Boosting Your Art Skills with Sculpture – Zoe Dufour Interview

Boosting Your Art Skills with Sculpture – Zoe Dufour Interview

STAN: Hey guys, this is Stan Prokopenko here with artist and sculptor Zoe Dufour. In this
video you’ll hear her insights on being a working artist, and sculpting exercises that
can help you draw and paint better. You may have seen our video a few months ago where
Zoe does quick sketch sculpture, but we also filmed a much longer demo with her that we’re
releasing on she goes through her entire process of a longer sculpture,
showing how she makes portraits like this from start to finish. She also showed us how
she makes her own tools, how she cast the mold, and a lot of general sculpting advice
and tips so that you can start sculpting too. So, go check that out at
okay, let’s jump into the interview. The number one question – I asked people on Instagram
to ask you stuff, and the number one question was about materials.
ZOE: Yeah. STAN: I think that’s always the case, even
when they asked like drawing or painting questions, people just want to know the magic pencil
or the magic clay to use to get a great sculpt. I mean, obviously, there isn’t like magic,
but, like, I guess the good question is, how do you pick a good clay?
ZOE: I don’t want clay that’s overly groged, because you can feel the grog particles and
they’re larger than the clay particles and they disrupt the texture and it feels sort
of gritty. And so some clays that are marketed as sculpture clays have a lot of what it feels
like sand in them, and it’s really, I don’t like it. It’s uncomfortable to work with,
and you can’t make really fine forms, because it’s so coarse, it just won’t allow you to
finish anything smoothly. STAN: Okay, it just starts adding texture
in an area where you want more detail. ZOE: Yeah, and as you rake, it’s like sand
is crumbling off the – the sculpture. STAN: Got it.
ZOE: I use primarily water-based clay if I can, I have used oil clay, I just, I’m not
a huge fan of the – the texture, it’s kind of like tacky.
STAN: Just sticks to your fingers. ZOE: Yeah, water-based clay you can vary the
consistency depending on how dry it is. So, when I start the clay is more moist, and really
really plastic and that’s when I’m moving these like large quantities of clay around
and really shaping big forms. And then as the sculpture goes on I let it dry a little
bit more, so, I’m not like, I’m not risking moving what I’ve already sculpted when I’m
applying more clay or tooling. And then like the closer I am to finishing, the drier I
let the clay be, so that the surface is more and more resistant to tooling, yeah, exactly.
STAN: Okay, you prefer water-based, is that like uh, your own opinion or is this something
that kind of most artists that do figurative sculpture kind of agree on?
ZOE: A lot of the sculptors I talked to really, liked water-based clay, it just has a really
beautiful consistency. With oil-based clay it’s nice if you’re limited by space, just
because it’s not nearly as messy as water-based clay. Oil-based clay doesn’t get dusty, so
if you’re limited by studio space or if you’re sharing studio space with painters then oil-based
clay is really great for that. STAN: Uh, okay.
ZOE: And then water-based clay, like it is really important to keep the studio as clean
as possible, because it has silica in it, which is essentially glass and so it’s fine
when it’s moist, but if it’s dry it’s very dusty it’s really not good for your lungs.
STAN: So, am I getting cancer right now? ZOE: Probably not, I mean silica is in everything
you now, it’s in dirt, it’s in cement like, it’s not like-
STAN: But the fine particles, if it’s in the air and you’re always in that environment.
ZOE: It’s super important to be aware of like studio safety then, usually it’s just you
need to sweep and mop the studio on a regular basis, wear a respirator when you’re doing
dusty things. STAN: I guess another material based thing
is, is there a difference with what materials you’d recommend for a beginner versus someone
doing professionally or just start off with the same thing you’re gonna be?
ZOE: I’d say start off with the same thing you’re gonna be using, like I think maybe
my tool shifted a little bit from when I started is because the more I worked the more specific
things I knew I wanted out of a tool. And so, I was starting to make tools that were
probably better suited for a particular uses. STAN: Mm-hmm.
ZOE: But I just feel like if you’re gonna learn a medium, you might as well start with
what you’re ultimately going to be using. STAN: Right, and with clay as well?
ZOE: Yeah. STAN: Use the same clay.
ZOE: Mm-hmm. STAN: Okay, I think we got that covered, there
will be a lot more information about materials in the, uh, the demo that we’re… we’re
gonna. So when somebody asks me about drawing and painting, they say like what should I study first? I have an answer to them, like a list of things for them to
learn and I can give them like a five-year plan, right?
ZOE: Yeah. STAN: What’s like the five-year plan for a
beginner to start to kind of transition to a more advanced sculptor?
ZOE: I think with that, it’s one just getting comfortable with the medium, so, feeling how
clay moves like getting comfortable with material management. So, like knowing how moist your
clay should be, like how to take care of it. And then the other part is like, getting comfortable
with that set of tools, because it is different than drawing, like I think raking clay just
obviously feels way different. So, some of it is just experiencing what it is to use
the materials and the tools, and then the other part is to begin to judge things based
off of volume through space, rather than using contour or other two-dimensional judgement
devices. STAN: Okay.
