There is an aspect to every art form — from singing, to painting, to writing — that holds a special kind of allure for me. For some, like painting and singing, the draw is in the process. With three dimensional sculpture, however, that draw also comes from the tangible nature of the final product.
The process of sculpture is indeed very different from the creation of a painting.This comes from the fact that with sculpture, you are creating something that is meant to take up space. Whether that space be large or small, it differs greatly from the two-dimensional planes of display paintings are planned for. When sculpting, every side of the sculpture has to be considered. Even with an abstract sculpture, however planned — or not — the sculpture appears, the artist who created it made very conscious decisions in regards to each side and how the piece would interact with the space around it.
Although in my own work I often deal with abstract, my current projects surround realistic representations of mythical creatures. Therefore, the planning stages I deal with also include studying different myths and trying to figure out, based on real creatures, the bone structures and general anatomy of whichever creature I have decided to represent.
There is a lot of trial and error that goes into this, as things can easily go wrong between planning and the final outcome. I have to ask myself what kinds of textures I want the creature to have, and how to create that texture without sacrificing the stability of the design.
In my opinion, it is the textures that are the most important part of the design, besides the actual structural engineering. When approaching the final piece, I want
it to look convincing; when I touch it, I want it to feel real. I want what is meant to be bone that looks and feels like bone, scales to look and feel like scales.
There are times when, sometimes for hours, I will just think about how I’m going to do something: how to make the structure stable, how to create a necessary texture. It can be daunting, terrifying even, to just get started because of how many things can go wrong because of how much planning there is.
Nevertheless, it is always so rewarding when a piece turns out the way it was meant to. When the textures work, when the design stands, when it’s convincing, it is really the best feeling. The hours of planning and the subsequent hours of hard, painstaking work, become like nothing compared to the satisfaction of standing back from a final product you are proud of.
Emma Mehegan can be contacted at