Monday, November 30, 2009

A Wonderful Thanksgiving

Little Bro and Ham walking to one of Alex's favorite fishing spots on Crooked River. Those rock formations on the top remind me of the Easter Island Moa sculptures!

We had a terrific time in Bend for Thanksgiving this year. Great food, great company, great scenery and great fun! We gorged ourselves silly, of course, and spent the rest of the week carousin'. We wedged in a shopping trip to Trader Joe's, much to our delight! Why Boise doesn't have a Trader Joe's is beyond me. We came this close to getting one until the economy tanked out. I am bitter. BITTER. So we got some (now) Three-Buck Chuck and other tasty culinary curiosities we can't find in Boise, like their wonderful cult-status Harvest Grains Blend. The car was loaded up!

Then on Saturday, Little Bro took Ham and me to Crooked River for some fly fishing and hiking. Apparently Crooked River has been a site for the US Fly Fishing Championships, and it's easy to see why. Absolutely beautiful and lots of it! So our day was awesome...gorgeous, crisp and loaded with Fall colors. It started out overcast in the morning, but then the brilliant blue sky came out later in the day. But I tell ya -- when that sun goes down, it gets cold! There were patches of snow and ice clinging to the vegetation even mid-day. And as soon as area went into shadow, ice began to form on the puddles! I also was able to get lots of good shots of rocks, lichen and moss for a base sculpting article I plan to write for The Boat. Anyhoo,
you can see more from our trip here, but here are some selected shots of our day at Crooked River right now:

A shot looking down on Crooked River from the road.

Little Bro casting off at the first spot.

The third spot had these wonderful juniper trees that had tufts -- kinda like mini Truffulla trees!

The rock formations in the Crooked River Canyon were amazing! Look at that!

A delicate desert succulent still tickled by the morning's frozen dew.

Gorgeous Fall colors!

Crooked River in Fall

I don't know what they are, but I loved the structural quality of these spent pods. I think they'd make a super border accent to a tile.

Crooked River at the first fishing spot.

I liked the plant growth on the cliff face, and on these two cute boulders. A pretty picture I think. Everywhere you looked was a painter's dream for canvas!

The view on the road coming home. You see Mt. Bachelor, Three Sisters and more. What a sight! you're preparing for Christmas, here are some gift-buying tips for your kids. Good gravy! And speaking of it "feels like Christmas," look what arrived for me today! My new slab roller!

Hooray! It's here! There's my new slab roller with the shims, canvases and roller sleeve, all assembled and ready to rock 'n' roll! I've named him "Derby" (wink).

Now I can roll out clay slabs of perfect uniform thicknesses with an easy crank of a handle -- joy to my world! I'm all gung-ho to start my tile work for 2010! But first I have things to finish -- like Ms. Haffie and Mr. Blue Boy, and I have to get the 2009 RESS Finishwork Exhibition finished and distributed. Back to work for me!

There are moments on most days when I feel a deep and sincere gratitude, when I sit at the open window and there is a blue sky or moving clouds." ~ Kathe Kollwitz


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pre-Festive Preparations

funny pictures of cats with captions

Welp, the Charmkins are at their sitter (sniff -- I miss them already), the house is clean, the fishies have a clean tank and feeding block, the iPod is full, the laundry is done and we're now starting to contemplate packing for our family trek to Bend, Oregon to my Little Bro's for Thanksgiving. We're looking forward to it -- a family fun and food filled weekend!

One of the two things I was unable to tackle before leaving was shipping, so I'll attend to that as soon as I return. Besides, shipping over a holiday weekend makes me nervous anyway. I also was unable to finish the Haffie mare -- doh! I just had to many other irons in the fire and my tweaks are taking a hair longer than I expected. That's OK though -- I'll jump back in when I get back.

In case you're interested, here's the public link to the Chachki Show. Lots of fun pieces were entered, so check it out when you get a chance, perhaps while your digesting your own feast.

Travel safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Q: What sound does a space turkey make?
A: Hubble, Hubble, Hubble.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Day of Miracles

I heard trumpets on high!

