Friday, January 22, 2010

Rifles Continued

The 1903 Springfields for the Belleau Wood sculpture I'm creating are one step closer to finish, as I put on the rough forms of the barrel, chamber, bolt and receiver, etc..

To recap the rifle progress so far:
The beginnings of carving out the rifles from the template

Adding wax to the wood to fill parts of the stock out a bit

Roughing in the basic wax forms. These I will carve and detail to look like the chamber and receiver, etc.

Next, I'll take a stab at the bayonets!

UPDATE Jan 26, 2010:
Closer to Fine-- I had to make some subtle adjustments to the stocks a bit, to make it more closely resemble the original 1903 stocks, which sloped downward slightly toward the buttplate:

Gotta Hand It To 'Em

I've been working on hands lately; specifically, hand armatures for two 1/4-scale Marine figures in the Belleau Wood sculpture I've been crafting.

I had tried earlier to make them out of wire, twisting and cutting it until it was the basic size and shape of the human hand. But it was neither rigid nor pliable enough, and so I called Mike Fay, friend and prior Marine Combat Artist and sculptor, to ask him how he did hands, as I remembered him using a unique method to form them, and I needed to get his secret.

He suggested I look up a certain book by a graphic illustrator, in which he gives a template for drawing human hands, which served as a useful sculpture template for my wire hands. Also, and just as important--  he recommended I use wax also in making the hand armature, because the wax serves the dual purpose of holding the wire and mimicking the fleshy part of the hand. This was far superior a process to simply twisting wire together for fingers as I had first tried...

Here is the basic process I used--
I printed off the drawing template I found in the book, pasted it to a piece of cardstock. I also cut out just the fleshy part of the hand, which I used to cut out the corresponding wax "flesh":

I placed the cutout hand piece on the template, and used it to place the wires in the right spots, to acheive the proper length and angles. I then sealed them in place by brushing a little wax over the place where the wires met the wax:

Finally, I began the process of making "knuckles and joints" of the fingers, which I'll wax-flesh out to make the fingers, once I've bent the fingers into shape to hold the rifles.


It may not make a George Costanza model hand, but it'll do...

note: Have you ever wanted to find a decent use for all those little wire ties you find your child's Christmas toys tied to the box with? I knew I saved them for a good reason! They are perfect for finger wire, as they are small, yet strong and pliable enough to form and hold a pose.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Tin Hats

I've been working on the miniature helmets, done to 1/4-scale in wax, which will sit atop the Marines' heads in the upcoming Belleau Wood sculpture.

The helmet worn by Marines in the Great War was modeled after the British 1915 "Brodie" helmet (named for John Brodie, its designer) and was designated the M1917, but also known as the "Doughboy" helmet, or "Tin"Hat":

Just a little more refinement needed-- but not too much (as texture will give it more grittiness)...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wax On, Wax Off!

Now the rifles are coming into being.
As you recall, they began as a wooden template, which I carved and sanded with a Dremel, to fit the proper scale.

Then I dipped them in wax and carved and shaped-- putting wax on and taking wax off, subtly refining the rifle stocks through the additive and subtractive process.

my lamp and metal bowl forms a "hot pot" to melt the wax. The heat gun helps keep the wax workable.

I think the color of the wax adds a special touch to the miniatures' stocks, as is quite similar to the original finish of the 1903's stock.

Now it's time to begin putting on the barrels, receivers, etc. to make the rifles complete.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

1903 Springfield-- Now in Stock!

I was able to get my hot little hands on a beautiful 1903 Springfield, for use in sculpting the 1/4-scale rifles for the Belleau Wood sculpture I'm now beginning. Gunner Fay owns it and has let me use it.  It's a thing of beauty indeed.

Today, I began crafting the wooden stocks, which I'll finish up with wax and rods for the receiver and barrels:

I also got from Mike an actual WWI helmet, which I'll also model in one-quarter scale:

It's so cool to actually be able to see and feel some of the gear that Marines used in the past. I hope the sculpture itself will come to life because of its connection with the real objects used in its creation.

And I've added to the family of wire armatures, which themselves are starting to come to life on my shelf in the studio:

Friday, January 08, 2010

Wired for Sculpture!

Here are some photos of work I have just begun.

I have been working on plans for several 1/4 scale sculptures, of Marines in WWI at Belleau Wood, as well as Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Here is a template I made upon which to form the wire armatures (I got the idea off the internet from a very smart sculptor...):

It's a plywood board, on which I've drawn the human skeletal figure to one-quarter scale (6 ft. man translates to eighteen inches tall here) with brass pegs at key points to give proper proportion and consistency to the arm and leg lengths, etc..

I've also drawn onto a piece of wood the outline of a 1903 Springfield rifle, which I'll carve out for use in the Belleau Wood sculpture (I will do the same for the M16/M4 in the GWOT sculptures):

A little snipping, twisting and looping, and Voila! My armatures! Here are the first two, just hangin' out on the book shelf in the studio:

I'll keep you posted as I add clay and wax to "flesh it out" and put the figures in their proper environments...

End of an Era

As it says on his latest blog post at Fire and Ice, "All good things must end"...

Chief Warrant Officer Michael D. Fay has retired after twenty years of active service, including almost a decade as the Marine Corps' premier combat artist.

He is the reason I re-enlisted three years ago, and he is my combat art mentor and "sensei".

Years from now, you will still see his artwork in the history books -- depicting in color, line and form what it was like over there-- when people study the Global War on Terror.

He is a Warrior Poet and Rennaissance guy-- a rare combination, even in a Marine. (He is also one of those kind of guys that has a sign above his head saying, "in case of war, break glass...").

He will be missed in the studio and on base.

But it's not as though he won't be seen again--I believe that one day in the not too distant future, we may very well see Mr. Fay, War Artist, (Civilian) on his business card, and see photos of some guy in a goatee out on a stool, drawing in the middle of a war zone!

the board in our studio, the day Gunner Fay's finished checking out...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Workin' in the New Year

To all who see these presents...Greetings and Happy New Year!
I've been a busy little beaver lately, working on some graphic illustration projects (images to come upon publication) as well as the normal "fine art" things in the studio.
Here are two little oil sketches I've been working on, and I think they'll be complete shortly. They are based on photos and sketches I did while in Afghanistan, and depict a couple of artillery Marines in India Battery, 3rd Bn 11th Marines at Fire Base Thunder, now known as "Fiddler's Green".

The first one, in process:
The Basic Sketch and color block-in...

More color and detail...

a detail of the face and hands in the curious light made by the camo netting...

The Second painting, in process: the basic sketch and color block-in...

More color, and a little more detail (but not too much in the end, I hope...)