The valuable little sketchbook

By Mike O'Day

| ARTspot ARTist

Nothing is worse than opening up a bag of clay, grabbing a hunk, and being completely clueless about what you’re going to do with it. I constantly had this problem every Wednesday night when I first started at Sculptors Workshop, until I discovered the solution to this conundrum. Bring my sketchbook! Although the sketches were originally made for paintings or linocuts, I found that any of my drawings could be the inspiration of a sculpture.

My sketchbook is a valuable little tool that I occasionally refer to when I’m stuck. Anything from a good song lyric to a crow flying overhead can send me scrambling to record a fleeting image before it escapes. A lot of my scribbling can be awful, or just plain odd (what was I thinking???), but I’m not trying to impress anyone, and they basically are just inspirational notes.

Sometimes it can be quite difficult to transform a quick gestural sketch that I love into a sculpture. I gradually realized that the best method for me is sculpting solid (as opposed to slabs or coil building), and then hollowing the piece out. Other times the sketch can be a reference point, and the sculpture can head in a strange new direction.

Working out the problems of a big complex sculpture on paper is a great way to avoid headaches. The “Ship of Fools” sketch page shows how the idea evolved, the details, and even how the sculpture will be cut into pieces and hollowed out. But as you can see from the finished piece, I added the head of a mysterious being, and I decided to change the position of the guy with the telescope on top of the world. Sketchbooks-don’t leave home without ‘em!