In this segment we will examine sculpture. Sculpture may be in the round and depict an entire 3 dimensional subject, but we will create a frieze segment in low-relief, and then paint the plaster while it is still wet, with watercolors in fresco.
Fresco painting, made popular during the Renaissance, uses pigment in wet plaster, making an incredibly durable and stable medium and substrate in one. Think Sistine Chapel, Creation of Adam by Michelangelo.
Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material.
The term relief is from the Latin verb relevo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane.
A Frieze is a low-relief sculpture frequently use where full in-the-round sculpture is not possible, as on classical architecture—think Greek and Roman buildings.
1) Any continuous flat band of relief sculpture or painting.
2) In classical architecture, the middle element of an entablature, between the cornice and the architrave.
After it has set while it is still wet, plaster is off-white in color and easy to carve. Once dry, it is bright white and can be sanded and finished in its solid state.
We will be using stainless steel tools that are also used for carving wax. They are precise, but relatively dull without cutting edges. As long as you work with scaping, and not stabbing motions, nobody will get hurt. Simple paring knives also work very well, just FYI.
Carve your plaster block like you might peel a vegetable.
Never stab your work.
Carve AWAY from your other hand.
When your block is uniform on all edges, and you have a feel for the tools, your hanging ledge is carved into the back, and your name or initials have been added, also, you are ready to be checked before beginning your carving on the front.
At the end of class, throw the collected bits in the garbage. NEVER put plaster down the drain! Wrap your plaster Frieze section in your bag and store it in the cabinet. The bag will keep it moist and easy to carve for more than a week, and protect it from damage. At the end of each class turn in all tools.
On the FRONT of your freshly set plaster block, using a pencil, trace the edge of a leaf and a branch onto the practice rectangle on your worksheet. Do you want another element, like an acorn? As you add them keep track of which element is on top. This is your FOREGROUND ELEMENT. You must overlap 2 elements so that one is in the foreground and one is behind. The BACKGROUND is whatever everything is in front of.
6. Scrape plaster away from your line. DO NOT CARVE YOUR LEAF, PROFILE, OR FOREGROUND YET. Your smooth Subject level should be 1/4” higher than everything else.
Textures:DotsBark/wood grain WavesHorizonLines
Making sure the background is always 1/2” thick, carve your background scene or texture.
Scrape the wet plaster away from your BRANCH, being careful to TAPER your carving strokes out to the surface.
8. Now focus on the LEAF. Redraw the traced lines that were scraped away. As in the branch, scrape away from the outline, creating DEPTH around the LEAF.
Carve in Shape, Form and Texture ABBREVIATING depth (Space).
9. Complete your Foreground.
Look at your work from all sides. Give attention to all edges.
Check Point 3
10. Use watercolor to paint in a level of Realism.
Work in light washes, 1 to 2 layers only during a class, progressing to stronger, darker colors. Test colors/intensity/bleeds on the back. Mix subtle changes to colors to add a layer of texture beyond your carving.
When you are done you can scrape these tests off before you paint the back.
Then trace a leaf shape in pencil onto the front.