Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I've seen recently an increase in artists sculpting/releasing a horse in resin... and then offering 2-3 "versions" of the same horse (with different manes/tails or a slightly different pose), and//or then offering it in mini-size... in 2-3 versions...

There must be a market for all these horses, since it keeps happening at such a high frequency. Although not always the case, the first thought that comes into my mind is that the original artist saw a few customized pieces, liked how they looked, and wanted to get a piece of that success. Although this is not always the case.

This is a slippery slope for me to tread on, since while on one hand I am in favor of the original artist benefiting from these new 'versions'... I am REALLY against having so many different variations cast and sold of the same piece, with slightly different hairdo's or very minor (if at all) body customizing. My first and foremost reason is that every 'version' that comes out which is basically the same as the one before-- cheapens that earlier run.

My second feeling is that it devalues all those customized pieces that happened before it. When a resin is released and sold to the public, many artists will see it and think "OH, wouldn't that be cool to do THIS to make it different!". And so they customize the original release, making it one of a kind. Now... what happens if the original artist then releases a second version of the original resin, with the same/similar customizing that a different artist did previously? The one of a kind horse is not anymore. It took away the value of that custom, and is a bit demoralizing for the customizing artist, since now she wouldn't be able to get the same price for that piece that she would have before Version 2 came out.

Now, think about it this way, as a consumer. Here are two real-life examples of what happens.

Example #1: Say you REALLY want resin A. Its a nice piece, and a limited run of 150. You are so excited about getting it and its the newest, hottest thing out there. On the release date and you wait by the computer and as soon as it is available you get one. You are able to secure one. Horray! Victory!

But then, three months later the original artist comes out with a second version, which is basically the same thing only with different hair. You try to sell yours (at cost) because you need money, but no one wants to buy it at the price you paid because this new version is available. So, you have to sell it at a loss.

Example #2: Say you see this amazing customized resin for sale. It was a popular resin, and then what this artist did made it so different and unique, and you love it. You spend a lot on it, but thats ok since its one of a kind and a LOT of work went into customizing it.

But then, 3 months later the original sculptor of the resin comes out with another version customized basically the same way. This devalued the horse you bought because now someone can basically buy the same thing for the u/p resin price, instead of paying for all the customizing. So, if you have to sell this horse, you will not be able to recoup what you paid.

Now again, I can see how there can be multiple arguments on this. One could argue that the multiple versions may make the original version more valuable. There are examples of this happening. However, more often than not this is not the case. It floods the market with these "limited editions" that basically are the same piece, diminishing the secondary market value. Why does this matter to us? Because people are less likely to buy an unpainted resin if they are unsure if it will hold its value.

I personally am of the mindset that if you are going to spend the time to create an original sculpture, don't keep recasting it and recasting it. There are ways to make the edition profitable while also being fair to the secondary market and protect the buyer's investment.

1. Offer an open edition, allowing people to buy as many as they would like. This insures that the artist is the main beneficiary of sales.

2. Offer a limited edition, with a set number of numbered copies all coming with COAs. This protects the buyer's investment in that they know it is truly a LE, regardless of number. If you are genuinely worried about scalpers benefiting off your hard work, offer these pieces at auction and let the market decide the final cost. This also means that sold out means *sold out*. Stay honest and don't have one recast every time you need money.

3. If you do want to do multiple versions right from the start, there is nothing wrong with that!! Its probably a good idea to state what versions you plan on doing in the original release, especially if its something you think may have a lot of interest. OR, say that you do not want people customizing it, thereby keeping the 'specialness' of a customized re-release.

4. Not everything has to be mini-sized. Its ok to just have one size or another. There is also something to be said for doing a brand new sculpt if you want to mini-size something. Shrinking things down digitally looses a LOT of detail, and it takes FOREVER to put it back in. I realized how exhaustive this process is from watching Morgen Kilbourn re-detail Bitty Bosco. The finished piece was incredible, but it took a LONG time to put back all the detail so that he was as great as the original. What I learned is not all shrinkies are created equal, and putting out a really detailed mini, either a fresh sculpt or a shrinky, takes a long time. And a magnifying glass.

