Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's a bug hunt! Game over man!

In case you're wondering what that little blue arrow is pointing at....no, it's not a blob of snot...it's a wad of baby praying mantids clinging together as they hatch from their egg sac! Hubby purchased quite a few egg sacs, and together they're expected to hatch out about 1200-1500 of the little guys to deal with the grotesque earwig problem this year, in an eco-friendly way. Haven't seen much of the mantids, but the earwigs sure have vanished. Chomp!

Speaking of "game over man," it's that time of year again---publication of The Boat time! "Team Boat" has been madly working to bring the Summer issue together for publication this month and it's shaping up very nicely. One would think we'd run out of topics or information for a 150+ publication twice a year, but wonderfully I end up having to chop stuff out to save it for the next issue. Who knew that "realistic equine sculpture" could have so many relevant tangents of information? I mean, really, there's only so much a working artist can read every six months!

Suffice to say, I've had my Mazzy Star albums on a loop in my iTunes program throughout all this. They lend a vibe that really allows my brain to concentrate while still eased by cool tunage. I'm also a sucker for a good hypnotic melancholy, haunting tune, I admit. Anyway, as soon as The Boat is published, it's back to work in the studio, though, since I've got lots of paintjobs needing attention and sculptures in the works. For instance, besides that Arabian mare I mentioned in a previous post, I'm also working on that little foal's Mom! Here she is in her armature glory, as she currently sits on my work table (Boat readers may recognize her from the article I wrote about sculpting her kidlet)....
Lynn Fraley was kind enough to lend me a picture book on Haflingers because despite my pile of reference photos, I just couldn't find one of a Haflinger mare's hiney directly from the back, and if you know anything about Haflingers, the structure of their hefty hinders is rather important. Those babies gotta "have back." However, this feature can be very easy to get wrong if you don't know exactly how they're structured, because they're similar to a draft horse's hinder, but not quite, and then you add in the broodmare factor, and well...it's a delicate balance of bulk, curves and angles to make it look right. Ultimately, my goal is to make her rather "broodmareish," with the expression, belly and the slack musculature thing going on, which is something you don't often find in sculpture, with artists tending to choose a young "fit showhorse" type of mare. I don't know, though, I like the "patina" a mare develops as she ages. I think it lends to her appeal, especially for sculpture, or maybe I'm just able to identify with that type just a little bit too much now! So we'll see how she turns out. Sculptures so often take on a life of their own, one you just have to follow rather than fight.

So until this Summer's Boat has left dock, I'll sign out for now and hopefully have some images of completed paintjobs and in-progress images of the various sculptures coming down the pike soon. I've got more "minis" in the works and I've started on Stormwatch's base for his bronze edition that I hope (fingers crossed) to get started early next year. I'm really excited about the prospect of producing in bronze. Something new to explore and experience. Happily, my Uncle Mike and his fabulous wife, Mary Teresa (Hello there, you two!), live very close to the foundry I've chosen so what could be better?....family and new horizons, a golden combo!

"A perfect method for adding drama to life is to wait until the deadline looms large." ~Alyce P. Cornyn-Selby


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hoofprints in the Sand

A few months ago, Hubby asked me what I wanted to do for my 40th Birthday, and also as a “last hurrah” before he goes back to school for two years. I gave it some thought, and kept coming back to the same longing---to see some Old Growth Redwood forests again. I’ve long been enchanted by these forests. These trees, and their cousins the Giant Sequoia and Dawn Redwood, deeply resonate with me in ways that go beyond mere appreciation of a pretty tree or forest. These trees make me verklempt and humbled, and I find a peace in their deep forests that I don’t find anywhere else. The floor of an Old Growth Redwood forest is carpeted with big, poofy, lush ferns, with relatively little underbrush, unlike your typical forest. They also don't reek of gaudy pine, but have an earthy fragrance, like an old book or a comfortable room in an old house. They smell of the elements. These forests also tend to be rather quiet and still, with a humming sense of great age and timelessness. Redwoods are the largest living things on the planet, and grow to remarkable heights and ages. They inspire. They also have a tenacity for life and an ability to adapt to nearly all sorts of hardship and injury that serve as an allegory for life. These guys want to live, and they’re able to regrow in crazy situations, like the Phoenix of the tree world. The result is like being in Nature’s Cathedral, a place you can’t help but feel reverent, serene, primordial and mesmerized. Truly, when you walk into an Old Growth Redwood Forest, you’re walking right into the belly of ageless, enduring Nature and this recharges my soul like nothing else. On top of that, Hubby had never experienced a Redwood Forest, being used to the usual pine forests of our northern dry climates, so that simply amplified my desire to share this with him even more. Honestly, if you get a chance to meander through an Old Growth Redwood forest, don’t pass it up!

So we decided to do a three day tour of the Redwood National and State Parks around the CA and OR border, focusing on the
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. There was so much to do, and three days is hardly enough, but we were able to get a good taste for the time being. A quick fix. We even saw three magnificent Roosevelt Elk bulls up close, as they quietly meandered through the trails in their own good time, very dignified and commanding, calmly gazing at those who tip-toed by, giving them their due space. I must sculpt one of these incredible animals! How can such a big-antlered, large animal move so quietly? They reminded me of the day incarnation of the Forest God as he walked with the deer in Princess Mononoke (btw, I plan to create some little garden Kodama of my own!). What a magical moment. After his graduation in two years, I would love to return for a week long camping trip. That would be a fitting celebration, I think. Hubby was completely blown away, and wants to return, as well. We even hiked to Fern Canyon, which while not Redwoody, was well worth the trek!

