Jason Arkles Figure Sculpting Workshop


In this course, sculptor Jason Arkles leads participants in creating one-third sized figures in clay, using the visual measurement techniques of the sight size method. Working from a live model posed in a seated position, students will learn how to build clay figures of substantial dimensions without the use of an armature, in water-based clay. Instructor Jason
Arkles will work alongside students throughout the duration of the course, providing a demonstration of techniques and practices for the entirety of the course.

Throughout the course, each student will work from a living model six hours a day. Instead of molding and casting the work at the end of the course, these seated figures will be hollowed out and fired into terracotta statuettes, should the students wish. Alternatively, students can take their work home for further finishing or casting, as desired.

On the last day, various finishing techniques will be introduced, and the works will be hollowed and left to dry.


Jason Arkles is an American sculptor, art historian, podcaster and author living in Florence, Italy. Beginning his training as a sculptor in 1996 at the Charles H. Cecil Studio in Florence, Arkles soon began to teach in the sculpture department there, notably heading up the experimental sculpture program initiated by Cecil, which sought to revive a sculptural method based on optical and geometric processes (in painting, known as Sight-Size), once used in the ateliers of sculptors in 19th century Paris, but since the 20th century known only as a technique for painters and draftsmen. 

In 2006 Arkles published the fruits of this experimental sculptural technique under the title Sculpting from Life – A Studio Manual of The Sight-Size Method. Continuing his research into historical techniques. In 2013 Arkles published a translation into English, with extensive commentary, of Leon Battista Alberti’s Della Statua, regarded as the earliest figurative sculpture manual in Europe, and Jason’s is the first published English translation in almost fifty years. Notably, Arkles’ work is the first English translation to approach the text not as merely an historical document, but as it was originally intended by its author – to be read, understood, and utilized by practitioners of the craft of sculpture. He is currently writing a book on the life and teaching of the 19th century sculptor Francois Rude.

 As a practicing sculptor, Arkles operates a studio in Florence (The Studio Della Statua, named after Alberti’s treatise) and works on private commissions, specializing in portraiture in marble, but also producing figures and monuments in various media, including colossal scale terra cotta figures. His work is largely driven by a sense of narrative and psychological symbol, and this has sometimes led Arkles to foray into ecclesiastical work. Arkles is drawn both to sacred art and to portraiture for the same reason – narrative. To this end, in 2010 Arkles received a Master’s degree in Sacred Art and Architecture from Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, a degree program instituted by the Vatican in 2007 and under Pontifical authority.

 Recently, Jason’s role of lecturer and instructor has come to the fore, locally and internationally. He has held a position since 2014 on the History of Art Department at the British Institute of Florence, and lectures for several institutions and studio in town. In 2015, Jason assembled his lectures and research into a podcast called The Sculptor’s Funeral, which is ongoing and reaches a global audience. The podcast discusses significant events, artists, and sculpture in art history, promotes and discusses current events relevant to sculptors, and in a broad sense, connects the diaspora of figurative sculptors everywhere. And since 2015, Arkles has given workshops on the sight-size method of clay modeling, as well as lecture tours and other educational programs, in ateliers and institutions around the world, an endeavor fueled by the worldwide popularity of the podcast.

 Jason Arkles also seeks out opportunities to help sculptors and institutions raise the profile of figurative sculpture, and art history. Some of those opportunities include presenting art history for the New Masters Academy, an online educational forum for artists; helping to institute a traditional skills-based marble carving program for Boise State University in Idaho, US; giving lectures on Art History to sculptors working in the special effects industry in New Zealand; and collaborating with various schools and ateliers in developing sculpture departments. In 2019, Arkles appeared as the Guest Speaker at the International Stone Sculptors Symposium in Washington State, USA, and delivered the keynote address at the annual convention of the National Sculpture Society in New York. In 2022, Jason was honored to be chosen as the Brookgreen Gardens Master Sculptor in Residence at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina. In the autumn of 2022, Jason will mount his first solo exhibition, titled Andra Tutto Bene (“ It will be all right’) at the Museo Bellini, in Florence.