If you have a popular resin that you really want to make into a mini, either really put the time in to re-detail in it, or if you'd rather do a fresh sculpt, change it up a bit to keep the idea fresh.

5. Don't wait until you see a customized piece to do another version. Remember that this hobby was built upon people customizing. Its wonderful that people can build on your ideas and customize your horse. But, just because it looked great, doesn't mean that you should do the same type of thing and then offer it as an edition yourself. Don't dwell in the past... start a new piece and keep pushing yourself to do better.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A lesson on copyright

Recently on Model Horse Blab there was a long discussion on copyright infringement. Here is the short version:

There was a girl ("GingerC") on who has been tracing photos of Breyers and resins, calling it "line art", and selling them as original artwork. Included was Orinocco, Let's Fly, Baby Sundae, El Cid, as well as the Stone Arabian and several Breyers. Very well known profiles, and very easily spotted. These were not drawings using these horses as reference, these were direct tracings. Beyond just having them on, she is selling these "drawings" on eBay as originals.

If you would like to read the whole thread, you can find it here:

Tracing or sketching from other artist's work is as old as art itself. Sketching from the Masters is something that is still done in art school, and it is a very valid and valued practice since there is much to learn from these great works. However, there is a huge difference between sketching the Mona Lisa for practice, and trying to sell that sketch as original work.

It is no different than trying to sell sketches of resins or Breyers. The copyright belongs to the original artist, and is their creative property. It is illegal to post these derivative images in a public place, like the internet, or to try and profit off them.

To draw a comparison, it would be like a musician re-recording a Beatles album and claiming it as their own. Or, it would be like someone re-recording a Beatles album and selling copies of it without getting the rights to do so. Both are illegal. This is why people are having their videos yanked on YouTube all the time if they contain copyrighted material.

Example: say you make a home video and set it to a "Hard Days Night". You did not get permission to use that song in your video. Although you are not making money off it, YouTube is through their ad revenue. So, they are profiting from copyrighted material. The result is that your video is pulled. Same type of situation.

That is the problem with the internet. It is too easy to steal and pirate other people's creative property, and often times the people doing it don't even know. This is more widely understood in the music market with the bringing down of Napster. You can't steal music without paying for it. Similarly, you can't steal other artist's creative property without paying for it.

By not giving credit for the creative property, and also trying to sell the tracings, GingerC committed MAJOR fraud and copyright infringement. She needs a serious smack upside the head.

The bottom line: if you are going to copy another artist's work, for practice or to better your own artwork, that is fine. But don't put it on the internet, and don't try to market it as your own.

Another music analogy to better understand:

My husband is a classic and flamenco guitarist. He wanted to put together a compilation of songs for an album. He would be playing all the songs, so they would be his interpretation of each piece . However, the songs themselves were written by other people, and so their creative property.

In order to record these songs and offer the album to the public (this means sell the album OR give it away), he had to go get written permission AND pay a fee PER song to the companies/people who owned them. The cost varied from song to song.

To bring it back to this particular Orinocco situation: even though GingerC did her "interpretation" of Orinocco, the original piece belongs to Sarah MB. In order for her to put the resulting image in a public place, like the internet, she needed express written consent from Sarah MB and to pay for its usage.

