A Mountain out of a Mole
I posted one of my favorite sculptures-an acrobatic mole with musical feet-a year ago this month. He was inspired, in part, by this image drawn while watching the movie The Book Thief (in which an accordion plays a significant symbolic role). I didn’t, and still don’t, care for the drawing, but the accordion (later morphed into a concertina) reverberated in my imagination long after I shut the sketchbook.
Sometime after this, I read an article written by illustrator Joe Sutphin entitled, "A Cure for Head and Shoulders Syndrome." In it, Joe discusses budding artists’ tendency to draw characters straight on-portrait style, cutting off arms, legs, and any chance of a compelling story. According to Joe, no matter how well rendered a character may be, head and shoulders syndrome is a malady that must be treated.
I suffer from a slightly different strain of the syndrome. It isn’t arms and legs my sculptures sometimes lack; it’s just story. My first attempt to alleviate this condition came when I decided to build a character around that ubiquitous squeezebox. I took notes, consulted reference, sketched a few ideas, wrote a vignette, and then sculpted Vaudeville’s most highly celebrated mole, George “Dutch” Williams.
I’ve worked on several projects since then, but just like I couldn’t shake the inhale and exhale of the accordion from my imagination, I can’t shake the desire to create more story-driven pieces like Dutch.
It is, therefore, my goal to spend the remainder of 2017 doing just that. I’ve begun work on a project that will, hopefully, breathe life into 16 fully developed characters. If all goes according to plan, I will compile these creations into book form by year’s end.
I’m excited to get started, and welcome you to follow my progress via monthly blog posts and bi-weekly social media posts!