There is a simple quote I like by Sanford Weill, an American Philanthropist, that pretty well sums up how I approach my work. “Details create the big picture.” In my last post as your July Design Squad blogger, I want to share some of the little things that I believe turns a good piece of art into an incredible piece of art.
- 1. What are the things that make a piece of art memorable to you? Think for a moment about the things you have and cherish, or the things you like to collect. 99% of the time, there’s a story. The story is your emotional connection to the art. Whether it’s a shared experience with the artist; a colour, texture or image that reflects your personal story; a memory from a place, a vacation or life changing moment. These stories are the ones you love to share with family and friends. As an artist, each piece of art you create should also have a story. It’s this story that will draw your audience to you and your work – it’s the first impression and the first detail. Anyone with kids understands the story behind “The Haircut”. For me it was the moment my 8 year-old grandsons gave up his dream of rock star long locks.
2. A visible ‘signature detail’ that appears in every single piece of art you create is a great way to identify yourself and is a charming topic of conversation for the artist and the audience. I met an artist who incorporates a lady in a red dress in all his paintings. Every time I see a lady in a red dress in a painting, I can’t help but think of him. One of my signature details is that I like to use my own life lines on the inside of my character’s hands.
3. Props and accessories. Although I do use found objects, whenever possible I like to make my own props and accessories. Just this week someone asked me where she can get accessories for her sculptures that didn’t look like Barbie furniture. My answer – visit your local hardware store. Look for shapes and materials that will help you create unique and quality props that are pieces of art in themselves. In this wall relief sculpture “All Aboard” I wanted to create the illusion of a section of an old train. The main wheel is a cork divot from the gardening centre. Baseboard mouldings and trims, bolts and a can of spray paint complete the look. “Stan’s Diner” is another example of hardware store finds that helped me create this vignette commission. Vintage stores are another great source and so much fun when you find the perfect thing to upcycle into something even better. Of course, when you work with polymer clay – you can make whatever you need and it will look 100 times better than a toy prop. Here’s my little Sculpey III carry-on suitcase.
Not All Details in Clay Need to Be Obvious
4. Sometimes it’s little hidden details that capture the attention and imagination of your audience. I try to position these little details so that the audience experiences an adventure while exploring the sculpture. In “Coffee Break Generations” I wanted to show how far apart we can be in this fast-paced era of technology. Most people don’t catch all the details until their second or even third look. Little details like the argyle socks on the younger man. His obvious disconnect from his friend. The dating website on the screen of the younger man’s laptop. The Starbucks coffee cup. The older gentleman’s annoyance as he reads his paper that is open to the obituary section.
I’m delighted to be a member of the 2018 Polyform Products Design Squad and I hope you’ve enjoyed my July blog posts on figurative sculpture. No matter what you create, always remember . . . “Details Create the Big Picture!”