Miracle #1: I finally finished that sooty dapple dun paint job I've been jabbering about these last few posts. Voila! That's him (above), a lovely Brioso, on his nifty custom made marble base and the sculpted epoxy base I made for him. He's removable from it, but boy, removable bases are a royal pain to create. The sculpture has to lift from it with enough ease to not scare the schnookins out of the owner, but sturdy enough to actually work. The marble and epoxy base are one unit, and the sculpture lifts from the epoxy base. You can see more photos of him here. However, be warned, I was unable to accurately capture his coloring exactly to my liking, even with lots of tweaking in Photoshop. I think the different media reflect light differently, and my camera had a bear of a time interpreting it all, whether in a light cube or not. It wanted to give a chartreuse
cast to it, which it doesn't have at all. It's like my camera couldn't capture the golds, reds, taupes and blacks all at once. Oh well. At least you get an idea!

Here's the primary source of inspiration for this piece here and here (it's the same Connemara pony, Catusha's Cashel Rock). Here's the secondary source of inspiration (for Brioso's haunches) here. I don't care to duplicate colors exactly (either from references or my previous work) so I decided to "Frankenstein" the color together with these two references, and change the tone a bit for Sir Brio. I also added some reddish sun-burned tips on his mane and tail, which I pulled from another reference for this color (but which I can't find right now -- doh!).

The first reference was taken eons ago when I was a wee tot from my "Horse of Course" magazine (now kaput), a horse magazine targeted to teens. I saw that centerfold of Cashel Rock and went nuts, and I've kept it all these years. What particularly appealed to me were the reverse dapples on the barrel, which had an almost cheetah spot-like appearance -- very unusual. I also like the drastic interchanges of tones and lights and darks. Very "busy"! And very challenging to paint!
But I wanted to mimic the "idea" of the color and effect with the new methods and media I've learned over the years, and I think I came pretty close. Then again, we'll see how I feel about it 10 years from now. Art is so much a matter of what you can See and achieve at a specific moment in time.

But because this color appeals so much to me, I've actually attempted it twice before in my early career. Here's the first attempt on an HR Small Amir (I think done in the early 90s?):

And a more recent version, done in another tone (I think done in the mid-90s?):

I wanted to see how I've evolved in twenty years doing this model horse painting craziness, and well, I achieved my goals with this color on this new guy, so I'm happy. In particular, I approached the eyes and muzzle differently:

It's a subtle difference, but now that I know how the equine iris and orb is constructed better, I was able to add more detail to the eyes (above). I also refrained from using black-white-taupe for the face "charcoaling," especially on the muzzle (compare this Brioso with my two previous attempts). Instead, I infused all sorts of colors to achieve what I was seeing in various reference photos. I used greens, yellows, blues and even some violets this time, and I'm pleased with the results. His muzzle looks more fleshy and velvety, at least I think so.

In particular, I decided not to "shave and oil" him, or in other words, paint his muzzle with dark tones. Rather, I wanted to mimic the velvet "buff" an un-show groomed muzzle has, with the staining of the grass he eats (you can see the green tinges on his lips) and the random darkish wetness spots (From his tongue? Drinking? Damp patches in grass? Who knows!), which you can see on his upper lip. I even added greenish patches to his teeth. And though I didn't include the photos, I added green stains to the bottom of his uplifted feet. He has to have context to his base! Anyway, he'll be off to his saintly-patient owner next week. Phew!

Miracle #2: I was able to login to my naughty Facebook account with a new reset password! I'm live! What a brave new world. Hi gang!

Anyhoo, back to the studio. I'm hummin' along on the Blue Boy quite happily and I think he may be finished sooner than anticipated. Hooray! I'm doing some final tweaks to the Haffie mare, so I'm hoping to have her finished soon, too! YES. So many long lingering projects are coming to a good end. But I won't post anymore pix of her until she's done. I enjoy a big reveal. Living sequestered in my studio, it's one of my few indulgences. I just hope you like her in her finished form!

"The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play." ~ Arnold J. Toynbee


Monday, November 16, 2009

Beads, Balloons and Blobs

funny pictures of cats with captions

I finally finished those awards for the Chachki Show -- only four days later than I'd planned -- but, hey, they're done! Voila!....

