As a sculptor, the first thing I look for in a subject is the silhouette. I am inspired by strong compositions that reflect a pleasing pattern of shadows and highlights. I am then drawn to the attitude projected by the natural subject. I want to feel the personality, which I hope I can reproduce in my sculpture.
I comb through photos in print and online until I find ones that spark my interest. Using a photo as a reference I then sketch my subject, usually as part of a vessel, incorporating the bird, animal or tree onto a ceramic form. I use additional photos to try to get the correct anatomy of the subject, but I don‘t feel I have to be totally representational. I want to give the subject a fanciful or whimsical air that I think I project from my own personality. Frequently the first piece l design from my sketches becomes a prototype. I will make similar sculptures, making various changes to the first piece. Sometimes these changes are consciously done and sometimes the clay or the sculpture itself seems to stimulate the changes. I will come back to the sculpture over a period of days and when I feel it needs nothing more to convey the form and emotion it’s ready for the first firing in the kiln.
The final process is the glazing which is like starting over. The form and silhouette are complete, but the finish and color make the final statement and that’s always a challenge. If the finish on the sculpture is not what I desired, it cannot be easily altered and I will have to make a new sculpture and try again.
When the form and finish come together in the final sculpture there is nothing better than to know I have succeeded in projecting my original vision into my sculpture. These details are also what people who see my art are drawn to; they often comment that my work has lifelike emotion and movement that they rarely see in ceramic sculpture.
. . Bonnie Belt