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Sculpture, Truth and Meditation

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Luke Shepherd

Joined: 01 Mar 2010
Posts: 29
Location: UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:46 am    Post subject: Sculpture, Truth and Meditation Reply with quote

Truth (extract from my website - notes and ideas to ponder over)

Each precious moment with the sitter is a chance to capture a true observation. A "true observation" is only seen in the present moment, when the mind is tranquil and has dropped to a deeper focus. This way of seeing is gained from my martial arts background. In my work I have had to develop a discipline to follow a strict protocol and principles that yield results, despite the desire to switch to automatic pilot. For when on auto, the work becomes unconscious and it is not built upon a true foundation of clear observation. However, if the work can be made in a conscious manner, it can embody an integrity which is palpable. In this way the act of observation becomes a meditation on letting go of preconceptions and allowing what is present to be appreciated and captured, just as it is.

"When people view something with a preconceived idea about it, they tend to take those preconceived ideas and see them whether or not they are there. This problem stems from the fact that humans are unable to understand new information, without the inherent bias of their previous knowledge. The extent of a person's knowledge creates their reality as much as the truth, due to the fact that the human mind can only contemplate that which it has been exposed to. When objects are viewed without understanding, the mind will try to reach for something that it already recognizes, in order to process what it is viewing. That which most closely relates to the unfamiliar from our past experiences, makes up what we see when we look at things that we don't comprehend."

Beauty and the role of the artist

A part of me is not much interested in making a beautiful sculpture, although I am aware that this is what many of my clients require! My interest is to produce truthful work, as I see beauty in nature’s design — in the way things are.

In this respect I align my outlook with artists such as Giacometti and Ewan Uglow, rather than artists of the Renaissance or Greek period. However, it’s not quite as simple as that, because I also have a strong belief in the importance of the artist being part of their community and contrary to today’s myth, not as an bohemian, independent of their of surroundings. I do not hold with current belief of the artist being a showman. A novel thinker with fresh and innovative and perhaps radical ideas. I see the artist’s role more as a creative solver of genuine, not ideological problems. I have a huge respect for the Arts and Craft movement. As such, conceptual art leaves me cold, where as tangible, material based work I find far more enticing. I can only spend about 20 minutes in the Tate Gallery, but you’d have difficulty getting me out of the V & A!

"In my portraits it is assumed that I start out with a definite conception of my sitter's character. On the contrary, I have no such conception whatsoever in the beginning."

Jacob Epstein

Inner life

When working on a commission my wife Satya will tell you that I can become more introverted and obsessive, with less patience for her or friends. I often cannot sleep as well while the work is in a dynamic stage — until it crosses a threshold where it begins to take on its own character.

Speaking to a friend who is a long distance runner, we find similarities in that from the outside what is seen is the distance covered and the sweat. The inner world of the runner is rarely glimpsed but plays a huge part towards their achievement. This is something of the process of completing a portrait commission.

I find similarities when training plastic surgeons also, as we both agree that the focus and discipline over a sustained period of time in our work is of a similar nature. However, I can relax knowing that at the end of a day’s work the worst scenario is that a piece of clay is in the wrong place!

Blue Print and Approach

In my mind there is a constant unspoken dialogue between what is seen, what is being made and the blue print for the work. Artistry is achieved when this dialogue is clear, fluid and constructive without one aspect dominating. I see it like a meeting with friends, where creating the right environment is important for creativity, trust and intimacy to occur.

"If my work is done well, resemblance appears of it's own accord."

I have observed students who do not have the understanding of a blue print or discipline to follow it. This approach doesn't fluidly lead to a work that is able to penetrate to a deeper level and can portrays more than mere form.
Luke Shepherd
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Luke Shepherd

Joined: 01 Mar 2010
Posts: 29
Location: UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:31 am    Post subject: Perception as Meditation - Quote by Frederick Frank Reply with quote

Frederick Frank

(further notes to complement original post)

“The act of seeing / drawing is essentially a reflex arc. The image falls onto my eye. From the retina it travels directly to my hand, of which the pencil is the extension. I let it travel through what I happen to be, but without interference: I don’t allow the interpretive machinery of the brain to take hold of it, to label it quickly: a “beautiful tree” or a poplar. While drawing, the hand precipitates onto the paper only what the eye perceives and the traces and dots form the mosaic on which all pieces fit together to form an image, which then I may recognize as being that of a “beautiful tree” or a poplar.

The pencil in my hand becomes like a seismographic needle which in these dots and strokes registers the inner tremors of my seeing… Progress in drawing is the ever finer sensitization of this reflex arc that comes with years of practice.”

Frederick Frank
Art as a Way
Crossroad Publishing
Luke Shepherd
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Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting read. Thanks. So it seems to me that there are points in sculpting where letting the clay flow through the fingers without much thought but naturally where are creative and trained spirit leads us. for me this is usually at a later stage, when doing fabric and hair. I love to be thoughtless and just in the zone and doing something that looks beautiful (as I love to go for beauty in m work).

The part about being disciplined is my least favorite part of sculpting but a necessary bit towards going to the beautiful end result. Hopefully, one day I can be in the part that is pure joy throughout the whole sculpture. Working from life brings me a lot closer to this ideal and it eliminates guessing. It's all right before me and I can relax and let it flow.
Happy Sculpting!
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Jeanette Lewis

Joined: 13 Oct 2009
Posts: 595
Location: Merseyside U.K.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Luke,
some well-linked thoughts in this post about the common processes an artist uses to acheive a satisfactory end to their work.
I think what you are describing here is not "truth" but the concept of relativism? or as Descartes said “ I think therefore I am.”
Or, what is real to me, therefore is "truth."
This is illustrated in the example of Giacometti who had a stigmatism; which served to eskew his perception and therefore his interpretation of reality (truth) of the subject...resulting in elongated imagery - but that was how it looked to him.
Therefore, he, (as we), can never claim to represent truth in our work, maybe just mimic it in some part.
Truth is what it is. By its definition, it is not "more" or "less than", because it is "truth".
Just adding a little more to be pondered upon...
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