Structures

Some of the features on this page require that JavaScript be enabled.
view previous artwork view next artwork
Study for Saskatoon
sculpture, study for a work of sculpture, commissioning a work, art commission, planning a work of art, planning stages, concept to final form, artist's vision, public safety and art, engineering and art, physics principles and art, sketches of an idea, planning a work of art, studies for large scale works, \"studies\", progress - from idea to large monument, watercolour study, 3-dimensional maquette, metal sculpture, conveying idea, context, setting for a sculpture, enamel painted surface, angular sheets of metal, working within boundaries created by materials, trial-and-error, process of creating a work of art, trial and error, form, conveying an idea
description

A finished work of art is often the result of months, or even years, of planning and hard work. This is especially true of public sculpture, for not only must the work satisfy the artist’s vision and practice, but it must also meet the needs of the government or group commissioning the work. Furthermore, because the works are presented in the public domain, the safety of all viewers and passersby must be ensured by paying close attention to engineering and physics principles.

Even in  RenaissanceA revival or rebirth of cultural awareness and learning that took place during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, particularly in Italy, but also in Germany and other European countries. The period was characterized by a renewed interest in ancient Greek and Roman art and design and included an emphasis on human beings, their environment, science, and philosophy. (Artlex.com)  times, artists would make several sketches or draft versions of a work before completing their vision in paint or  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  (see Art of Renaissance Italy and Art of Renaissance Europe).  These early plans and samples for the finished work were called “studies”, meaning that they were not themselves the finished work, but learning steps along the way to the final piece. This term “studies” is used also by Robert Murray in the two works presented here that are held in the  collectionTo collect is to accumulate objects. A collection is an accumulation of objects. A collector is a person who makes a collection. (Artlex.com)  of the Mendel Art Gallery. We are fortunate to have access to these studies of Murray’s, because they may be able to teach us something about how the artist progressed each of his works from an idea to a  monumentalIn art criticism, any work of art of grandeur and simplicity, regardless of its size, although it often connotes great size. (Artlex.com)  sculpture.

Here we have two studies for the same sculpture, but each made in its own  mediumAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  and format - the  two-dimensionalHaving height and width, but no depth; flat. (Artlex.com)  watercolour, and the three-dimensional miniature sculpture. There are even more differences in the way the idea for the work is conveyed. For instance, the  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  depicted by the  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  is shown on a vast landscape, in a field, while the maquette, a miniature version of the final sculpture, is attached to a metal slab. Both suggest that the final sculpture will be red, though the watercolour’s  toneA quality of a colour, arising from its saturation (purity and impurity), intensity (brilliance and dimness), luminosity (brightness and dullness), and temperature (warm and cool); or to create such a quality in a colour. To tone down is to make a colour less vivid, harsh, or violent; moderate. To tone up is to make one become brighter or more vigorous. Tonality can refer to the general effect in painting of light, colour, and shade, or the relative range of these qualities in colour schemes. (Artlex.com)  is closer to pink while the  maquetteA small sculpture made as a preparatory study or model for a full-scale work. (Artlex.com)  is deep burgundy. The  watercolourAny paint that uses water as a solvent. Paintings done with this medium are known as watercolours. What carries the pigment in watercolour (called its medium, vehicle, or base) is gum arabic. An exception to this rule is water miscible oil paints, which employ water as their solvent, but are actually oil paints. Colours are usually applied and spread with brushes, but other tools can also used. The most common techniques for applying watercolour are called wet-on-dry and wet-on-wet, along with the dry brush techniques dry-on-dry and dry-on-wet. Colours can be removed while still wet, to various degrees by blotting. Most watercolour painting is done on paper, but other absorbent grounds can also be employed. The papers most favored by those who paint with watercolour is white, very thick, with high rag content, and has some tooth. (Artlex.com)  suggests also that the sculpture will be made up of angular sheets of material, while the  maquetteA small sculpture made as a preparatory study or model for a full-scale work. (Artlex.com)  is clearly a  formIn its widest sense, total structure; a synthesis of all the visible aspects of that structure and of the manner in which they are united to create its distinctive character. The form of a work is what enables us to perceive it. Form also refers to an element of art that is three-dimensional (height, width, and depth) and encloses volume. For example, a triangle, which is two-dimensional, is a shape, but a pyramid, which is three-dimensional, is a form. Cubes, spheres, ovoids, pyramids, cone, and cylinders are examples of various forms. Also, all of the elements of a work of art independent of their meaning. Formal elements are primary features which are not a matter of semantic significance — including colour, dimensions, line, mass, medium, scale, shape, space, texture, value; and the principles of design under which they are placed — including balance, contrast, dominance, harmony, movement, proportion, proximity, rhythm, similarity, unity, and variety. (Artlex.com)  of curved metal with almost no hard angles to be found.

