Life isn’t always fair. In fact, it almost never is. There are situations and circumstances that arise that may break us into pieces, but we soldier on and find a way to cope with what happens. This school teacher had to face loss so young in his life. His beautiful wife was taken away from this world too soon, she was only 31 years-old. That’s when he decided to do something incredible to both honor her memory and help himself deal with the pain he had. Here, he explains just what he created to remember his late wife by:
The finished marble bust. I did her originally in clay, then had that laser-scanned and roughed out in marble by robot (photos at the bottom). I then refined it with a dremel and polished with sandpaper.
She was only 31 and I would have preferred her hair less ‘matronly’. I needed photos from every angle though so I had to use photos from our wedding day when her hair was up with orchids in it.
I had never sculpted anything before, but the school where I teach painting has one of the best sculpture programs in the world. The director (Robert Bodem) gave me his studio for months and showed me what to do.
After they found the tumor my wife adopted a small dog found on the streets of Naples. This is her dog, Emma, on her cushion, in marble.
She slept with her ears down for a couple of days after my wife’s death. I tried to capture that.
It will go at the foot of the grave, like a modern day Ilaria del Carretto.
Working in clay from life at home. The dog sleeps by the radiator all winter, so she was an easy model.
Working in clay from photos at Robert Bodem’s studio.
The giant marble-carving robot. This digital process worked to my advantage in that, having never sculpted before, I had made the bust of my wife way too big. By using this method of the laser-scan and 3D computer image I was able to measure an old life-sized oil portrait I did of her and reduce the dimensions of the digital wireframe model to her exact scale.
How the marble looks when the robot is done.
I’ve worked as a professional portrait painter for years. Normally, the process with portraiture is that the closer you get to a likeness the happier you feel about the work.
When sculpting your wife a month after her death, the dynamic is very different.
Our pain, and how we react to it, helps define us as people. No one wants to encounter pain like this, one so severe and gut-wrenching. When this man did, though, his reaction was so beautiful.