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The Ecstatsy of St. Teresa

The Ecstatsy of St. Teresa

Bernini is one of the most famous and talented artist of the baroque period and indeed of all time. His work was a testament to his skill and genius. One such work that continues to enthrall observes today and was given the spotlight in Dan Brown’s book (and the subsequent movie of the same name) Angels and Demons, is the Ecstasy of St. Teresa (1647-52). What fallow is some background on the artist himself and the real story behind this magnificent sculpture.

About the Artist

Gianlorenzo Bernini was born in Naples December 7th, 1598 and received his first education from his father Pietro, who was a successful Florentine sculptor. From a young age he was a prodigy and chiseled his first bust when he was only 8. He learned by studying the sketching the great masters. It was not easy to follow in the footsteps of such great artists as Michelangelo and Raphael but Bernini did just that. Soon he was getting commissions form nobles and even the pope himself.

Bernini himself was passionate about the theater and an innovative scene designer. He was at his best when he could merge architecture, sculpture and painting. He accomplishes this magnificently in the Ecstasy of St. Teresa.

The Statue

The statue is set in Cornaro Chapel in the church of Sta. Maria della Vittoria. The sculpture recounts one of her divine experiences; of how an angel pierced her heart with a flaming golden arrow. The statue shows the moment as the angel has pulled the arrow out from her. In her own words Saint Teresa says: “The pain was so great that I screamed aloud; but a the same time I felt such infinite sweetness that I wished the pain to last forever. It was not physical but psychic pain, although it affected the body as well to some degree. It was the sweetest caressing of the soul by God.”

The figure of the angel comes directly from the saints’ account. She describes him as young and beautiful. St. Teresa herself is reclined on a floating cloud, her mouth parted. Both are on a floating cloud as they appear to rise toward heaven. The saints garments are chiseled in such a way as to appear all rippled and disheveled – an outward sign of her turbulent spirit within. The angel’s garments are done in such a way that they make him look like he is wrapped in flames.

They are both lit from above by a window and above that is a fresco by Guidebaldo Abbatini depicting the glory of the heavens. At its center is a brilliant burst of light and clouds of jubilant angels surround it. This celestial “explosion” gives force to the thrusts of the angel’s arrow and make the ecstasy of the saint believable.

The Six Great Sculptors of Greece

The Six Great Sculptors of Greece

Ancient sculptures have always held the modern man in awe! From gods and goddess, the ancient sculptures defined their age as one of force and magnanimous. Ancient Greece comes to the fore front whenever the subject of ancient sculptures is touched. Within Greece and its wide heritage of sculptors, there are six who are considered to be the fore-most in the art. Many sculptures were known for their famous works, sculpture being an important part of the Greek culture; but the six sculptors gave a new direction to the art of sculpting. This



Phidias was an Athenian sculptor, painter and architecture and is considered one of the greatest sculptors in all of Ancient Greece. Although few facts are known about his life, he is believed to have lived from around 490 until 430 BC. Phidias is mainly known for his two enormous chryselephantine (gold and ivory) sculptures Athena in the Parthenon and his Zeus at Olympia.

Phidias’ colossal statue of Athena was housed in the Parthenon, known as the Athena Parthenon and recognized as the symbol of Athens, dating from 447 – 439 BC. Phidias’ second work was his gigantic statue of Zeus for the temple in Olympia. Dating from around 435 BC, the statue was counted as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Athena Promachos, the Lemnian Athena, an Athena for Pellene and an Aphrodite for Elis are among the few great works from Phidias.


Myron was an Athenian sculptor who lived during the mid 5th century BC. He was born in Eleutherae but spend most of his life in Athens. He was believed to the student of Ageladas of Argos. Among his many works, the two most famous ones are the group of Athena and Marsyas originally standing on the Acropolis of Athens and the Discobolos (Discus Thrower). Myron was considered to be one of the most versatile and innovative of all Attic sculptors.