ZOE: And so I think, coming from drawing and painting, people really don’t think necessarily
so much in depth. Like I think, I mean especially the Grand Central Program, they think in volume
to an extent, but to draw a lot of times they’re they’re conceptually flattening three-dimensional
objects to conceive of them in perspective. STAN: Right.
ZOE: And so, you’re kind of having to be like, throw that out the window, and don’t use that
and so like using shadows or anything like that I would say will take away from your
ability to render volume three dimensionally. So, it’s just trying to retrain your brain
a little bit, to build new synapses to judge proportion differently.
STAN: Yeah, so you’re not designing light and shadow, you’re, like with drawing, it’s
all about that you know, light and shadow design, shapes and all that. You’re thinking,
you’re trying to light the studio so that it’s even all the way around, there’s no cast shadows.
ZOE: Mm-hmm. STAN: And you’re thinking of just the form.
ZOE: Yeah, you’re really thinking like, XYZ axis, where does this travel in space, yeah.
STAN: Do you recommend the – because you mentioned coming from of a drawing background, do you
recommend people start with drawing and then go to sculpture or does it -?
ZOE: I don’t think it really matters, like if you want to sculpt ultimately, I’d say
just start sculpting. If you want to draw, I think sculpture is gonna be super helpful
if you want to draw from life. I don’t think it’s better to do one way or the other necessarily.
STAN: Mm-hmm. ZOE: When you’re drawing you’re super stationary,
and in sculpture you have to move so much, like you’re moving around the model and you’re
not just moving around, you need to go up and down in relation to the model, because
you’re really trying to understand something like all the way around, which it doesn’t
mean just you know, on one eye level, it’s like all the way around. And so, a lot of
times when I’m teaching I feel like a drill sergeant, I’m just telling people I’ll be
like keep moving, keep moving like. STAN: You ever run into the problem where
you – you get the gesture, and then there’s just one angle it just doesn’t work for some
reason and then you got… ZOE: Do you mean like in the sculpture or
like in the actual pose? STAN: Oh, I don’t know. I guess this would
be more like if you’re doing more from imagination or something.
ZOE: Okay. STAN: Kinda like, I guess what you were talking
about with like this guy, where the model didn’t hold that forever, but he was just
kind of move and getting to a pose, and you were trying to remember stuff. You’re inventing
a little more with this, than with this, right or?
ZOE: Okay, I don’t, well, I feel like I’m not inventing the information, so I’m using
the information, but maybe I’ll alter the pose a little bit, but I’m just, I’m using
that simple sort of cubic structure of the rib cage and pelvis to just set the gesture.
Maybe it’ll be something the model’s not doing that frequently as they shift, I’ll
like watch the pose and be like, I like this particular moment or this is the aspect of
the gesture I’d want to push. And if I can understand what’s creating that movement,
then I can emphasize it and then I’m really using the model as reference for my idea of
the pose, but it’s not that I feel like I need to invent a lot of information. I can
hold on to my concept of the gesture, I don’t need to follow exactly what the model is doing,
but I can use them like very heavily for all the information I need.
STAN: This is just not, this problem just doesn’t come up where you have an angle that
you kind of need to like modify with a pose a little bit to make it look good.
ZOE: Maybe my feeling is like a sculpture doesn’t have to be like incredible from every
viewpoint, there’s probably gonna be one that looks better than the others, and so I just
figured it’s like inevitable, maybe. STAN: There’s a bunch of questions about just
improving your sculpting abilities. ZOE: Mm-hmm.
STAN: So, I guess the first one is like what are just some good sculpting exercises? You
mentioned this, you know, the sculpting like a one feature that’s a good one to start with
because it’s not like a fully three-dimensional one, are there any others?
ZOE: I really recommend copying from like masters, like Greek, and Roman, like pieces,
like Michelangelo, just because they’re you know, an amalgam of a lot of really beautiful
things from nature that are already translated into a simple, simpler form.
STAN: Right, they solved it into a form, obviously, in that just like a mold of someone’s face.
ZOE: No, it’s like a very educated, yeah. I would recommend that and then if you have
like one, I don’t know, like I used the Juliano head, which is back there the Michelangelo’s
sculpture, it’s a copy of it. Where I was just copying that and once I copied it I just
was trying to do it faster, and faster in an attempt to get faster I think I became
much better because I was becoming more aware of what worked and what didn’t in my thinking.
And I think that’s true for anything, like somebody told me like, once you learn how
to type you’re never gonna type faster unless you make a concerted effort to improve. So,
I feel like we’re naturally designed to be sort of complacent once we achieve a competency,
for better or worse and so you have to really push yourself into almost an uncomfortable
place to progress. STAN: Actually, I read in the book mastery, I think by
Robert Greene, doing the same thing in different speeds actually helps you do it in the normal
speed the one that you’re uncomfortable with just trying to do it faster to help you
do it normally and then trying to do even slower just focusing really on the like you
know the motion of the thumb or whatever. ZOE: Yeah, yeah.
