I decided to begin on the face last week and have gradually made some progress. It is nowhere near completed, but it is beginning to look more human than lego-man. I have perhaps another week or so where I am shaping the body and then I will start detailing. I also began some finish tests on my spare woodblocks and should have some results next week.
With only three months left before the degree show, I find myself a little worried that I may not get everything done that I want to for my pieces. I have been concentrating lately on my sculpture, a life sized carving of a man hanging inverted by his ankles like a side of beef. This was inspired by the Norse myth of the Mead of Poetry, which you can read in a previous blog post.
Since my last post about it, I have moved it indoors into the Metal Workshop. Why there instead of the Wood Workshop? Because they have a gantry in the Metal Workshop from which I can hang my piece when I need to see it in its display position. That and Mark is one of the nicest technicians atand is happy to have some woodworking going on in his shop.
Here, I built a trestle to rest the body upon and have been carving away at it. So far I have done some of the broader forms of the chest, worked on the neck and shoulders, carved away at the back between the arms, and recently began to work on some of the fiddly bits like the hands, feet and arms. The hands are blocked in as are the feet. I expect to continue work on the arms and then move back to the ankles and calves before really settling in on the head, although I may begin roughing in the face sooner.
Once the entire figure is roughed in and blocked out, I can go back and work on the finishing details. I have yet to decide whether I want to keep the body covered in a carven texture, bring it down to a smooth, natural texture or leave it somewhere in between. I am also not certain what sort of finish I will use on the wood, nor whether I will fill in the cracks with resin. Though decisions will be made as I go along, and as I get further with the piece.
As far as finishes go, I have some scrap wood that I have been carving on which I plan to use to test some finishes. Right now it is untreated, but I expect that I will try both traditional and untraditional finishes on it or similar pieces of scrap wood.
At our last group crit, it was suggested that I consider experimenting with blood instead of ink or paint with my mono printing, since I was not able to convey the underlying gruesomeness of the myth, The Mead of Poetry. Since the wetness and sloppiness of the concept was what led me to mono printing in the first place, I decided to give it a try.
After visiting several family butchers around Edinburgh, I discovered that in order to sell blood in the UK, a butcher must go through several governmental inspections and red tape, which most of them are not willing to do. None of the ones I tried were, anyway. The last one did, however, mention that I might be able to find dried blood and, after a quick internet search, I did, from W. Weschenfelder and Sons Sausage Making Supplies. I ordered a kilogram of dried pigs blood and a few days later it arrived.
After trying various experiments, I ended up using acrylic gloss medium mixed with acrylic gel medium to give it body, which was combined with a mixture of dried blood and water. This gave me a media very much the consistency of frosting, which I spread on my glass and then applied the paper. This results in a different effect than the paint I used previously, rendering an interesting pattern of fractal like shapes when the paper is removed.
I am still experimenting both with the media and with the paper, to determine what is the most desirable effect, so I will probably be posting more on this later.