Thursday, November 29, 2007

One of my life's biggest lessons..

You know how you always think your parents are crackpots? Well I did too of course, even from a fairly early age I remember always thinking my father's far out ideas, constant idea designs and crazy concepts were sometimes primarily pipe dreams. Ok, well in truth a lot of them turned out to be just that.

Anyhow, I just heard an ad for a product on the news today that reminded me of this HUGE underestimation I had of one project my dad was working on when I was little.

Huge. As in the success of this product is taught in both marketing and design schools - it's that historic.

I was 9 I believe. I used to hang out with him in his shop at Coleco. He was part of a design team that took the new licensing (of Smurfs or Dr. Seuss characters for example) to the blueprint table and made 3 dimensional sculptures & prototypes that eventually were made into everything the company put out: from figurines to big wheels and kiddie pools. There really were Smurf and Cat-in-the-Hat big wheels. I was a little too old for those at age 9 mind you. ;)

Anyhow, so one day I go into his shop and his desk is covered with this hideous and somewhat scary little 2" round faces of munchkin/troll looking people. I'm really fascinated but even at 9 they kinda creeped me out. So I ask what they are. He tells me they are going to be the biggest new craze ever.

9 year old brat: "Oh ya right dad!"

A year later I had to wait in line with the rest of the Coleco kids to get one.

Why? Because Coleco literally couldn't make enough to meet the demand that first year. News reports everywhere of parents actually fighting in stores to get the last ones. 20 years later and they are still being licensed out (by other toy companies), and the lesson of their appeal is being taught to adults in college and studied by people who try to understand what moves people. lol!

It was always something I remembered when I looked at my little Cabbage Patch doll. My dad couldn't remember the name they were going to be (he thought it was "Radish Patch"). The man who helped him maintain the strict adherence to his original cloth doll design, Xaiver Roberts, had called them something else at first too. As a kid I couldn't exactly pinpoint what my dad had done with those early prototypes to make them go from creepy to cute, but I remember the progression. And sure now, I look at them and I think, eh - they're still a little weird to me! lol! He certainly didn't work alone on that project: please do NOT misunderstand me. These companies have a lot of people take something from that rough resemblance to final product. In fact I might credit the majority of the cutest add-ins to the final folks on the project. What I saw leave his desk was a darn sight better than what he was handed to work with. But it was hardly as "WOW" as what I saw rolling off the shelves when I finally started begging for one. ;)

Anyhow, so the bottom line is I think fondly of dear old crackpot dad as having always had a LOT more insight into potential than I do. (go hug your crazy old parents for me, will ya?).

I wasn't a kid with a lot of toys btw as a total side note. My parents really believed in the principals of fostering creativity through.. oh hell, I don't know - not giving your kids much to play with. -snorts- But I did get one (after all the other kids at school got one mind you). I didn't talk much about what dad did at work either because I remember kids teasing me about never having actual toys to show for it. hehehe. Cabbage patch kids have always stayed in my mind though as "Radish Patch Kids" and how this dreadful little monstrosities somehow became cute with just a few modifications. All the toy withholding in the world can't replace that enormous lesson in having faith in your dear old dad and the ability of creative insight to bring out the likable aspects of things.

When people tell me they can't see the diamond in the rough in a work in progress - be it graphic design layouts and some client/executive not "seeing it" or someone trying to give a critique on a sculpture. ... I completely understand. I have been there.

So for what it's worth -> I just want to thank those who can, and try to offer input. It really DOES take a team of eyes sometimes. :) That commercial for Cabbage Patch Kid stuff just reminded me of that important revelation in my life.

And on a less monumental note, here's a quickie snapshot of Hazel today from a different angle (I'm holding her and took it with a flash & then darkened it).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bunch of things today..

First I'll start with the pertinent stuff. :) Hazel's brow and nasal bone (and neck oh and lip lol!) is getting to more of a place I'm happy with:

that image is so blurry I made a quick contrasty one of another shot:

Second, I'd like to share a fun video snippet from the spanish horse national champion ship (it's ather long and I kept pausing it to go do things while I was getting ready this am). My favorite bits are the 10horse cobra, the random Icelandics and the liberty guy at the end (10min into it - maybe you can skip ahead if your connection is slow?):
And I would love to learn to flamenco dance (hope that's spelled right - spell checker argued about the feminine 'a').