STAN: Normally, you might just be a little lazy with it if you really practice and get
like that exact pull, I mean with you know, with brushstrokes, I don’t know. I’m talking
about sculpting as if I know what I’m talking about.
ZOE: No, I totally do that with my […]. STAN: So, doing it slower helps you do it
normally and then trying to do everything really fast will help you do it normally.
So, it’s like expanding your range, so that makes sense, that’s really cool that you did
that. ZOE: I mean a lot of the times I am paid for
a project, so honestly the faster I can do something the better my, like hourly is per
the project. STAN: Some people are – a lot of people asked
about improving your anatomy with sculpture and I know that for, even for drawing or painting,
doing an ecorche is a very popular thing to learn anatomy even if you’re not trying
to be a sculptor. Just doing sculpture for the sake of just learning the muscles in 3D
yeah it’s a good exercise. For sculptors trying to learn, how do you just, do also just do
I crochets? ZOE: Yeah, I mean, crochets are great.
Um, I feel like in sculpture you’re gonna inevitably learn anatomy, because you’re sculpting
the whole body every time use you sculpt somebody and so you’re seeing – I feel like I’m drawing,
maybe you don’t see it quite so immediately, because you’re seeing a lot more variation
from depending on where you’re – you’re oriented to the figure and your perspective. But in
the sculpture, because you’ve seen the exact same patterns repeated again, and again, and
again you pick up on them really quickly. And so I feel like my anatomical knowledge,
maybe my name isn’t super great but like, I have like, I feel like a very sound understanding
of the muscle masses and where they originate from and where they insert to. And so, I feel
like it’s just through sculpting you’re inevitably gonna get a pretty solid grasp on…
STAN: Yeah, and how they perform. ZOE: Yeah, yeah, how they exist in space,
how they move, yeah. STAN: Every time I talk about sculpture, just
like I said, I want to start get back in the sculpting I did a few, but…
ZOE: Yeah, oh, it’s so fun. STAN: It just feels like doing that helps
to improve understanding of the human body so much more, than trying to take 3d and turn
into 2D on paper or canvas. ZOE: I mean, I am obviously like super biased,
but, when STAN: Like you’re right, it is better.
ZOE: It is. When I started sculpture I was like, oh man, I wish I had started with so
much sooner, because my drawings like instantly got way better. And like when I started sculpture,
I just like, huh, I have no idea what happens here. And I just, I was never really confronted
with that and drawing, because you’re like kind of avoiding it in like shadows and like
other things. STAN: Where you just copy a general shape
and I go… ZOE: Yeah, close enough yeah, and then there’d
be some things where you’d feel like wow, there’s just like it’s blink, blink right
here for me, no idea what’s, what’s going on.
STAN: Yeah, it just exposes all your weaknesses. ZOE: It really does, yeah.
STAN: That’s cool. ZOE: Yeah, like eyes, like we’re crazy, because
like it I don’t know, like when you’re drawing I feel like this is always in shadow.
STAN: The bottom planes right here? ZOE: Yeah, like sort of the socket of the
eye like when I went to sculpt it for the first time, I was like, I’ve never actually
looked at this, like really. STAN: Alright, well, everybody is trying to
learn how to draw, go… ZOE: Yeah, I highly recommended it.
STAN: How much the time do you spend planning before you start sculpting? I know that some
sculptors they plan by doing like actual, like drawing sketches.
ZOE: I- I do do that for personal pieces, so have a sketchbook of pieces I want to produce
and I’ll do variations of different poses, or variations of a theme to sort of see which
I like best before I start, yeah. But sometimes I’ll just start a piece and then like something
about it and sort of develop the piece more about that aspect of it while it’s in the
works. STAN: So, someone asked about lack of confidence,
it’s another thing I think pops up a lot for a lot of artists.
ZOE: Oh, yeah. STAN: Have a lack of confidenceI and this
question always pops up. ZOE: Very much than you thought.
STAN: Oh, really? ZOE: Oh, yeah, yeah.
STAN: I – I have a hard time answering that question, because…
ZOE: You’re like I’m very confident. STAN: Well, I don’t know why you flexed your
bicep. ZOE: I don’t know,
STAN: I don’t feel like I’m muscular, but I’ve never felt like, that’s
why I’m confident. ZOE: You’re artistically ripped
STAN: Yeah, I’m artistically ripped, that’s good. I’ve always been confident myself, I’ve
grown to be less confident now. I think I’m a bit more balanced now, but there was a point
where I was probably like overconfident, to the point where, it’s like if you’re overconfident
you don’t listen to your teacher, because you feel like, really, come on. It’s like
no, just listen to your teacher. So, there’s a good balance, but I think most artists are
under confident, so what advice do you have? ZOE: It is a balance, like I don’t think it’s
good to be super insecure, but I do think you’re in a field where you have to be able
to be constructively self-critical to advance, but obviously you don’t wanna demoralize yourself
when you’re critiquing yourself. For me, I feel like I’m relatively confident in what
I would call like the craft aspect where I’m saying like from like maybe more like an empirical
basis like this is okay. I think it gets, I feel less confident when I’m trying to think
more artistically, just because I feel like it’s so much more subjective and I have much
vaguer idea of what I’m doing or like why I’m doing it or why that particular thing
