Thursday, July 1, 2010

La Belle et la Bete 2006

I think I saw the 1946 La Belle et la Bete movie, by Jean Cocteau, on TV when I was eleven or twelve. Whenever I first saw it, it made a lasting impression. I’d never seen anything like it. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it highly. The lead characters' complex relationship is something I’ve been wanting to explore for many years. Early in 2006, I started nibbling away at it. As I worked on Belle, the rest of it came together. I knew who these characters were and how I wanted to present a relationship of interdependence, the lure and power of sexual attraction and the duality of appearance vs. content. What I hadn’t worked out then, was how to get her up in the air.

1: I worked Belle directly in wax but needed to do a few clay studies for Bete. He had to be physically imposing, a giant, but restrained, introspective and shy. My two main sources of inspiration were gorillas and Karloff.

2: After a set of waste molds, I poured a set of waxes and began finish work. The pix of this part has been tool toleranced toward a final rub finish.

3: Working the wax arms and legs to the body, making sure everything lined up and the balance was right.

4: Pix of Bete’s Master Wax head. I had to keep checking the tilt and eye direction so when it was all put together, his gaze was where it was supposed to be.

5: Pix of the Master Wax of Belle’s head. I was kind of proud of the finish of that head at a half an inch. But that’s before I saw some of the work by a few sculptors who specialize in miniatures I’d always felt, a good miniature never gives away its scale. Belle’s head looks like a small scale sculpt. Some of the stuff I’ve seen on the web lately is frighteningly good. You’d be hard pressed to guess just how big or small the sculpts are.

6: I needed to test my theory of support. Using the unfinished waxes, I hammered out a length or armature wire and wrinkled and bend it to look like heavy ribbon. It worked surprisingly well. I refined it a bit more, did a sag test, refined a bit more and went with it.

7: The first set of castings of the base and Bete, making sure things were still where they were supposed to be, before a final finish and priming for paint. Both arms had to come off to make it castable. I cut his left arm at a place I knew would be easy to patch. His right arm was a bit more tricky, so I used an arm band to mask the join. The shape of the band keyed the arm in the right position. For the base, I built a KromeKote circular dam and filled it with resin. Sanded, glazed the pin holes and gave it a good coat of primer then worked the rock formations on top of it. I wanted a kind of Frazetta texture for the rocks and so sculpted and finished them in clay. Then molded the whole damn thing.

8: It seemed right that a bat-winged woman would have prehensile feet. The glove was a design solution so I could use a large ring in scale with the ribbon.

The last three pix are of the Paint Master. I wanted to break up the texture of the piece, so used tufts of model grass to add some wispy, lighter elements.

1 comment:

  1. Always loved this piece, great to see the wip shots too.