Wednesday, April 29, 2009

a better pic

Here is one more pic of the boy, now that I have his hair under control! Feel free to click on the image to make it bigger. :-)

almost there...

While I continue to work feverishly on painting the Mud Pony, I wanted to share the other half of this story-- the Pawnee boy. The interaction between him and his pony are just awesome in person.

The boy is an original sculpture and is large trad. scale. He still is a little ways from being finished... he needs his moccasins/loincloth, and his hair styled a bit better, but for the most part he is nearing completion. I kept him a bit stylized (he is from a storybook after all!), but wanted to capture that terror/amazement that one would have when they see a clay pony come to life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NAN Auction horse... progress!

I wanted to share this progress pic of the NAN auction horse, in just his basecoat. He is going to be haired, and I'm trying a new idea (thanks to Jacquee G!) that completely covers any and all glue that might be seen in his mane/tail. It will be invisible! I can't wait to see how it looks all done up.

After all the dremelling (so... much... hair...!!!) and resculpting to get him this far, I am so happy that his painting is officially in progress... and I'll have finished pictures of him next week. As of this posting I have his body color nearly worked out and am really pleased with how things are going!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tiny people

Before I started doing model horses full time, I worked in a stop-motion animation studio, making puppets. Although I love sculpting horses, sculpting tiny people is what I enjoy most, and its what I think I am best at. I love doing characters with wild expressions!

I've done quite a few for people to use with their model horses, and a high proportion of those have been native americans, or specialty dolls of different ethnicities. If only I could sew, I could make the coolest art dolls! Art Dolls is a collector's hobby all by itself, and perhaps when I get some free time I will do some in a larger scale. I may try my hand at doing larger scale clothes at some point, like for a 18" doll. That would be fun to sculpt!

Here is an old lady I am working on for a client to use with a model horse setup. She still needs ears and the rest of her head, but I thought this image so funny I had to share. I can just hear her yelling... can't you? I'll posts pics of her again when I'm further along.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And he's up for sale

Atlas is now officially up for sale! Find him here:

Saturday, April 18, 2009


A special Saturday sneak peak... this is "Atlas"! This handsome hunk is about 75% finished in these pics. He still needs detailing, especially on his feet, and a bit of tweaking here and there.

A bit about him...
"Atlas" started out as a Miss America. My vision for him was to capture the saddlebred "essence", while keeping him natural and elegant. I also wanted to push him into a gait that isn't often seen in the model horse world: the Rack. Also known as the running walk, single-footing, or tolt (in Icelandics) all gaited horses have this movement. Saddlebreds probably have the most exaggerated gait due to all the crap they put on them to make them pick their feet up higher (not a fan). Here are some pics:

I didn't want him to look all jacked up like some of those show ASBs, so kept his overall look rather relaxed and fairly easy-going.

Although all very subtle, he has had a TON of work done on him... straightened neck, larger belly, reworked throat, crest, and face, reworked legs into a rack, larger (but natural) front feet, stallion parts... and of course a new mane/tail. Never one to re-invent the wheel, I had this lovely Cadence tail here from a former project... and it just worked perfectly for him. He came out exactly how I pictured him.

More pics will be coming soon; I just need to get him finished before I offer him on Monday to my group.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Balling mini morgan

Along with the trad. sized ASB I'm working on (who will debut here tomorrow) I have a few more minis I've been plugging away on that will be for sale. One of those is a Balling mini morgan who is a bit of a collaboration piece.

I got this little guy from Morgen Kilbourn, who had intended him to be haired. She had him started and fairly far along, and I am working on finishing him. I also plan on giving him a sculpted mane/tail, perhaps this weekend if I can get to it. He will be quite a little looker when he's finished! My biggest concern right now is blending out those dapples. I blocked them out, and now have to go back into them and smooth the edges so they aren't painted-on looking.

He will probably be offered at the end of next week. More pics to come as he gets more finished! :-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Unrelated real horse stuff

As some of you may know (and some of you have met him!) I have a white appy gelding named "Mork". Mork was my very first show horse as a child, the first horse that was my own, and my greatest teacher. When I first saw him, I immediately was struck by his pure white coat; and connected with him immediately. I loved him from the moment I saw him.

