Portrait Busts This is a picture of one of my first models, little Alexandra. She was only five when she "sat" for her portrait - and it was then that I realized that five-year-olds don't particularly appreciate all the time and effort that goes in to modelling a bust...
Ideally, I like to have the subject visit the studio several times over a period of weeks. During the first couple of sittings I take pictures and make measurements that allow me to do a lot of the modelling without the subject being present. This helps minimize the amount of time the sitter needs to spend in the studio. During the final finishing stages of the work, however, there's really no substitute for having the sitter present.
Sitting still for a long time is not easy. After a little while, most sitters tend get restless - as if they were waiting on a red light in traffic. Fortunately, I've found that by letting people watch movies while I work they can happily sit still for hours at a time.
Actually, Alexandra was a great model and, even though she could only come for two sittings before she moved away, I think we were able to create a very nice bust of her.
Once the modelling in clay is finished, a permanent version of the bust can be created in a number of different ways. In Alexandra's case, a plaster mold was made of the original clay model which was then used to cast the final piece in plaster. As you can see, the plaster piece was given a bronze finish with a light verdigris patina. Alternatively, the plaster piece could have been used as a model for carving the bust in stone or even for casting the piece in bronze.
Here's a picture of a life-size bust I'm working on where the modelling is about 90 percent complete. Once the hair and other details are finished, the same procedure as used above for Alexandra's portrait will be followed to create a durable, permanent version in plaster. Once the plaster version is done, it can be finished and put on display or set aside indefinitely until a decision is made about having the piece carved in stone or cast in bronze.
If you would like to commission a bust of someone, please visit the Commissions page for more information about how to get the process started. It would be best if the subject could visit my studio in Austin, but if that isn't possible, I can work from photographs if necessary.