Polykleitos was one of the well known Greek sculptors during the fifth and early 4th century BC. He was considered the most important sculptor of Ancient Greece next to his contemporaries Phidias and Myron. He was famous for his masterly bronze sculptor of athletes. Of his many works, Polykleitos two works are considered best. These were Diadumenus (Man tying on a Fillet), which was made during 430 BC and Doryphorus (Spear bearer) which was made during 450-440 BC and was latter being known as the Canon.


Believed to be the native of Athens, Praxiteles was a famous sculptor who lived during the early 4th century. Son of the sculptor Cephisodotos, his recognition as a great sculptor is clear from the pictures of his sculptures which were engraved on Roman coins, as well as the descriptions given to us by writers such as Pliny the Elder and Pausanias. Few of his famous works are the marble statue of Hermes Carrying the Infant Dionysus which was made by Parian marble during the end of 4th century and Aphrodite of Cnidus which was considered as the best statue of the world by Pliny the Elder.


Scopas was a Greek sculptor and architecture of the Late Classical Period who lived during the 4th century BC. He was the successor to Polykleitos and contemporary of Praxiteles and Lysippus. He is known to introduce the powerful emotional expressions in the faces of his marble figures. Few of his notable works includes Maenad, the Pothoas and Ludovisi Ares.


Lysippus is one of the well known sculptors of the Greek Classical Era along with Scopas and Praxiteles. He was one of the official sculptor of Alexander the Great. His works was characterized by life-like naturalism and slender proportions. According to roman writers, he has produced more than 1500 works all of them in bronze. Of these, not one has been preserved, nor is there a completely reliable copy. Lysippos is best known for his bronze sculpture and marble sculpture of athletes, heroes and Gods. Few of his famous works includes Apoxyomenos (The Scraper) and The Farnese Hercules.

Metropolitan Museum of Art – Art Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art – Art Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art is a great art museum and a must visit destination for every artist out there who likes a taste of fine arts gallery or modern art gallery. This fine arts blog brings you the detail of Metropolitan Museum of Art which is situated on the eastern edge of Central Park in Manhattan, New York.


Metropolitan Museum of Art is the world’s largest encyclopedic and one of the most respected art museums. The name of this great art museum is abbreviated as the Met. The eternal collection of this art museum has more than two million art works across thousands of years from all periods and cultures. Thus the Metropolitan Museum of Art is also the most extensive and creative art museum in the world.


A group of New Yorkers including some art lovers, wealthy businessmen, artists and philosophers founded this art museum named Metropolitan Museum of Art back in 1870; to share their love of art with the masses. It was originally location on Fifth Avenue which then changed to 14th Street within a short period of time and then this art museum got its own plot of land on the east side of Central Park, which is its present address. Today, the museum occupies nearly two million square feet and measures about a quarter-mile long which means it has grown about 20-fold since it first opened.


There are around two million of different art works at Metropolitan Museum of Art which are divided into 22 artistic departments spanned in about 250 rooms. They American decorative arts, American paintings and sculpture, Ancient Near Eastern art, Arms and armor, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Asian art, The Costume Institute, Drawings and prints, Egyptian art, European paintings, European sculpture and decorative arts, Greek and Roman art, Islamic art, Robert Lehman Collection, Libraries, Medieval art, The Cloisters, Modern art, Musical instruments, Photographs and Roof Garden.


According to surveys and statistics the rooftop sculpture garden and also the amazing Robert Lehman Collection are mentioned as one of the most widespread and extraordinary private art collections in the world. So the next time you are visiting New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art is in your list of places to visit and things to do. For more updates on fine arts gallery and modern art updates stay on our fine arts blog.

Kinetic Sculpture

Kinetic Sculpture

Many think of sculpture as a static, ever-constant work of three-dimensional art such as classical figurative works in stone. Kinetic sculpture is a far cry from these weighty forms. Kinetic sculpture is made up of light, flowing, free-moving parts that create an ever-changing combination of forms. Any art form made of free-moving components can be called a kinetic sculpture.