As I was adding the beady accoutrements to these guys, I watched the Pixar movies "Up" and "Ratatouille" again. Suffice to say, I've had a rather emotional day so far. My eyes are red from being verklempt and I feel a mix of utter inspiration and being a bit emotionally wrought out. Leave it to those Pixar folks!

I like too add beading to bas-relief designs. I love beads. They're tiny bits of art glass you get to play with! I originally did a lot of beading -- necklaces, earrings, woven bead purses -- the works. I even made myself a homemade beading loom out of some left-over 2 x 4s back in junior high I think (or was it high school?). While I eventually dumped it when I discovered sculpture, this approach is a fun roundabout way to incorporate both creative outlets. When the results from the show are posted, I'll post a link here.

Anyway...back to the studio!

"Creativity and love surely come from the same source, and both have no boundaries. It all depends on how we use them." ~ Nancy Green


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Today is my Hubby's Birthday -- Yaaaaaay! (said like Kermit with limbs akimbo) Happy Birthday!

Last night we went to a restaurant we haven't been to before, Tucanos, with a couple of old friends we lost contact with some years ago, so it was great -- We stayed four hours munchin' away and yaking up a storm. I gotta say...this place is the Mecca, The Temple -- The Promised Land -- for the die-hard carnivore. Hubby's eyes were glistening with delight like a pride lion in a pile of dead gazelles. The place has a wonderful salad, pasta, sushi, soup, what-have-you salad bar to provide some semblance of balanced diet, but the highlight of the meal is meat. Lots and lots of roasted meat. Waiters come by in rapid succession with skewers of sausages and assorted meats that you get to have -- and it's all delicious. And it's all you can eat. Hubby + All You Can Eat Meat = Unprecedented Delight. Suffice to say, he gorged like a pride lion. It's his new favorite place to eat in the Universe.

Today, his Mom came over with the chocolate cake and homemade cinnamon buns she made (yum!). And here's a cool handmade card his Mom commissioned for him (note: That's a Harley Road King, I think):

I really admire those who make handmade cards -- it's something so beyond my skill set or time use. I save all the ones I get!

Anyway -- Happy Birthday Sweetie! You're aging wonderfully!

"Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." ~ Jack Benny


Saturday, November 14, 2009


These are the two awards I'm donating to the Chachki Show, being held this weekend. They're two of my early medallions that had their bases sanded off, giving them a neat cut-out effect. They're pictured here in primer (with tape tabs covering the wire loops that will hold assorted festoonery) and I'll be painting them in fun metallic faux finishes. I had grand plans of finishing these two up by yesterday and posting pix so entrants could see them, but most things in an artist's life, things rarely go as planned.

Mom and I spent yesterday cleaning out my ceramic station in the garage, which doubles as Ground Zero for Mayhem and Junefest. Alas, with all that's gone on, I was unable to clean it up after Sonya and Stephanie left in June, and so things kept piling up in progressive layers, like geologic strata. You could see exactly what I'd been up to at that time judging from what you unearthed from any given layer. I kid you not. However, Christmas is around the corner and my new slab roller should be arriving any day now, and so -- we had to clear the decks! We were a whirlwind of activity and got it all shipshape in record time. Mom has breaking down boxes for recycling down to an art form. She is a Master. And after we surveyed the new scene, I think I even heard a chorus of angels rejoicing in the unearthing. We could see the floor! Look at all the room! And I found so many things I been unable to find for four months! Glory be!

My poor Hubby. He's a beacon of order and organization. Yet he married a swirling paragon of chaos and entropy. I don't think he can fathom the bedlam I create and operate within, yet in some mad way it works. Ok -- works most of the time. I don't have irons in a fire -- I have I-Beams in a fusion reactor. Anyway, this weekend, those awards will be completed and shipped off to the winners next week. One I-Beam down and counting...