He was, however, no pushover; and one of the most important things he taught me was humility-- he could be so stubborn sometimes!! He was my friend and mentor through my childhood, and I accomplished things on him that I never thought possible. Above is a photo of him in his prime (I think here he is around 15). He was just striking when he was polished up; and this is how I will always remember him.

Mork now is 31 years old and living at my parents in retirement. He is a bit senile, as old men tend to get, and spends his days standing in the sun or wandering about the pasture very slowly. I know my time with him is limited, and I know that it will be devestating when it comes to an end. I just recently finished a portrait model of him, who actually is the white face up in my header. It was important for me to get him finished, and to have him be front and center.

The reason I bring it all up is that just recently I requested a FarmTek cataloge, a farm supplies company that sells things like mats, building supplies, general farm stuff. Greg and I have been talking about the possibility of building a barn when the time is right; and so I wanted to start leafing through material to see what was out there. As I went through the cataloge, a familiar face jumped out at me (click image to blow it up):

I had forgotten all about this photoshoot, since I was so little when it happened-- 10 or 12, maybe? It was right after we had finished restoring my parent's barn (it used to be a tobacco shed, but was transformed into stables)-- FarmTek approached us about using the barn and the white horse (Mork) to show off their interlocking mats. In return we got a set of mats for that stall, which are still there today. This was probably at least 12-15 years ago.

It really made me smile to see Mork in the cataloge... in all his former glory, preserved for posterity for all to see. :-)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What do I want to do?

Just recently I have begun an original sculpture of Lilly, my draft cross. She is curio sized, a size that I think is very underused and under appreciated in our hobby right now. Its a fabulous size to work on, it fits perfectly into one's hands, and is a pleasure to paint. As I've been working on her, I find myself looking more closely at the work of other sculptors I respect, studying their sculpture along with the real-life reference I have in front of me.

It has been said by quite few that people are "a sum of their influences"... and this is no less true in the art world. As artists, we look and process a zillion images every day. Studying the work of others helps us define our own art, using what we like and don't like to build our own unique look and style. Additionally, the greatest works often come from those who have a community of artists who can give each other feedback in order to improve and evolve. Critique is crucial to any artist in order to continue their development, and we must never fear what others have to say, whether it be positive or negative. The bottom line is that regardless of subject or medium, artists are constantly learning from each other whether consciously or unconsciously.

This is no less true in the model horse hobby-- however-- by virtue of being what it is, we have narrowed the spectrum of 'acceptable' work to a very, very small margin. It must look like a horse, as realistically as possible, with little room for extrapolation. This can, and is, quite stifling to many artists who work professionally within the hobby. That being said, even with this small acceptable margin, there still exists very different sculptors with very different bodies of work. And there are very different painters with very different bodies of work. So, even within the narrow hobby we see a range of work, all of which look like horses... and yet falls into 3 very different styles: the impressionists, realists, and hyper-realists. All are equally valid, and all are equally correct since they all are built on the same anatomical structure. Each has its pros and cons, benefits and drawbacks. And of course there are many artists who fall in the gray area between these styles.

In working on my own sculpture, found myself looking at pieces that fall into each category. There is something to be learned from each; and as I develop my own personal style and portfolio I am now trying to make a conscious decision as to where I want to go with my own work. I can't stress enough in this particular breakdown that all these styles are equally valid both as art, and within the anatomical confines of the hobby.

Impressionism vs. Realism vs. Hyper-realism

Impressionism: Impressionism focuses on realistic scenes of modern life, with emphasized vivid overall effects rather than details. Characteristics of Impressionist paintings include visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on light in its changing qualities (often accentuating the effects of the passage of time), ordinary subject matter, the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience, and unusual visual angles. In sculpture, this translates to pieces which look "stylized"-- built on an anatomically correct structure, but whose details are done in such a way to give the piece an exaggerated sense of expression or movement. They often have an amazing personality and the viewer can feel what the emotion/expression in the piece. In the model horse hobby, two artists who immediately come to mind who use this technique are Lynn Fraley and Ann Harris.

