Saturday, February 27, 2010

Singed but Singing for Joy

Elsie & Oliver, Haflinger mare and foal

I feel like I've run a creative triathlon, completing this pair and metaphorically collapsing at the finish line and gasping for air. I swear -- I seriously thought I'd never finish them. Considering that I first started them in 2008 (Oliver in July 2008 and Elsie in August 2008), my life has been defined by these two for some time. The long days melted into each other as self-doubt alternately snuffed out and rekindled my determination. Blorg. So these two weren't only a test of my skills, but of my character, too. And I'm happy to say I survived the gauntlet bloodied, but unbowed.

Some have asked why my ordeal with these munchkins became a kind of gruesome self-punishment when they surely were good enough long ago. Well, we're all our own worst critics and my problem is that "good enough" really isn't good enough. It was imperative I reach my goals with these pieces because that compels me to push myself. If I'm not evolving creatively, I'm not growing as an artist and so, to me, the primary goal of each piece is to grow and explore.

Now that said, I'm not sure of your expectations with this pair after all this time. But I was struck by the phenotypic diversity in the breed when I was amassing reference materials. Some individuals were so different, you'd think you were looking at Half-Arabs or pygmy Belgians! But I chose to focus on the semi-feral Haffie type, which you can see reflected in the mare, most obviously. And remember -- she's a 12-14 year old broodmare. And any Mom will tell you that pregnancy changes the body -- and lots of pregnancies really change the body. And I think that's cool, which is why I think broodmares are gorgeous, especially the older they get, just as I think Moms become more beautiful as they age. Moms are like fine wine.

So in a nutshell, this set was designed to speak not only to true horse lovers, but to Moms, too. Mares don't care how they look -- disheveled and ungroomed, they're inherently beautiful. And in many ways, I think this kind of au naturel motherhood makes them even more beautiful because we see the pure, unadulterated equine beauty come out. Similarly, we women have so much annoying baggage piled on us by society to look a certain way, even if we become mothers. I say -- remember the mare! Beauty is beauty. So be comfortable in your own skin, even if your hair is a mess. You're already beautiful just as you are. So my hat's off to Moms everywhere!

But enough yappin' -- here are the pix of Elsie, Oliver and together as a set.

"I am often helplessly confronted by the picture... filled with suspense. What I have drawn suddenly seems to have developed its own dynamic - one that is not always necessarily kind to me. It is a genuine struggle and challenge." ~ Simone Bingemer


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Got Inked

No -- I'm not talkin' about a tatoo. I'm talking of the 2009 movie, "Ink." Hubby rented it from Netflix without a clue what it was about, and popped it into the DVD player for me last night. So I sat down with the Blobbies and a cuppa green tea, and with no idea what the movie was about, either. Never even heard of it! From the moment it came on, I was transfixed.

Now my favorite movie list is quite short because I'm not wowed by special effects, stars, flash or controversy. I need a well-crafted film that's character-driven, has substance and a good story, with a fresh, unique idea. Lately, the movie industry (except Pixar) has seemed to run completely out of new ideas and, instead, has become obsessed with remakes, sequels, adaptations and profit-margins. But then we have Ink. This independent movie reminds me why movies are made -- that they can be a labor of love and made simply for the art. And that new ideas are still out there.

This movie isn't something you watch, it's something you experience. It speaks to you, and it stays with you. It's poetic, sublime and transcendental. It has heart and it has meaning. It also has a strange feel of being homemade and immediate, but it's clear this film knows precisely what it's doing. And it's visually stunning. I have never dreamed of a movie after watching it, but last night, I dreamed of this one (oh, the irony!).

It's almost impossible to categorize, but it's sorta like "Big Fish" meets Terry Gilliam meets "Up" meets "Sixth Sense" meets "Avalon" (the Polish film) meets "Pan's Labyrinth" and with its own brilliant spin. I wouldn't recommend it for kids, though. There is language (but it has context to the "hardness" of the character) and some really creepy bad guys. There's also some fighting and a bit of violence. But none of it is gratuitous -- it has purpose. One could say its about redemption, but it really works on so many metaphorical levels, a film student easily could make a thesis out of it! It will keep you thinking, and rethinking. Here's a rather long review about it along those lines here. It even has a Facebook page here. I've certainly never seen a film like this before -- so kudos, Hubby, for your good instincts!

The more you create, the more you become the truly unique human being you are called to be." ~ Cristina Acosta


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Force is Strong...

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I'm about ready to start speaking in tongues with Ms. Haffie...but I'm able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here's another sneekie peekie...

Some small tweaks and some final resculpting of that troublesome left hindleg, then clean-up...and voila! This Mother will have landed. That lengthening of her limbs solved all the problems that bugged me with her legs, especially that left hind leg. It looks right now. But keep yer fingers crossed -- tight. She's thrown more than her fair share of curve balls, so it ain't over 'till the ol' broodmare bellows!

To occupy my time while waiting for her epoxy to set up a bit to work it, I've jumped into some customs...that PAM I mentioned last post...

As you can tell, almost her entire right side has been resculpted. Phew. Maureen is teachin' me lots! I intend to turn this PAM into a 12-ish Arab mare, snorty in turn-out. You know how they cavort around, then stop promptly at the fence, tail over their back, ears twitching and then snort? Kinda like that.

And a QH-guy...

I really like this mold a lot. I'm going to turn him into a turned-out reining horse, but I'm not sure of his color. A Paint most likely. I want to experiment with some ideas I have for mapping technique, so he'll probably end up a tobiano with oodles of cat-tracks and weird mapping fun. We'll see, though. As you can see on his tail, I use a wire mesh as an armature. This stuff is wonderful! It's called "Active-Wire Mesh" and I get it at Michaels in the clay/polymer clay section.