Lastly, on a less happy note.. I'd just like to share a memorial my boyfriend made this weekend for his friend Brian who passed away recently. Brian and he had just started to venture off into their own timberframing business last year when Brian was diagnosed with brain cancer. He was only given 3-6 months to live but he lived a very full year following that. I'm not good with touching words but I am at least relieved to know he got this extra time with his family and that everyone helped to pull together for him to make the transition for his wife and children smoother. Rest in peace Brian.

His obituary is here

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm getting to that point..

Where primer is no longer your friend.
That is to say, I'm at the point where primer starts to clog up details. It's a strange feeling.. it's a definite clear 'next step' to this sort of work. At this point things start going faster really. (hooray!)

In noticing this as I have been really stuck working out a few sticky points (not literal), and also in realizing there IS indeed a magazine out there with whom I might want to advertise her pending completion (in the order of months still but you have to prepare yourself for these things)... I decided to move her to the box area so I could take some pics. My dual reasons were
a) to see what stood out still to me as these things have to be addressed first now. In other words I can't go making fine details on the sides of the face when the nasal bone isn't quite right - primer will mute these details. Hope that made sense.
b) to see if she's at a point where an advertisement of "coming soon" would be fair and honest. Sans tail (second pic) that kinda sucks. I do think I ought to get some strong wire/long screws in there soon and do that step first (make a more sincere effort at the final shape of the tail and not just a gesture). I want the same 'S' curve from the birds eye view that the last one had. I don't want quiet as much bow upwards...

I made one tiny photo shop alteration to the body (aside from the obvious fake tail there!) . I have been playing around to see (ala point "a" above) what's major that still needs addressing. I guess I'll let the readers here try to figure out what that change was (it's not as if I really tried to make it perfectly blended). I am off to the studio to go implement it. :D I've been in photoshop (and thus on the computer) far too long today!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Unreal! 35hrs a week...!!!

I was just having a time management reality check today and realized that with driving back and forth and such.. I spend 35hrs a week on the farm "hobby". It's almost technically a "hobby" business wise now from a financial standpoint. When my accountant asks me how much I "pay" myself for the farm labor I really never have any clue as to how to answer. hahaha!

Anyhow, but I was reminiscing about how I'd gotten to a similar point with a different sculpture 3 years ago and I suddenly locked myself up for 2 weeks straight in the house. I really miss that. I live a very punctuated interrupted life at the moment. The weather sincerely dictates my productivity. Ptthhhbtt.

I'm pretty happy with a lot here, her lips aren't quite right, her eyes aren't quite the way I want the expression either, but (! because it is ok to sometimes not be so critical of ones self..) the overall fleshing is coming along exactly how I want it to. Hooray! (small brief party)

Oh. I have mentioned here that the tail was hardly the final product, right? It was far too thick in some points to dremel down so I get to remake it yet again at some point. I do miss my little priming handle though. ;) The mane too - these are things that I address last with a more rubbery slick epoxy and I don't want to get too much primer on it. The mane & tail "gesture" will be dremeled/sanded down thinner then and then very transparent-almost layers of this epoxy will be added over them. I really get only one shot to do it right or else I have to sand it all away and start over. That's my preferred way to get smoother manes and tails. I've learned from resin-casts past that too deep of a groove (the kind sculpted in using hard-material sculpting methods) tends to yank on the silicon molds and only the earlier castings from each mold stay true to the detail - then blobs start forming where the mold has had little bits pulled away with each subsequent cast. You really do have to consider the media when working in some part.

Anyhow, it's like the final details such as veins: it's almost the last step. At that point sometimes I'm not spraying primer on but painting it on from a jar very very carefully with lots of stinky fumes and masks.

She has such a cute naked butt, eh?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not a dry eye in the house...

I have been meaning to address the eyes and depth of certain facial details for a while. Here's some insight into my "vision" on them for Hazel.

It's been pointed out to me several times that she's a little too severe.. ala drafty eyes in super scowl. To be honest, since the real horse and the version of her I want to create do not have super inset drafty eyes (like this -->, that wasn't quite the image I was going for.

I was hoping to get her more QH focus looking:

And to understand how extreme dry facial features can be, sometimes it helps to look at extremes like this Arab:

Anyhow, so I'm getting there. There's still some building up & defining to do in the surrounding areas. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Someone took my toy.. :(

I had to chuckle when I went back to that tetris game there and saw it was taken away for copyright violations. I have to also admit I'd wondered about that but the URGE to play was too strong to waste time reading any of the developer nonsense. In truth I really don't spend much time actually online, just short breaks and spurts of 10min here and there (mostly while on the phone too and other activities, say washing dishes, would be too loud for the caller to hear me over).

