I finally gathered all of the supplies together to start working on my first clay head. I spent most of the afternoon putting together the armature, and packing the armature tightly with rolled up sheets of corrugated cardboard.
Then it was simply a matter of packing the clay onto the surface of the armature until it was completely covered. Once I got the entire armature covered, I worked into the clay with my palms and the side of my hand to get large planes blocked into the form. It felt great to carve into the clay with my wire sculpture tool, after many weeks of struggling with the paper mache, working reductively felt wonderful. Having the plastilene head that I modeled from direct observation was a really terrific reference, (in the photo below on the left) I feel like I would have had a much tougher time getting initially started without it.
While it feels good to finally get started, I can already feel my own eagerness and impatience to get solid results. I know that failure is a part of the process (and I certainly did my time with failure over the past few weeks with the paper mache) but it does get tedious and tiresome after some time, and it leaves one hungry for something that represents concrete progress and development.