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  • Matt Donner, Sculptor

Emmy's Portrait: The Beginning

I started working on Emmy's portrait, my granddaughter, in the middle of August 2022. We had just come back from a vacation with Mac, Brooklyn and the granddaughters in June, and over the course of spending a week with them, I had taken sooooo many pictures, as I do, of Emmy (and Isabella) whenever I want to sculpt a subject, for reference. I wasn't sure how difficult this would be, until trying to play and keep up with a 2-year-old and still try to get the front, sides, angled, and backside, in alignment with how I would normally create a study for a portrait, whether an animal or human. She likes to move, lol. The other situation I have come into is that 2-year-olds grow fast. Her facial features are changing constantly. Just from June to the present, she has grown and developed as happens when kids grow. Every time we facetime them, I see so many differences, I have to come back to the photos for reference. It turns out, I'm a terrible photographer with 2-year-olds when trying to take reference photos. I didn't take a single side view pic the whole time, out of like maybe 200-300 pics, except two very blurry ones. I know. What was I thinking, right?


Anyways, when it comes to sculpting humans, compared to animals, I tend to really try to be as realistic as I can. I'm not sure why, but at some point in my progress, I start to navigate from the looseness of the subject, and begin to "tighten" the details. It's a curse to me, because there's no going back to the freedoms and movements I project with my animals. It takes a huge amount of concentration, and sometimes I lose the subject and sight of what I started with. I bring this up because I enjoy so much to create with the looseness and movements as opposed to the other. It's psychological. Like, there's parts of my mind I need to challenge, and portraits and realism are imbedded within the deeper parts of my characteristics. It's the perfection within me.

For this blog, I wanted to show you how I began and the progress I've made so far. I haven't worked on Emmy's portrait straight through, coming back to her when I can, or in between shows. Sometimes when I leave a sculpture and come back to it, I'll either see too many mistakes and end up throwing it away, or in this case, end up liking or loving it. I have fallen in love with this one. I'll return to this blog soon as more of my progress continues. Thanks for reading and hope you stay with me! Much love!❤️🌻










How it begins. Pictured is the armature before any clay is added.



This is where I'm at presently. Still so much more to go, but getting closer!

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