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Bas-Relief Wall Hanging Sculpture by Kelly Borsheim

Wind and Wisteria

bronze wall-hanging sculpture
approx. 21" h x 28" w x 1" d
© 2017
Kelly Borsheim

Pre-casting Price $3200

Note: This is a Photoshop mock-up
of what the sculpture might look like
when finished. See story below.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

(More images below)


[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

This is how the sculpture actually looks now. I used a light blue-green plastilina [oil-based clay that never dries]. I will make a two-part mold of this sculpture and later cast it into bronze using the The Lost Wax Casting Method.

I typically offer a Pre-casting Savings for the first person who helps me realize my work in a more permanent medium. That is the price you see above. Note that bronze is a metal. It is shiny and reflective by nature. Light bounces off of it much more than it bounces off of clay. In fact, clay absorbs the light. I changed the color of the clay in the mock-up above to something closer to bronze to help you envision the cast sculpture; however, the finished art will likely have a more 3-dimensional look [contrast] than what you see above. Contact me if you would like to take advantage of this offer for Wind and Wisteria.

Read below for progress images and descriptions from start to finishing the clay. Incidently, I always envisioned this composition going above a fireplace. In the Photoshop mock-up above, I used my own fireplace mantel in the image. When I first moved into my home, I placed one of my prints on the nail already above the mantel. But I soon felt how warm that stone chimney was under the frame. While not a fire hazard, I decided that I should make something in a more appropriate material for that space. Perhaps you would like Wind and Wisteria over your fireplace or on any lovely vertical place in your home or work space. Thank you!

Creating Wind and Wisteria

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

5 June 2017: I broke my right wrist while climbing around some rocks, looking for my next project, on Wednesday, 31 May 2017. My foot started to slide on some loose pebbles, and as I tried to raise myself up on a more solid part of the boulder nearby, my right knee gave out and down I went. [I injured the knee twice in 2016, early February in Austria, and a different accident in late March in Florence, Italy.]

My wrist and forearm were put into a cast for a month. My right is my dominant hand, but I use both sometimes while painting or sculpting. However, after having spent almost two months in the USA and not making art during that time, I was really frustrated to have this happen.

I needed to create something and decided that if I painted badly with my left hand, I would have to redo all of the work. I could not carve stone nor build an armature for a 3-dimensional artwork, so a bas-relief in a soft material, such as the plastilina I have, was the answer. I reasoned that even if I did not have enough control with my left hand, I would not be going backwards. My left hand is competent enough to give a good foundation to an idea brewing in my mind ever since I moved into my new home in Italy in December 2015.

I took a drawing board and green marker and mapped out the outer boundary of my design, careful to leave enough space for the inevitable mold-making. You may see my recently decorated cast at the bottom of the image left. I used a board and two of my sandbags as a straighedge and extra hands, respectively, to secure the position before marking the central lines. And then the upper left of the image shows a painting palette. I used its shape to trace the curves that would form the rough outer limits of my design.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young German boy comes to sculpt with me]

9 June 2017: Working outside during the summer was the only way to go for my mentality. I do not like direct sun, however, so I worked under an umbrella in the space in front of my home. On this day, some guests of a local agriturismo passed by my gate. After a while of talking, I learned that the young German boy Sijan loved to draw, so I invited the two ladies and Sijan to come on in through the gate, while I then went inside to pull out some pastels and drawing paper.

At some point, his grandmother Helga asked if she and her friend Ulricke could leave almost 10-year-old Sijan with me while they continued their walk a bit. Sijan and I had a great time. He made drawings to show me a bit about his life and interests, starting with the sun. And then he asked if he could try to sculpt something. I was on "Gregory Duty" [dogsitting] that day and you may see the dog sitting at the feet of the boy, as the boy worked on a portrait of the dog. I was amused because Sijan chose to make the dog without legs and with his tail extended. Gregory looked to me like an alligator! What fun we had! [And yes, that is a bowl of cherries I had picked from my landlord's garden next door.]

Helga told me at the next visit that she had been surprised that Sijan had told me of his mother's death from cancer when he was only six. But I showed her the drawing he made of the tumor or body part where it hit her. The part that is most interesting about this is that Sijan speaks only German. My mother learned German, but our family moved when I was a child just starting to learn the language. So Sijan and I communicated with art and sign language, mostly. The two German ladies spoke a little bit of English and more Italian, so we mostly used the latter.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

9 June 2017: I have always allowed children to use my cameras. I find with the right instruction and tone of voice, kids respect the equipment and can start to learn. Here, Sijan took a portrait of Gregory and me while I showed off my signed cast.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy modeling his self portrait sculpture]

9 June 2017: Here is Sijan showing off his quick self-portrait in plastilina clay.

By the way, these images are published with permission. In fact, I have many images that either I or Sijan took of him and his traveling companions [I later met and dined with the whole party, including the two husbands of Helga and Ulrike.] Sijan wants to be a model when he is a little bit older and struck many a pose for me. He had a tendency to flash me by lifting up his T-shirt, so you might imagine my laughter when he came into my home, saw the drawings of nude men, and gave me a face of disapproval!

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

10 June 2017: Three of my friends [who also sculpted in the symposium in Vellano in 2016 for the Pinocchio project] came to visit me. And then my neighbor Rita, who is the reason I now have a home where I do, stopped by to say hello to all. Before their visit, my cast had been colorfully decorated by the two children of my landlord's neighbor in Sorana, the village across the valley from mine in Tuscany, Italy. On this day, some grown-ups added their signatures.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

10 June 2017: So, out I go with the camera on timer to document this afternoon. Left to right: Simone, me, Kumiko, Rita, and Mariano.