is appealing to me. I’m almost trying to – to justify it in some way, and I don’t know if
my justification is – is sound, I don’t know if that makes sense.
STAN: It totally makes sense, I kinda have that issue too. I never really thought of
that as a confidence issue for me trying to figure out the why. […] I think of it more
like, I’m confused or haven’t developed my thought.
ZOE: Yeah, I think you go through, I don’t know if you heard this, but it was something
my trainer for horses told me where you go through like four different phases in any
skill set development, where you’re unconsciously incompetent where you just like don’t know
how bad you are. And then you become consciously incompetent, where you’re like, oh wow, I
really do suck. And then you become consciously confident, where it’s like you’re
really focusing and you’re like consciously aware of what you need to do to produce something
better or do something well. And then like the Nirvana state I guess is when you’re unconsciously
competent. I don’t know if we really get there honestly, but…
STAN: Wow, unconsciously competent. ZOE: Yeah, that’s the ideal stage
STAN: Alright, cool, you – you definitely answered the confidence thing better than
I could. Do you ever sculpt from imagination? ZOE: Mh-hmm.
STAN: Okay, like do you do like figurative stuff for imagination?
ZOE: I will make sort of sketchy figures, I don’t really keep any of them before I started
school here I just liked imaginative stuff so like embarrassing like dragons, unicorns.
STAN: You know what, everybody watching is probably like, oh, yeah, I love dragons. I
feel like our audience is pretty nerdy, right – right? Yeah, sorry guys.
ZOE: There’s like, I can’t think of the name at the top of my head, but it’s – it’s a part
like 50% wax and 50% oil based clay. And like I’ll make, like I’ve like tiny, like Knights
on horses that I always sculpt at home while I’m watching Netflix. But if I don’t think
of it I guess it’s like art, it’s more like justifying my watching Netflix by feeling
semi productive. So, when did you get into art?
I’m not sure, like I don’t remember when I started drawing.
So you were really young, you don’t remember? Yeah.
So, it was drawing you said? ZOE: It was drawing my parents were really
great and just gave my sister and I lots of art supplies so we just had access to those.
I went through a really distinct phase where I was just drawing birds sitting in trees
reading books, I think I was around five. STAN: Cool, from your imagination?
ZOE: Yeah. That’s cool, and then how big of a gap was
there between high school and when you started here? ZOE: I think I just didn’t go to school for a year, I think I kind of panicked. I was
looking at liberal arts colleges and none of them had very good drawing or painting
programs so I just didn’t go which is probably not the best response.
STAN: Well, you don’t have student debt. ZOE: Yeah, that’s true and so I was trying
to figure out what I wanted to do after high school that was art related and then a friend
in the family told me about a small Atelier in Southern Oregon called Ashland Academy
of Art. So, I attended that for a year before coming to Grand Central Atelier.
STAN: Okay, so there’s only like a one-year gap? ZOE: Yeah. STAN: Party?
ZOE: So, hard, I mean I when I was in California I- I grew up riding horses
and so I was riding and training horses and then I went to art school and then I came
out here, I was 19 when I moved to New York and started school here.
STAN: Okay, so, you were young when you got here? ZOE: Yeah, I did three years of the drawing and painting program and then I was recommended
to try sculpture I think most people in this school are recommended to do a little bit
of figure sculpture just because it really informs a lot of the concepts that are talked
about in drawing but then once I started I just loved it and yeah, quit drawing and painting.
STAN: Yeah ‘cause you showed the very first sculpture you did and it looks really good.
ZOE: Thanks. STAN: So you obviously had a lot of experience
just studying the forms of the face already. ZOE: Yeah, yeah.
STAN: So, how long were you a student here before you started teaching?
ZOE: Between four and five years. STAN: Okay and now you’ve been teaching art
here for four years? ZOE: Yeah, this is my fourth year teaching
now. STAN: Okay, cool so you’ve been here for eight
years? ZOE: Mh-hmm.
STAN: Cool, well, that’s awesome. ZOE: Thanks.
STAN: Seems like a really, really good environment. ZOE:I really like it, it’s kind of hard to
think about leaving just because it’s – it’s such a nice place to work and it’s such a
great community to be a part of. STAN: Yeah I was part of Watts Atelier for 10 years,
maybe even 11, and then yeah, once you leave it’s like you’re not around artists as much
just because it’s not part of your daily routine anymore. ZOE:Like it’s really like a support system to have like a circle of artists you’re working
with on a daily basis. STAN: So now, what – what classes do you teach
here? ZOE: I teach in the core curriculum the introductory
sculpture class, which is just cast copying and then there’s night and weekend classes
that are figure sculpture and portrait sculpture. STAN: From life?
ZOE: Yeah, from life. STAN: So then you have a lot of time, your
own time to do more professional work? ZOE: Yeah.
STAN: Okay, what do you do mostly professionally? ZOE: Um, usually work and production for other
artists. STAN: Like doing figure sculptures?
ZOE: Yeah, some of it is like sculpting with them on work they’re producing, some of it
is producing elements of their work, um, mold making and casting.
STAN: Do they sell their stuff in galleries or these like public sculptures that just
