bird bronze sculpture

As I continue my artistic journey, I am often asked how I do you choose a subject. It is something that continues to evolve as I am a self-taught sculptor.

Below is an overview of the steps I follow in creating a sculpture, but the most important part is the concept, which is a reflection of my journey, interpreting the simple and subtle rhythms and textures in nature.

The following is an example of my artistic process and images of how my latest bronze long-billed curlew sculpture evolved.
The Concept:

  • When sculpting, I reflect on an experience, investigated my observations while viewing the bird/animal in the wild, sometimes with the naked eye, other times with binoculars.
  • Then off to the sketchbook with a simple thumbnail sketch, usually only one or two.

Research & Observation of the Subject:

  • For accuracy, reference material is researched:
    1. to understand the anatomy of the subject
    2. habitat, and other characteristics of the subject.
    3. sometimes I am even fortunate enough to have access to a specimen.
  • Back to the field for more observations based on the research.
  • No photos, just imprinting the actual bird in my mind.

After the subject is imprinted in my mind, only then do I start a sculpture in clay. This process can take several weeks.

Stage 1:

  • The armature is created using wire, metal and other materials.
  • The armature is an underlying, unseen, supporting component to help make the intitial model thre-dimesional.

armature for sculpture

Stage 2:

  • I spend anywhere from a month to a year moving the clay, changing the posture until the sculpture captures the essence of the bird in my mind’s eye.

clay sculpture for bronze

Stage 3 & 4

  • Once completed, the clay is taken to the foundry where master craftsmen and women reproduce the sculpture using the lost wax process.
  • The patina, (acids and heat, which create colors in the finished bronze) are directed by me at the foundry to compliment the movement in the sculpture.

clay for bronze sculpturebronze sculpture ready for patina

Stage 5

  • The finale, “Observing Grace – Long Bill Curlew”

bird bronze sculpture

This piece it the perfect example of how most sculptures evolve. In observing the graceful image of their accent and landing I used artistic license to create an interpretive sculpture, full of movement and grace.
This sculpture was chosen for Birds in Art, the most prestigious International Birds in Art Exhibition held annually at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.


Ken Newman has been sculpting for over 30 years.  A self taught artist, Ken profoundly loves working in raw forms of wood as well as creating works in clay for bronze. His subjects range from animals to the figurative form.
Ken is an Elected Member of the National Sculpture Society, the Allied Artists of America and the Audubon Artists all of NYC.  He is also a Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists and the Artists for Conservation. He recently was selected as an Affiliate Member of the National Sculptors Guild.


 Thank you to Ken for taking time to share his interesting sculpting process with us. ~Lori

You may also enjoy reading:

Top 10 Photo Reference Tips for Artists

Alla Prima Painting – The Process

Privacy Preference Center