CARLSBAD — Lynn Forbes spent the first half of her career working as a costume builder for the theater and motion pictures including “Back to the Future,” “Death Becomes Her” and Disney’s “The Adventures of Huck Finn.”
In 2001, she had a pivotal experience when she visited the Musée d’Orsay in Paris with her father and saw Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s “Ugolino and His Sons.”
“I was so enthralled by the sculpture that I walked around it in circles, weeping,” she recalled. “The work of ancient masters struck a chord so deep, I knew then that this would be my future.”
When Forbes returned home to Orange County, she enrolled in a sculpting class at the local community college. Soon she was recruited as the instructor’s assistant because of her self-described “obsession” with sculpture and skills honed as a costume builder that also applied to the art.
“When you are drafting clothing, you have to learn how to draw and transpose so it will be the right shape to put on a form,” she explained. “It’s a three-dimensional process.”
In 2005, she was hired to teach sculpting at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. The same year she opened her first studio.
Since relocating to Carlsbad in 2007, and opening a studio and gallery at Village Faire, Forbes’ reputation has spread. Currently, a bust that was commissioned of Carlsbad Mayor Bud Lewis is on exhibit at the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce as well as a bronze statue titled “Fathers of Medicine” at Tri-City Medical Center.
Forbes’ gallery also serve as the venue for one of the largest sculpture schools in the world, dedicated to students of all ages who appreciate what she describes as “the new Renaissance in the classical Greek art form.”
On May 25 Forbes will be hosting her sixth annual Sculpture Party. This is a tradition, she explained, that she started to give the community an opportunity to experience what it’s like to create sculpture.
Festivities will begin at 11 a.m. and continue to 4 p.m. The hub of activity will be near the fountain in the courtyard of the Village Faire, 300 Carlsbad Village Drive. Bands will perform, and live models will be on hand for students to work with. There is no charge for admission or instruction. Clay will be sold in two sizes, priced at $5 and $10.
After learning two key techniques during the day, Forbes said students will go home with a sculpture that will make them proud.
“One man who came to the sculpture party in 2010 used a plastic toy elephant as a model and made an amazing, realistic sculpture,” she remembered. “He became a student.”
Forbes explained that sculpting is one of the most highly disciplined art forms, leaving the artist with a sense of completion after “taking chaos and putting it in order.” Forbes describes her style as “organic, involving intuition, sight and touch instead of measurements.”
Students primarily work using live models or Forbes’ own sculptures. Some prefer to work from a photograph, particularly if they are creating a bust of an ancestor or loved one who has passed away.
Student Frances Mahon is working on bust of her late husband.
“Sometimes I feel so connected and it’s such a wonderful feeling,” Mahon said. “I never thought sculpting would also be such a healing process.”
Forbes added, “You really feel close to the subject because you are focusing on nuances of the shape of their face.”
Forbes’ students range from 6 years old to seniors. They also include those with special needs such as visual impairment, Parkinson’s disease, mental illness and substance abuse issues.
She explains that sculpting also offers a myriad of therapeutic benefits.
“It’s a right brain activity very similar to meditation,” she said. “It uses the intuitive part of the brain and connects both sides together.
It can even help people recover from a stroke because it creates new pathways in the brain.”
Adult programs, 2.5 hours long, are offered Monday through Sat. Youth and family programs take place Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
Lynn Forbes Gallery and School of Sculpture is located in Suite 102, Village Faire. For more information visit sculptureschool.net, call (949) 444-1926 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.