"Chaos furnishes the building blocks for order, and order breaks down to replenish chaos." ~ Betty Brooks


Monday, November 9, 2009


Or, "the bathwater is too hot," but whichever it is -- it's good. As you may have surmised from my previous posts, I've been struggling with my paintwork. I'm trying to redefine my "painting paradigm," to aim for more objective, realistic effects, rather than, well...what I thought was realistic. Certain areas of my skill set needed updating or a new perspective. This has held up the completion of many painting projects, however, because I couldn't bear to paint in a way that I wasn't happy with -- I don't like spinning wheels. But I had a series of massive "ah-ha" moments thanks, again, to writing for The Boat (specifically for Part II of my painting conventions series). Two trouble areas for me, in particular, were eyes and facial fleshy areas.

I've been frustrated with the painting of my horse eyes -- they weren't exactly what I wanted. Plus, I was confused by what I was seeing in life study -- I just couldn't make sense of what I observed in life and then because of that, I had difficulty rectifying that with what I was comfortable painting. So -- kick the "same 'ol" routine out the door and time for some open-minded research with fresh eyes. And WHAM! Now I get it! It's funny how you can look at something...earnestly look at something...for decades and still not see what you needed to see. Every insight comes in its own time. Now I understand what I was seeing in life study, and why it occurs -- so now I can start painting my eyes with renewed confidence.

I've also had a hard time with painting the fleshy areas of horses -- the muzzle, eye area and inner ear. These facial areas are remarkably difficult to paint if you're aiming to mimic the various effects you find there -- especially when they aren't shaved and baby-oiled like you would see in a horse show. But again, thanks for writing for that segment in the series -- I get it now! New effects and using new colors. I'm looking at these areas with fresh eyes and that has totally opened up new possibilities. I'm not going to take anything about painting realistically for granted anymore. Amen! Testify!

I've inputted these lessons in the sooty dun paint job I just finished* -- this piece was a guinea pig of sorts for these new ideas. Now, admittedly, I started the experiment not entirely sure these new ideas would work in application. Often what we see in life doesn't translate well in a paint job. But now that the piece is done, I cannot be more thrilled with how well these new interpretations worked! I'm now able to achieve the look I've been after!

What was especially interesting to me was how badly my eye and brain wanted to revert back to the old habits. These new takes on reality were a "hard sell" to them. But once completed, it's like they totally bailed on the old team and switched sides. Perhaps it takes a good uncomfortable jolt now and again to realign artistic development. Crank up the juice!

So now I'm full bore back at work
on Lynn Fraley's wonderful Bram'll Blue Boy! He's not anywhere near done (above), since these are only the preliminary layers. But these first layers are just as important -- they establish the "palette" of the piece, and coat depth and layering, which is especially important for a complex pattern such as this, a dapple grey. He's going to benefit from all the lessons I've learned, and I'm very excited to see if I can pull it off again, especially at this smaller scale. I hope to have him done in about a month.

(*But yes -- it's done! I'm just waiting for the custom made marble base to be finished for it.)

"To the artist is sometimes granted a sudden, transient insight... A flash, and where previously the brain held a dead fact, the soul grasps a living truth!" ~ Arnold Bennett


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chachki Extravaganza!

Hazzah! A segueway into my last post that included medallions is this new concept show being hosting by Model Horse Blab. Yes. I'd really like to see these kinds of art forms take off in the model horse industry, so here's the scoop:

Model Horse Blab is hosting an online "Chachki" photo show with an entry deadline of November 13, 2009. By "Chachki," they mean plaques, medallions, pins, mugs, tiles, etc., made by model horse artists.

Judges are Thomas Bainbridge, Maggie Barkovitz, Elaine Lindelef, and Elizabeth LaRose. Prizes include medallions donated by Joan Berkwitz, Lesli Kathman, Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig and DaBar Enterprises (thank you!).

Entrants must be paid subscribers to Blab. It costs $18/year. You get access to a message board with over 1000 active members, their Gallery (like Webshots, but no ads) and you are able to participate in all their online shows. This is the fifth they have had this year.

To view their show classlist and so forth, go here.

To view their message board (you can see the "free forums" only), go here.

To view their Gallery, where the show is conducted (the $18 goes partly to fund the software license), you must be logged in (that's free), and go here.

Trial memberships are available immediately; just email Elizabeth LaRose at, and she'll set you up with one pronto. They do not spam their membership.

"Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things." ~ Theodore Levitt

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