go kind of like a building or like what? ZOE: A lot of it’s personal work like geared
toward gallery. STAN: Gallery work, okay, are you thinking
of doing gallery work at all? ZOE: It’s something I’d like to double in,
I feel like living in New York City would be ideal for that and sculpture just because
if you’re somewhere where there’s not a large gallery scene you have to mail your pieces
which when it’s painting it’s not that big of a deal but when it’s sculptured…
STAN: Even with painting it’s ah, it’s kind of hard ‘cause the frames are kinda heavy,
and if you have big paintings they do that they’re heavy and you put them in wooden boxes
so that they don’t get punctured. ZOE: Yeah, yeah.
STAN: Sculpture, I’m sure it’s way harder to mail.
ZOE: It’s something I really should look into it’s just I’ve spent so much time I guess
in more commercial production for work that I haven’t invested that time in working for
a gallery. Before this year I was working for a company called Studio Ice and they produced
work for museums and other people. STAN: What kind of work, what do you mean
for museums? ZOE: Uh, like the figures you see like in
historical dioramas or reenactment scenes, figures to wear historical costume that matched
a time period. STAN: Got it, so like this, it’s like display
pieces or like in a like a historical museum and then there’s something that kind of goes
with the exhibit? ZOE: Yeah.
STAN: Okay. ZOE: Some of the things are really cool, there’s
a Revolutionary War Museum in Pennsylvania that just opened and you know there’d be
like soldiers on horseback running towards like into battle like so there’s like really
interesting scenes I think but I would consider that commercial production.
STAN: Right, ‘cause your name doesn’t get put on to that like you’re the artist, it’s
just like something on display to help. It’s almost like an illustration for a book, where
it just the point of it is to illustrate the message or the story what they were trying
to say no to show you as an artist. ZOE: Yeah, and I wouldn’t say it’s like artistic
like I think the quality of work produced by the company was super-high, but at some
point there wasn’t necessarily artistic decisions, it was like you know, museum staff saying
this is exactly what we need and you just following that.
STAN: Okay, is that fun? ZOE: I really liked it, uh, the company only
did figurative work which I feel like is rare and so I felt really lucky to be there and
the – the people I were working with were really talented so I feel like I learned a
lot while I was working there. STAN: That’s cool.
ZOE: Yeah, it was a really good experience. STAN: How long did you work there?
ZOE: A little over two years. STAN: Okay, so kind of almost after you transitioned
from teacher to student or student to teacher and then that was probably really good practice
as a professional so practice well actually get an paid as well.
ZOE: Yeah, that’s really what it felt like. STAN: That’s cool, nice are there any other
gigs like that for sculptors? ZOE: Oh, definitely.
STAN: What – what are the options for sculptors let’s say you go to sculpt school where you
learn to sculpt and then like what are all the different choices people can do? Gallery
work is one. ZOE: Yeah, a lot of the big name artists have
a whole team that’s supporting them, like Jeff Koons has like a whole sculpture team
that helps him, so I know a lot of people go to work for artists like that. There’s
other companies here who do work similar to what studio Ice does. There’s a lot of public
work for a sculpture a lot of it isn’t figurative but there’s – there’s you know calls for entry
for like government-supported art frequently. STAN: Like what kind of stuff does that include?
ZOE: It really depends on the place, some of its just like beautification of parks or
roadways, like gateways some of us even like make a nice-
STAN: Like a door, like a nice decorative door.
ZOE: Yeah, or like they’ll be like a roundabout in the city that they want to put a sculpture
in the center of. STAN: So, then that’s just you just make an
artistic piece or do they, is that something where they say exactly what they want?
ZOE: A lot of the times the guidelines will be really vague, like they’ll say like, you
know, maybe not offensive, no nudity like – like things that you should like hope would
be like assumed but yeah. That’s honestly what I’m more interested in exploring over
gallery work. STAN: Yeah, does that pay well because that’s
the government paying, right? ZOE: Yeah, I think depending on the project
and what you’re trying to do in it, there are some ones that are like really well funded
and others that have a really low budget. STAN: I guess it depends on the community
that- ZOE: Yeah, exactly.
STAN: Right, what about like 3D, you know digital 3d sculpting, have you gotten into
that at all or? ZOE: I haven’t, I have done all traditional
work. STAN: Okay, I’m sure if you tried it you would
pick it up in like a week it all just about learning the software, you know.
ZOE: Yeah, maybe even in using Photoshop it takes me so long to do anything.
STAN: Okay, so digitally it’s not natural for you?
ZOE: No, it doesn’t – it doesn’t feel like it, I get really frustrated I guess because
it feels really abstract for me to want to do something and have this really unrelated
series of steps I have to go through to make that happen. I guess it seems unrelated to
me, but then once you do it, I guess I would feel more seamless but it just feels really
disconnected and- STAN: Interesting, have you tried ZBrush before?
ZOE: I haven’t, I know a couple- STAN: Oh, you haven’t?
ZOE: I haven’t. STAN: cause I heard it’s really natural
for sculptors to kinda transition. ZOE: I really should try it, there was so