You may wonder why I am sharing so many "non-art" images with you as a part of my process for Wind and Wisteria. The truth is that the support of friends and the chance joyful meetings with people translates into good and strong emotions. Those emotions go into the art-making.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

22 June 2017: This is also an image that brings me joy. While my sculpture was covered in plastic for the day to protect it from any dirt or outside interests, I went to town to see my doctor and then had a lunch date, followed by a proposal that I preferred not to hear, and went home a bit down. As I was walking up the hill to my house, I heard my landlord's van pulling away as he was on his way home across the valley. He had also gone to town after lunch and bought a bag of peaches from a local person. I stood outside of his driver's side window chatting with him in the street. Before he took off for the evening, he loaded me down with more fresh peaches than I could easily carry, lightening my day immensely. That kindness brings a smile to my face even as I write this months later.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

25 June 2017: It took me a while to figure out what to put in the lower left corner. I knew that I wanted a masculine face, but was not sure of what age. One morning I woke with the idea to put my nephew's face there. I contacted my sister in Florida and showed her the piece as it was and what the idea is. She got each of her boys to pose and sent me a large handful of images. I do not have easy access to models where I live now, but I am so happy that I can include people I love into my art.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

26 June 2017: I realized that I needed a real model for the female head that personifies the wind. I have not yet learned how to make my imagined models look consistent with real life references. So, selfie time!

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

5 July 2017: This is as far as I got modeling the clay with my left hand. By this date, my cast had been removed and I was starting therapy at home, just moving about as I could. My neighbor and my landlord were helpful enough to move the sculpture into my kitchen. Bas-relief sculpture is compressed form, not "puffy painting" as I once called it in a lack of appreciation, before I had ever seen any good ones. For this reason, I needed to work vertically so that I could really see what I was doing.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

16 July 2017: My setup. You might note the C-clamps on either end of the table, at the front. I placed a long strip of wood there to keep the easel legs from slipping forward, having put plastic over the entire table top to protect it.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

16 July 2017: Side lighting from my open front door.

The biggest challenge for this sculpture is how does one sculpt something that is not usually seen? Naturally, I thought of Botticelli's painting The Birth of Venus, especially since years ago I had drawn the two faces of the wind gods blowing Venus ashore as a street painting in Florence, Italy. [See p. 50 and 95 in my book "My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy."]

When you think about it, we do not actually see wind. We can see [and sometimes hear], however, her effect on objects that we can see. Ok... but I wanted to create a composition with a big empty space in the middle! What was I thinking? hmm. In the end, I decided to do what great art does: put some visual clues in place and hope that allows the viewer to fill in the rest.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

16 July 2017: Top lighting. Because I never intended for my kitchen to become a part of my studio, I do not have a good lighting system there and was not willing to put holes in the wall. Still, I like to look at my art under many different kinds of lighting to help me see things that I do not like.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

7 August 2017: Sadly, there was not enough oil in the clay for it to stick entirely to the board. I entered this morning to find that the boy's head had slid down, separating from the rest of the composition. Glad I caught it at that stage! Now the piece is resting on my kitchen table, propped up in the back with a blanket.

Wisteria blooms in April and May here, but with our drought and my occasional watering this summer, the plant was putting off random small flowers. Now, I have the task to create them believable as flowers affected by the wind blowing beneath them.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

8 August 2017: Working on the face. I am still trying to get the feel of her creating the wind with her blowing. And, I did not want her to look like me. Still, the face does not look convincing to me. Expressions are elusive... one small thing can be different and we read the face as stiff or with another thought behind the muscle positions.

[wind and wisteria woman personifies wind young boy blowing mother and child art bronze sculpture]

8 August 2017: And work continues on the boy's face. I pulled the hair back, but also you may see that the mouth needs to be shaped better. For one thing, there is too much light on the lower lip, which normally recedes under the upper lip. That means it would not receive much light. I want him to have slightly fuller lips than I have here, but not so full that they appear false. He also has the eyebrows of a man!

Since the piece will eventually be cast into metal [likely bronze], I wanted to enjoy a different surface texture than I could do in a stone carving. Also, once I finish the entire composition and make sure that I have looked at each individual section for a fullness in form, I will go over the piece as if I were an editor. One consideration is to remember that bronze or any metal reflects more light than clay does. So, I really need to be subtle when changing the planes of light... an "edge" in a form that looks ok in clay could look glaringly harsh in a shiny material. It always surprises me how much more clay I use after I think that I am finished, but before making this quality check.

The final passes would be ONLY to make sure that I have filled any holes or undercuts that are not necessary. By necessary I mean by how the shape makes the light fall while considering the mold-making and casting processes. I tend to make a lot of undercuts and holes on my work because I want light to fall in behind or in-between parts in the composition. This makes the piece more complicated to realize, but I feel the time, energy, and money, . . . and beauty . . . are totally worth it.

Click HERE to order your bronze wall sculpture Wind and Wisteria now. Payment plans accepted: You choose how much to pay and on which DATE each month; no finance charges.


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Kelly Borsheim
Borsheim Arts Studio
www.borsheimarts.com
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Most recent revision: 15 September 2017