Sunday, January 16, 2005

Medium Question

****From TDLEE:

Hi, I'm an art student at the University of Kentucky who finds your work very inspirational. The darkly beautiful fantasy tone I see in your sculptures is what I hope to achieve in my own work one day. (Though I don't know if sculpture is my medium of choice because I have very weak hands and have trouble executing my ideas in sculpture due to this weakness.)Anyway, I have a few questions. Isn't marble a more expensive medium to work in? As a poor student, I stick to cheaper things like pencils/paper for drawing, and plaster for sculptures. At what point did you start investing more money into materials and realize you were making enough back to afford it? And what is different about casting marble than using other media? Thank you for reading this.


The medium is never, ever as important as the concept. I've worked in most classical mediums; bronze, clays of all kinds, wood, metals, stone, papier mache, resins, plaster, pencil drawings, paintings, photography, collage. I've used a few quirky ones; toys, food, rubber, wire, bones, tools, motors, gears, crayons and marshmallows (which are not food). Neither is Cool Whip, though I have an affinity for it...
I had someone tell me once that no one would ever take my art seriously as long as I used polymer clays.
I've sold pieces made of polymer clays for 10K and more.
I tend to think that someone who will invest that in a piece of art is quite serious.
Now, this is important: Choose well. If you are creating an exhibit for its own sake, go hog wild. Use Crisco if you like. (I wouldn't recommend that here, in the desert sun). But if you are creating a piece of art that might find its way into a collection, make it to last. That doesn't mean it has to be stone or marble. It means that whatever medium you use should be treated appropriately--e.g. If you use papier mache, use strong armature, dry it completely, and seal it well to preserve it.
I can't say enough good things about paper as a medium. It is cheap---it can even be free. It is versatile beyond belief. And, if treated properly, it can last an amazingly long time. In ancient China, papier mache was used to build homes, and BOATS. I'll see if I can find some good links for you.
Many years ago I visited the High Museum in Atlanta Georgia. I was just starting to think of myself as an artist and dreamed of exhibiting there one day. In the middle of the main exhibit floor was a sculpture whose title and creator have escaped me. But I remember the art quite well. It was a long velvet pillow, bunched in the center. (I learned this was to represent the female figure when I read the artist's statement). Resting on the pillow was a beautifully polished bronze sculpture of a turd.
Now, my point is that a highly regarded medium can be used to represent the lowliest of subjects, and vice versa. And, my dear, go visit some galleries---there are some really stinky bronzes out there. Pun intended.

As for having weak hands. You didn't mention that there was any medical condition. Hands are like any other part of the body. Strength comes with use. Lots of it.
Thanks for your comments. I wish you great success. Go out there, get inspired and make something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a medical condition (muscular dystrophy), but you're right, that doesn't stop me from working with clay or paper. (I think I just had a fixed idea in my mind that proper sculptures have to be from wood, stone or plaster because that's the sort of material we were using in my introductory sculpture course--not stone, but the others yes-- and I had a really hard time in the class cuz I had to use power tools and build these huge things that I had trouble working with.)
Thanks for the advice and inspiration ^_^