Anyhow, here's a new angle (and it shows better some areas I haven't even started on like the tail)

And an overlay of some muscling changes I want to do. Her point of shoulder muscle tie in's were too narrow (the inset is a photoshopped version - how I *want* it to be).

Draft crosses still seem to have those bigger muscle bellies, even in the long-fiber muscles. I have a vast array of very cool beefier breed (not heavy horses though!) photos I've been studying from all angles to get these little details appropriate to her specific build here.

I had about 10 fun photos to share yesterday but the browser jammed up and I didn't bother to retrieve the history since I'd clicked through hundreds (and I wonder why this poor machine is so slow). Oh well. :^/

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Stuffing... :D

Mary Wanless (riding instructor/author/clinician) uses the word "stuffing" to describe a horse (or rider) that is full of life and of a certain "shape" as I described in my last post. I've just been adding thin layers of epoxie here and there in a most agonizing effort to get this 'stuffing' right for her pose/type/weight/gender.

These are terrible ( quite distorted) photos but I'm stepping back here and deciding if it's at the right level of stuffed.

I've really got to take a course on making raw molds. This aspect would FLY with regular hard clays.

I suppose there's a lot to be said for really studying every detail in tiny steps and being extremely thorough and patient. However sometimes I just fear that my learning curve is rather flat.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


First off - someone please take this away from me:

It's like handing me a bag of pistachios.. I loose all willpower to this game in particular.. just.. can't... stop.... UGH!

I have this strange fascination with the geometric shapes of horse bodies. These are the things you don't see in anatomy books when the fascia is pulled off and the adipose is cleaned up around the muscle tissue. It's not even what you'd necessarily see when you first dissect an animal and remove the just the skin. The shapes I'm striving to get at are only present when there's life in the tissues. It's one of those things that in my very humblest opinion the best sculptors just "get". I suppose I can't say "I just get" those things. I have to pull in and pull out my focus to "get" those. How can I explain this better.. hmmm...

You know those "How To Draw a Horse" books? Where they make a bunch of circles and connected lines and a very geometric robot horse? Then the artist pulls some mad leap of logic on you and puts perfect bulges in various spots along the legs and blends in the croup areas and jawline with a finesse that no beginner is possibly going to "get".. It's a leeeeeeeettle like that. In fact on some areas it's *exactly* like that. However take it into 3 dimensions.

I envy those sculptors who can create what's called positive and negative space in form with perfect feel for the scale and subject - in their first drafts.

Today I am struggling to get that perfect feel on a few spots. I really feel it's what separates the mice from the men in figure study in both flat and dimensional works. & I will be happy to admit it's not one of those things that comes naturally.

That is all. & Please make the tetris go away.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tractor pull report

As many folks here know from my profile and posts I lease a small section of a farm (one small barn and a few acres) and board horses. The farm itself is huge and leases out land to several other people (5 other businesses!). It didn’t happen last year but several years in a row we’ve had tractor pulls in the late fall on the back half of the property adjacent to my area. It’s a lot of fun but of course a lot of work as well. In previous years my barn’s large community room housed the food buffet and rest room – fortunately this year all the facilities and electricity was available in the back part of the property so folks didn’t have to traipse across a giant corn field to these amenities. Now I only host the ring lights and help out in other minor ways... oh, and keep an eye on my charges too. I'm too much the mother hen sometimes.

It was still a VERY long and cold day… we didn’t get the snow showers they predicted thank goodness! 14hrs starting off with that would have been awful.

It’s really a terrific community event. There is almost always a “cause” chosen. Someone having a rough time – this year it was an old timer who’s been around the farm since it was a functional dairy; he and his wife were in an accident recently. They’re ok - he even visited for a bit which was great to see. About 100 people total were there this year, less than previous years (200 was the top year). However it was amazingly quiet and smooth running all in all. I believe the final tractor count was 40 but I saw a bunch of the bigger ones come in later so I’m not sure – they’ll know in a day or two when everyone tallies up everything. It is bigger than the pulls at the fairs though: anyone with a tractor comes and several people will drive the one family tractor sometimes which is pretty cool to see too. They also pulled some of the local guy’s trucks (but nothing rauckus like you hear in typical truck pulls with the modified engines/bodies and roaring stacks – these are just farm vehicles). My boyfriend pulled with his rebuilt ’56 chevy dually he had started building from a rusty old cab when we first dated. He won, beating guys who’d won their classes at area’s fairs. He’s pretty happy and ought to be – it took a lot of courage to test his workmanship that way: he spent about 2 years building it and it’s gone from construction site work, to car shows to a pull now – holding it’s own at each. Yay him! :)

Here's the triumphant '56 doing some work last fall & earning it's keep (and the timberframing work is what he does at the moment). It was a rusty brown cab (nothing more) when we went on our first date. I'm always just so impressed with his work. Can you tell?