Why might there be these differences in form? To begin with, it could be an expression of the limitations on converting an idea from a  two-dimensionalHaving height and width, but no depth; flat. (Artlex.com)  version to a three-dimensional one. But it is perhaps more likely that the differences we see between these two studies are due to the fact that we are witnessing a process of creation. These studies indicate that the process of artistic creation is similar to evolution, in that an approach is tried and altered if it does not produce an acceptable result. The process of trial-and-error in the planning stages allows the artist to have a better conception of what the final form of his work will be, whether that final form is radically different from the original idea, or only slightly changed (or altered). Additionally, trial and error allows the artist to be more certain of that result, for since she or he has tried other approaches that did not work out, the artist can be surer that the approach that did work will withstand the test of time.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • Why do you think Murray created two very different kinds of studies for his sculpture?
  • Besides the way the work looks, what else might an artist need to consider when creating a public sculpture? Thinking about things like safety, the weather, engineering, security, materials used, and location might help you answer this.
Advanced Activity

Look at other artists who create working models or sketches as a way to prepare and work out how to create final work. Some examples might be Leonardo da Vinci or Frank O. Gehry (a Canadian architect). You can find more information about Gehry at:

Research in a reference dictionary all the materials used by sculptors (some glossaries containing related terms are listed below). Now add any that you can possibly think of that are not on the list.

What materials would you use to build a  sculptureA three-dimensional work of art, or the art of making it. Such works may be carved, modeled, constructed, or cast. Sculptures can also be described as assemblage, in the round, and relief, and made in a huge variety of media. A sculptor is one who creates sculptures. (artlex.com)  and why?

Online Activity Studio Activity

A  watercolourAny paint that uses water as a solvent. Paintings done with this medium are known as watercolours. What carries the pigment in watercolour (called its medium, vehicle, or base) is gum arabic. An exception to this rule is water miscible oil paints, which employ water as their solvent, but are actually oil paints. Colours are usually applied and spread with brushes, but other tools can also used. The most common techniques for applying watercolour are called wet-on-dry and wet-on-wet, along with the dry brush techniques dry-on-dry and dry-on-wet. Colours can be removed while still wet, to various degrees by blotting. Most watercolour painting is done on paper, but other absorbent grounds can also be employed. The papers most favored by those who paint with watercolour is white, very thick, with high rag content, and has some tooth. (Artlex.com)  image is often used to show how an artist first prepares a  studyA preparatory drawing, related to a sketch. (Artlex.com)  for a final piece that will be made using another  mediumAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  or material. For example, sculptors often do this as part of their planning, as Murray did for his artwork Study for Saskatoon (presented here). By examining an artist’s preliminary study, we can understand more about the artist’s process.