Sarah M-B said it best in this post on Blab thread:

"You can read the full code here:

Aside from the law providing the copyright holder the sole right to reproduce said image for public display and/or profit (106:, there are two more intrinsic dangers here peculiar to modern technology:

(1) People stealing another artist's original image (or unauthorized use) and placing it up on a publicly accessed website puts that image in danger, on a global scale (aside from the confusion of authorship that causes, too). This is why "public display" is specifically mentioned in the code. If you read the article I mentioned in a previous post (from Plagiarism Today), you'll read that unscrupulous people from the public sector mine dA for images to use illegally. In other words, because that pirated Orinocco image was put up there by that clod (and God knows for how long), I now have to be concerned about that unauthorized "line art" of my sculpture showing up on other products for sale from folks who may have snagged it before it was taken down -- and I won't get credit or payment for my work (and Liz won't get the same for her effort taking the photo). Copyright law is a tort law, too, meaning that everyone involved in the direct benefit of the infringement, no matter how unaware, is equally liable in a lawsuit. In contrast, as Lesli mentioned in a previous post, this "innocent" kind of copying was relatively non-threatening in the past (like little Susie does all the time at home in her scrapbook today -- hey, I'm sure we all did that in some measure ). However, the moment the option to post these "drawings" on the net became possible, for sale or not -- that changes radically. What was once a tightly isolated and containable occurrence by some innocent person now becomes a global problem because that "innocent" image is now exposed to unscrupulous people, and often without the original artist even knowing about it! Add into that the myriad ways to apply that digital image on "stuff," and the issue becomes a kaleidoscope of a mess. It's an issue of access and scale.

Now one could say that artists encounter these problems all the time when they display their work, especially in this digital age, and yes, that's true. However, we do so on our own terms and take measures to protect ourselves.

[Side note: Collectors of an artist's original work should be concerned as well because piracy endangers the exclusiveness of their collected works, and policing this kind of thing is distracting for the artist -- she has to take time away from studio work to bonk on the heads of those who would steal what comes out of it. Aggravating to say the least.]

(2) When people steal another person's creative idea, they're stealing property. When it comes to a working artist -- there are only three things she will ever have: Her time, her reputation and her materialized ideas. Copyright infringement steals all three. This is why it's wrong to put these stolen images on public display, no matter how innocently created or intended, and doubly wrong to put a new copyright notice on it, as though it was "new art" that could be under this person's copyright. It's triple-wrong to attempt to profit from such bogus images, too.

Sarah MB"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A small note

tonight as I organize my thoughts for a longer post over the next day or so.

As history unfolds, and despair felt around the country is replaced with a feeling of hope and renewed optimism--I have never been more proud of this country then right now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Tribute to Moon Boots

Yea... you all laughed at Napoleon Dynomite that he wore moon boots all the time... but MAN... he was onto something!!! If you've never worn a pair, or even tried some on... go and get some. Right now. I'll wait.

Ok, got them? Now put them on. Ahhhhh.... its like having your feel wrapped securely in a soft down comforter. I'm telling you... once you experience moon boots, you'll never go back to regular boots again.

If you couldn't tell already, I am a moon-boot believer. I haven't always been though... I was just like everyone else who looked at them and thought that those must be the ugliest things I have ever seen... which actually is quite a statement coming from me since I've always had a love for ugly footwear.

The story behind my very first pair is that my sister actually got them for me as a joke... but then when I started wearing them... I soon became convinced that they are most awesome boots ever. It started when I put them on to take the dogs out in the snow... and then I started wearing them to the studio... and then I said "The heck with what other people think!" and I started wearing them out. And ironically... the most common thing I hear is "those boots are awesome!". And they ARE awesome, my friends... they really are!

The moral of the story is... don't judge a boot by its cover... LOL!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snow day!

Last night/this morning we got another snow storm... and since we can't get down the driveway when its all snow, Greg and I took the 'kids' out for a afternoon romp in the powdery white stuff.

Hayden LOVES the snow. He makes these little doggie 'snow angels', and then gets up and tears through it at full speed with his mouth wide open... nose in the snow, catching as much of it in his mouth as he can. Then all 3 start running around... up the hill, down the hill, around the house, through the woods... until they are all so pooped they can barely catch their breath. I snapped these photos to share!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

back to painting

This is another piece I have been trying desperately to finish; she is the yawning mule. In these photos she has about 15 hours left on her. Mule spots are CRAZY!! Above is the reference photo I have been working from.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

So, I've been really thinking alot about starting a new piece to offer either in resin or china... but I want it to be something really special. I think this is especially important now since there are SO many resins out there already, and I don't want this piece to get lost in the fray or be classified as mediocre. If I'm going to do this, I want to do it well!

