Commissioning a portrait sculpture

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At Caswell Gallery we have a lot of interest in portrait commissions. They are fairly commonplace, but somewhat complex in nature. No worries though, we’re going to break it down for you and answer all your questions.

sculpting Athena's portrait - CopyThe first thing clients think of when entertaining a commission is cost. Commissioned portraits can be affordable, but it’s always best to know your budget. This a topic to discuss at the very beginning so you know what to expect. Details that will be considered when the artist gives a quote include number of subjects, size of the finished sculpture, time frame (additional charges usually apply for a rush order), patinas, bases, travel if the artist has to come to you, or vice versa (this is a charge you will incur), shipping if necessary; approximate time it takes to sculpt, and number of requested proofing sessions. Since every commission brings its own special set of circumstances there might be other considerations in addition to those mentioned. Be sure to ask as many questions as you feel necessary, earlier than later is always best. Any question is relevant as it pertains to your piece. It’s important that you establish trust with the artist and have a clear understanding of the process and expectations.

Portrait sculptures are commissioned to portray a variety of subjects–children, grandchildren, grandparents, and pets; sometimes inTPark_2121_030312 memoriam, but always with affection. You may even find yourself spearheading a movement to commission a portrait of a public figure. When considering a portrait commission give some thought how you want your subject portrayed. Do you want a bust, torso, or full body depiction? How many people will be sculpted? For the sake of budget, to a certain extent regard each individual a separate commission. Next would be the size–miniature, life-size, and monuments are all options.

Figuring out these details are all part of the consultation process for which there is no charge. Because portrait sculptures are a reflection of the subject and traits specific to them, be prepared to share anecdotes, hobbies, personality  characteristics, and sometimes even props. These details can make all the difference in the success of the final piece. Remember you are interviewing the sculptor as well, so you want the relationship to be one of mutual respect and collaboration. Once the decision has been made on the above details, the rest of the process will begin. Standard practice will require a deposit and which point the artist will begin your sculpture.

Most often the artist  will have a sitting where the subject will be posed and have their pictures taken from several angles. Facial and other necessary measurements will be noted. In the case of a deceased subject, be prepared to provide pictures from several angles, if at all possible. From there the artist will start sculpting. Once substantial progress has been made on the piece, you will come in to proof and discuss any changes. At this point there may be a series of meetings until the changes have been made to your satisfaction. The artist will then finalize the sculpture and you will come in one last time to approve the piece before it goes to the foundry for casting. The final step in a bronze sculpture commission will be to decide on the patina and whether or not you will have your piece put on a base.

If you keep these things in mind you will be thrilled with your one of a kind sculpture that is sure to become a treasured family heirloom.


Upcoming classes in the Gallery

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Patina Workshop at Firebird Bronze on March 30
484220_522420251115146_902072225_nIf you’ve always wanted to learn how bronzes get their beautiful patinas, this is the class for you. Production manager, and foundry artist, Lonnie Paola will demonstrate a full range of  patinas and share highly guarded recipes that have been developed over years of experience. Students will leave with patina recipes and a supply resource list. This workshop will be held at Firebird Bronze Foundry in Boring. Workshop will break for a 1/2 hr. lunch, so bring something if you like. There is a café & coffee shop in the neighborhood.
Date and Time: Saturday, March 30, 2013, 10-2:30
Cost: $175
Firebird Bronze Address: 27534 SE Hwy. 212, Boring, OR, www.firebirdbronze.com

Sculpture 101 in April
Introduction to Sculpture 101 at Caswell Gallery and Firebird Bronze Rip Caswell is offering a unique_Q0A0653 opportunity for aspiring sculptors. Rip will coach and critique your creation from molding the clay to adding the patina. You will begin working in Rip’s Studio at Caswell Gallery in Troutdale and finish your piece at Firebird Bronze Foundry in Boring.

For those of you who would like to take Sculpture 101, but are unable to come on weeknights, Rip will be offering a 3 day intensive workshop on two consecutive weekends in April. The class will cover be the same number of hours and material as the weekday class.
Dates and Times: Saturday and Sunday, April 6 & 7, and April 13, Noon-4:00PM
Cost: $495

Students will have the option of exhibiting their sculptures in the Gallery during the First Friday Art Walk. This is a great opportunity to mingle , present and promote your art to our clientele. They will also  receive a Certificate of Completion from Rip and Firebird Bronze.

Classical Portrait Sculpture I in May
Classical Portrait Sculpture I will be an in-depth study using a live model. Students sculpting Athena's portrait - Copywill learn all aspects of beginning a portrait sculpture from the sitting, photographing, measuring, “roughing out”, to adding the fine details. Rip will share sculpting techniques he has developed over 20 years. Students will be able to take home their life-size clay sculptures. Clay and tools will be provided. Students will have the knowledge to move on to Portrait Sculpture II where they can sculpt their own portrait of choice and cast in bronze. The class takes place at Caswell Gallery. Students will display their sculptures at First Friday, June 7, 5-9PM.
Dates and times: Friday, May 17, 6-9PM; Saturday, May 18, 10AM-4:30PM; Sunday, May 19, Noon-4PM.
Cost: $495.

