More sculpture

Since my last post I have had three more sculpture lessons. I felt I couldn’t really improve the previous attempt, so I started something new.

It began with a little sketch in wax which has long since been incorporated into the main project — I was very unsure about the exact position of all the limbs, wanting to make something with a delicate balance and a bit of action in it. The lion’s tail sort of followed from the whole attitude.

I think I did make some progress, and I call this toute ensemble “she tripped over the cat”. The weird foot is an accident of using the macro function of my camera: in reality it’s very dainty and well-formed.


(Complete set on flickr — as with all sculpture, there’s nudity. Clothes are boring to do.)

Oh, and yes, it is in balance like this: no strings attached.

Sculpture classes

Not having two mortgages, not coming home from work at 20:30 — circumstances conspired together to make it finally possible, after a hiatus of more than twenty years, to do sculpture again. I can’t do anything 3D with a computer, but I’m quite decent with my fingers. And I love working with wax above all other stuff: I’m a lumper, not a splitter or a cutter.

We had three sessions working with clay from a live model (Irina, actually, who models a lot for different art courses), and by now three sessions working on my own idea, with wax. Many people prefer clay, but I like wax because you can make thinner, more detailed things with it and because it’s not as soft and pliant. Even so, I regularly hold my work under the cold tap to make the wax harder.

This kind of sculpture starts with soldering together a frame of copper wire, bending it into a position and then piling on the flesh^Wwax. Small errors have big consequences: I put the bend for the shoulders too high, which meant that from the start it looked like the subject was lifting something fairly heavy.

Given that the idea of sculpture, at least for me, is piling on flesh, the subject turned into a woman fairly quickly, which made it easy to decide on what she would lift: either a tiger cub, or a child. And then I suddenly had a chunk of wax in my fingers that made a very good baby belly, so I went with the trite and the cliché: mother and child.

The other people in the class liked it a lot, but were divided on what I had made: someone suggested a mother laying down her child during a famine, another thought it was a grandmother with her grandchild (no doubt because I have been having fun with the drooping plum-like breasts), another thought of Moses and the Egyptian princess, yet another of baptism. Poly-interpretability rules!

For me the weird thing is that this work is a clear and straight continuation of what I was doing twenty years ago: the touch is the same, the way I distorted the woman’s anatomy is the same. The size is a bit bigger. And strangely enough, without any practice, I still think I’ve become a bit surer in my touch and I am also more conscious of the sculpture in the round, as it were, so I’ve put a set of pictures from all sides on flickr (Deviant art has trouble uploading a dozen pictures in one go).

Our teacher is Annelies van der Drift. If you can read Dutch: more information about the classes can be found here. There is a great set of students in this group: some of them are very advanced, extremely good, others are just beginning — and one is picking up old threads.

I am still not convinced

That centralization is the way for the internet to go. Even though I work for Hyves, where we’ve got a silly number of messages, photos and chats stored on our servers, I still think the internet was intended to be distributed. Like email. Like the web. Like usenet.

But, well, I’ve got a hyves account now. I’m on linkedin. I’m on (which forwards to twitter, which used to forward to Hyves, but I disabled that again). And now I’m on deviant art.

Our Krita Season of KDE student, Vera Lukman sort of prodded me — we got talking about drawing and things. And I realized that I haven’t touched my paints since we came to live in this house, in 2007. Probably more like not since 2006, even. I’ve done some sketching… Last year.

The question now is, of course, will this stimulate me to draw more? Will it finally make me use a computer for drawing? Will I get rich from selling prints?

What will happen to all my passwords if kwallet ever mangles my wallet?
(Not that it has ever done so, touch wood…)

And suddenly

My eldest daughter Naomi started getting interested in drawing and sketching, nicking my paper, buying her own pencils, and becoming quite definitely better than I have ever been, in about six months:

I’m pretty proud of her work!

Rijksmuseum Twente

Rijksmuseum Twente

It’s weird, but even though I work together every day with people who live in Enschede, and though I’ve been told six or seven years ago that the Rijksmuseum Twente is well-worth a visit, I had never been to Enschede before. We had intended today to go to Rotterdam, to the Boijmans van Beuningen museum for the Dutch Primitives exhibition, but went the other way instead, to the Rijksmuseum Twente. At last.

It was well worth a visit: the neoclassicist exhibition with paintings from the Bruges school was rather nice and we bought the catalog. The collection of early Dutch painting is a bit uneven: it contains rather a lot of second or third rate work, but also a few absolute must-have-seen pieces. None of us has ever managed to get interested in modern, abstract art. Too often, a particular piece of modern art only looks good because all the other things surrounding it are even worse junk. The Pjotr Mueller statues were somewhat interesting, though.

The Rijks Twente is a nice place, rather quiet, too: we were three out of maybe ten visitors. Still I don’t think museums should forbid visitors to photograph the pieces (if done without flash), that’s a bit old-fashioned. And to share one pin card reader among the main desk, museum shop and restaurant is a bit quaint, to say the least. But well worth a repeat visit: they have a history of out-of-the-way exhibitions, especially about unpopular periods in the history of art. And that’s something I’m very much interested in.

A sketch for the season

First, the sketch I made for this year’s seasonal greetings. It’s actually our house and our church: the church is downstairs, we live upstairs. I tried to keep to the style of the Dutch painter Anton Pieck. Our part of town looks, especially if there is a little snow, just like his calendar illustrations anyway.

It’s a pity the previous owner had the facade plastered, now there’s very little structure to render.

The other sketch is a few years old. We visited Arnstadt in 2004. A really nice little town in the process of being restored. There were still plenty of the old, dilapidated buildings that are so much fun to render or paint.

I don’t sketch enough

For the past few years, since I started hacking on Krita in 2003, I have spent nearly all my spare time on Krita and KOffice. In the beginning, I did remember to spare a little time for actually drawing and painting, but quite soon I stopped doing event that. And whenever I picked up my pen, pencil or brush I noticed that what little skill I may have had had detoriated quite a lot.

That sketch, after Caravaggio, is fairly recent. I have been capable of things like:

These sketches are done with plain pencil, eraser, thumb and index finger. I still cannot sketch with Krita as I can with a pencil: Krita and Gimp can keep up with the rapidity of my strokes quite well now (neither Photoshop nor Corel Painter can — I sketch really fast), but there’s still a difference in resolution, in ease of stumping and building up of tone. Still, we’re working on that!


Do I Weep…

Or cry? Is this great and completely comparable to the way Dutch studios produced mass-market paintings in our Golden Age, or is this so sad that it makes me throw away my brushes, paints art books and krita’s code and retire to a remote monastery on Mount Athos, away from all bandwidth?

“We have 5 creating artists.” Indeed…

Update (March 2018): “This domain has recently been listed in the marketplace.”

Good point!

Good points, especially relevant after reading any review of the Wacom cintiq tablet + lcd monitor in one. Of course… I hope that my tablet laptop that should arrive tomorrow (though it should have arrived Friday) will give me the same thing only in back-pack format.

(Btw, illustration art is well worth a place in anyone’s akregator.)

Another portrait

I think this is going to need another layer, and even so it’s not a good likeness. But I feel I have made some progress in thinking in shapes and colours, instead of lines and volumes. And it was fairly quickly done: and hour and a half from sketch to the current state:

I was obviously inspired by those images of Rembrandt’s, of his reading mother, and Durer’s ditto. I have cropped the image, there’s a sketch of a book, too. Irina posed for me; I succeeded in rendering someone who might be related, but who’s at least forty years older and has a quite different character.

Still, I’m getting at the stage where the painting is convincing; now for the stage where the likeness is convincing.