of what I call the place where the character is emerging from?) thanks for a good web page on art. atk

  2. There are worse places to be than a world of pretty boys and wolves.
    I like his face, you seemed to have tweaked his a hair a bit which I like so well. Gives the saint a timeless quality, whereas his previous coif was of a defined period. He is a beauty, obviously well crafted.

    Eager to see what he inspires.LG

    • I strive to keep the style of the figures neutral, but sometimes some fashionable element sneaks in. So yes, I changed his hair. This cut could be from the present or the the middle ages, and is all the better for that.

      I’m glad you think him a beauty.

  3. It is wonderful in all kinds of narrative art how characters manifest themselves suddenly and stand in expectancy. I look forward to more Hervé. He’s such an emblematic figure, moving in a world of darkness, looking for light. And of course he fits right into your boy and dog mythology thread… I like the way he is transfigured in part because the dog has to die and be transformed into something larger and wilder–an unleashed power.

    • Just working away in the studio today to get stuff out of my head. Not thinking about competitions, or awards, or even selling what I make. But your blog this morning has made me think about the nature of what it is to be a writer, or poet, or painter, or any other of the words creative people apply to themselves. Interestingly, none of the answers I come up with have anything at all to do with what others think, or which of my work will be seen.

      I guess you and I, Marly, are too busily involved with the making to be thinking about vying competitively with with our peers. I’m not competitive by nature, and I refuse to be made so by individuals or organisations whose currency is that of prizes and awards. I’m happiest when steering clear of such things.

      Love to the ‘snow village’!

  4. He’s really beautiful. You must be very pleased with him. Such a lovely, soulful face and I love the jacket. I’m sure you’ve explained this elsewhere, so please forgive my lack of time to go back and look for it, but what kind of material is he painted and drawn on? A thick card of some sort?

    • Over the years I’ve evolved a process that works for me, and this is it.

      I don’t like assembling maquettes from too heavy a card, and yet the figures require enough weight not to flop about when I’m working with them as compositional aids in the studio. (They usually end up blu-tacked to a wall, regularly moved around to find all their compositional potential.) So I use two layers, each about the weight of the kind of card you get in a greetings-card. One white, and one black.

      I roughly draw out the many parts of the maquette on the white card. I’ve been doing this for so long now that I know without thinking how much overlap is needed and where to put all the articulations.There are few details at this stage, as I’m looking to find the overall form of the figure and its potential for movement. I cut out the shapes, carefully marking each with ‘F’ on the front and ‘B’ on the back, and lay them on a board to check that everything overlaps and works as I envisage. The labelling is essential, as the shapes are often almost unrecognisable out of context, and many of them are similar.

      I might draw in some more details at this point, to find the character, but it’s all pretty rough still.

      I glue all the parts to a large sheet (or sheets) of the black card. At this point I have to be quite ordered as there are many pieces in a maquette. I place them to make a kind of ‘exploded’ version of the figure, so I know exactly how all the parts relate to each other. (There are about forty pieces in this one, including the levers and extra hands hidden behind it.)

      With all the white card glued securely onto the black, I now paint the shapes in whatever colour I plan. (I use acrylic paint, and always the ‘Golden’ brand.) In this case the skin is white, and everything else is a blue/turquoise that I mixed. The base colour painting is done quite quickly and roughly, with the paint going over the edges of the white card shapes.

      When dry, I begin drawing in the details, shading etc. Recently I’ve been rendering in black Polychromos pencil, but in the past I’ve often worked in paint.

      Finally I begin the work of cutting and assembling. I work my way through the shapes methodically, cutting only the parts I need as I go. This way the ‘exploded plan’ continues to be my guide as to what goes where. (If I cut everything out before I started, it would be a horribly confusing jigsaw-puzzle.)

      I use tiny paper-craft ‘brads’ to make the joints, but I attach them from behind, so that the front of the maquette isn’t peppered with the heads of the brads. I play for a few moments/minutes with each coupling-point, swivelling the pieces until I find the perfect axis. Then, pinching the two elements firmly together, I push with a small bradawl from behind so that the point gives me indentations as location-guides on the backs of both shapes without actually perforating either. I collar the ‘brad’ by pushing it through a hole made in a small square of card, smear wood glue to the side of the square where the head is held, and secure the brad where it’s required. When dry, the ‘arms’ of the brad are on the back of the first card shape, sticking up ready to receive the second. Using the bradawl ‘indent’ guide, I perforate the second shape, slip it over the brad arms, and press them back to hold the shape in place. The two shapes are held securely at the pivot point, though from the front you can’t see it. Sleight of hand.

      Hope that helps.

      • What an extraordinary natural teacher you are, Clive, to give such a detailed and methodical description. It was far more than I expected and I hope I didn’t intrude on too much of your time. Thank you for feeding my insatiable curiosity 🙂

        • Happy to be of help. I find producing directions is a good writing exercise for me. I originally started this blog back in 2009 to help me improve my writing skills, because I was worried about having agreed to produce a autobiographical chapter for the Lund Humphries monograph about my work that was due out in 2011. The plan worked, and I was a lot more confident by the time I was ready to embark on the chapter.

          So don’t apologise for asking me to practice my writing skills. I’m happy to do so. I also love to see how people respond to making maquettes, and then use them in their work. There are a few ‘Artloggers’ who now regularly and quite brilliantly make and use maquettes as their studio aids, and I love to see how the process has helped move their craft forward.

          • Wonderful! I’m still a little unclear about why the heads of the brads are not visible from the front. They must be sandwiched between white and black card layers? I’ll re-read your instructions tomorrow. Thanks Clive.

            • Here’s an image of the back of a maquette element, showing a cuffed brad attachment. This example is on medium-weight white watercolour paper as it’s quite a small maquette. So the brad head is sandwiched, though just by the use of a small square of paper glued to the reverse of the maquette.

              Heres another link to a post that shows a maquette in its ‘raw’ state, before painting and assembling. The maquette illustrated is made in paper, as this was before I evolved the technique of working in two layers of white and black card.

              I haven’t explained why I now use two layers of card, with black on the reverse. The technique helps identify the back and front of the maquette elements throughout the process of making. In the past I frequently picked up a piece and started rendering the wrong side of it. This can really mess up the finished maquette, and after having made many time-consuming errors, I evolved the idea of black on the back. Also, when I’ve made up the sheet of the pre-cut white card maquette elements glued onto the black card in an ‘exploded’ form, I find the strong contrasts help me identify any anomalies of shape. It’s often at this stage that I can better spot errors, or things that could be improved by finessing.

  5. **swoons**
    wow, a blue wolf?? i can’t wait to see him, that will be gorgeous…
    is it suppertime there yet? i will have to do some math…
    i can’t believe those paintings are from 2011, surely time hasn’t moved that fast? what’s happening?? 😛

  6. He looks terrific, the hands are marvellous – good to see this maquette take shape and to hear that a blue wolf in under way; I’m a big, big fan of your ‘Hold’ painting, so excited to see where this new work might lead!

    • Thank you, Lynne. We’ll see where this one goes. Even as I type there’s a new ‘blue’ wolf maquette lying in many pieces on my work-desk. When the paint is dry I’ll start working fur and musculature in black pencil, and with luck and a following wind, I may have him completed by supper-time.

      I see you have a fox on the go in your studio! Yesterday morning I saw one crossing our garden, no more than a reddish shadow in the early morning light. No wonder my dog has been taking a great interest down there.

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