Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Isis

Yesterday, I had my first attempt at making a statue. I tried to re-create the statue of Isis - the original one that we got in Washington got broken. We found it in two cracked pieces under the couch; it is difficult to say how long it has been there, probably months. Joe glued it together, but the wings are still chipped, so it looked like our Isis had clipped wings. I do not think that, if I were the spirit of the Goddess, I would want to visit this image.
Buying a new one seemed too cheap... As if we do not value our faith to put ourselves into it, but rather satisfy ourselves with mere possessions of our Gods' idols. So, I thought that the only appropriate thing to do would be to make a new image.
I do not know the first thing about the art of sculpture. Thankfully, I have a friend, and she is an artist at making dolls. She is quite talented. So, I made a date with her to visit her at the house and dedicate my day to the project of Isis.
Originally, I wanted to make an exact copy of the broken one - small Isis sitting on the stand, with wings outstretched... After about one hour of trying to arrange her face, I was forced to admit that working in such small measurements is above me at the moment. So, I went to a bigger size. That face, even though not as difficult to form, still took me about three and a half hours to make. It seemed that, no matter what I did, my Isis's face always ended up looking like the mask of some angry Ancient God - which I did not mind, but I wanted to remember that she is, in fact, a woman. I could only hope that, after looking at her image, Isis would not get more angry at me than before: " All right, first you break my image and forget it under the couch for several months, now you make a new image of me - is that what you really think of me?!!!"
Thankfully, my friend Tami helped me. She showed me how to smooth the face, how to make the nose and the bone cheeks look more feminine. Finally, she took over for a little while and made some additions that contributed to my Isis looking like a woman.
After we baked the face, I made the body and the wings. I decided to portray her standing, instead of sitting up. The hands were put on a wire. Tami helped by sculpting her hair. Then, we put it in the oven to bake - the "final bake," as Tami put it.
After bringing my Isis home, I looked at her carefully. She was fully ready - to be painted. I made her out of white clay, and I made a round stand for her, so she would be easier to balance (Tami's suggestion).
I chose the acrylic paint colors for her: orange for the dress, tan for the body (I mixed ochre with orange to get it), black for the hair, and blue and yellow for the wings. Originally, I wanted to make the wings black and gold - like they had it in the original statue - but then it occurred to me that her hair was already black, and black and orange together do not make a very pleasant combination. So, black was replaced with blue, and gold with yellow.
As I had more experience with painting than with sculpting - I took some art classes in my childhood - I felt more comfortable with this part. I saw my Isis changing from clay white to the tall, brightly dressed woman with raven black hair and dark blue wings - like the night sky with the stars. I liked the way she looked. Yet, I was very concerned about painting her eyes: one false move - and the black line would go across her face, and what if it gets ruined?
After several misses and repaints (I would wait for the paint to dry and then paint over my mistake with the tan color of the face) I finally found the right brush and the right consistency of paint. I tried to line on the newspaper and on my hand first. It looked perfect. Then, I went to the eyes.
I was holding the brush with my left hand - for some reason, sometimes I can do better with my left hand when it comes to more delicate work. I outlined the eyes with the black. Then, I took some blue paint and put two drops of it - one in each eye - for the color of the eyes.
After twelve hours of work, my Isis was complete. With her wings outstretched, she was walking on the waters of the Nile. What is she doing? Is she looking for her husband's body? Or is she trying to warn her son of his impending death, advising him against touching snakes?
Even now, her eyes look sad and her face looks stern and angry. I cannot blame her. I know how she feels. The main thing is - she is not indifferent.
My youngest daughter kept looking at Isis throughout the whole painting process. She kept saying to me: " Mommy, this is very good. This is not perfect, of course... But it's beautiful."
I am satisfied with that. I hope Isis will be, too.


  1. I would think that your latest creation is more of a physical form of your desire to be closer to a deity that supports your ideals and form of thought. I think you should photograph the Isis and post it on your page. I feel you have a creative spirit, and should share it. Beauty is that which we see in ourselves and if we create Beauty with perfect thoughts and perfect love, we can achive great things.

  2. Katya, At Book Club, you requested a comment frome me about your statue blog. Asking one such as myself probably wasn't a good idea;-)

    First, however, I will say I enjoyed reading your artist's step-by-step process. As an artist myself, I avidly enjoy reading about other creative individual's well-explained processes.

    Also, I am impressed with your daring-do, the willingness to take on such a difficult creative endeavor. One of the last classes I had at Cal State Long Beach when I was majoring in art was Three-Dimensional Design (basic sculpturing). Needless to say--without giving you the sad story--I didn't have as much success as you did with the Isis statue. I escaped with a "C" in the class. A real downer compared to my very good oil painting grades.

    And that you found time to atempt and succeed in your scupturing while also employed full time and being a very busy parent, as well as reading Aristotle, etc. Very impressive:-)

    Now the downside: Since I am a rationalist at heart (I know that sounds like a contradiction), and not a literalist, it baffles me when I see many brilliant persons (certainly much smarter than myself)be accepting of the more literal stuff of which religion is made.

    To be blunt,
    I must admit I don't understand how you could really believe in Isis. But keep in mind, I am of the skeptical mindset. I quit believing in the literal and anthropormorphic in religion a long time ago.

    However, your dedication to Isis does make me want to go out to the garage to my religion wall and re-read about the Egyptian Gods. It's been a while since I studied about them.

    We live in different universes, but it's good we can dialogue:-)



Thank you for leaving a word! I really appreciate your comments.