Gesture Sculpture

By Wainio, Paul | School Arts, September 1995 | Go to article overview

Gesture Sculpture


Wainio, Paul, School Arts


Many artists have focused on the human figure. They have created various images of the human torso with their own unique interpretations. Teaching figure study to eighth grade art classes requires creativity and imagination when developing alternative studies of the human anatomy.

This alternative approach to figure sculpture is based on my discovery that a basic human form, with acceptable proportions, can be constructed by soldering together seven large paper clips. The larger the paper clip, the easier it is to solder.

Capture an Action

I began the lesson by introducing the figure sculptures of Duane Hanson, Edgar Degas, Henry Moore and Michelangelo. The work of these artists gave students an understanding of the different ways to interpret the human form through sculpture. In particular, we compared figure sculptures done by Moore and Michelangelo. Following these comparisons, I taught a session of gesture drawing that concentrated on the action a figure displays rather than on the contour one sees. The emphasis to capture action would prepare the class for the three-dimensional phase of the assignment.

A few students knew immediately what they wanted their sculptures to look like. Some chose from athletics while others selected simple actions such as a person reading a book. Developing their ideas on paper was the next step. At this time, simple gesture drawings helped the students prepare for the sculpting task.

Take Safety Precautions

Before soldering began, I discussed safety precautions with the students. I gave them directives about proper use and respect for the soldering iron and instructions to wear safety glasses while soldering. …

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