For as long as I can remember I have loved dogs and I’m not alone. From guard dogs to guide dogs, they can be trained to carry out all manner of complex tasks, but for many people owning a dog is about companionship. I was reminded of this recently when a client contacted me about a dog sculpture commission.
I would be sculpting her two dogs: Ghost, a white saluki lurcher; and Freya, a black greyhound. It was obvious her dogs were very important to her, but it turns out she had recently suffered a family bereavement. It’s only natural she would turn to her dogs for solace and support at this difficult time. I understood at once how important this commission would be to her. As with all my animal sculptures, I would need to capture not only the likeness of my subjects but also their spirit.
This is no small task. Over the years I have studied many different breeds of dogs and have acquired a detailed knowledge of their anatomy, behaviour and movement. But this can only take me so far. Careful observation of many individual animals is required to develop a full understanding of the many subtle aspects of their character. When sculpting a specific individual animal, I also set my clients photography homework.
Ghost and Freya were not impressed about being asked to pose for the camera. Initially we explored the possibility of a standing pose, but after much discussion we eventually settled on a sleeping pose for Ghost. If nothing else this would simplify the photography!
Oh Nick, I’m speechless, thank you sooooo much xx
When I saw the photo of Ghost asleep, I knew straight away this was the perfect pose. The client agreed and we felt a lying pose, with paws crossed, would suit Freya’s gentle spirit and peaceful nature.
Sculpting both dogs lying down meant I could coordinate their forms and proportions so the two sculptures would work well as a pair. As usual with a dog sculpture commission, I exchanged photos and notes with the client. This is something many clients really enjoy, as it gives them a unique input into the process.
Those of you who follow my work will know I share some of these images on social media (subject to the client’s agreement). The response from dog and sighthound owners was overwhelming. I hadn’t appreciated the affection so many people have for these beautiful dogs. Over half a million people viewed the images of Ghost alone.
The right glaze can make a sculpture, so it’s critical to get this right. Freya, the black greyhound, would be straight forward. A smoked firing would give just the right matt black, and I would glaze the eyes to make them alert and engaging.
Ghost, the white saluki lurcher, would be more challenging. I felt my usual glossy white glaze might overpower such a sensitive sculpture, so I decided on a matt glaze. After running a series of glaze tests, I settled on what I hoped would be the right method. I was very pleased with the result and, fortunately, so was the client.
If you are interested in a dog sculpture commission of your own, or any animal sculpture commission, contact the studio for full details and a quote.