In regular tractors, John Deere is just the name to beat. I won’t list out the class results by weight or anything, it’s just the tractor to own. The old, well cared for ones just can’t be beat though. There were two modified alcohol tractors, those don’t do the typical tractor 'putt putt' -> they roar like stock cars. Very entertaining. Overall though it wasn’t much more than a lot of catching up with everyone. The hay folks we buy from, the people we do business with or for and that sort of thing. Good times.

The horses were only bored silly by it all, they are used to louder stuff actually (the barn doors were closed most of the day too so it was really quiet in there) . They stayed in since there are 2 big worry-warts among them that would have lost 50lbs today just staring bugged eyed transfixed at the magically vehicle-filled field and forgetting to eat. I wish I was kidding. -sigh- The horses (different ones) have been out in the past and had no qualms about it all. But this gave me a fun excuse too -> I retreated to the barn here and there “having chores” (don't cha know) ;) when I needed to warm up. It was much nicer out of the wind and a little shoveling and soft shavings under foot got the blood back into my feet. Very quiet ending too – the bonfire raged all day and into the night and helped a good deal. Those that lingered to the end had to be assigned drivers though to get them home. ;) My boyfriend is just getting back right now from one of those designated driver runs.

Best part is that there seemed to have been little trash left over to be picked up tomorrow… I can just do business as usual. But oooooh maaaaaaaan do I really need a long hot shower right now. Tomorrow will truly be a wonderful day of rest. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Weekend update: fun! :D

Well it has been a really busy weekend!

First off I want to thank everyone at RXR. I cannot say how wonderful it was to talk to folks. I left with the biggest warm fuzzies and rejuvenation! That's just such a great feeling.

Today I was hoping to get some studio time in but wound up spending almost all of the day at the barn overseeing horse-introductions. Rocky left in Oct. Did I mention that? Well anyhow, he moved closer to his owner and to a place where larger groups of folks went out trail riding. Unfortunately I've heard through the grapevine that his owner was bucked off and cracked a few things. Send "jingles" her way - that really stinks. All the same - at least it's turning cold fast and she's not missing much. This of course has no bearing on me sculpting my little Morgan fellow - a) he's not a 100% direct portrait (I wanted the shorter back and worked with some more old-stock proportions) and b) he's only 20mins/1/2hr away still. RIghto - I digress. So a week or so after Rocky left in comes this super cute little QH who is such a doll. I'll let you see for yourself, I made a photo journal today:
There was some poor behavior on my gelding's part after an hour or so of sizing each other up. He got "fresh" and started trying to mount the new fellow which earned him a justifiable wallop to the ribs. After that he just became an instigator until the new kid got wound up and then shot off doing the QH thing. After being run circles around, Mango gave up. New guy is definitely faster. But Mango won at the watering hole. It remains to be seen 'who's boss' but so far the new fellow has deferred on food matters to Mango. New cutie seems basically mellow (in other words when he doesn't have these rocket around in circles moments) at least and if that's the case all will remain calm. Mango and new guy seem pretty well matched in that they don't like things that hurt.

So enjoy the gallery. It's huge. I'm freezing cold and need to bundle up for a while longer or else I'd explain more about why I keep riding the poor little donkey too. ;) Isn't he awesome though? :)

Friday, November 2, 2007

And we're off!

Well, there she is all primered and about as smooth as I want to mess with now.. we're heading off to NY state for a year end hobby show (RXR! woohoo!). There's a sneak peek of the base too. It's just a slab at this point. I went with a clear peg (it's got tape around it to prevent primer spray) too - had to change out the wire the extra height of the base made the wire too short.

Here's a pretend photoshopping out of the peg.

Since yesterday's gallery I've done a little more tweaking on the neck and shoulder muscles.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Much better imo! :D

Well I think I'm ready to request input again (and anyone reading this - feel free to write me morgen @ from the folks who've been giving me input.

I get to these points where one big imbalance throws me off on balancing out the rest. That's the "fresh eyes" input so many sculptors talk about. Anywho, so now I can see lots of little things. In fact as I rebuilt the small gap to the neck there so much more became clearer about her shoulders and I reworked them some too.

Enough rambling tho, here's a mini gallery of all 7 pics:

Oh! I should mention I have started on the base though. I will need to use the wire under the foot until the very end for support but it won't be there in the final product.