Can’t We Play Fetch, Maestro? Part 1

Here it the first of a series by the multi-talented Matt Springer. This was one of my favorite pieces from World Expo 2017. Enjoy! – editor

What follow is an article detailing the creative process, design and execution of a miniature figure vignette that was to become one of my favorite pieces that I have created in my nearly 25 years in this art/hobby. The initial thought that I had was to create something unlike any piece I had done before and on a larger scope than I had previously tackled as the premier figure modelling event was coming up in the form of World Expo 2017 in Chicago. I wanted to bring my best effort to the show. Here is the result of a lot of hours of work and a lot of fun too.

Here are a few pictures of the completed work as displayed at World Expo. It was a great thrill to attend the show and to display this piece alongside some of the best our hobby has to offer.

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The original idea for this piece was to try and incorporate my love of canvas painting and figure modelling in one project. The work of French academic painter William Adolphe Bouguereau has always been a favorite of mine. His pure technique, ability to depict the effects of light on form, and his unique ability to take humble subjects like farmers and children and elevate them in his paintings to almost divine characters has always appealed to me. I have also enjoyed his religious works and his mythological pieces such as the one depicted in my vignette which is titled “The Nymphs and Satyr.”

He was the top realist of his time, with  many followers and students, but his style fell out of fashion in the early 1900’s, giving way to the impressionists and “modern tastes” where craft and method were considered less important than individual expression. Bouguereau was an incredibly prolific painter who was know to have produced nearly 800 masterfully painted works in his lifetime. He was well known for painting 16 hours a day or more. I managed to find a few pictures of him posed in his studio and these became the inspiration for my design.

As I was working on the figure and painting, I started to realize how much time I was spending on the work  and my wife’s great patience in tolerating my distraction. I began to wonder how Bouguereau’s wife and family felt with his long hours dedicated to his craft.  I realized that this was what I wanted to try and show in the finished work. I would make a tribute to the loved ones of the artist who patiently stand by and encourage us as we spend countless hours pursuing our

ideal, often to their detriment.

In the upcoming installments, I will describe and show pictures of the piece in progress and how I developed the ideas and composition as the work progressed. I hope you’ll follow along! Here are some of my reference pictures of Bouguereau in his studio in the 1870’s.


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