Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ala Prima Painting

This still life was painted in oil, ala prima, or "in one sitting." The subject is painted for 2-3 hours and forces the artist to make concise and confident decisions regarding composition, hue and brush stroke. I was intructed in this method by Julie Sulzen of the Sulzen Fine Art Studio.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Optical Reduction

This nude was drawn using the optical reduction method which is a very precise way of drawing. The artist finds a location in which his sight sizing tool measures the model at a specific unit size. He then backs up to his easel and sizes that unit of measurement on the paper. The two positions on the floor get taped as well as the easel's position. There is quite a bit of back and forth in this process, so the model must be in a comfortable and (exactly) recreatable pose. The artist must also remember to keep his arms extended (it is easier to reproduce that position) and to mark of the standard unit of measurement that you choose (usually head length) on the sight sizing tool with tape.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Silver Point

This is a nude drawn in silver point. This technique requires the artist to make tiny scratches with a sharpend silver wire into a surface prepared with gesso or, as in this case, rabbit skin glue with pigment. It is a method that was used by the masters and really forces the artist to be accurate and precisce with his markings, as there is no erasing. While I dabbled in the technique on my own is was Melinda Whitmore at Vitruvian Fine Art Studio that really taught me how to properly prepare the surface and approach the marking. I highly recommend any artist who wants to draw like the masters to do silver point. Mindy teaches it here in Chicago, so look her up at

Thursday, September 27, 2007


This is my Ecorche which is the best way for an artist to learn about the human anatomy. It is 27 inches in height and was completely scultpted by hand out of Plastina, a hard oil based clay that dosen't dry. I was instructed by David Jamieson of the Vitruvian Fine Art Studio in Chicago. The class is extremely informative and detailed. Every single artist who is even remotely interested in the human figure should take this class. Their website can be found at

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cast Bronze Method

This piece is called "Aspiration-Delusion." As an artist I can only wish to be as skilled as ancient masters and have the conviction of the heroic ideal, but in the world we live in today, that's just not realistic. Below is the method for creating cast bronze sculptures as practiced at the Chicago Fine Art Foundry under Joe Kegler.

STEP 1 – Creating the clay original
The first step is to create a sculpture in either wax or clay. For my piece, I created a simple plaque out of clay, experimenting with surface and texture. If clay is used, a rubber mold must be taken of the clay original. If it a wax original, the piece can go directly to chasing and gating (step 4)

STEP 2 – Making molds
When the clay piece is ready, a layer of clear paint is sprayed on to eliminate the possibility of the liquid rubber being absorbed into the clay. Before the rubber is applied, a release agent is sprayed on to ease the removal of the cured rubber. The rubber itself is composed of a metal based latex mixed in specific proportion with a curing agent. After being mixed thoroughly, it is brush applied to the clay piece in layers until a thickness of approximately 3/16” - 1/4” is reached. After the rubber is cured, release agent is applied again and a plaster “mother mold” of approximately 1/4” is applied over it to keep the rubber rigid for the third step.

STEP 3 – Making a wax positive
After the mother mold sets, it is removed and the rubber mold is carefully lifted off the clay making sure to not tear the rubber. Any clay stuck in the rubber is removed and the mold is wiped down clean. A positive wax is created by melting down a petroleum based wax and brush applying it. The thickness shouldn’t exceed 1/8” – 3/16”, for this wax is to be replaced entirely by metal. (Bronze in this case, but aluminum was also used in several projects)

STEP 4 – Chasing and gating
When the wax cools, it is removed from the mold and the surface is chased by hand and using tools to clean and trim edges, fill in gaps from bubbles and repair any surface damage. The piece is then gated. The gating is made of wax an represents the circulation pattern of the molten metal.

STEP 5 – Investment a.k.a. “Dipping”
This is where the fun begins. Unlike standard investment, which is a cumbersome process and takes up a great deal of space, shell investment is a time consuming, but relatively painless process. The piece is “dipped” into a container containing a slurry which is composed of a polymer based coital and a fine meshed fused silica “flour”. The dipped piece is then covered in a dry, course fused silica “sand”. Each piece requires 7-9 layers. The layers need to thoroughly dry in between each layer and the excess loose sand is rubbed off before dipped. On the second to last layer, the piece is “clipped” with metal at the edges to prevent any cracking in the firing process. The final layer has no sand on it.

STEP 6 – Burnout
When the shelled piece is dry, the cup is grinded down to allow free flow of the wax which will be melted out. The piece is placed on bricks in the burnout room and a blower motor attached to the gas line is ignited. The super hot flame is directed at the bottom and slowly moved upwards, making sure all the wax is melted out. After burnout the shell is placed in a kiln to burnout any carbon scoring. Any micro cracks that appear during the burnout process are patched with a refractory material.

STEP 7 – Pouring
The piece is now ready to be poured. The furnace, which is as loud as a jet engine, is fired up, and metal is placed in the crucible. Depending on the number of pieces to be poured, additional metal is added. As the metal melts and reaches a molten state, the pieces are placed again in the kiln to bring them up to temperature so they don’t explode when the molten metal is poured in. At this point, safety equipment is worn. Heavy boots, heat shields, leather chaps and jacket, face shield and heat gloves. The furnace is turned off and the two man team removes the lid, and uses a heavy duty grabber to lift the crucible out. One man removes any debris and impurities using a scoop, while the other dips a foundry thermometer into the metal to test the temperature. Aluminum should pour at approximately 1300 degrees Fahrenheit and bronze pours at no less than 1900 degrees. A pouring loop is locked into place around the crucible and the team lifts the whole unit and pours into each waiting piece.

STEP 8 – Sandblasting
After a short while the metal solidifies and the shell is broken off. After it cools the gating is grinded off. Any welding or surface chasing is done to repair any discrepancies caused in the pour. When ready, the piece is taken into the sandblasting room, where the entire surface is cleaned and blasted. The blasting itself opens pores in the metal surface allowing it to react with chemicals in the patinas.

STEP 9 – Patina
Patinas are applied on the surface, either with brush, spray or sponge. They react with the metal to create color and texture. When patina work is complete the piece can be waxed.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bronze Cast Relief

This piece is titled "Diaspora" it is a Cast Bronze relief sculpture. The process of creating a sculpture is amazing. You feel like Hephestius coaxing the elemental nature of metal to do your bidding. I'll ellaborate another time. I learned from Joe Kegler at the Chicago Fine Arts Foundry, the last of its kind in the midwest.

Monday, September 24, 2007

MFA Thesis

This piece is titled "Until it is Made Right" and depicts me as a youth dressed as a "Tsolia" the traditional Greek Independence Fighters standing in front of a stylized parade float of Cyprus, my nation, illegally occupied by Turkish forces for 33 years now. I am a refugee and I will not stop until it is made right. This was the center piece of my MFA Thesis, which was titled "I am Worthy," in homage to Odysseus Elytis' Nobel Prize winning poem "Axion Esti."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Image post test

This piece is from my MFA Thesis show, it is titled: "Collateral Damage - Thank you Henry." It is a love letter to Mr. Kissinger for all the destruction and death his wonderful policies created. The lives of millions were affected because of one man's hubris and ego.

Opening message

Hello, today is Sunday, September 23, 2007. It is now 10:15 pm CST. I will, hopefully, begin keeping a daily art blog to track my art growth. Wish me luck.