much work with the three-dimensional modeling. STAN: Yeah. there’s the whole entertainment
industry that you’d have like just giant door opening up.
ZOE: Yeah, so it’s something I keep telling myself just like bite the bullet and you can
do it, but honestly like a huge part of the reason I went to a school like this was to
not have a job where I’m sitting at a desk and on a computer.
STAN: You’d rather work with your hands? ZOE: Yeah, like I like just that there’s again
sculpture you’re moving so much and it’s like a pretty physical as far as fine arts go.
STAN: Yeah, yesterday you were telling me about how you’ll do a sculpture and then you’ll
just take a picture of it and then you just kind of take it apart and you’ll reuse the
clay. I was like man that really sucks, ‘cause you don’t get to keep most of this sculptures
that you make. And it’s almost like it’s gone, like there’s still the photo of it, but the
3D form is gone. ZOE: Yeah.
STAN: And I was thinking about like what would I do if I was a sculptor and I thought like,
you know there’s 3D scanning now and you could really easily actually just take like a hundred
pictures all around from like three different heights. And you can make those pictures into
a really accurate 3D model of your actual model and then you could-
ZOE: They just have like files of these yeah. STAN: Yeah, it’s all digital files and if
you ever really wanted it you could 3D print it and you now you got your sculpture back
and then you can make a cast and then maybe bronze or whatever it doesn’t… So, it’s
like do sculptors do that now instead of us taking one-
ZOE: Oh, yeah, they definitely do, like one of the guys who I was in school with actually
he made one way small dance and he was never doing that again. It’s the reaction a lot
of people, to sculpture production you’re like, oh my god this is horrible, why do you
do this? And so he – he would scan all his work. Honestly, with a lot of the work I do
I relate it more to like a musician playing arpeggios rather than like making a finished
piece. It’s like something to keep our skill sets sharp, rather than like making with an
intent like it’s, I feel really different differently about a piece when I’m – I have
an idea or a concept that I’m trying to follow through on, rather than just practicing. But
I feel like that practice is super important just because the pieces I make are much slower,
I’m making something I really love and feel invested in but I’m not keeping up on this
just like a basic skill set for a sculpture. STAN: I guess I’m just trying to relate it
back to drawing and it’s like if I had to just like burn my sketchbooks right or like
just erase everything and reuse the paper just I don’t know. I feel like no, I’d want
– I’d want to keep it. Even though it’s like I look back on my sketchbook, like all those
drawings suck now but it’s still really nice to have it
ZOE: Yeah, honestly, I probably have like a more similar feeling about my sketchbooks
over my – over my sculptures. STAN: Interesting.
ZOE: I’ve tried to start saving pieces on my sculptures more because it’s just easier,
so like on my shelves over there I just have like a random assortment of sculpture bits.
So, I’ve been taking pieces from sculptures I like and-
STAN: Like an eye or something? ZOE: Yeah, like a foot, I
have a couple feet so I started doing that. I think just because I started just destroying
my sculptures pretty early on, when I was working because I was doing both painting
and sculpting and doing both really didn’t leave me any time to produce my sculptures.
I just got used to destroying them early on and so I don’t feel that emotionally invested
in most of my pieces in that way. STAN: I guess it kinda, it’s similar to, I
know there’s some like painting students that would at the end of like a modeling session
they would just scrape the painting and reuse canvas, because they’d get like one really
nice canvas and then they’d just scrape the paint reuse the canvas. Even though canvas
really isn’t that expensive, but they would still do it just – just practice.
ZOE: I’m honestly now I think trying to shift the way I think about my work, I feel like
being at this school that’s so academic I just had this like a very student mindset
for a really long time. I’m sure I still have that to an extent where I’m really focused
on the process more than the final product. And so I’ve been trying to shift over into
what I think of more of like an artist mentality where you are really focused on like making
a work of art or like you are focused on the final product where I just I really haven’t
been for a long time. Especially, working in commercial production I just feel like
you’re doing this process again and again and again.
STAN: I think there’s something to having that other mentality that way you don’t treat
it you know your sculpture is like a baby, it’s like you can you don’t feel bad about
restarting a whole piece, you know, like a whole chunk of a piece because it’s like precious
to you I think that’s good because you if you have that mentality you can improve things,
you can keep trying and improving it. ZOE: Yeah, I think that’s super key which
I didn’t say I’m not emotionally invested in my work I’m obviously like deeply invested
in what I’m doing, but it’s just- STAN: A good balance.
ZOE: Yeah, I – I’m trying not to be like, oh, this is like a precious part, because
there is a limited amount of space, I just don’t want to produce so much that I feel
like I- STAN: Limited space, I totally get it, if
this was a house you would take up a room. ZOE: It would.
STAN: Like you’d have to have a house for your sculpture or if you’re like really famous
you can just sell everything and it exists somewhere.
ZOE: Yeah, that’s the ideal of scenario. STAN: The whole 3D thing though it’s these