Alexander Calder: The Inventor of the Kinetic Sculpture Mobile

The first widely-recognized kinetic sculpture was created by artist, Alexander Calder around 1930. Calder created much of his earlier work using wire and focusing on linear forms. He would create sculptures of animals and people, forming their features and creating the illusion of mass with the linear wire. After creating a series of these sculptures, his work started to evolve toward simpler, but more interactive works of art.

Inspired by Modernist artist Piet Mondrian, Calder combined simple geometric shapes in bold colors with his linear wire to create hanging artworks. These artworks were created by suspending a series of wire branches, that would hang from a pivot point, from one main suspension point on the ceiling. These series of wires and shapes would hang and slowly swivel back and forth from their varying suspention points.

After witnessing some of Calder’s kinetic sculptures, French Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp gave them the name mobiles, which indicated that they were made for motion. This term caught on and Calder’s sculptures were, from then on, known as mobiles. Calder continued to create large, free-moving mobiles, some of which extended as far as 20 feet long.

Teaching Kinetic Sculpture in the Art Classroom

Students can learn to use movable elements to enhance a work of art. They can do this by adding a kinetic element to a sculpture project or by creating an entirely kinetic work of art like a mobile.

To add a kinetic element to a work of art, the art teacher can ask that the students to attach an element using one pivoting point, one suspended line, or a hinge that allows the item to flip. This attachment could be incorporated into metals projects, wood projects, or even those projects made from matte board. Student could use wire, string and fasteners to attach these kinetic elements. To keep the work meaningful, the teacher could have the students write a justification or an artist’s statement about the use of their kinetic element.

To create a mobile based on Calder’s work, the students could use wire, string and matte board. Spray paint could be used to color the pieces of matte board. The teacher could require the students to start with a horizontal wire that would suspend three different kinetic elements. Students could use a limited color palette of three to four colors and use varying sizes of the same shape to create a harmonized look.

Appreciating Kinetic Sculpture

Though kinetic sculpture does not attempt to realisticly depict a figure, its beauty comes from the poetic grace of its movement and color. Art viewers can appreciate the simple charm in its form and construction. Kinetic art will constantly transform and engage an art viewer.By appreciating this type of kinetic sculpture, art viewers can expand their cultural horizons and experience something purely beautiful.

Polymer Clay

Polymer Clay

One of the most versatile members of the art medium world, polymer clay can be used for anything from a fun arts and craft project to beautiful sculptures.

What is Polymer Clay?

Polymer clay is not true clay. Instead, it is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and plasticizer. It comes in a variety of colors, including metallic sheens such as gold and silver. The colors can also be mixed to create custom tones.

Types of Polymer Clay

There are several different brands of polymer clay, including Sculpey and Fimo. Although they are essentially made from the same material, each brand has its unique characteristics. Sculpey, for example, is softer than Fimo (unless Fimo Soft is purchased.) Colors also differ from brand to brand.

Different brands can often be mixed to combine elements of each.

Where to Find Polymer Clay

Polymer clay can be found in arts and craft and art stores, as well as some specialty stores (such as those that sell beads) and via the Internet.

They usually come in small packets, with each color wrapped individually. There are also sets available, and larger sizes for certain colors.

How to Use Polymer Clay

No matter the brand, polymer clay needs to be worked before using. Take a small amount of clay and roll, squeeze and pinch it until it has achieved the desired consistency. The harder the clay, the more it will need to be worked. Softer clay can be handled in larger sizes.

Once it has achieved a workable consistency, polymer clay is easy to shape. It is a good idea to start with simple projects at first, in order to get a feel for this medium.

Polymer clay is hardened in the oven, where it will retain its shape and color. Be careful not to over bake, however. Follow the instructions on the package carefully.

Possible First Project

Making beads is a good initial project for those who are using polymer clay for the first time. Take a chunk of clay and work it. Two or more colors can be mixed to create a marble effect. Roll each color into a ‘string,’ put them together and roll them all into a ball. Be careful not to overwork, since the desire is for each color to make an appearance. If mixed too much, the colors will meld into a solid color.