Classical Portrait Sculpture II in June
Classical Portrait Sculpture II is designed for the Classical Sculpture I student who would like to sculpt a portrait and complete a finished bronze. Students will choose their own portrait subject and will create sculptures in 1/2 life size under the Rip’s guidance and mentorship. Actual sculpting will take place at Caswell Gallery with an open studio arrangement where the student can sculpt in the gallery during open hours. Clay will provided and tools will be available for use while sculpting in the Gallery, although at this level students might want to have their own tools. The class will move to Firebird Bronze in Boring, OR where students will learn firsthand about mold making and casting their bronze using the lost wax method.
Dates and times: All students will attend class orientation on Saturday, June 15 at 10AM. Rip will give an overview of the class. Students can stay and sculpt during the day on Saturday. Additional open studio times will be on Tues, Wed, Thurs, June 18,19 and 20. On Mon, June 24, 6:00-8:30: students will start making their mold at Firebird Bronze and finish at home. Thurs, June 27, 6:00-8:30: students will make their mother mold, sprue, and pour the wax. Mon, July 1, 6:00-8:30: molds will be gated and dipped. Mon, July 8, students will pour the metal, sandblast and clean the sculpture. Thurs, July 11, 6:00-8:30, students will tool the metal and patina and add the base. Students will display their sculptures at First Friday, August 2, 5-9PM.
Cost: $495, plus $50 for materials.

H_Q0A0714appy students from our first Sculpture 101 class!

To register for any of these classes call the Gallery at 503-492-2473.

Last chance to see Nimitz sculpture before it goes to the Firebird Bronze

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Rip is putting the finishing touches on Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. As most of you know by now, Rip was first contacted by the Naval Order of the United States to sculpt this esteemed Naval figure.

If you haven’t seen this sculpture in a while, or at all, we encourage you to make a trip to the Gallery before the Admiral  heads to Firebird Bronze for casting. While you’re visiting the Gallery be sure to sign up to see the sculpture in bronze once he is finished and before the piece is sent off to Hawaii.

NimitzSome history on Fleet Admiral Nimitz
Fleet Admiral Nimitz enjoyed an illustrious Naval career. At the height of World War II, he was promoted to fleet admiral—one among only four.  When the Japanese surrendered on September  2, 1945, on board the battleship Missouri, in Tokyo Bay, Fleet Admiral Nimitz signed the surrender document on behalf of the United States. Following the war, he was honored for his wartime service both here and abroad. He became a goodwill ambassador of the United Nations, working to repair relations with Japan by raising funds to restore the Japanese memorial ship, Mikasa, and encouraging the return of any ancestral samurai swords that had been acquired during the war. Post World War II, he was often approached with business opportunities and prestigious positions, turning them down in consideration of “how the Gold Star Mothers might feel”. Fleet Admiral Nimitz died at his home in San Francisco on February 20, 1966. He was the last surviving five-star admiral. If you’d like to learn more about Fleet Admiral Nimitz, click here.

The Naval Order of the United States is the oldest American hereditary, exclusively naval society and has a dedicated interest in Naval history. It encourages the recording and preservation of that history. Rip has created this memorial in 1.25 life scale or about 8 feet tall.  The monument will be installed at the USS Missouri Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, Hawaii in late summer 2013.

Mike Rangner at the Gallery in March

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We are pleased to have Oregon artist Mike Rangner at the Gallery through the months of March and April. Mike is exhibiting oils and pastels in his exhibit From the Wild.

About Mike Rangner
Painting is a lifelong quest. Every time a brush is set to a canvas I work to express an emotion either through the image I’ve been moved by or the challenge of light, value and shapes before me. It is that driving force of endless possibilities that I enjoy, always learning and growing with each painting I complete.

Mike RangnerWorking outdoors or in my studio I strive to convey life like color schemes open spaces, rich with natural elements and movement. I hope others will enjoy the paintings I complete and that they find some link to their own personal experiences.

As an Oregon native, I enjoyed a successful career as a professional illustrator in the Portland area for more than 20 years. My professional portfolio includes a diverse list of clients including Avia, Standard Insurance, Nike, the Oregon Zoo, as well as Northland Publishing and McGraw Hill Publishers.

My professional accomplishments include awards and honors from service organizations including the Oregon Food Bank, Goodwill Industries, and The National Box Association for my product design work. In 2006 I illustrated the children’s book “The Seed and The Giant Saguaro” it was recognized by then Governor of the State of Arizona Janet Napolitano, and was pick for the states 1st Grade Book reading program.

A recent move to the Mid-Willamette Valley has allowed me to further strengthen my love of plein air and SONY DSCstudio painting by capturing the vast and diverse Oregon landscape that lies one hour in each direction of my home and studio in beautiful Northwest Albany. The diverse body of work includes pieces featuring landscapes across the Pacific Northwest including the Columbia River Gorge, Eastern Oregon, Coastal scenery and the rich farmlands of the Mid-Willamette Valley.

Mike’s painting: A Coastal View