files in the cloud. ZOE: Yeah, I think that’s perfect and I’m
sure that’s what more and more sculptors are gonna be doing, yeah, okay.
STAN: Are you ready for the lightning round? ZOE: I’m ready.
STAN: Okay, so, these quick questions. ZOE: Okay.
STAN: No deep philosophy ZOE: Okay, it’s like yes, no.
STAN: Okay, well, this isn’t actually, first thing you’ve ever sculpted?
ZOE: Probably a dragon or a dog that was my first like work from life portrait
life. When I was little my mom signed me up for similar classes. I worked with clay before
working with clay from life. STAN: So dragon?
ZOE: Yeah. STAN: That’s an awesome answer or the best.
Favorite secondary form of the face? ZOE: Wow, I think I like those two pieces
of cartilage that sit on either side of the front of the nose, yeah.
STAN: the ball of the nose, really? ZOE: I love noses.
STAN: I don’t like bulbous noses though ZOE:I’m not crazy bulbous noses, but I really
love big bony noses, yes, yeah. STAN: I really like the zygomatic arch.
ZOE: Yeah, I mean I feel like, I won’t think that’s like a secondary form I feel like that’s
one of the primary. STAN: Uh, if you just have like a side plane
and then like top plane I’m just kind of like, eh. When you start actually developing the
form of the cheekbone, I guess I should just say the cheekbones. Like this whole area look
at the way it transitions to the jaw, to the eye, to the nose.
ZOE: Yeah. STAN: Like favorite artists dead.
ZOE: Can I say two, like? STAN: Go ahead
ZOE: If I’m saying dead probably Michelangelo or Bernini.
STAN: Okay, cool what about living? ZOE: Artists I know, there’s a Japanese sculptor
who actually works really close by here, her name’s Chie Shimizu I really love her work. I’m also
not sure I’m pronouncing his name right Eudald de Juana, do you know who I’m talking about?
STAN: No. ZOE: I hope I’m saying it right, he was from
Florence, but I just think of the sculptures are incredible. There’s a guy, his work is
so beautiful, um, his name is I think Vladimir Kavensky and he’s in Jersey which blew me
away, but he makes ceramic flowers and they’re just extraordinary. I can’t think of her name
off of the top of my head, but she was their embroidery artist for the Game of Thrones
movie it’s the woman I’m taking a workshop with in November her name is Cristina Cordova
and she does large-scale figurative ceramics and I think her work is awesome.
STAN: Okay, Oh, this was lightning round. ZOE: Okay, sorry.
STAN: Oh, this one comes from Steven Baumann, so favorite and least favorite thing about
working in clay. It’s a still speed round thing. ZOE: Okay, my favorite is just that I love it I don’t know if that’s a good answer but
it’s the best. STAN: For a speed round it’s enough it that
was a regular question I would not be satisfied. ZOE: My least favorite is that dried water-based
clay can give you cancer, the dust of it, like lung fibrosis issues maybe I should say
that cancer sounds scary but there’s like- STAN: Those both sound pretty scary to me.
ZOE: Yeah, one of my clients called me he was like really concerned because I dropped
off a new box of clay and he read the box and he said can you give me different clay
this one’s cancerous. I was like no, it’s all clay
STAN: One person asked how the f*** does she do that? I think referring to the photo of
your sculpture. ZOE: Lots, and lots, and lots of practice.
STAN: Oh the next question how long has she been practicing to get so good?
ZOE: Art wise like 8 years of pretty intensive training, sculptural wise it’s been like five
years of very intensive training. STAN: How do you manage your time with personal
life and a career? ZOE: Oh, that’s really hard.
How do you do it or do you not? ZOE: Uh, probably a little bit of not doing
it, because I feel like I’m doing something I really like so what I do for fun is also
what I do for work, but it gets really blurry that then that line.
STAN: Yeah, I think the way I solve that problem is by getting married, see when you’re married
you kind of have to have a life. ZOE: Yeah, you have like a girlfriend and
like yeah STAN: I think if you want to have a good relationship
you have to do stuff, otherwise you’re not really married.
ZOE: Yeah, that’s valid so I try to maintain friendships, yeah.
STAN: Someone says what – what does she do for fun?
ZOE: I like rock climbing, I like eating food. STAN: Riding horses, eating food.
ZOE:Yeah. STAN: Okay, let’s end it with this one,
how many hours a day did you sculpt when you were like in the most intense student stage?
Did that say per day or per week, let’s do per week.
ZOE: Probably 60 to 80, yeah, is a lot. STAN: You guys hear that, 60 to 80 hours a
week, that’s like two full-time jobs well leave people demotivated.
ZOE: Oh, no can I say one more thing about that? STAN: Sure. ZOE: Like I think you don’t, you don’t pick
to do what you’re like conceptually think I’ll would be great to do that. Like, I’m
like, oh, it’d be great to be a rock star but I don’t want to struggle with guitar for
like 12 hours a day. I pick sculpture because I actually like struggling with sculpture.
STAN: It makes sense, so two full-time jobs that are sculpting are not full-time jobs
they’re two full-time leisure activities right? ZOE: Yeah, yeah.
STAN: They’re two full time fun- ZOE: Funtivities
STAN: Funtivities, there you go. Cool, well, thank you so much that was very fun yeah where
can they see more of your work like all the stuff?
ZOE: Uh, you can check it out on my website or on my Instagram
page which is updated more regularly @saypience STAN: Cool, well, and again guys if you want
to see her full demo the masterpiece series demonstration that we’re doing,
get that support her as an artist and also learn how to sculpt. Thank you for watching
thanks I guess

