The Gorilla. This animal has always evoked fascination and respect in us. The embodyment of strenght and majesty. Looking back on it, I have never thought that I would sculpt a Gorilla. It seemed pointless to undertake such sculpt since nature had already done it in such a marvelous way. However, throughout the years I realized that a Gorilla is an excellent topic for a studying sculpture and texture. Challenging myself with this topic has taught me to look differently on detail in sculpture and understanding it´s importance in a better way. Below you will find a handful of pictures and comments on the creation of one of my first Gorilla sculpts.
Before starting to use any clay I had to prepare an adequate wire and wood construction that would hold the plastiline. For this topic it seemed like the ideal putty. It is a medium that I really like to use. As always, the first thing to focus on was to decide on the narration of the piece along with the general shapes. I went for a very straightforward approach to sculpt an powerful alpha male that was chewing on some grass. I wanted to put an emphasis on the fragility of the grass versus the power of the animal. This detail defines the whole sculpture. Without it, this would just be the image of the head of a Gorilla.
It was very important to gather some good reference based on proper photography on the subject. You should always see photographs as a starting point of discovering your own vision.
Pay attention on how the tiny grass element is present at any stage of the sculpting process, regardless on how much detail is already done on the subject itself.
Once the volumes are decided upon we start working on the details, which should convey emotions in the sculpture. Bear in mind that detail is not the same as texture. In addition I am often sculpting the face asymmetrical as this results in a more interesting outcome. Once the volumes, shapes and details are refined it is time for a round of revision. I am correcting the texture in some places to add or subtract volume. It is a constant evaluation on where texture should be more dominant or subtle. A sculpture of a Gorilla is not the same as an authentic Gorilla. A sculpture is the artistic representation of it´s soul, it´s character and everything that shapes and defines it.
Following this philosophy I am not always keeping up with what one can see in nature. Often times it is necessary to dramatize elements in sake of building up an authentic artistic expression. This is why sometimes you can create elements that seem to defy the natural truth, for example the length of the fur on the forehead. This is a conscious decision. It is not about creating an anatomical subject for Madam Tussaud´s, but to convey my vision on the character as an artist.
In case of this Gorilla I have decided on sculpting the fur in it´s entirety. However, I have left some artistic freedom to the actual shape in order to emphasize a certain emotion. It would also have been possible to create a sculpture without such visible, sculpted fur, but this would have impacted the character.
I have continued to slowly add more fur, constantly thinking of the relationship between the fur and the fragile grass in the mouth of the Gorilla.
Different types and lengths of fur were used at different places on the head.
This is the final look of the sculpture. To achieve this, I have utilized many different tools, many of which I have made myself. To smoothen the plastiline up I have used Turpentine. The whole bust is big enough, so I did not have to worry about smudging too many details.
In the end I made some copies of the sculpture from grey resin. The bases are made of wood. You can also find this sculpture for purchase in my shop, with one important detail that you will have to add yourself: The tiny grass straws! This way you will be able to add the most important part yourself, giving the Gorilla it´s unique detail.
Alright, that´s it, folks! I invite you to tackle the subject of the Gorilla yourself. I can promise that you will be both delighted and rewarded!