Barbara French Duzan
Barbara Duzan, amazes us with her artistic versatility, whether she is beading an animal form that hangs on the wall, mixing up the plaster of Paris for her mixed media works or is modeling the clay for a new bronze casting, Barbara continues her exploration in all these mediums with her animals. She will catch a puppy playing on their back, a trained circus dog balancing a hoop on a horse and a dog sitting quietly waiting for what is next. Her work is pleasing to touch and a delight for the eye.
I began my artistic career by working on paper and canvas using watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil and graphite. In 2000 I felt inspired to take a sculpting class and my work moved quickly in this new and exciting direction.
The result of that inspiration has been that all of the work that I do now is sculptural. Always passionate about animals I wanted to show them respect I have always felt while simultaneously maintaining a sense of play and adventure.
I soon discovered that plastilene clay to is the perfect medium to depict birds and mammals impressionistically and often with a touch of whimsy. my goal is to give the viewer a sense of movement that is frozen in time.
Recently I have been embellishing some of the clay forms with beads and shells and they lend the bronze sculptures finished with this texture a lighthearted and unique quality. approximately half of my current pieces are created using the clay for bronze medium.
Clay mâché is a product that I use to create one of kind critters. It is powdered clay and ground paper to which I add enough water to make it workable. I first create the general shape of the sculpture with some combination of wire, foam, aluminum foil and masking tape. I then refine the shape with the clay mâché. It sets to a hard, slightly rough finish, which is permanent but a bit fragile. I cover the sculpture with a layer of self-hardening epoxy clay to increase the durability and make the surface smoother and more receptive to paint. I finish the pieces with acrylic paint and various embellishments. It is a lengthy process as I build up layers of clay and let them dry before adding the next layer.
My art is my journal. I study the animals and birds around me. I can’t resist collecting treasures while hiking or beach combing and fill my pockets with everything from seedpods and pine cones to driftwood, sea glass, rocks and shells. In my mind I see images of animals in whimsical human poses, in graceful movement or alert watchfulness. My goal is to capture a moment in time and let the viewer’s imagination finish the story. The finished work reflects my impressions of nature as well as documenting the paths I have traveled.
I work mainly on three-dimensional pieces but in two very diverse styles. My more traditional work is in clay for bronze. The tactile nature of the medium allows me to capture expression and motion; to portray my subject in an impressionistic style as well as with a touch of whimsy.
My love of color and an interest in beadwork led me in a totally different direction. I began creating one of a kind animals by placing clay, beads and found objects on taxidermy forms in a mosaic-like technique. The surprising discovery that taxidermy forms are available for animals as small as a cottontail rabbit or a 15” tall African Dik Dik antelope to the largest African mammal, has informed my creation of these fanciful creatures. I imagine the beaded surface as a wildly colorful camouflage which isn’t enough to keep these animals safe in the wild. These pieces mimic the prized catches of trophy hunters but no animal loses its life in the process.