Break off pieces from the whole, making sure that they are the wanted size for the bead. Roll it until it forms a ball, then take a pin, a sharp toothpick, or other pointed implement and pierce through the middle of the ball from end to end. Repeat until the desired number of beads have been created. When there are enough beads, bake them in the oven, and then let them cool for a few minutes before stringing them together.

A Versatile Medium

Polymer clay can be used to make a variety of things. It can be used to create lifelike sculptures of animals and flowers, or dollhouse effects. Beads and other pieces of jewellery are also possible, as are magnets, and two-dimensional sculpted paintings.

Eagles, dragons: Stainless steel takes on many forms

Eagles, dragons: Stainless steel takes on many forms

Metal fabricator Kevin Stone uses gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) to sculpt massive pieces of art from stainless steel. Read about Stone’s creative and technical processes and discover important tips that can improve your stainless steel welding.

A few years ago Kevin Stone, a senior fabricator, decided to combine his years of welding experience with his innate artistic ability and began creating stainless steel sculptures on a large scale. While people make the pilgrimage to Stone’s yard in Chilliwack, B.C., to see the “Power of Flight,” a 12-ft. tall, 18-ft.-long stainless steel eagle with a 41-ft. wingspan, Stone is busy inside his studio working on his latest project: an 85-ft.-long Chinese dragon.

With price tags of more than $3 million, Stone’s sculptures are designed to weather the elements and never lose their shine. His objective is to create “shock and awe artwork … beauty on a large scale.” To achieve this vision, he works with stainless steel, which he considers to be one of the more difficult metals to work with.

“Very few people can weld thin stainless,” Stone said. “It will oxidize quickly, overheat, and burn through. It requires polishing to bring out its beauty, which is very labor-intensive. Very few people work with it. However, it’s worth the effort. Once it’s polished, it can be out in the elements, and it won’t corrode, rust, or lose its mirrorlike quality. My vision is for my sculptures to be mounted over water to bring out the reflective qualities and use colored lights for effect.”

About 14 months into the “Chinese Imperial Water Dragon” , Stone already has used 1,800 sq. feet of 16-gauge 304 stainless steel and expects to use another 1,800 sq. ft. before he’s done.

The Creative Process

When beginning a new sculpture, Stone conducts some preliminary research and design, but he builds primarily from his imagination. “I have a blueprint in my head that I follow,” he said. “I visualize five to 10 steps ahead of what I’m working on. I picture what the overall shape will be and try to think of something that will fit inside that shape, yet be structurally strong.”

To help with fit-up and save both time and material, Stone first works out the details on paper. After he finishes one piece of stainless, he cuts a piece of paper to represent the next piece and ensure it fits perfectly before transferring it to a piece of stainless.

Stone shapes the pieces by hand and then tack-welds them into place with his Miller Dynasty® gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW) machine. He first places the welds several inches apart. When Stone is happy with the fit-up, he adds more tack welds between the existing welds until there are welds about every half-inch. He eventually finish-welds the pieces together, welding a 10-in. section in one place and then moving to another section. This helps to minimize the heat input and to ensure proper fit. He finishes by grinding down the welds and polishing the pieces.

Making a plaster sculpture

Making a plaster sculpture

Making a plaster sculpture can be achieved in two ways: by direct modeling and by casting the plaster from clay. This article will deal with the first method of direct modeling.

Plaster is one of the most common and accessible materials available for art. There are many different grades of plaster, but for direct modeling ordinary building plaster will be suitable. You may however experiment with harder plasters that will be more expensive.

You may simply pour plaster into a box, if you want a block of plaster to carve from. However, for our example we will use a method that is slightly more sophisticated. We will use a human head as out model. Find a picture of a person’s head as your starting point. Remember that as this stage we are interested in learning the process of plaster sculpture. Do not be concerned at this stage with creating a great sculptural masterpiece. This can come later. The next step is to build an armature

Building an armature.

