I had initially assumed that after finishing these 50 portraits that I would move on to 50 figure drawings. However, after my studio visit with Andrew Raftery, I’ve changed my mind and decided to move onto fifty 4′ tall self-portrait sculptures. Andrew said that in the process of creating the 50 self-portraits, I had learned a lot about the head, in greater depth than I ever have before. It seems like a natural transition to take what I’ve learned from the drawings into sculpture.
After you’ve finished a large project, it’s always difficult to start a new one. By the end of the self-portrait drawings, my technique was getting really fine and polished, and I really got into a rhythm and felt like I really knew what I was doing. Now it’s the complete opposite approach: I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m going to have to go through a series of experiments to figure out what materials I want to use and how I’m going to go about executing the pieces. With the sculpture the materials are very important, as there are structural issues to take into consideration, especially at the scale that I want to be working at.
I think paper mache is the approach I want to take, even though my sculpture experience has largely been with clay and plaster. To make a 4′ head out of clay or plaster would be impractical given the studio space I have to work with and the pieces would be insanely heavy. I talked to Tony Janello today about his paper mache technique, he has very large portrait heads that are extremely strong and lightweight at the same time, exactly the physical qualities that I want these pieces to have. So today I played with cardboard, hot glue, paper towels, and elmer’s glue just to see how I could combine the materials together.