67 thoughts on “Boosting Your Art Skills with Sculpture – Zoe Dufour Interview

  1. her sculpting skills are amazing!! I am getting into portraiture, I shud try sculpting too maybe, to see if its for me

  2. I've never done sculpture but I have to say this interview with Zoe was one of the best things I've watched for a long time. She is a very inspirational person and really down to earth. Great watch.

  3. Its fascinating to see sculpting in action! 🎨 I mainly just make murals & art installations- I wouldn’t even know where to begin with this!

  4. Everybody asks about materials because so often when they ask more art process questions they get, “well that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?” Or “I don’t know, man. I just feel it and do it. What can I say?”

  5. She's so cool and charismatic, you should make more content with her. Maybe do some quick sketches together and talk, or u could have her on draftsmen

  6. Both your art has no guts. No humanity. They are just studies. Why not put more than realism and caricature into your work? Put story and life. Your art feels like pinup art or carnival fair art. No one will remember any of it unless you put yourself into it. I'm only a hobbyist and I can see that.

  7. Water based clay can give you cancer??? Who told you that? I really belive it's not the case. If you breath huge quantities of clay dust you can get

    silicosis. But usually it's something that occours to pepole that work with powder clay for 40 – 50 years every day making pottery in huge factories…

  8. Very interesting. If you wanted to have the most natural feel of clay in digital form try Zbrush. Iv tried all other digital sculpting software and by far Zbrush has the most organic feel. Scanning a real clay sculpt and bringing that into Zbrush would be a very good option to keep the pieces.

  9. Hi Zoe I liked your points in the discussion and work exactly how you explained. I am a sculptor myself working mostly with water based clay but when I envisage that I am taking a long time to finish a sculpt I use oil clay – it wont dry out and start breaking up like water based clay.

  10. Holy Jesus, learning your craft for 60-80 hours a week!

    Can someone explain what they mean by secondary forms of the face that they mention in the quickfire Q&A? I'm still a beginner in portrait drawing..

  11. Now do one titled: "Boosting Your Art Skills with psychadelica" 🙂 also read the book J.Khrisnamurti-first and last freedom !!! <—READ IT !

  12. Statues like the man behind zoe are the reason why I just love figurative art. Look how beautiful it is, look at the anatomy and the dynamic. I just wanna have it, put it on my desk and look at it 24/7. <3

  13. She's extremely talented. Beautiful work. She's very pretty, too. But there's something so intangibly attractive about her, also. I kind of have a crush on her, now. Haha.

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