An armature is a frame for your sculpture. It can be made from any strong and rigid material like wire or steel. If you have a small welder you can quickly construct a basic steel frame for almost any sculpture. The frame is a basic rough outline of your sculpture and is meant to hold the material, in this case plaster, securely in place. Use the following method for making your first armature.

Secure a round piece of wood to a piece of hardboard. You can do this by gluing the wood together or by using nails or tacks. The length of the wood should be about two or three inches shorter than the length of the head you envisage making. Please note that it is not advisable to try to make a very large sculpture at the beginning. You will find that you may not have enough plaster and that it may be more time- consuming than you at first thought.

Now take some lengths of flexible wire and secure them to the piece of hardboard with nails. Bend the wire to make a rounded shape. Attach these wires to the central wooden pole. You should secure at least four pieces of wire in this way. This is the basic structure of your head. Make sure that the entire structure is smaller than the head ‘s final dimensions. The next stage requires knowledge of the correct mixing of plaster. We will return to the final stage of the armature after the next section.

Mixing plaster

Plaster of Paris works though water absorption. The powder from the plaster absorbs the water and develops into a tough, resilient material once it has dried. The relationship between the amount of water and the plaster is crucial when mixing the two. Too much water will make the plaster soft and crumbly.

The best method for mixing the plaster correctly is as follows:Take a bucket and fill it to just below half of its depth with clean water. Open your bag of plaster and scoop a handful of plaster. Drop the plaster into the water using your fingers as a filtering tool to ensure that no foreign objects enter the water. You may also use an ordinary kitchen sieve for this purpose; but this is more time consuming and is only necessary when casting a plaster mold from clay.

Continue the process by scooping handfuls of plaster and dropping them gently into the water. The process needs to be continuous and you should not stop for a break at this point. Remember that the plaster power is already beginning to react chemically with the water and is starting to “ set” or harden. When the plaster starts to form small mounds on top of the water then the correct balance between the water and plaster has been reached.

The next step is to gently insert your hand into the bucket of plaster and water and search for any objects, leaves etc. that may have fallen in. Gently stir, searching for clumps of plaster and breaking them up. This process also has the advantage of bringing air bubbles to the surface and ensuring that the plaster is uniform.

Finishing the Armature

Now that you have a basic knowledge of plaster mixing, we can complete the armature. Find some old rags and tear then into strips of about 40-50 cm long. Make a mixture of plaster and water. This is only to wet the rags, so fill the bucket only to a height of about 2 inches or 5 cm in depth. Once you have good mixture of plaster and water, dip the cloth strips into the mixture and twist then around the wire support. By winding the wet cloth strips around the armature you are creating a strong support and starting to build the sculpture itself. Allow these strips to dry. Small amounts of plaster like this rarely take longer than an hour to dry, depending of course on the amount of humidity in the air.

Creating your sculpture.

Once your armature is ready you can begin to ” throw” the final plaster shell for your sculpture. As you will be carving into the plaster, you should consider making the initial model slightly larger than the final product. For example, the areas where the nose and the forehead will be situated should be higher than the surrounding areas. Plaster, however, is very versatile and there are numerous ways of building up and carving the final sculpture.

Fill the bucket to just under half and begin the process of mixing as outlined above. When the plaster begins to “set” in the bucket- which means when to attain a semi- rigid consistency- begin placing it with your hands, or with any other tool- e.g. a trowel- on the armature. Continue doing this until you have built up the general shape of the head.

Carving and adding to the sculpture.

One of the great advantages of plaster sculpture is that you can add to the basic shape even after the plaster has dried. This means that if you decide that the nose of your sculpture should be larger, you can simply mix some plaster and add this to the nose. There are some things you should know before adding to the sculpture. Plaster will not adhere well to plaster if it is too dry. The best method of adding plaster to plaster is to firstly cut grooves into the dry plaster. This helps the adhesion of the next layer of wet plaster.

