Thursday, July 30, 2009

More sharing!

And here is a Finn who was also finished last week. I had forgotten how *adorable* this piece is; he was so much fun to paint. I would not be opposed to painting more, if anyone has some nekkid ones! Ha! I want one for myself. You can click on any of these images to blow them up large to see the tiny details on him.

This little guy also has a new kind of dapple technique... where I actually pulled the paint up in those spots instead of painting on the dapples in washes and then blending them out. I know that Carol Williams will do dapples this way sometimes, but she works with oils, and thinner-- this is the first time I have tried it with mt acrylics-- and I really like how it looks.

It started as an accident, mostly because its been so horrendously humid and nothing is drying... I got a little bit of fuzz on him, and went in with a paintbrush to remove it, and scrubbed a little too hard! The paint came up, revealing the layer underneath. Well, it looked like the perfect dapple, ao I did a few more... and this is the end result. :-) I love it because it looks SO much more natural and soft.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just sharing!

Some pics of a newly completed piece! :-) This little baby came out so darn cute, and so soft. The pictures don't really do anything for her.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The new mower

When Greg and I made the decision to make our lives as green as possible, we started actively looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint in every part of our lives. So, when our rider mower recently stopped working, and our lawn needed trimming, Greg made a decision to go with a more "hands on" approach.... a Classic Mower from Scott's. Yes... that is a push mower, powered only by Greg, to trim an acre of lawn and to try and tame the woods encroaching on it.

Here is Greg pushing the mower... with our old mower in the foreground. He's really into this type of equipment, since it is completely green and emission-free. The truth is that gas lawn mowers have a HUGE carbon footprint. Mowing a small yard is equivalent to driving 300 miles in a car! The emissions are enormous.

We have also considered getting a (cordless!) electric mower which we can charge with solar power. We are not sure yet what exactly we will get, but here are some choices:]
Doing even little things can help the environment. Composing the clippings or getting a mower like this to do your lawn makes a huge difference-- and cuts down an enormous amount of emissions put into the air. Its great exercise! Not for everyone, but they are inexpensive and do an amazing job!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sneak Peak!

Sneak peak!! This little lady is a custom I am working on, to be offered next week. Can you guess what she is? A few hints... she is a trad. sized plastic... a *really old* plastic... one with exquisite mold detail, that I've spent many hours enhancing! She is such a little doll... I can't wait to do the full reveal.

She will be a bit more 'rose' colored when she is completed; these pics are just in progress. I need to a bit more blending too. So far so good though!

Eyes, the blue ring

The links were broken in the previous post, so here are pics that illustrate the blue ring seen on horse's eyes. :-) It also shows that brown sclera!

Friday, July 17, 2009

All about eyes

Recently, I had a client ask me about why the eyes on her horse (a dark bay) where so dark, when she sees other horses that I have painted with much more light colored eyes. It occurred to me then that perhaps there needs to be more information out there on why eye coloration happens the way it does, and why her dark bay horse has darker eyes than some of the palominos or chestnuts that I've done. Its not there is less detail in those dark eyes... it just is harder to see in lower light.

The EYES have it

Just like in people, the color of horse's eyes are genetic, and is effected by the same genes that pigment the skin and body color. Just like how its rare to see a very pale skinned platinum blonde with brown eyes, or a very dark skinned african american with pale blue eyes-- the color of the skin/hair effects how dark the eyes are. It has everything to do with the pigmentation of the overall creature.

In horses, the same rules apply. Black/bay horses will have the darkest eyes, and the lighter the body color, the lighter the eyes tend to be. Here are some color examples:

Bay horses:

Gray horse (used to be bay):

*Gray horses will have eyes that go with the color they were born. For example, a chestnut-gone-gray will have lighter colored eyes than a bay-gone-gray. Similarly, a light bay will have lighter eyes than a dark bay.

Chestnut horse:

Palomino horse:

The wild card are buckskins. Traditionally, they would have eyes similar in color to palominos, due to the dilution. However, if there is a lot of black on the face, or are smutty (darker colored) then their eyes will be darker as well.

