A short while back, I was asked to show some of my older works from when I first started sculpting. I had to dig through some old photo archives, but I managed to unearth some gems that most of you have probably never seen (Though all of these were displayed on the internet at some point in time). It was interesting to look back on all these old works and see how far I’ve come. It was also cool to watch my development early on as I tried new subject matter and techniques.
I began sculpting in late 2001, with my first sculpture, Faygo the Sun Dragon. I still have this sculpt and just took these new photos as him, as the originals were before the days of digital (har) and have since been lost. He has gotten a bit beaten up over the years, so excuse his appearance in that respect. Faygo took me two weeks to sculpt (it would take me 2-3 days now). For being my first sculpt, he’s really not too bad! However, I don’t find him to be a true representation of my early work though because of the time I put into him. My other works were not that time intensive, as seen below in some of my smaller pieces.
Dragon*Con 2001 was the first time I displayed my work at a convention. I showed a few of my prints as all I did back then was drawing. After seeing a bunch of cool sculpture work at the show, my goal became to make a bunch of sculpture work to display at Dragon*Con in 2002. The Confrontation was my first BIG piece. I sculpted it in two pieces that could separate or join together. I remember thinking how COOL it was that I sculpted all the scales and feathers individually! Back then, I also used to experiment with a lot of items, like these champagne glasses. They were really difficult to make and completely impractical so I never continued down the glassware path. Still a unique piece from my past. All of these pieces went into the Dragon*Con art show; nothing sold!
I also created a TON of little sculptures that year to sell at my table. I think I had set a goal of 50 but ended up with like 30. Which is still an insane amount of work for a first year sculptor (and would be even now!) I found photos of most of them and some were absolutely atrocious! You can definitely tell where I was starting to run out of time and ideas as the convention was approaching. This lynx and gryphon were in the middle of the road, compared to the others. I didn’t develop strong texture skills for a VERY long time! I use to draw/etch everything with a needle which made everything looked so uniform.
The little albino dragons are still pretty cute! Instead of sculpting individual toes like I do now, I used to sculpt a wedge and just cut the fingers by splitting the clay with an xacto. Even though I shaped the fingers afterward, you could still tell my little shortcut very easily. A lot of my early scale work is VERY messy. I kept looking for shortcuts that didn’t exists. If you want the detail, you have to put in the time. No way around it!
I know I sold a few of these smaller sculptures at Dragon*Con that year, but most of them came home with me. Glad those first time rough sales didn’t get me down! Back then, online stores didn’t really exist for people like me. I did a lot of my sales through Live Journal and my personal website. It was before PayPal was widely accepted too so I still dealt in a lot of checks and money orders. Things are SO much easier and nicer these days with online sales!
When I came across the little butterfly dragon, I was shocked at the messy lines. I remember this being such a clean and pristine piece. I’ve definitely learned to control my line work and clean up my painting over the years. I still think this is such a sweet little sculpt. It’s something I would like to remake one day.
By the time 2005 rolled around, I had refined a lot of of my skills. Everything started to look a lot smoother. I was really obsessed with birds and gryphons and made a lot of neat figures around then. I also had an obsession with blacklight paint and ended up with these large gryphon busts. I think they were on an 8x10″ base so they were pretty big. My line work is a lot softer here so I must have discovered rubber tools around this time.
The little seahorse, I believe, was one of my first attempts at airbrushing as well as one of the first times doing a suspended pose. Ryo-Ohki was one of my earlier fan-works. You can see on both of these that I was starting to pay better attention to anatomy and form. I had a lot of “gumby” limbs early on. I think, for me, the hardest thing to look at in all these pieces is my complete lack of knowledge on color theory. I am a huge color nerd now and looking at all the poorly chosen colors and painting methods makes me cringe a bit. But also makes me proud of how far I’ve come.
Phoenix Rising is still a piece that I enjoy. It was the first time I achieved dynamic balancing. I can’t remember if I used Apoxie Sculpt back then, but I am fairly certain that tail is 100% sculpey, with thick wire inside. Needless to say, I hand delivered that one to the client.
For those people that get frustrated when looking at my current body of work, and feel you can never reach my skill level…YOU CAN! We all have to start somewhere. Skills take a long time to develop and strengthen. I am going on 14 years here and I still have PLENTY of learning and growing to do. It’s fun and educational to look back on where I started and to wonder what lies down the road ahead. Everything I have today did NOT come easy. I’ve spent most every day sculpting, painting, molding, and casting. I never stop because that is how you master your craft. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make you better a little bit at a time. You can reach your goals. You just gotta keep swimming and don’t let anything or anyone drag you down.