But first things first... what will be my subject? Several of my friends who have met my dearest Lilly have said that she would make a perfect candidate since she is such a character. Lilly is my draft-cross mare... she is half percheron, half paint, and ALL personality. She is easily the smartest horse I have ever worked with, which I've found is both a blessing and a curse! She is one of those horses who has a very developed sense of humor, and does naughty things because she thinks its funny. On the flip side, you teach her nearly anything. I've taught her to do all sort of tricks, which she will occasionally use to her own benefit.... opening doors, opening gates, turning on the faucets, re-arranging the tack room...

The other interesting thing about Lilly is she is a black chestnut. Check out her mane and tail! That is the give-away.

I could capture some of that in a piece then it would be really something special! I know full well that she is not the picture of conformational perfection, but that is one of the things I love about her, if that makes any sense at all.

But, my question would be if anyone would be interested in a piece like this. I know I would enjoy sculpting it... I am still working out the details in my head. Should she be standing? Walking? Trotting? Here are some other pictures... I'd love to some input! I do think she'd make a lovely clinkie...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Eeeetsy beeetsy hairs

While working on this guy, a Fraley Blue Boy, I stumbled across a better way to roan... especially minis! It involved a very beat up and sad looking brush, which turns out is perfect for this purpose. Along with a super fine brush for individual hairs, this effect was done using LOTS dry brushing in layers. I had been using a similar technique up to this point, but with more water added to the paint... basically I would put down the hair pattern and use washes to blend it out, and do this back and forth... back and forth.

This was different in that I took the straight paint and dipped the brush in, blotted it like crazy, and then dry brushed a small area, building up color in increasingly transparent layers. Then when I got the desired level of roany-ness, I went over it with the super fine brush to do tiny little hairs and the whirls etc. The effect is really great; and this is on a mini... its going to look awesome when put onto a trad. sized horse!

Friday, January 9, 2009

I believe myself extremely fortunate to be able to make a living in this wonderful hobby. There are so many facets to it; so many different things going on in so many different mediums... and people creating new things each and every day.

As many of you know, resins are my medium of choice. I love customizing them and working with them; particularly the solid cast ones. I've always said that they are easier (for me anyway) to customize and change, and I also find them infinitely repairable.

Lately, however, I have found that I've been drawn more and more to china. Its rather bizarre, since I've never really had an affinity for them up till about a few months ago... and now I am cruising the MHSP china sections at least twice a day. I am particularly fond of the old Hagens by Maureen Love; and just recently purchased a (very beat up) Lippit morgan to work on. This is my very first china, and once I had him in my hands, the floodgates just opened and now I am on the hunt for other Hagans.

This particular Lippit is destined for something unexpected, in that he is such sad shape that I felt I could cold-paint him without feeling badly about it. He has quite a few chips and breaks, and so I've been going about repairing them and getting him ready for paint. His mold detail isn't amazing, and so I felt that with proper painting I can 'paint in' much of the detail that was lost, and create a really spectacular piece. I also plan on doing some resculpting on him to give him back some of that detail, especially in his eyes. This little guy is going to be a liver chestnut, like this.

While I wanted to cold-paint this particular piece right from the very beginning, I desperately have been wanting to get into custom glazing. Unfortunately I don't know a thing about it, and I don't exactly live close to some of the amazing people who specialize in it. :-( I may take a ceramics course if I can find the time. I actually took ceramics in college but we never did any kind of specialized glazing; it was mostly sculpting and learning how not to blow yourself up in the kiln. Hopefully this summer I'll be able to do some glazing; there actually is a pottery place not that far from the studio, and so I plan on going in some time and seeing what its all about.

