Practical Exercises

Practical exercises on sculptural form have been devised from instruction and experience introduced to me at the Frink School of Sculpture. These are used in various courses at West Dean College.

The list of practical exercises can be seen here and can be used with the addition of a passwordPlease subscribe and then use the contact form to request the password which will allow you to access the Practical Exercises file where all new exercises will be posted.

The First is presented here for you to try:

Practical Exercise 1 – Smoothness and Completeness

This exercise is introduced by this post on sculptural theory.

Smoothness and completeness; light and shade – Build a 4 or 5″  diameter clay sphere

Try to work at eye level so the work feels prominent and so that you give it enough visual consideration.

Do not deform the clay – use small pieces of pinched-off clay (start off with flattened platelets about 1cm long) and touch them together just enough to let them hold; no ‘patting’ or use of tools.

Try to keep as much air in the work as possible – and think why this might help the process.

Grow it organically, from the inside outwards.
Aim for the work to be stopped at any point – try to keep it with as much spherical feeling as you possibly can at all times (thus don’t build from one side to the other)
Keep turning the work to keep it developing in the round, successively adding material.
You may wish to devise a way of turning/resting the developing work so it doesn’t deform in the hand.
Try and scrutinise the work with a point source light , so you can see the light and shade. Think about consistency of light /shadow response and what that may do for the strength of the work, visually.
Try the exercise for 15/20 minutes, and keep the work very ‘open’.
Continue for another 15 or 30 minutes, and use successively smaller pieces to reduce the breadth of the light/shade. Remember – no patting or pushing – just let the clay touch.The exercise could be continued indefinitely, and if you feel that the size of clay particles adding becomes difficult with finger tips, you are permitted to use a small wooden clay tool to select and add the clay. Remember, no flattening. Just push enough for them to hold.
With your results (you may have one, or several) compare them to a rolled, compressed clay sphere. Think about their presence and visual strength, and the comments in the initial blog post.

I’m happy to comment on the results or on your thoughts about the results.

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