Murray’s finished piece resembles a  functionalRefers to the intended use or purpose of an object. The term is often applied to manufactured products, particularly crafts, and when discussing designs for architecture. Though sometimes said to be non-functional, art is expected to function in various ways, including: to beautify, to adorn, to express, to illustrate, to mediate, to persuade, to record, to redefine reality, to redefine art, to provide therapy, to give unselfconscious experience, to provide paradigms of order and/or chaos, and to train perception of reality. Anything that is not functional is called nonfunctional. Often the decorative qualities of a thing are considered nonfunctional. (Artlex.com)  object because of the materials used, and the  formIn its widest sense, total structure; a synthesis of all the visible aspects of that structure and of the manner in which they are united to create its distinctive character. The form of a work is what enables us to perceive it. Form also refers to an element of art that is three-dimensional (height, width, and depth) and encloses volume. For example, a triangle, which is two-dimensional, is a shape, but a pyramid, which is three-dimensional, is a form. Cubes, spheres, ovoids, pyramids, cone, and cylinders are examples of various forms. Also, all of the elements of a work of art independent of their meaning. Formal elements are primary features which are not a matter of semantic significance — including colour, dimensions, line, mass, medium, scale, shape, space, texture, value; and the principles of design under which they are placed — including balance, contrast, dominance, harmony, movement, proportion, proximity, rhythm, similarity, unity, and variety. (Artlex.com)  suggests something we might have thought about or noticed before, even though we really haven’t.

The artist also makes references to something in the real world through the  colourProduced by light of various wavelengths, and when light strikes an object and reflects back to the eyes. Colour is an element of art with three properties: (1) hue or tint, the colour name, e.g., red, yellow, blue, etc.: (2) intensity, the purity and strength of a colour, e.g., bright red or dull red; and (3) value, the lightness or darkness of a colour. When the spectrum is organized as a color wheel, the colours are divided into groups called primary, secondary and intermediate (or tertiary) colours; analogous and complementary, and also as warm and cool colours. Colours can be objectively described as saturated, clear, cool, warm, deep, subdued, grayed, tawny, mat, glossy, monochrome, multicolored, particolored, variegated, or polychromed. Some words used to describe colours are more subjective (subject to personal opinion or taste), such as: exciting, sweet, saccharine, brash, garish, ugly, beautiful, cute, fashionable, pretty, and sublime. Sometimes people speak of colours when they are actually refering to pigments, what they are made of (various natural or synthetic substances), their relative permanence, etc. (Artlex.com)  and title he uses.

 

Create a fantastical “invention” that starts as one thing and becomes something else. You can develop your invention as a  drawingDepiction of shapes and forms on a surface chiefly by means of lines. Colour and shading may be included. A major fine art technique in itself, drawing is the basis of all pictorial representation, and an early step in most art activities. Though an integral part of most painting, drawing is generally differentiated from painting by the dominance of line over mass. There are many sorts of drawing techniques, varying according to the effect the artist wants, and depending on whether the drawing is an end in itself — an independent and finished work of art -- or a preliminary to some other medium or form — although distinct from the final product, such drawings also have intrinsic artistic value. Preliminary drawings include various exercises (e.g., contour drawing, gesture drawing, figure drawing, drawing from the flat), as well as sketches and studies, cartoons and underdrawings. (Artlex.com)  from an object, using your choice of media, or you can begin with an actual object and alter it so it becomes something new.

Drawing

 

  • Find an old object such as a shoe and use it as a base or starting point.  Build and transform it into something else. The final product might not resemble the original. It can be as fantastic as you choose it to be. Some methods to try might be:
  • cutting it
  • turning parts of it around
  • reassembling it (in a different way)
  • adding to it
  • creating it as a completely new object
  • keeping it so it is still recognizable as the original, but with changes.

Examples of materials to use or add to the object:

  • Styrofoam slabs (recycled from packing or packaging)
  • cardboard tubes (or other cardboard pieces or containers)
  • plaster of Paris
  • modelling clay
  • found objects such as buttons or marbles (glue these on)
  • wire (of various thicknesses, lengths, with coverings and without)
References

Gérin, Annie. Entry for Murray, Robert in The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan. Retrieved from the Internet on February 4th, 2008 at: http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/murray_robert_1936-.html

Nasgaard, Roald. Entry for Murray, Robert in The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from the Internet on February 4th, 21008 at: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0005543

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning