Most of my smaller pieces begin in water-based clay. I'm primarily a modeler rather than a carver. The immediacy of clay allows me to work quickly at the beginning, overrunning my headlights as it were, so judgment doesn’t impede creativity in developing the form. This process invites mistakes or happenstance which, if one is open to, can enhance the final outcome. Some of the artwork is left rough and heavily textured, telling a story of the process, while other pieces are carefully worked to a fine, smooth finish.
For the best results, I prefer to work directly from the subject. I like to have from four to ten 1-hour sittings for a very detailed portrait head but can do rougher studies in much less time. The last thing anyone wants is for a person (particularly a child) to be reminded of tiring, boring or frustrating sittings every time they see the finished work, so the sittings are only as long as the subject is comfortable. Children are not asked to strike and hold a pose but rather given something interesting to do - like play with toys or clay. Likewise, adults aren't kept to a rigid pose - they're free to play with toys as well. In conjunction with sittings, I take photos in order to continue working when the model is not available.
And, yes, I can also work solely from photos or even videos - either taking the photos myself or instructing the client on what I need in the way of images - but it is more difficult.
Finished sculpture may be in bronze, aluminum, fiberglass, foam, plaster, clay, wood, resin, epoxy or whatever best suits the project. Choices/possibilities for portrait sculptures are: Relief, Full-Round or Fragment. Prices vary depending upon availability of the subject, size, scope (head study, bust, full figure, etc.) finished material and how much of a backlog I have. Often I'll do the original in bronze and extra copies in gypsum cement for other family members (at a much lower cost).
Commissions in General
After discussing the project with a client, I usually prepare concept sketches and rough estimates for consideration. When a concept is chosen, sometimes I'll make a maquette to explore the design in 3 dimensions. This model may serve as reference for executing a larger version of the design or it may be scanned for a data set to build an armature in foam (to support clay) or even a finished sculpture in wood or stone. Interface or site preparation requirements are planned out in advance. I can install or deliver the finished artwork.