White sclera is most common on patterned horse, such as appaloosas and paints, which count it as a breed characteristic:

However, most horses have brown sclera, making it very difficult to see against the dark eye:

Often times there is a blue ring around the eye as well. Here are two great pictures of that ring and also of the brown sclera:

Although there are some exceptions, most 'solid colored breeds' like TBs, QHs, and Morgans have very few individuals with white sclera. The exception comes in when patterned horses are present, or introduced, into the gene pool (for example, pure arabs come in sabino, and there is a lot of interbreeding between Paints and QHs), and this can change the pigmentation of the sclera because of the patterning.

Basically what it comes down to is... the darker the horse, the darker the eye, and visa versa. :-) Of course there are always exceptions, but this a good general jumping off point!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


This handsome guy was another one I was able to finish last week and get on his way home. Although I love how he turned out (chestnut is one of my favorite colors in general!), and love the sculpture, he really took a toll on me to get finished. I grossly underestimated the surface area on this fellow, he just is one massive dude... I had to come up with some clever ways to hold him so I didn't get cramps in my hands. For most of his painting, I had my knees up at about chest level so that he could sit on them and so I could have both my hands free.

I have some new fun projects coming up soon too, which I can show the whole start-to-finish on. One is a Polaris that was actually started by Mel Miller. She gave him a new mane, but he still needs a new face (it is just a stump right now) and a new tail. I also want to do some more body work to make him a bit lighter. I'll be posting his progress as I get working on him-- he is a great piece to do 'tutorial' type entries on since he needs SO much work!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cajun-style Chimney

This morning I went out and took pictures of our poor chimney.

From what we can surmise lightening hit the chimney on the side where all the wires enter the house from the street, including the cable. Odds are it traveled right down into those wires, toasting the circuits as it went. So far, we've had to replace all the cable wires for tv/internet, and all the outlets/wires/switches in the kitchen. Our microwave hasn't quite been the same since either, but... its working, so until it gives up the ghost we going to keep it around. Greg's dad has been awesome in helping us put things back together... he spent most of the weekend pulling out and replacing wires and circuits. Of course, now we have holes to patch, BUT, I'd much rather have the holes than no electricity!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My studio space

My studio currently is in one of the out-buildings on my parent's farm, which used to be a large tobacco farm and processing center. Originally 20 acres, it was purchased by my grandparents nearly 100 years ago. My grandfather grew broad-leaf tobacco, which is used for the wrapping on fine cigars. In fact... this area of CT, which includes South Windsor and East Windsor (along the CT river) is called Tobacco Valley. Back at the height of production, there were 4 tobacco sheds on the property (where it was cured and dried), and a warehouse where it was packed, crated and shipped from. This warehouse is now where my studio is, in a room towards the back. This room was the "Sweat Room"-- a room where the packed crates were literally 'sweated' in high heat to remove all the moisture from the leaves and wood. Even still, on humid days, you can smell the tobacco in the wood. Its very different from cigar or cigarette smoke-- it is distinctly sweet... and reminds me of my grandfather, who loved, and worked on, tobacco in some facet till the year he died.

The property was later divided (in the late 70s I think) between my mom and one of my uncles-- half was given to him when he got married to build his house on and farm (he also grew tobacco for many years), and my mom took over the homestead. Two years ago my uncle sold his house/property and moved to Florida, much to my mother's heartache-- she had hoped to unite the property again but it just didn't happen. So, things have changed a bit on the other half of the farm and it doesn't look like this anymore. My parents property, however, has evolved the original buildings, updating them and giving them new purpose and life.

This is a photo taken from a helicopter about 6-7 years ago, of the entire original farm. I drew a line where the property was split, and labeled the buildings. The biggest changes that have happened over the years: the tobacco shed in back was converted to a barn; the original 'barn' was converted into a beautiful 3 bedroom appt where my sister lives, and the processing warehouse is now used mostly for furniture storage. Well, except for the sweat room in the back-- my inner sanctum, of sorts.

