Lucasfilm’s Yoda Fountain: A Discussion with the Artist

Several weeks ago, Academy of Art University Director of Sculpture Lawrence Noble and Director of Online Graduate Studies Jason Shaeffer had the privilege of visiting Lucasfilm’s Presidio campus in San Francisco to discuss the many bronze statues that adorn the park-like campus. The bronzes, which were all sculpted by Director Noble in the years before his arrival at AAU, have become something of an attraction at Lucasfilm headquarters, none more so than the Yoda fountain that greets visitors at the complex’s main entrance near Letterman Drive.

As the video discussion reveals, each sculpture is the result of a journey from concept to realization as well as a meeting of the minds between artist and client. We at AAU are extremely thankful that Lucasfilm provided this rare opportunity to hear the stories of these bronzes from the artist who created them, and hope that they will inspire students of sculpture to suit up (Noble’s words) and do, or do not — there is no try (Yoda’s words).

In the coming weeks and months, we’ll share some of the other bronzes Director Noble has done for Lucasfilm at the Presidio, including those of Willis O’Brien, Eadweard Muybridge, Philo Farnsworth, and Darth Vader – stay tuned!

For those interested in the Yoda bronze, you’ll be happy to know that The New San Anselmo Downtown Park project will be installing a bronze Yoda — and life-size Indiana Jones — on land donated by George Lucas himself! For details about the park and how you can make a donation to get your name on a plaque installed at the park, visit the San Anselmo Downtown Park Fund site!

Student Sculpture Proposals for FASCU Office

With a new set of lovely French doors recently installed in the FASCU offices at the Cannery, an unexpected blank space was created to the left of the entryway — and what better way to fill it than with a custom relief sculpture created by a FASCU student?!

At the request of Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble, instructor Scott Donahue (Relief: Expression & Interpretation) set his students to work proposing several different possibilities for the space, which we are showcasing below. The students were instructed to carefully consider the space surrounding the relief (15th century English oak paneling) and the context of its location.

After much deliberation, a fantasy-themed Victorian elephant relief by student Seok Don Choi has been chosen to occupy the void framed by the centuries-old paneling, and is the final piece depicted below. We’ll update this story once the final relief is in place!

Many thanks to the students of FASCU 645 for their dedication and wonderful proposals!


Jihoon Choi chose to incorporate AAU school iconography and an old English font to convey the tone and purpose of the space:

Luotian Zhang incorporated several facial profiles into his design, each expressing a different emotion:

Welat Binavi took a more non-literal approach with a rather pleasant color-scheme:

Wenquing Cui took inspiration from the old walls to create an Egyptian hieroglyphic motif:


Finally, Seok Don Choi’s fantastical Victorian elephant proposal was selected for the space, which was supported by his stunning sketches and 3D mock-up:

Seok Don at work on the relief:

UPDATE: Check out the final work installed below — we think it’s absolutely fantastic!!

Finished elephant relief by Seok-don Choi

Creating a Wax Copy of Écorché

Academy of Art University sculpture student Cameron Jones recently photo-documented the creation of a wax copy from his 24-inch ‘machine-age’ écorché sculpture, which he wants to ultimately cast in bronze. He’s shared the photos and provided some descriptions below, which we’ll update once the bronze is finished!

1. Laying the bed of clay out that surrounds the sculpture.


2. The bed of clay creates a final parting line which follows the general apex of the sculpture from front to back. A wax barrier surrounding the piece will contain the rubber to be applied.


Continue reading

Sketching, Sculpting, and Skills posted a brief but insightful interview exerpt from the upcoming issue of Drawing magazine with artist Don Gale.

Here are a few noteworthy passages from the excerpt:

Drawing: Is drawing for sculpture much different from other modes of drawing?

Don Gale: There’s a difference between how sculptors and painters draw. Sculptors such as Michelangelo and the Florentine artists drew in line that defined the form. They were interested in where the form began and ended. Painters define form through light, through shades, so a lot of the time they don’t show the whole boundaries of a form in their drawings. When sculptors sculpt, they have to make the whole form—they can’t create it just with tone.

Drawing: How do you define “skill” with regards to art? How do you think it should it figure into an artist’s education?

Don Gale: Skill is applied knowledge. It’s when you know something and can apply it over and over again. People understand it in regards to music better than in regards to art. A musician has to know how to press the keys, how to position the fingers, and so on. And to really understand that knowledge, one has to apply it again, and again, and again. It’s the same with something as simple as learning to type or as complex as performing surgery.

When it comes to drawing, you have to have knowledge of how light hits the form; how to model it. Those are programs that you learn—a little like programming a computer to perform certain functions. That’s skill. Some teachers are opposed to skill because they feel it kills creativity. But in fact it’s the opposite—skill gives you the capacity to create.

Read the full excerpt here or pick up the winter 2013 issue of Drawing!

Portraits In-Progress

Cameron Jones

Cameron Jones

Captured some great in-progress shots in yesterday’s Portrait Sculpture class (FASCU 345), which is headed up by Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble. Even in a portrait’s earliest stages, it’s clear to see how each sculptor approaches their subject differently. For next week’s class, features will be refined and surfaces finished for final review…

Shadoe Delgado

Shadoe Delgado

Gianna Dispenza

Gianna Dispenza

Richard Thoms

Richard Thoms

Miguel del Rey Vergara

Miguel Chavira

Online Class: Art of Moldmaking & Casting 1


Online Coordinator Steve Krochman sends some great pics of BFA Fine Art Sculpture student Debra Davis’ waste mold cast figure as well as some process shots. Debra says she has the best of both worlds, enjoying the sun in front of her studio while receiving advice and feedback from instructor Krochman every step of the way! Interested in taking some online courses at AAU? Read more about our program here!


Continue reading

Noble’s Yoda and Indy Bronzes Featured in Star Wars Insider

The latest issue (#140) of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Insider magazine includes a 2-page spread showcasing AAU Sculpture Chair Lawrence Noble’s iconic Yoda and soon-to-be-unveiled Indiana Jones bronzes. The story announces their imminent installation at a new park being developed in San Anselmo on land donated by George Lucas himself. We’ll stay on this story as things develop!