Graveyard Angel

Sci fi/Fantasy image by

Elizabeth Bartlett

Inspired by the song in the Phantom of the Opera, 'Wishing you were somehow here again,' where Christine is in the graveyard where her father is buried. 'Passing bells and sculpted angels, Cold and monumental, Seem, for you, the wrong companions; You were warm and gentle...' Sometimes I think she could be talking to her father OR the Phantom... This is a graveyard angel sculpture, except this one has a heart. You can see it in her face, or the lack thereof. She is burdened by the thought of so many lost souls around her. She is wingless, but her shoulderbones jut out like they once bore wings...once, a long time ago. She is weathered, streaked with rain and the elements, spotted with lichen and moss... This is another one of Liz's tutorials from Foundations Sculpture class! To make a sculpture: 1. First, make an armature. This is the 'bare bones' of the piece. I used chicken wire, which you can get at any hardware store or home improvement place. The thing about armatures is, you can't skimp on time on this part. You may get sick of it, and your hands and arms may burn from the unforgiving wire scratches, but you MUST make the armature accurate, and make sure it looks artistically logical from all sides. The thing about the armature is, once you've got the pulp on it, there's no going back. So if you rush through the armature and get the pulp on and realize that you really screwed up the armature, you have to break off all the pulp and try over. Ya can't even reuse the pulp, now! Bleah. So get it perfect the first time 'round! 2. Next, you have two options: you can soak strips of newspaper in wallpaper paste (You can use premixed, but I like to mix my own from a powder that comes in a box; you can use natural or synthetic) and lay them over the chicken wire, kinda like papier mache, but the problem with this is you have to wait a while for the newspaper to dry in one area before you can turn the sculpture over to try and cover the other side. Besides, this gives your sculpture a rather choppy look. OR, you can do what I did: get a fine metal mesh (my teacher called it expanded metal mesh, but you don't want that stuff. It's too stiff, too small, and too expensive.) like the kind people use to cover their gutters so leaves and junk won't get in. Use zip ties to attach the mesh to the chicken wire armature. The cool stuff about this mesh is that you don't need the newspaper at all! See, the pulp just sticks RIGHT into the holes in the mesh, and you can even turn the sculpture upside down without the pulp falling out. The newspaper technique is time consuming and not as convenient. Plus, the mesh makes very nice, smooth shapes (like hips, shoulders and breasts on my graveyard angel). 3. Then, pulp away! Mix paper insulation (sold at home improvement stores in big bales) with wallpaper paste until you get a pulpy mixture thicker than oatmeal. It takes some practice to get a good consistency! It helps to break up the insulation into bitty pieces before you mix in the paste. Using a blender may be tempting, but it doesn't really work well. You don't get the same workability. Add a base layer of pulp all over your piece and then let it dry thoroughly. The cool thing about wire is that, if you leave the bottom or something open (like I did), it'll dry faster. 4. Next add more pulp here and there. Add up and build on! Make sure you stand back from your piece to evaluate it from a distance, and at all angles. This is your chance to really smooth things out and make the piece come together. 5. Finally, paint it! This one was tedious to paint. If you're doing a big sculpture (this one's about half life size), you might consider a base coat of aerosol spray paint (use adult supervision if you're not old enough to buy it!). Be sure to use it outside, otherwise you'll fry your brain, and goodness knows we artists need all we can get! I used gray spray paint on this one, and then a combination of gesso solution and acrylics. I watered down gesso in several different concentrations and sprayed it liberally all over the piece, especially on top. It drips quite nicely, and follows the contours of the piece, and gave it a good weathered look. I switched from the gesso solution to the gray spray paint back and forth loads of times to get that impression that it's been standing around for a long time. Like a sentinel! 6. Continue painting. I added all sorts of greens, browns, yellows, and neutrals to get those greens I used for the mossy look you see. Art takes logic, you see: where does moss grow? In damp places. Now, in a place where it's rainy, where would it be most often damp? On the underside of things. So, I lightly dabbed the acrylic paints in different strokes where the light would least likely hit, and dabbed and redabbed. I then went back over with the gray and gesso solution, then back over with paint again. When you're trying to make something look old, layered is the key!! ::whew:: Feel free to ask questions!!!

Published More than a year ago

Category Mythology

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