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TOM DUNCAN: Preparatory Sketches and
Models for a Large Sculpture

Editor's note: Tom Duncan makes many preparatory sketches and models for his sculptures. For a major piece, this process may occur over a period of years--at the same time that other works are in progress as well. This page illustrates the development of a large mixed-media sculpture entitled "Portrait of Tom with a Migraine Headache".

DUNCAN: My migraine headaches feel like devils searing behind my right eye with a hot poker. So, this piece is an autobiographical one dealing with my bad (migraine) side and my non-headache side.

DUNCAN: I cut out articles and any information I find about headaches. And I collect medical and artistic images--like these--showing the internal workings of the body.

DUNCAN: I keep notes about the pieces I am working on. I have 54 numbered notebooks with ideas, details and sketches of work. I analyze my notebooks noting the sketches relating to a certain piece--this way I can review ideas for a given work easily without getting distracted.

Tom Duncan notebook sketches for Migraine

Slideshow of Tom Duncan's Notebook Sketches for "Portrait of Tom with a Migraine Headache"
Please note: this is a slow-loading series of 35 images; it repeats 5 times.

DUNCAN: To support mysself during art school, I worked as an architectural modelmaker. I like to make models of the pieces I am working on to solve problems. You see more in a model, but it is still not the same as a full size piece. There are always issues to solve when a piece is realized in a larger scale.

Tom Duncan models for Migraine

Slideshow of Tom Duncan's Models and Completed Portions of "Portrait of Tom with a Migraine Headache"
Please note: this is a slow-loading series of 15 images; it repeats 5 times.

Tom Duncan sculpture Migraine

DUNCAN: This is the sculpture, but I've made a lot of changes to the piece since I built this version. The viewer goes up two steps onto an altar and puts his face into the negative shape of my head and looks through my eyes inside the viewing chamber to reveal good and bad scenes from my life.
--Tom Duncan

Back to Tom Duncan studio visit.

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