I make sculpture modeled in clay. I am working with the human figure and face, both abstractly and realistically. Currently, I paint my pieces after firing. Both my sculpting and painting approaches are flexible; I like variety and experimentation more than a guaranteed outcome.
I’m drawn to the exacting nature of sculpting from life. A model brings a wealth of detail, gesture, emotion, anatomy that I try to capture in my work. Time is always limited, models are restless and light can obscure the form. Staying focused to create an engaging likeness or dynamic form is the challenge.
Recently I have been creating moderate to life size figures with clay slabs. I enjoy the engineering and construction aspects of building a piece. After my slabs and joins firm up and will bear the weight, I model by adding and subtracting clay. I am learning mending and hollowing techniques so I can make major or minor revisions to my work as I go. This slab building allows me to build quickly, maximize the time I have to focus on my model and to decrease my finish work.
After firing my piece, I give myself another goal - to revise with paint. I think about the complexity of the sculpture, the dynamism in the form and the piece’s mood, if it is tangible, then I decide whether to play up or down these aspects. I ask what the sculpture reminds me of, a period in art history, a particular artwork, an aspect of the model’s own history. Using these associations, I think about color and mark making. Some sculptures have no strong suggestions to make and I feel free to have fun, play, try stuff out.
As my painting progresses, I struggle with the sculptural information, texture, line and feature that can be lost, reshaped or dominated by color. Colors and lines have to be softened or muted to work with the sculpture. The sculpture has to be considered in the round. The painting is a panorama and has to wrap the piece. My challenge is to make the sculpture integrated as a painting and readable as a sculpture. It is all good mind bending work.
I like to check out people looking at artwork in museums and galleries. Where do they stop, what details deserve scrutiny? Showing locally, I have discretely watched viewers of my own work. This combination of painting and sculpture lures some viewers to a closer and longer look. Ah, success.
Meg Murch is a longtime Seattle resident. Her fascination with portraiture began in high school. She attended Evergreen State College in the 70s when realist artwork was not the thing. Her early efforts were self taught. She worked 30 years at Boeing in a skilled blue collar trade. She has taken advantage of the art schools of Seattle especially Pottery Northwest and the Gage Academy of Art. She has worked extensively with both painted and sculpted portraits over the last 15 years. She's received a number of local awards and was included in January 2011 Ceramics Monthly. She is currently a resident at Pottery Northwest.