“The simplest reason that I sculpt is that I am fascinated by the human form and I am a very tactile and visual person – I love to use my hands to create what I find beautiful”
Rod Bessire is a talented sculptor of the human figure. His career as an artist came in his adulthood, but that did not prevent him from perfecting himself and being at the level of great sculptors around the world.
As you can see through his pieces, Rod genuinely strives to capture gestures and emotions. The vulnerability of the human being with all that that implies.
His art is an example of how perseverance and dedication pay off, no matter if you started your career at 18 or 45 years old.
In this Q&A Rod Bessire shares with PoseSpace, what he hopes to achieve in the coming years, his rituals to start a work, what he thinks about Posespace and more.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into art?
I came to art late in life. I have always enjoyed working with my hands and had the typical art education through public school, but never pursued anything artistic after graduation. Instead, I joined the military at 17 and spent the next 26 years as a soldier and a military civilian, experiencing life, raising a family, and educating myself.
In 2000 I started building custom computers and wanted to include sculptural elements. After just a couple of years I discovered that I enjoyed sculpting more than I enjoyed computers!
With limited resources and knowledge, I started teaching myself how to sculpt. I experimented with different mediums and techniques for a number of years with varying success.
Finally, in 2011 at the age of 45, I left military service and moved back home to Utah for a new job. With the kids out of the house and a significant amount of time on my hands, I started pursuing sculpting in earnest. To this day, I continue my journey striving to learn, refine, and perfect my craft to the best of my abilities.
What was your path to becoming a full-time artist?
I am not a full-time artist. I consider myself a part-time artist and an advanced amateur. I work as an education project manager during the days to pay my bills.
I sculpt primarily for myself. My art is my stress relief. Sculpting is what I do after hours to relax and calm my mind. I don’t know if I will ever be a full-time artist – maybe after I retire a second time?
I am always cautious about turning my sculpting into a money-driven, full-time pursuit. I never want it to seem like a job that I HAVE to do, I always want it to be something I WANT to do. If I create something along the way that someone wants, I’m happy to sell it to them, but my primary motivation remains the creation of the piece itself.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
The high-point for me so far has to be the first time I won best-of-show at the Utah State Fair in 2019. I’ve always been reticent to show my work for a multitude of reasons, but winning that award really gave me a sense of satisfaction and encouraged me to get my art out there more and let people see what I am doing.
Since then, I’ve won multiple best-of-show and other awards for my work through various venues and that recognition drives me to improve my skills and become better at the process and the final outcomes.
What do you hope to achieve with your artwork in the coming years?
I hope to continually improve my technique and better capture the human form.
The simplest reason that I sculpt is that I am fascinated by the human form and I am a very tactile and visual person – I love to use my hands to create what I find beautiful.
The human form beguiles me, it frustrates me, and it inspires me. I want to capture it in all the ways it can be captured. Whether it’s a gesture, a look, an emotion, or a pose, something in an image grabs hold of my imagination and I can’t get it out of my mind until I’ve captured it in real space.
I see sculptures as moments in time and strive to capture those moments in three dimensions.
How do you start a work – do you have any rituals?
My creative process is one of constant tension between my desire to create and my impatience to arrive at the final result.
I have a love-hate relationship with my process. I love the way the human form inspires me. I love the potential I can see in my mind for the finished piece. I love the way the clay allows me to easily experiment with shapes and forms.
But I am an impatient man. I hate the time required for the vision – the trial and error, the details of the process. The tedium of creation.
I am always at odds with myself – fighting for perfection and always, because of my impatience, feeling I’ve come up just short.
My work always starts from a spark of an idea in my mind. I may see a photo that sparks that idea, or I might challenge myself to capture a unique moment in time. Once I have that idea in my head, I use my armatures and photos from PoseSpace to help me further develop those ideas.
Do you have a favorite living artist, whether famous or completely unknown?
I have three favorite artists right now: Brian Booth Craig, Erik Arneson, and Andrew Joseph Keith.
I am inspired by the work of Brian Booth Craig. Since the first time I saw one of his pieces, I was in awe. The way he is able to capture the subtle and realistic details of the human form to communicate attitude and emotion is phenomenal and, frankly, unsurpassed in my opinion. No one out there is creating as simple, yet impactful pieces as he is.
I am fascinated by the work of Erik Arneson. I discovered his work while searching YouTube and trying to learn more about how to sculpt. His attention to detail, commitment to his process, and rendering of every muscle, tendon, and bone in his sculptures is unsurpassed. The fact that he teaches at the Florence Academy of Art at such a young age is a testament to his talent and dedication to his art. I have learned so much from his YouTube channel.
I am captivated by the work of Andrew Joseph Keith. I came across Andrew’s sculptures through Instagram and his capture of gesture really grabbed my attention. I ended up taking his figure sculpting course through Proko.com. There I learned a more school-book approach to sculpting where I not only learned how to better capture gestures, but also learned about primary, secondary, and tertiary forms, and the more formal process of sculpting.
What do you think of PoseSpace? Do you have a favorite model?
PoseSpace is critical to my art. I don’t have the resources or time to hire a live model. In fact, I have never sculpted from a live model. Without PoseSpace, I wouldn’t be able to create what I do. It’s as simple as that.
The PoseTool allows me to sort through the various models until I can find a pose that matches my idea, and then helps me to refine that idea into a workable piece. Sometimes, while searching for one pose, another will grab my attention and move the piece in an entirely new, and better direction
My favorite models right now are IrinaV, NicoleV, and LynetteB.
IrinaV has some of the most dynamic and interesting poses available. In my latest piece, Freedom, I wanted to do something very dynamic and her 003 pose was just right. Her athleticism and strength really come through in all her poses and they drive me to try and capture every tiny nuance and turn of muscle visible.
NicoleV’s poses communicate power, confidence and strength. Her pose, 031, is the absolute inspiration for my piece, Shield Maiden. I was using the PoseTool and looking for inspiration for another piece, but when I saw her standing there with the bow in that pose, I just had to capture that power and strength.
LynetteB’s poses are studies in relaxation and confidence. I have used her poses in multiple works, but primarily in Waterfall. I was just captivated by her ability to look relaxed in such a difficult pose (030) and it matched up perfectly with the idea I had of the female figure depicted as water flowing down rocks.