Let me back track a little bit though---we started the week riding out of Boise with a large HOG group, who where also touring the Northwest area to end up in Joseph, OR for the Bronze, Blues & Brews Festival, which we originally planned to end up at, too, but our schedule didn't allow for it this time (next go-round though!). Instead, I wanted to visit
my brother and my sister-in-law in Bend, Oregon, which worked great on our way to the coast. It was great to see Little Bro and Megan again! They took us on this fabulous little hike around Lake Todd and what a great way to spend an afternoon! We also got to play with their old Lab, Noah, by throwing his "kong" into the lake and he'd bound in to fetch it. He's a seasoned hiker, and behaves so beautifully on the trail, no barking, no harassing the wildlife and no getting out of control. Later, we walked around downtown Bend and sampled the brews at Deschutes Brewery in downtown Bend. They had some dark specialty stouts available only on the premises that were outstanding! Wow. Thanks so much Alex and Megan! It was a terrific time!

The next day, we left for Crescent City, which would serve as our headquarters for Redwood indulgence. Our hotel there was right next to Battery Point, one of the last commissioned lighthouses in America. It was so cool to gaze on it from our balcony window every day! We ate a fabulous dinner at The Beachcomber that blew my socks off! I'd never had halibut cheeks before, and wow....the texture of lobster or crab with a flavor between halibut and shrimp. Yum! Cooked perfectly, in a crushed pistachio crust!

Then we left for our ride to Oregon Caves National Monument, since Hubby wanted to see this cave, being a "cave man." The tour was fascinating, and our room in the Chateau was rustic and comfortable. Our dinner there was wonderful, too. I had bison meatloaf and garlic mashed potatoes and Hubby had prime rib, washed down with Dechutes Obsidian Stout.

Then off to Crater Lake for a quick stop, on our way back to Bend, Friday night. This lake is stunning and so impressive! We definitely want to return for a ride around the rim, and some leisure hiking. My photos are a bit hazy from the smoke from the CA fires, but it was still a thrilling view all the same.

We also did all sorts of little silly things along the way, taking as many walks along the beach in the mornings and evenings as we could! We both love the ocean, and venture to the coast as often as we can.

We arrived back Saturday, exhausted and happy. Perfect timing---we were ready to come home. I missed my Charmkins unbearably and Hubby was ready to just chill at home again. So many adventures and wonderful memories! As my family will tell you, I'm a pill to get out the door for a vacation. Really awful. I turn into an ill-tempered Tasmanian Devil at the thought of...gasp...not working in the studio for a week. All the work that needs to be done, and the thought of not doing it drives me insane. Also, when you love what you do so much, on every level of your being, not doing it is a kind of torture. However, my dear Hubby weathers my tantrums and grumpiness like a patient Redwood, and once I'm out the door, everything is peachy. When I return, I realize just how re-charging the experience was, how necessary it is to step out of the studio routine and reorient one's perceptions and priorities once and awhile. Will this stop my crabbiness before our next vacation? No. It's just one of my quirks that I hope my Hubby will eventually find amusing.

Anyway, Hubby did a brilliant job piloting the bike, and his Fatboy performed like a champ, as always. We're racking up a lot of great memories on that bike! Plus, touring on a bike is so different that riding in a car. In a car, you're hermetically sealed away from the world, in this bubble that removes you from the road, but on a bike, you experience the journey. The smells, the temperature changes, the weather, the wind, the motions on the bike to ride it....you become the journey in many ways. Not for everyone, I know, but I've found it gives me a richer experience.

I have a new eagerness to get back into the studio and as I reminisce on the past week, I'm sure I'll find new sources of inspiration!

"The ant is knowing and wise, but he doesn't know enough to take a vacation." ~Clarence Day


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Helper Elf at work in July!

It worked! The cart system worked like a charm! Hazzah!

Piles of little boxes went out next day to buyers, and the entire process functioned pretty close to how I'd envisioned it. The only real hitch was that the cart system over-sold the first batch, which is something we'll have to address somehow in the next batches. However, it's a small matter since all it meant was that more people simply got what they wanted anyway, and I had enough stock to fulfill all the extra orders.

That's hubby in the pic (above), my trusty Helper Elf who made all this expedited shipping possible! It was the first time I've had to use two of these big bins to haul items in, and boy...was the Postal staff surprised! They know me down there and are used to me piling on boxes in strange bungie-corded configurations to my hapless, overloaded little luggage cart...then hello!...here I walk in with these two giant bins brimming with little white boxes. The look of relief on their faces when they realized all the boxes were ready to ship was worth a "priceless" moment. I still can't believe we got so much out, so quickly. Phew.

Anyhoo, three days after the sale, we were scheduled to leave on a week long foray to the North West coast for a vacation, so to say that week was a scramble would be quite an understatement. I have reams of stuff to catch up on now that I'm back, too, but more on the vacation in the next post, since I have to sort through about 600 images first. Stay tuned!

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." ~
Theodore Roosevelt

Related Posts with Thumbnails