Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sculpting a Classical Portrait

On Saturday July 13th, Exhibiting sculptor Peter Forster presented a six-hour art demo at the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens (633 Osceola Ave. Winter Park FL). The five dollar special demonstration was titled: "Sculpting a Classical Portrait". I arrived right at 10am and Peter was packing white clay onto the armature. He is one of the exhibiting artists in the "Start to Finish" Florida Sculptor's Guild exhibit at the museum through July 21st..

I had made this the first stop on the Orlando World Wide SketchCrawl. There was a second floor balcony looking down on the sculptor and I decided that this "God's eye view" would work best for a sketch. Perhaps ten to fifteen people sat around the room watching Peter work. Pete's daughter pointed out that there were pencils and paper should anyone want to take notes or sketch.

When Peter opened the floor for questions, I shouted out, "Is it possible to finish a bust in six hours?" Peter replied that if the muses were willing it would be possible. If he started thinking about needing to impress someone then the process would get bogged down. He has a friend who is a conductor, and anytime the orchestra goes off tempo, the conductor would raise his hand to his heart. This would bring everything back on tempo.

To start Peter was concerned with the large masses, not details. He stuck a wire through the mass of clay to find the placement of the ears. On a pad nearby he showed us how measurements from that central ear placement helped define the profile of the sculpture. The model was a sculptor himself named Byron Walker. Peter likes when the model's turn their head. This creates interesting shapes in the neck do to the twisting of muscle and fat. He focused on a "keystone ridge" above and between the eyes. With that defined a likeness was already imminent. One person asked why he didn't have the hair in place yet. He responded that the hair was only the icing on the cake. The journey is what matters not the final destination. He likened a sculpture to a sketch and said he had to wait for that, "Ah ha!" moment when the model's true natural gesture shined through. I've felt this moment sketching people on location so I knew what he was relating.

Since there were other stops on the SketchCrawl, I had to leave before the sculpture was done.  When I got downtown however, I realized that I had left my artist stool in the sculptor's studio. I had to go back. I was shocked at the progress when I returned.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: