One That Got Away


Portrait sculptors are not so different from fishermen when it comes to "the ones that got away." Luckily, I take a lot of photos as I work a portrait sculpture; unfortunately, the photos I took of Kent's sculpture were blurry.

There is one indefinable moment when work on portraiture should be declared "done". Recognizing that moment, however, cannot be taught; it must be learned. And the teacher is failure.

One failure was a portrait of my wonderful Kent. It involved head and shoulders and as I worked, the portrait developed a strong emotional pathos. In a never-ending effort to "improve" as a sculptor, I worked to correct what I saw as weaknesses in the piece. In the end, however, I lost all of the emotional power and most of the likeness.

Ironically, before I "finished" the portrait sculpture of Kent, it had been accepted into a national competition; our newspaper carried a photo of the sculpture-in-progress along with a little blurb about the competition. I was delighted to have friends tell Kent that they had seen his picture in the paper rather tell me that they had seen my sculpture in the paper.