The experience of sculpting from life, which gave me such a rich way of looking and working, made me question the value of the drawing that I normally do. Now that I am getting over the initial shock of sculpting from life, I begin to appreciate the contribution of drawing to the sculpting process. First, drawing is much faster, so capturing a sudden lively gesture is much easier in drawing. The proportions and details may be all wrong, but if the drawing captures the feeling of the gesture, then it is possible to get the other aspects right in the sculpture with a gradual working process. Second, I’ve realized that my life drawings contain more information that I thought, and the sculpting helps me to interpret the drawings more completely.
I also started working with wax today, which has the advantage that it is lighter lets me make figures that stand without any support.
I’ve been having a lively email discussion with the artist-sculptor who runs the Michelangelo’s Models website. Although the history of Michelangelo’s sculptural models is controversial (I discuss one viewpoint in an essay on the Sistine Chapel), the various proposals about his working methods can be inspirational for artists today. That is not to say one should be casual about evaluating Michelangelo’s methods, of course. It is only to say that even a speculative art-historical idea can be of value in the creative process, if it proves its worth in practice.