Peasant Woman, 16in x 13in, clay original
Heads and hands are two of the most challenging parts to sculpt on the human body, but they can also be the most rewarding. In this pose the hands of the model are really interesting and I couldn’t mess up up the anatomy or the foreshortening or else the piece would fail, at least that was my belief. The head also needed to be delicately modeled as the slight tilt back can be quite challenging. But I think one of the reasons that this relief works so well on the eye is because care was taken on those important areas.
Lately, I’ve been interested in carving the area around the head slightly deeper into the background as this allows me to get more of a depth in the head. Because this is an area that is usually the focal point the deeper sculpting on the head allows a somewhat contrast to the flatter body. It’s a very subtle “trick” and I don’t think it works on flatter reliefs as much, at least in my experience. I first saw this technique on the relief sculptures of Bill Mack. In much of his work he will carve back a little further around the body and into the background which helps give the illusion that the figure is emerging off the background. More recently I saw this on a self portrait carved in marble by Michelangelo. I’ll post examples of this technique on a future post.