Realism: Realists render everyday characters, situations, dilemmas, and objects, all in a "true-to-life" manner. Realists tend to discard theatrical drama, lofty subjects and classical forms of art in favor of commonplace themes. Realists tend to not 'sugar coat' the truths of real life; they portray it as it is, flaws and all. In the model horse hobby, the realist that comes to mind immediately is Brigitte Eberl. A common comment about her work is that people love it because it looks like REAL horses, conformation flaws and all. She does not idealize the subjects she sculpts; she portrays them exactly how they are.

Hyper-realism: Hyperrealism is a genre of painting and sculpture resembling a high resolution photograph. Hyperrealism is a fully-fledged school of art and can be considered as an advancement of Photorealism by the methods used to create the resulting photorealistic paintings or sculptures. Hyper-realists present work that is "overly real"... not just anatomically accurate, they often go above an beyond to accentuate the underlying structure of bones and musculature as well as surface details, also idealizing the form to its most perfect state. Artists who immediately come to mind who work in this style are Sarah Rose and Carol Williams.

Why do I bother writing about this? Because it is important to know the history and movements behind each style which presents itself in our hobby. It also is a way for us to objectively study the sculptures within the hobby and also see their validity not just as "model horses" but as art. As someone who has not done much armature-to-horse sculpture, knowing and understanding what other artists are doing is so important for my own development, as I decide with real-horse reference in front of me how I want my piece to progress. Of course it completely comes down to what I am capable of doing/sculpting with my own hands. It will be interesting to see how this little piece turns out.

custom plastics

Here are some more pics of the mustang stallion, including some closeups.

All too often I think that custom plastics are looked upon as second-class citizens in the model horse world. There are a variety of reasons for this; one being that so many of us start on plastics when we begin painting and experimenting, creating a much higher percentage of poorly painted and/or remade plastics when compared to resins. That's just the way its always been, and probably always will be.

That being said, there is no reason that all custom plastics be looked up on as 'less than' resins. They are equally valid as any resin, and a good custom will be able to compete with them if done properly. This is something I have learned first hand when working not only on this guy, but also several other plastic pieces. Sure, they may have less detail. And sure, they may have prepping issues. But that becomes the fun challenge... restoring them to their original beauty. I don't ever see myself customizing plastic, in the same way other artist's do. It is not my choice of medium when I want to change it up/repurpose a horse. I see myself more as a restoration artist when it comes to plastics-- I want to make them how they once were... and I have a special fondness for the old molds like those by Maureen Love and the PAF by Chris Hess.

So these pieces, even though they are plastic, should be treated with the same love and care as any resin would. You can't see them as "just plastic"... you have to see them as a piece of artwork that happens to be reproduced in plastic. All those OFs you see discarded in the body box originally came from the hands of artists. Artists who cared about that piece, from start to finish, and continue to live on through each reproduction of it. Once you see this, you can go about removing those seams and redetailing the piece with new purpose... its not just a plastic; its a sculpture with an artist, a sculpture which has been distorted over years of reproduction but could be brought back to its former glory.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Michele's Mustang

Here is Mr. mustang man now in progress. I've been working on a new technique with the haloed spots using oil pencils; I generally like the way it looks but can't use pencils alone, they still need a wash over them to blend them out. So far so good!

He now needs white on his face and tuning up all over. His face is going to look something like this:

I'm really enjoying working on this guy. I never thought I'd admit that about a plastic!! He has been a fun challenge and a nice reprieve from the resins.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mustang Stallion

I wanted to share this guy with you all; it is the progression of a classic mustang stallion.

Although pretty boring in monotone, I think is a good way to see his entire progression. My goal with him to not so much 'customize' him as to 'restore' what he lost in the plastic. I found it to be a really different type of prepping; in that it was less sanding and filling, and more sculpting with a dremmel, trying to channel the original piece underneath. I would love to make him indistiguishable from his china counterpart; having him look as the original sculpture would have when Maureen first created him. From there, much of the detail will be carefully painted-in, accentuating the structure beneath.

It seems so silly, but the big triumph on this boy was his boy parts. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about on the original body... no definition between his tail/legs/parts... what a mess! Now that has all been worked out. One thing I noticed after this particular photoshoot was that he was missing... some parts... and since then that has been fixed so he is a proper stallion. :-)