The sweat room is actually a very large room, which can be closed off from the rest of the warehouse by a large sliding door. In order to save on heating/cooling costs, my dad and I decided it best that we section off a part to be my 'studio'. It was a little over a third of the original space, which we (well, mostly my dad) installed lights, electricity, fans, insulation, and built an amazing spray booth so I spray primer and finish right in the room without exfixiating myself. The spray booth has become an invaluable tool over the past few years.

Over time, the other part of the room started to get filled with 'stuff'. Other people's stuff, mostly-- you see, when you have a warehouse, people just assume you have room to store their stuff. So, everyone a friend/family member moved, their stuff would end up in the warehouse. Couches, matresses, entire bedroom and living room sets. This past season I made a big stink about needing room to expand my studio, and so my mom and I made a concentrated effort on removing all the crap in the "other half of my studio" so that I can have a sitting area/gallery area/larger open space to work in. With all the rain lately, and nothing drying, we actually made quite a bit of progress. This is what it looks like now (you can click on the images to blow them up bigger):

Still pretty cluttered... but if you saw it before, you'd be amazed. I labeled some of the stuff in there so you can get an idea of what it all is. My goal is by the end of July to get the rest of the other people's stuff out of there so I can perhaps have a clinic in this room in August or September. One of the things in this space is a curio where I keep my own horses, all of them unpainted, LOL. I keep my own pieces seperate from my client's pieces to prevent me getting temped to work on them. Out of site... out of mind... and they are safe there.

Next edition... perhaps I will be bold enough to take pictures of the "real" studio... that is, if I can get it clean enough!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

What a week!

The crazy weathered continued at the beginning of this week... and on Tuesday we came home to quite a surprise... our house was hit by lightening!! Thank goodness that there wasn't a lot of exterior damage--just a few bricks off the chimney-- but the power surge toasted our cable wires, electricity on two circuits, and generally has wreaked havoc on our electronics that were plugged in at the time. Basically... we are without power in the kitchen/living room and no tv/internet.

Today our internet was restored (which is great, since I was going CRAZY over here!), but our electricity is still on the fritz in the kitchen. I don't need lights though... as long as I have email! LOL!

Because of all the chaos at home, I've been trying to put in some long hours at the studio. This week I was able to get quite a few horses detailed and shipped at the beginning of the week, but now on Friday... I am struggling to get the next round completed and packed up. Sometimes things do not go like you plan! Arg. I hope on Monday I will have another few boxes ready to head out to their expectant owners.

Here are some pics of the two horses who shipped out in the beginning of the week. First is the champagne Ravenhill, who got to go home for an in-person look-over. Second is a lovely Venator in my favorite shade of bay. I just love this guy... he looks like such a gentleman.

Enjoy the pics!

Friday, July 3, 2009

More rain... and a champagne

When we actually counted it up, we had 24 days of rain in June. July doesn't seem like its going to be much sunnier... this whole past week has had terrible humidity broken up by huge thunderstorms. I am continuing to get frustrated as nothing is drying, even with the air conditioner on full blast. I am taking a proactive approach this weekend and getting a second dehumidifier. Blarg!

In order to keep myself from fussing too much on tacky horses (the more you fuss on them, the worse it gets)... I've started MANY horses to keep me occupied. So, I have various horses all in different stages of completion in the studio, including the Guest Artist Ravenhill that Stacey auctioned off a few weeks ago. His owner picked a color for him that I never would have expected... champagne tobiano!!! I must admit though, I am having a lot of fun with him. I love doing dilutes, especially unusual ones like perlino/cremello and champagne. He needs to go a bit lighter per her request, but I am pleased with how he is looking so far.

He still has a ways to go... lots of detaily type stuff. I will lighten up his body color a bit and then do deatils this weekend. I want to have him dry and ready to go on Monday, along with a few other pieces who are near completion. They aren't quite as exotic as this guy though! I left the pics big, so feel free to click on them to see the detailwork so far. :-)