Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Time for some colour

The thing about paper sculpture is that it looks totally different when it's painted.  Paint usually emphasizes the sculpture's contours, though it can sometimes obscure some of the details.  The kind of sculpture I make is intended to be painted, and really needs paint in order to work.

This is what my bone sculpture looks like now it's painted:

With bone, I think the secret to getting a satisfactory colour is using many thin layers of paint.  I use acrylic paints, which tend to be fairly flat and don't have the kind of depth that oil paints have.  Acrylic paints are cheap and convenient, but creating a painted surface with good depth and complexity using acrylics requires a bit of work.  This panel with the cross section of a femur has up to seven layers of paint in places.

Panel one

That texture you can see there underneath the femur is done with paint, just to make the panel a bit more interesting.  I've got a tube of Payne's Grey that's kind of old and claggy and it makes some great impasto effects, of which this is an example.

The other two panels use much the same process of layered paint, with some red to highlight the Haversian canals which carry nerves and blood vessels in real bone.

Close up of panel two

Close up of panel three

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Osteons, again

Like the last post, this one is about osteons.  Actually they're the same osteons I posted last time, but with a greater level of magnification.  The point is that we're looking at the same thing, at successively higher levels of magnification.

They don't look a lot like bone right now, but that's largely because they're blue.  The first layer of paint is blue because I find using a blue undercoat helps to create a satisfactory creamy bone colour.  That'll be the next stage in the project.

All three panels with their first layer of paint.

Close up of panel number three, which I hadn't started on last time I posted.

As I said earlier, I'm interested in the shapes of osteons that you can see in a piece of bone under a scanning electron microscope.  They look almost abstract and are highly textured.  Under very high magnification, osteons are made up of concentric rings of bone tissue, full of small holes and little channels, which is what I've depicted in panels two and three.  Here's a photo of the real thing for comparison:

Picture from Dartmouth

Panel two was done freehand, but since panel three is a magnified version of part of panel two I drew the shapes on a piece of paper, and then sculpted them.

They're made of paper and glue.  It turns out paper is a good medium to portray the concentric rings of an osteon.

This project will rely heavily on colour to bring out the shapes of the bone structure, so my task now is to paint the three panels.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016


Last time I posted I talked about a project I'm doing inspired by what bone looks like under a microscope.

If you recall the first panel has the whole cross section of the femur, slightly magnified, and looks like this:

This second panel is the same thing magnified again, so you can see the circular osteons inside the bone itself.

Panel number three will be the osteons magnified yet again.