Honorable Mention at the Oak Park Art League

The Slavic Girl, oil on linen, 50cm x 70cm
The Slavic Girl, oil on linen, 50cm x 70cm

A bit of good news.  My painting “The Slavic Girl” received an Honorable Mention at the Oak Park Art League’s Artist Member’s Exhibit.  If you happen to be in the area please stop by and check it out.  A link for more information can be found here.  My sculpture bust of Richard Serrin is also in the show.

Richard Serrin, terracotta, life-size
Richard Serrin, terracotta, life-size



A Work in Progress

Gabriel, bronze, life-size(at 9 months)
Gabriel, bronze, life-size(at 9 months)

A little living masterpiece, Gabriel has been my ‘not always so willing’ model for the last 2 years.  I have been following his development with a series of sculptures.  It is quite amazing the anatomical changes that occur as an infant grows.

Creating a portrait bust of a small child can be a bit problematic as they don’t have the patience to sit (unless there is a Winnie the Pooh DVD) and creating a life mask is not possible.   This series of busts were developed from drawings and measurements that I did from life.  He really enjoyed the calipers and kept measuring his own face.  Luckily I am able to spend plenty of time with Gabriel every morning, where I study him and memorize parts of his face.  In the afternoon, I work on the piece and then check him with the sculpture every so often.

Below is an example of the type of sketch that I use with measurements.  The drawing is pretty much life-size.

Working sketch of the profile, 9 months
Working sketch of the profile, 20 months.

The following two pictures are of the first sculpture that I did of him at 3 months.  The crayon marks are on the forehead are Gabriel’s recent addition to the piece.

Gabriel, terracotta, life-size(at 3 months)
Gabriel, terracotta, life-size(at 3 months)
Profile view, Gabriel at 3 months.
Profile view, Gabriel at 3 months.

The second bust was completed at 9 months and the resulting bronze is at the beginning of the post.  Below is the terracotta of the original model  It is very interesting how the medium affects the perception of the final modeling.  In fact each particular medium(bronze, marble, terracotta) requires a different approach in modeling in order to read well in the final piece.  I did a lot of reworking on the final plaster, wax, and, clay adjust the surface of each version.

Gabriel, terracotta, life-size
Gabriel, terracotta, life-size(at 9 months)

Below is the plaster done from the fresh clay original and used to produce the wax for the bronze.

Gabriel, plaster, life-size(at 9 months)
Gabriel, plaster, life-size(at 9 months)
Gabriel, bronze, life-size(9 months
Gabriel, bronze, life-size(9 months)

I am currently finishing up the latest bust at 20 months. Here is a sneak peek:

Gabriel, plaster, life-size(20 months)
Gabriel, plaster, life-size(20 months)

Clay Sketches

Study for the Herm of Nature, terracotta with ingobbio, 10cm(h)

Before beginning any important project, it is always wise to work out the idea.  The easiest way for the artist to explore possibilities is through the creation of sketches.  A graphic representation reveals potential design problems and forces the artist to make decisions that usually change the direction of the work.

Drawing may be the most natural form for sketches.  However, I find when developing a sculptural idea that a small scale 3d sketch in clay allows me to think more quickly.

Herm of Nature, profile

The images above are of a study for an herm that I was hoping to develop for a public sculpture.  ‘Herm of Nature’ is the theme and this head would cap off the tall narrow pedestal typical of the form.  The study was created in terra-cotta with an ‘ingobbio’ to color the piece.  ‘Ingobbio’ is on of the oldest techniques for coloring ceramics.  It involves the use of a white or colored clay prepared in a liquid form and then applied upon the eventual piece to be fired(or already fired)

Tanagra figures from the PAFA collection, terracotta with ingobbio

Above is a picture of 3 greek figurines that I happened upon in the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  There were in the new building and mixed in with a mish mash of other pieces.  Residues of the ingobbio can be seen on the the 2 figures on the right.

Sketch for Night, terracotta, 20cm(w)

The images above and below are of other sketches.  ‘Night’ is the model for an eventual piece in alabaster.  The one below is a head study for a possible bust.

