So traveling back in time to about three years ago, I found myself deep in Artists Malaise. I had sculpted a number of pieces, and then gone through the rigmarole of molding, waxing, and shelling them. And, at the end of it all, I just did not feel like casting them in bronze. Didn't care less whether they got done or not and I couldn't figure out why. So while I was wandering around the house aimlessly bumping into walls and furniture, my wife, she who is very wise, suggested I put aside my sculpting and return to painting, just for a change. Change is as good as a rest, right?
After a few false starts, airbrushing, acrylics, pen and ink, I settled on trying some oil painting. And that really hit the spot. I got going on that and took to it like a pig in mud. I even sold some. Better than I ever did with my sculptures. And on top of it all, I really enjoyed painting.
So why? It took me some time to figure it out, but eventually, I realized that painting is a WYSIWYG art form. You slap a gob of paint on the canvas and that's part of the finished work. You don't have to mold it, grind it, polish it or do any number of steps before it becomes a work of art. And it's changeable. Don't like blue? Slap on red. It can be taller. It can be shorter. Whatever you want. With bronze cast work, once the clay original is in the process of being cast, there's not a lot of changes you can make but with painting, it evolves as you paint.
Therefore, I wondered how I could translate that into sculpture. There's plenty of mediums that lend themselves to that idea, but I remembered that in my University days, I worked primarily in welded steel and I really enjoyed it. With that in mind, I decided to try working in formed sheet steel. Lots of hammering, welding and grinding with sparks and noise everywhere. Lostsa fun.
After a couple of false starts with this method, I found the right thickness of steel and started hammering away. The only problem was, the more I worked, the more I realized that a) I didn't really know what I was doing, and b) I had to completely re-tool my sculpture studio from a bronze-centered concept to a sheet steel-centered one. And that required me to either buy new tools, or in several cases, actually make them. The end result was that between dealing with a steep learning curve, taking two steps forward and one back and making my own tools as I went, it took me eight months to finish my first piece. Even if I got paid a dollar an hour for my work, my first piece I'd have to charge about $2500. So if I charge a real price, it'd be around 50 grand. I think I'll have to amortize the cost into the next few pieces.
But the funny thing was I felt great the whole time I was working on the piece and I don't regret doing it at all. I've got a show coming up next month [September 2016], so it'll be ready by then and I be able to show it off to the world. And then it'll be time to start on a new piece. Hopefully the next one will be done a little faster than eight months.