Sculptures are the rare art form that can be created through a diverse selection of materials. Through much of history, artists have chosen materials such as marble, wood, metal, bronze and stone. These were largely selected based on accessibility but also with the understanding that these materials would stand the test of time. In recent years, sculptors have utilized a variety of new materials to create their work, even using those that may not last as long as those more traditional materials. Many artists feel strongly about their chosen medium for self-expression. The painter may think that a blank canvas is the best method for art. A photographer may feel similarly about film. While one can argue that many forms of art require the artist to create something out of nothing, this is even clearer when it comes to creating great sculptures.
The artist may determine the appropriate materials for their artwork based on the results they hope to achieve. Different techniques must be mastered to create a sculpture out of bronze versus one made of clay. Bronze sculptures are considered to be extremely durable, even when exposed to the elements and for that reason, it was used frequently by the Greeks and the Chinese for many years.
Clay is another form that has been popular for creating sculptures. Unlike many of the other materials often used for sculpting, clay is much easier to mold and shape. It also allows the user to change direction in creating a sculpture in a faster and easier manner than some other materials. Further, it has often been more widely available than other sculpting materials. Sculptures made from clay can be quite durable when properly created.
Another material widely used due to its accessibility is wood. Artists who create sculptures using wood are also able to be very definitive in their shaping and carving process since the material can be shaped so precisely.
Stone sculptures have also been used for centuries as a way for artists to create interesting and lasting pieces of work. Sculptures are created by shaping rough stone by removing parts of the stone. Understandably, while stone was highly regarded for its ability to last, it is clearly one of the least malleable resources available. Until steel was discovered, artists created stone carvings using abrasion and hammers. Once iron was available, artists were able to take advantage of steel carving tools which made the sculpting process much easier. These tools are for the most part, what are still used by stone sculptors today. Other techniques, such as high heat application, are also available to remove stone but many artists prefer the traditional methods. While stone sculptures and carvings are an ancient art form, many of today’s artists still favor the use of stone in creating sculptures. It is an extremely challenging method of creating artwork and some artists choose to create a clay or wax model before they begin sculpting.
Regardless of the materials used in creating sculptures, this ancient art form continues to inspire both the artist and the observer.
Author: Robin Antar