In painting or drawing, regardless of skill or intent, you are making a representation of a thing, while with sculpture you are making the thing itself. It’s a real object, it occupies space with you and you interact physically with it. When you move around a sculpture it changes shape, offers new perspectives. From different angles it can offer complementary or even contradictory interpretations. It can even offer a temporal experience. You are changed by the time you come back to your original viewpoint. Sculpture punctures and impacts space, rather than sitting safely within a frame. It embodies meaning, rather than representing it.
For those who paint or draw, the study of sculpture teaches critical and often neglected skills: the ability to truly see and understand form. Your perspective is not static and removed, but dynamic and interactive. You move around the model and the model rotates before you. There is not a single outside contour, but hundreds of evolving ones; edges fall off into planes, curves become globes, what in 2D are jagged patches of light and shadow in 3D become contiguous landscapes of mountains, ravines hills and valleys. Sculpting from life can fundamentally change how you see. You begin seeing around the form, not just across the surface, the far side becomes visible in the near. And, ironically, it allows you to draw better from flat sources such as photographs. You can no longer be tricked by the happenstance of light but will rather see how form is capturing light. While drawing and painting is the study of light on form, sculpture controls how you see light: whether the sugary translucence of marble, the buttery warmth of bronze, or the cold hardness of steel. You begin to understand material properties, and see the artistic potential of an almost infinite variety of stuff. It involves architecture and engineering, structural and surface anatomy, tool savvy and material experimentation, dance and movement: the energy of life. Sculpture offers the potential of a lifetime’s worth of exploration. The study of sculpture is virtually guaranteed to unlock an entire dimension, and unstick creative potential. It is a liberation from illusion. That’s why I practice and teach it.