The Making of Gringolet: part 2

The finished maquette.

There are thirty separate parts that make up the maquette, including the bars and cams at the back of it.

Of course there is none of the stretch and compression of real flesh. The card is unyielding. This is what I celebrate in the maquettes by frequently showing their angularities and segmentations in the paintings I make, but also fight against by finding ever-increasingly ingenious ways to make plausible movement. I both celebrate the flattening out and awkwardness, and continue to tinker with it, to extend the possibilities of the maquettes, and it’s probably the tension between these two that pleases me most. I want them to be real and not real at the same time. Convincing, and unconvincing. Puppets are always at their best when they are being puppets, and not getting too close to being the real things they imitate.

It’s complicated. But then all the best things are!

And the technique really comes into its own in my search for expressive movement.

8 thoughts on “The Making of Gringolet: part 2

  1. I already feel strangely protective toward our young Sir Gawain and his noble steed, knowing the perils they face. I think it is because you have stripped them both bare of many of the accoutrements we normally see in depictions of Arthurian tales. By doing this, you have shown us their humanity, as well as their fragility, and with this you make them real and not just characters out of a storybook.

  2. So true, what Maria says, there that quiet space at the Artlog for simple appreciation and just letting it be what it is, without saying anything, if that makes sense.

    However, if anyone can make a horse move, then it is you, Clive. After the Mari Lwyd and Dark Movements series, Gringolet has a hard act to follow. But he has yet to meet the Green Knight. I would love to see the other side of the maquette, with its sliding cams and levers. In fact, that might make a good post, if you compare it with the Mari Lwyd/skeleton maquette, the “other side of the maquettes”.

    I like the combination of the textured marks of the chain mail combined with the spots on the horse, and the heraldic tulips on the breastplate, it all becomes a bit abstract at first glance, before the eyes sort it out, and I like that about it.

    • Janet, I really like your idea of an ‘Other Side of the Maquettes’ post! I must see if I can manage it. But as I’ve explained to another ‘commenter’ here, I make the backs of the maquettes from black card, and moreover some of the workings get sandwiched between layers of components, and so not even an inspection of the backs of them will always yield an understanding of the mechanics. I have tried to photograph the backs for other enquirers, but have ended up with images of black blobs.

      The other thing that came home forcibly only yesterday, is that I improvise all these mechanics as I’m making. There’s never ever a master plan. I just feel my way through the processes. I have to take the paper prototypes apart to re-make them on rendered card, and increasingly even I find it difficult to successfully put them back together again afterwards, just simply because of how abstract all these bits of paper become when separated and laid out flat.

      But I take your point, and I shall think about whether it can be managed in any way that would be helpful or would make sense.

      I also like your last point, the one about the abstraction. That’s always my goal, so thank you for the thumbs-up!

  3. I think of all of the great horses of art – especially of Caravaggio’s St. Paul and Stubb’s steeds – and how hard it must be to paint a REAL horse – one that breathes and seethes and stomps and sleeps standing. How different Gringolet is already from the Mari! Amazing that even in your puppets they do all those real things in preparation for making dream reality. Thrilling watching Gringolet come alive. It will be so interesting to see and feel the stretch and compression of flesh you you sally forth to paint. A big whinny of pleasure here.

    • Dear Jeffery. Caravaggio and Stubbs! You name great men. By comparison I’m a kid in a playground chalking a potato with sticks stuck into it onto a wall, and naming it ‘horse’! But I thank you for the honour.

  4. I don’t doubt it is hard, to make the dream and the flesh reality coexist in your maquettes and in your drawings, and in your paintings,
    But you succeed Clive !
    One looks at all these images you show us, and one remembers, and smells, and hears the gallops of real horses and of the horses of one’s dreams.
    Thank you

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