But, alas, I've been unable to get into the ceramic studio and glaze that pile of tiles for Etsy or create new ones with my new stamps since my focus has been laser-focused onto Ms. Thang. I learned long ago that when your groove is on with a certain piece, you just gotta go with it. Trying to attempt other things only hoses up the works...and I've had enough of that.

But if you've been following my chatter on my studio Facebook page, you know that I'm hyped up to start sculpting some Friesians! I've been inspired by the incredible black beauty from "Prince Caspian," and so add that to the list. Alls I know is that this year is going to be busy!

"It takes a mix of control and a sense of abandon to make art. Plus it's just plain boring to know the exact outcome." ~ Melanie Peter


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tiles and Tribulations

Sneek peek of the new tile designs, now a four-piece set!

I picked up my new tile designs from the stamp store a couple of days ago and I couldn't be happier! They were able to create stamps with a deeper impression, so now I won't have to squish so hard (thanks Lesli for that tip!). Above is a taste of what's to come! I can't wait to start using them, lemme tell ya!

And I'm working on new designs as we speak -- more horses (a pinto set and an appy set, since I think their patterns will play with the glaze in fun ways), and I'm finishing up the dogs and cats. I got my new bubble bags for these tiles, but I'm waiting on my special boxes. And, by gum, I'm going to set aside a day this weekend to get this bisque load glazed! One distraction after another -- I'm sure you know how it is. It's frustrating, but I can't complain too much -- there's some fun stuff being distracting right now. But once I get all that done and I get those boxes, I can move forward with opening up my Etsy shop!

I'm also wadding deeper into Boat publication work, so things schedule-wise are starting to get compacted. Such is the bi-annual panic. Just put the coffee on and "carry on" as Tim Gunn would say. I will say this though -- it's very difficult to pull myself away from the studio right now with all the tempting tidbits lurking there now.

But I thrive on busy schedules...not necessarily deadlines, but busy schedules. Getting up in the morning with a full day of things I enjoy doing is something I relish. And even though I have no concept of getting bored or "time to kill," I never feel overworked. Really...what's better than having fun? Having more fun! When things are hummin' in the studio, you don't realize just how hard you're working. As it should be!

"I suppose it is much more comfortable to be mad and not know it than to be sane and have one's doubts." ~ G.B. Burgin


Monday, February 1, 2010

Diving In...

The hinder of the Classic Swaps I've customized into a haughty WB stallion

This week has started with a bang -- if I can keep January's momentum up, I think you'll be very happy with what comes outta the studio this year! My aim is to offer pieces to a variety of niche markets, and I'm well on my way...the tiles (giftware), the clinky Brownies (ceramic), Haffie mare and Foal (blank resin), CM Taboo (finished resin) and....two customized pieces. Yep -- you heard that right! I'm diving back in!

I don't offer custom pieces much anymore. I think the last one was Gentle Jim, a customized Stone "Standardbred" into a pintaloosa gelding (back in 2005 or 2006 -- I forget...doh!). Now I don't know if you remember my mention of a CMed Swaps into a jaunty WB stallion a while back (above), but I want to get that puppy done asap. He's been peering at me far too long and I'm ready to paint him. And that nifty custom-made dressage bridle made by Corinne Ensor needs to live outside of its box! From day one, he was destined to be some kind of light fleabit grey and I'm looking forward to starting him soon. It's been years since I've painted a fleabit grey (I think 15 years?), and this time I'm gonna do it without the toothbrush!

But I thought you'd be interested in another custom I started, just for kicks -- a PAM. Now if my memory serves, I don't think I've ever offered a customized Arabian to the public before. So not only will this piece be rare (being a custom), but a first, too. I figure why not get crazy? But she won't be an extreme CM, like many of my previous customized Arabians. I want her to be recognizable as a PAM, staying faithful to Maureen's beautiful style and to keep that "PAMiness" we all love so much. This is both a challenge and a delight -- Maureen was so talented and it's quite a delicate balance between me and keeping her present in the piece, too.

Both of these pieces are a real full-circle for me. I started sculpting with customs, which got progressively more extreme until I moved to original sculptures, and then customs became more rare. So now that I'm diving back in, I deliberately want to avoid an extreme custom because, otherwise, what's the point? If I don't get to "collaborate" with Maureen and create a recognizable
hybrid between us, there's little reason for me to customize this PAM at all. So I'm making moderate modifications to make her different and fix the mold casting issues, but I'm going to work hard to keep as much of her appealing head as possible and as much of her old foundation look as possible. As for her expression, she's going to be a bit pugnacious, something quite different than the original mold's expression. And for her color, I envision her as some sort of odd grey, but we'll see. It feels comforting, though, workin' on a good ol' PAM. Kinda like "going home." And to be re-exploring the subtleties of Maureen's great gift at my current stage of awareness is wonderful. So if I can do a smidgen of justice to her, I'll be happy!

The first layers of epoxy on Ms. Pammy.

As for selling them, I aim to have either one of them done by March or April for Auction Barn, with the other a couple of months later. Anyway, I'll be able to start resculpting on Ms Haffie's leg's tomorrow! I also began to resculpt a bit of the foal's chest area, and it's looking loads better. Everything seems to finally be clicking into place. So -- in theory -- both should be in the clean-up-for-molding process come Friday. Keep your fingers and toes crossed!

And speaking of diving in, I want to make a little plug for my long-time good buddy, Tina. She's started her own business from scratch and I couldn't be more proud of her! Especially since she has a three year old in tow, to boot! Her business is Prairie Medical and may she rock the medical world! Looks like both of us are off to a great start in 2010!

"Our old experiences, memories and fears guide us down the present path. It's not so much that you are the artist; you are the conduit." ~ Nick Bantock

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