In the Studio: More improvisational realism

I little more on the improvisational realism I referred to a couple weeks ago. That post talked about imagining the parts of a storm not visible in the process of making a three-dimensional sculpture.

With this next work — really only the third in this particular vein — I’ve realized that I must make other imaginative decisions even with parts of the thunderstorm depicted in a photograph. In the example above, for instance, the picture shows a bank of wispy clouds trailing off the right side of the anvil, out of the frame. Visually, this isn’t part of the storm structure, so I chose to leave it off.

Similar decisions are being made as a carve along, decisions which at first I regret having to make; the storm is so incredible that I want to render it with equal glory. However, once I get into the piece a little further I’m comfortable with the adjustments that my static medium requires. The dynamic nature of the real-life storm is also reassuring; changes that I make possess the possibility to at least partially reflect what might actually go on in that particular squall.

I’ve thought that other media might serve to better represent clouds, sculpted or cast paper, for instance. Some day I hope to get to those other ideas, but I’m a long way from accomplishing what I hope to in clay right now. Further, the colors and variations of atmospheric firings, such as those in a soda kiln, seem to beautifully mimic the color play on a thunderstorm at dusk.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a soda kiln right now. Anyone have one they want to give away?


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

4 Responses to In the Studio: More improvisational realism

  1. Julie says:

    These are wonderful! I don’t have a soda kiln to give away, unfortunately. You could move toward the same effects by spraying a solution of soda ash onto the work, and even using flashing slips, if you like.

  2. pNielsen says:

    Will the soda ash melt at low-fire temps? Or does it not need to melt???

  3. Tim J. says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing the finished pieces in this series.

  4. Pingback: Tornados as inspiration, not necessarily being glorified « The Aesthetic Elevator

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