Sometime in the future I would love to be able to release a piece in china. I love the the way the finished horses look; all satin and gorgeous. Which has lead me to thinking that its about time I tried my hand sculpting a piece start-to-finish. I tried this once before but it was a rushed attempt to say the least, and so what I was left with was many anatomical horrors that now, years later, I never would have made. Hey, live and learn! My work has come FAR since then and so now I'm musing what to do, that could be released in resin, and more importantly, china.

There are so many horses out there right now, and so many fantastic artists sculpting, that if I were to create something I wouldn't want it to be something that would be just ho-hum. I've been tossing around ideas, but nothing concrete yet... I have a few sketches here and there. Ironically enough, what I want to have cast the most are some pieces of dogs I've working on... I have a really great piece of Daisy Mable which is in process that is just too funny. Here are the photos I've been working from, along with the real Daisy Mable herself (its actually a lot more fun to have a live model!) :

The problem is that she is not trad. DOG sized... she is trad. sized HORSE size. My original plan was for her to be done in cold-cast bronze. I think painting her though would fun...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Speaking of 'little' birds...

Today while I was walking into my parent's house from my studio (my studio is in one of out-buildings on my parents' farm), I saw the most enormous blue bird land on their deck railing.

This guy looked like a duck he was so large... and while he tried to peck at the dogs who wanted to sniff him, I managed to get my camera.

I love blue birds... they just have so much attitude! He just looks so annoyed at the world. He was so bold I could have reached out and touched him... but seeing that his beak was large enough to take off the end of my finger (and I wouldn't have put it past him to try it)... I just snapped away and let him hop around looking grumpy. It was amazing to watch him fly off... I had my doubts that he would make it off the ground. But sure enough, he spread his wings, dive-bombed the basset hound and took off for the trees. I hope I see him again sometime.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


One of my favorite poems is by Emily Dickinson:


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Literature is something that I love so much, and often turn to it when I am able to loose myself for a few hours at a time. This poem strikes a chord in me, especially now, when the world around us seems sad and depressed, as friends and family all struggle together to stay afloat.

One thing I love is how Dickinson uses the metaphorical image of a bird to describe the abstract idea of hope. By giving Hope feathers, she begins to create an image hope in our minds. The imagery of feathers conjures up hope in itself. With feathers we can fly away from any situation; and in contrast, broken feathers or a broken wing grounds a person, and conjures up the image of needy person who has been beaten down by life. With broken wings... they no longer have the power to hope.

Dickinson uses the imagery of a bird’s continuous song to represent eternal hope. Even on the coldest nights, I can hear the birds singing.... they never stop their song of hope. The fifth stanza “And sweetest in the gale is heard” conjures up images of a bird’s song of hope whistling above the sound of gale force winds and offering the promise that soon the storm will end.

Its not all upbeat in this poem, as it touches on the darkness that is in the shadows... Dickinson uses a powerful image of a person abashing the bird (Hope) that gives comfort and warmth for so many. The destroyer of Hope causes pain and soreness... which is actually what turns around and hurts them the most.

In the line “I’ve heard it in the chillest lands,” Dickinson offers the reader another reason to have hope. It is heard even in the coldest, saddest lands. Hope is eternal and everywhere. The birds song of hope is even heard “And on the strangest sea.” Hope exists for everyone.

In this troubled and sad economy, which has undeniably crept into our precious hobby (an outlet for so many of us) we must never loose this hope. As artists, it is even more important that we must never give up; never throw in the towel because things look bleak. We must always remember WHY we create... we create because that is what we love to do. We create because it is part of the very fiber of our beings; it beats in our hearts and runs through our blood. Regardless of how much money we make (or don't make), it should never be only about that bottom line... it should be about the process, the journey, and that it is something we love.

Times are tough for everyone, and so now more than ever we need to emmerse ourselves in these things we love the most. Collecting, painting, sculpting, art in general... these are the things that give us joy, and thereby give us hope, and that will see us through.