Sketch for Musician, terracotta, 18cm(h)

Portrait Society of America’s Conference in Philadelphia

I recently had the pleasure of participating in the Portrait Society of America’s annual conference “Art of the Portrait” in Philadelphia.  It was a wonderful experience.  Making art is ultimately a solitary experience so sharing experiences other serious figurative artists is reaffirming and supportive.

I was able to finally meet in person a couple of painters that I got to know via social media: Tony Pro and Mario Robinson.  They are great painters and really nice guys.  I also saw painter David Kassan who I  previously met in Florence.  Edward Jonas, the sculptor and Christine Egnoski were gracious hosts and organized a truly positive event.  I look forward to participating in another conference and meeting more interesting artists.

Another highlight was talking shop with the technical director of Natural Pigments, George O’Hanlon.  In addition to being extremely knowledgable about the traditional art materials, George is a fresco painter as well (in the russian tradition).

I had the honor to be awarded a Certificate of Excellence for the bust of Richard Serrin.

Richard Serrin, terracotta, life-size

There is more info on the winners and the conference at the PSOA’s blog that can be found here.  Honestly the experience was a bit overwhelming.  After years of living  as an Ex pat in Europe returning to the States always produces a bit of culture shock.  Or maybe it was just Fox news.

Philadelphia is a beautiful city as well.  It is full of green parks and very pedestrian friendly.  There is also some quality public sculpture is sprinkled throughout the urban fabric.

The Philadelphia museum of art has a very nice collection that is well presented. A beautiful building by Frank Furness houses the permanent collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  One of the highlights of that collection is a bust by Hiram Powers.


Gabriel at 9 months, terracotta, life-size

The above is an image of the terracotta of a recent project that I am working on.  Gabriel has been a very good model and I have had plenty of time to study him.  I am his father after all.  It is amazing how many changes a baby’s face goes through during the first year while still remaining the same likeness.  His face has already changed and he has a lot more long wavy hair.  When I have time I will be carving the bust in marble: Carrara statuary.

Below are a couple of more images:

Gabriel, 2nd view
Gabriel, terracotta, life-size

2012 Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition.

Bust of Richard Serrin, terracotta, life-size

Some nice news.  I was selected as one of the 20 finalists for the Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition.  My bust of Richard Serrin will be participating in the exhibition and final judging.  So I am off to the States at the end of May, Philadelphia to be specific.  To learn more about the Society, the link is here.

Richard Serrin is currently having a show at the Newington Cropsey Foundation.  The link is here.

Ceres is Demeter

Ceres, bronze, life-size

While spending the last several years in southern Italy, I have immersed myself in the art and culture of the antique world.  Sicily and the southern end of the Italian peninsula were first hellenized in the 8th century BC.  Client colonies, typically sponsored by a parent city back in Greece were founded along the coast.  They eventually prospered and became so influential that the region was eventually referred to as ‘Magna Grecia’ or Greater Greece.

Temples and museums are scattered all over the South and the quality of many of the works is quite impressive.  Social reverberations of its hellenistic origins still linger on as an echo of this region’s once glorious past.

Demeter(Ceres) from a southern italian greek vase
Votive sculpture of Demeter with Poseidon, terracotta, Metaponto
Votive relief of Demeter with original mold, terracotta, Policoro

Ceres, or Demeter as she was known to the greeks, is the fertility deity who presided over the harvest.  She was considered a patron of grain, bread and even childbirth.   Her cult is extremely ancient and actually predates the greek olympian pantheon.  Symbolic of the cycle of nature, her personal fortune/misfortune is intrinsically connected to climatic change.  The seasons personified she represents how our one’s emotional life directly influences their environment.

Like many classical works this bust was designed with a dominant point of view.  Perfect for a niche or flanked by companions, the bust of Ceres is meant to be seen in 3/4(see the initial photo) and placed slightly lower than the eye level of the intended viewer.  This way the downward spiral movement is emphasized.

The bust is currently available at the M Gallery of Fine Art in Charleston, SC.  Their website can be found here.  The link directly to my work is here.

Below are various photos of the bust in different states:

In progress, clay
Ceres, terracotta
profile view
Progress shot in bronze
During patination

Bust of Celeste

Bust of Celeste, life-size, terra cotta

The bust of my wife, Celeste, took the 5th Merit award in non commissioned portraits at the Portrait Society of America’s 2011 Member’s Showcase competition.

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