Figurative sculpture artist (and really nice person!) Victoria Rose Martin shares the process of making We Are.
The Process of Creating We Are
The idea for the sculpture We Are first came to me while lying in my bed suffering with a migraine headache. Medication, a dark room and bed rest are all I can manage when a migraine strikes. I wanted so desperately to get up and go into my studio but for me migraines need 3 days to run their course. If I push to get up and back to work too quickly the headache comes back even worse the second time around. Therefore, I literally become a prisoner in my own bed. Sitting still is torture for me, so as I lay there confined to bed during a particularly bad headache I began thinking about beds and the role they’ve played in my life.
Beds can be a sanctuary, full of warmth and love or they can be a place of suffering and death. Most of us were conceived in a bed, we are born in beds, and may die in one as well. When we are away from home and tired we dream of crawling into bed. My mind drifted to childhood memories and I remembered being a sharing a twin bed with my sisters Kelly and Virginia. I can’t even fathom how we even fit, but we did.
My mind drifted off to relationships how they can be strengthened or lost because what happens in a bed. From there I began pondering the concept of astral projection (leaving our bodies when we dream) or when we die, then my mind drifted to dreams about deceased loved ones and them visiting us while we slumber. Perhaps their spirits to come to visit us when our thinking minds are at rest. And I imagined all of my lost loved ones and my guardian angels sitting with me as I lie there with an aching head.
Because I had a headache when I first explored the concept of this piece I couldn’t begin working on it immediately, but usually when I get what I think is a great idea for a piece there is a feeling of anxiousness and I get very giddy. Being wound up, I have to get up and move around. I sing happy songs and squeal with excitement at the prospect of being creative..
Where and how I am when an idea strikes makes the difference of what I do first. For example if I am
out somewhere I will sketch, but oddly enough I find quite often I will usually start making a sculpture and then create sketches off the first piece. A weird quirky thing I always do is make sure my studio is sparkling clean before working on new sculpture. If the studio is a mess I find that I just can’t focus. To me there is nothing worse than reaching for a tool and it being dirty. The newspaper that covers my work table is changed, all tools are washed and the floors are mopped. Only when things are tidy can I begin to sculpt.
Strangely enough when inspiration really strikes me, I feel as if some one else is controlling my hands. When I am in this frame of mind I just can’t stop myself from working and if someone tries to stop me I get very cranky (ask my husband). It is as if I am channelling someone or something else.
Funny enough I don’t allow myself to think about what I am doing when I sculpt. It’s nicer when things are thought out in advance and then allowed to unfold on their own. I like the mindless chatter of my television while I work. A movie can be played 10 times in row wile I work in my studio and I still won’t see the whole thing because my mind is so focused on what I am doing on the table in front of me. The movie or television show simply becomes background noise.
As I work I would never say to myself “the piece has to be this way”; if a “negative” thought like that even pops into my head I immediately push it back out. Whatever emerges from the clay is allowed to be. If I really like the direction the piece is heading I will begin another. And if I make a piece that I don’t like I have no problem with scrapping it. The clay will be recycled and I will start over again. I have been making art long enough to know if I don’t like a piece in the early stages I will hate it by the time it’s finished. Or if a piece is fighting me from the start I will say either
1. Say “you win” and scrap it or
2. “I don’t know where this is going and I sort of like the direction the work is headed so I am just going to shut my mouth and keep working.”
I began working on We Are early in the morning right after my run and a cup of coffee, taking a break for brunch and she was completely built by late afternoon. Once I begin sculpting it’s rare I take breaks. If my husband passes my studio he may poke his head in the door to see what I am doing. He is one of my best critics, offering constructive criticism just when it’s needed the most. Generally though, I work as a solitary artist with very little outside feedback. Usually the first time I get outside feedback is when I take things to galleries.
When the sculpture We Are was built a sense of peace set over me. I knew it was complete by standing back and looking at the form as objectively as possible asking myself “does it need anything else” or “does anything look off?” I think on this piece I actually contemplated adding a third figure but decided it just wasn’t needed. Adding a third form would have just been too much.
While the work is studied, it rests on a lazy Susan and I am able to slowly rotate the piece scrutinizing all sides. If something looks off I will alter it before the clay gets too dry. After that the sculpture is left uncovered on the table and I will go off and do other things and return to the work later with “fresh eyes” scrutinizing again and again, refining as needed.
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