I have recently finished a couple of busts of my children. The one pictured above is of Gabriel when he was about 14 months old. The second is of my daughter Marie Neige at about 10 months. Children grow very quickly and go through many physical changes. It is a fascinating study for a portrait artist to follow these developments that evolve yet not completely transform the underlying likeness.
The sculptures were completed from life over time with the aid of numerous drawings. However, most of the work was done from memory. Instead of posing the Gabriel and Neige, which is practically impossible considering their age, I studied and sketched them creating frontal, 3/4 and profile drawings. The busts were blocked in using water based clay and I would work on them in the afternoons after spending the mornings with Gabriel or Neige. My extensive experience and training in Sight size has only strengthened my visual memory. Darren Rousar’s excellent book on the subject goes a bit more into my process. You can find his book here.
As a result these works do not just record a moment in time but capture, in a very small way, its passage. That is very evident in the marble bust of Gabriel due to the lengthy process required to carve it. The final piece is very different from the initial plaster model and even more different than his actual physical presence at the time of its completion. That will be the subject of a future post.