The alchemy of artmaking


In this post I’d like to show the alchemy that goes into the creation of an artwork. I will do this through many pictures that will hopefully shed some light on the amount of thinking and hard work invested into the making of a singular, unrepeatable, complex three dimensional thread of thought that is simply called sculpture. As a result of the thinking process the completed work can be shockingly different from the original idea, leaving the artist scrambling to comprehend how did he/she end up with something so outrageously different from what was originally planned or expected.

The main subject for this relief was hope, with several other wonderings branching off in different directions as the work evolved. My vision of hope took the shape of a beautiful, ethereal face. There is something dreamy about hope thus I chose to express it through closed eyes.

The first two pictures show the face while the paper was still wet, the last one is the dry version. Tilting the head slightly and placing it off centre was for compositional reasons and to add to the dreaminess.  There was an extra element to be added to this in the form of found objects.  They were added to create a somewhat mysterious atmosphere through what I call the “invisible hand.” This phase proved to be very challenging due to a myriad of choices and tiny variations and tweakings that can be very frustrating. The next few pictures illustrate that challenge.

I was fairly satisfied with the result yet something was missing. Hope implies  a difficult situation.  I decided to make this into a diptych. The opposite of hope is despair, represented by the male face here.

I was not sure where to take it at this point but I had a general idea that was based on existential thoughts and readings.  Complex ideas spring from simple ones, so why not go back to the basics of opposites intertwining. Hair was going to “speak” on that notion. This required some exploration, experimentation. I decided to use the help of Photoshop on that. These are two of the many sketches.

When put to the test I found there would be too much negative space left in the upper corners, plus there was another important reason that will make sense later for changing the composition.

I  brought back some of the earlier found objects to finalize the composition and add some warmth and depth. Hope cannot be stark and needs to survive in a sea of negativity symbolized by the black sand which was also subdued and made foggy with some white wash.

Now, the really risky move.  The work could have been left alone and proclaimed done. But. In my mind a large part in making this piece involved water. The faces floating in water, a very powerful element to reckon with. I used clear resin for water and waterdrops. Here is the final work:

And a more detailed look at the two faces:

As a conclusion it is always debatable –especially analyzing the pictures here–whether the final work is the best choice or some of the earlier versions.  Depending on my disposition of the moment my view may vary, but at the time of the making it felt right, it felt true, it felt that something was accomplished. And that is all there is to say…

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~ by erikatakacs on July 17, 2011.

2 Responses to “The alchemy of artmaking”

  1. Hi Erika! I enjoyed this. It is a well-thought-out and well-presented post. I was a little sorry that the grouchy Despair had to be a guy. He did get less and less mean as he developed though. At the end he looked like Triton or some Greek god. As always, your modelling is excellent and the idea a clever one.

  2. Thanks, Swallows, interesting comment about the guy…my inspiration was someone that is considered a mean person…so I’m glad that I managed to transform him into something else than a cliche. Yeah, I definitely see what you mean by a god/ titan/ hero! thanks again

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