Secondly, it is a good idea to wet the surface dried plaster, as this will also create adhesion. Some sculptors also apply cold glue or white glue to the surface of the dry sculpture. Ideally you should not wait for the plaster to be completely dry before finishing this process.

Once you have the rough shape of the head, you can begin carving the final form. Carving into plaster is extremely easy when it is still slightly wet. The plaster becomes harder within a few hours and, depending on the consistency of your original mixture, can become almost rock hard over a period of days and weeks. The ideal time is to begin carving is about three hours after the plaster has begun to set, i.e. get hard.

There are numerous sets of basic carving tools that can be bought at craft shops. These sets are usually intended for woodcarving, but are ideal for plaster. On the hand, you can use almost any sharp instrument to carve plaster. Carve into the soft plaster and determine the main areas of your face first. In other words, carve out the nose, mouth, check bones, eyes etc. Once your plaster hardens you can refine these areas more easily. Remember that if you find that you have not added enough plaster to your armature you can always add small amounts of plaster, using the method suggested above.

The final product.

Now that you have carved your masterpiece, there are a few things that you should consider. Plaster is not intended as an outdoor medium for sculpture. Although it is comparatively strong and resistant, it is can weather fairly easily if left outdoors for a period of time. However, plaster can be kept indoors and, as long as it is not thrown about, will last for years.

Sculptors usually use plaster models as an intermediate stage in the development of their art. These plaster sculptures are then cast into a more durable material like bronze. But there are many sculptors, including Picasso, who retained plaster sculptures in their original plaster form. As a final touch you can use any clear vanish to protect the sculpture.



The pots we use in our home are like stage sets. At rest on a table, dish drainer, or in a cupboard, they are visually engaging. Through use they provide access to other activities: gathering food from the garden, cooking, conversation, dining, arrangement of flowers, sorting of papers. This daily relationship with the pots offers up both utility and continual visual inquiry. Like a stage set, the pot has an ability to disappear and then reappear.

Linda Christianson is a well-known and respected Minnesota studio potter and pottery instructor. She received her BA in Studio Art from Hamine University in St. Paul where she also participated in their Graduate Apprentice program. She pursued further practical experience through a Ceramic Studio Workshop program at the Banff Centre School for Fine Arts. Her work has been widely exhibited across the country and around the world. Linda has also taught in many centers for ceramic arts and her reputation as an educator puts her much in demand for her workshops in functional pottery, surface decoration, and wood-firing techniques.

Last chance to see Belsay Hall sculpture

Last chance to see Belsay Hall sculpture

Art fans have just a few weeks left to see a celebrated sculpture before it leaves Northumberland next month.

Stella McCartney’s stunning three metre high leaping horse Lucky Spot is to be removed from display at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens on April 18.

The sculpture made from more than 8000 Swarovski crystals was created by the internationally renowned fashion designer specifically for the Grade I historic site in 2004 as part of Fashion at Belsay.

One of the venue’s most popular attractions was returned by popular demand last Easter and attracted thousands of additional visitors .

Rob Flower, head of visitor operations for English Heritage in the North East, said: “We were fortunate enough to be able to bring Lucky Spot back to Belsay last spring.”

Lucky Spot’s current home will be closed for two weeks for the installation of its replacement. Contemporary arts exhibition, Extraordinary Measures, will open on May 1.

Running until the end of September, the exhibition will take visitors of all ages into a world of dark enchantment.

Highlights among the specially commissioned installations – most of which are being seen for the first time in the UK – will include the premiere of new hyper-realistic sculptures by Ron Mueck in the 19th Century rooms and photographs of tiny day-trippers facing everyday dramas within the gardens of Belsay, as documented by urban artist Slinkachu.

To mark Lucky Spot’s departure, English Heritage is giving visitors over the Easter holidays the chance to win a selection of prizes, if they are able to find the hidden ‘Lucky Spots’ dotted around the castle, hall and gardens.