Figure Sculpture

Composing the human form

session 3

July 6, 2020 – July 17, 2020



 In figurative sculpture, the pose is an important means of communication for the artist. Through learning to construct figures and experiment with poses from imagination, the artist is granted a greater degree of artistic freedom and confidence. Rome is the ideal setting to explore the possibilities of how the sculptor can communicate through body language. 

Alicia Ponzio

Alicia Ponzio


During the first week of this class, Alicia will demonstrate the basic forms of the human body and how to assemble them into a naturalistic figure. Students will practice applying the canon of proportion, the rhythms of the body that tie the masses together, and the basic shapes of the masses. Teaching methods will include demonstrations and individual feedback, as well as group discussion. We’ll use a live model for reference when appropriate. During our museum visits, Alicia will highlight particular examples of sculptures that will help us to understand how artists have used the pose to communicate historically. These examples will provide subject matter for our classroom discussions and inspiration for the final project of Week 2. 

During the second week, students will each design an individual pose to express a chosen theme. They’ll have the week to design their pose at a 12″ scale in plastiline. Students will work out the physical expression of their concept drawing on the figure modeling process introduced in week 1, the inspiration of the historical examples in Rome, and importantly, the idea they want to express. 

The class is appropriate for any level. Previous experience in figure modeling, figure drawing, or figure painting are helpful. The class will provide an introduction to basic artistic anatomy, or for the more experienced student, an exercise in applying that knowledge. The concepts learned will allow students to approach figurative work with greater confidence and understanding. Historically, painters and draftsmen have employed figure modeling skills to create small sketches as a basis for creating a composition from imagination. 


Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this workshop. If you have a question that isn’t addressed in the workshop description or these faqs, use the “Ask a Question”  button and we will be happy to get you the information!


Isn’t Egg Tempera really complicated, tedious, and limited?

Egg tempera is essentially, colored dirt, egg yolk and water, pretty simple stuff.  Very easy and inexpensive to make, and uses no solvents and cleans up easily with soap and water. While the tradition may seem very tedious and limited, egg tempera can also be applied very quickly and loosely, and used in a very expressive manner. 

I’ve heard that Egg Tempera is really difficult to use, and you can’t correct it.

Egg tempera is one of the most forgiving mediums. When fresh, the paint can be lifted off with a wet brush or cloth. The paint is applied in many thin, semi-transparent layers, allowing for constant adjustments while building on your previous layers.  The paint can be thinned to a flow out like watercolor, or applied directly like opaque gouache. It dries almost immediately to the touch, so another glaze, or direct application can be applied very quickly. It can be scraped back, sanded, or lifted with water. 

Isn’t Egg Tempera a Kid’s paint, and not really a serious medium?

Egg Tempera is the second oldest medium, it pre-dates oil paint, and it was used for some of the most famous paintings in art history, like Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.”  To this day, traditional Religious Icon Paintings are done in egg tempera, and Andrew Wyeth only used egg tempera his whole life.