Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gone to the dogs

One of the reasons I was excited to visit Brookgreen this year was the selection of Louise Peterson as one of their sculptors in residence for 2009. I was quite disappointed this past spring when I couldn't make her seminar "Modeling the Dog" work with my schedule. But I suspected that with her there, the park would probably bring out most of its canine collection, and there were pieces that had not been on display in years past that I hoped to see.

(Although the park displays hundreds of pieces at any given time, with a collection of 1,200 there are always pieces that are either on loan to other institutions or are in storage.)

"Bella and the Bug" by Louise Peterson. Peterson has a special interest in Danes, and having owned a part-Dane I have always admired her ability to capture their typical postures.

I loved how she sculpted the curve of the dog's back and shift of the shoulders. As someone who works with horse anatomy, the flexibility dogs have in this regard is always intriguing to me.

I wasn't disappointed. In fact, one of the first pieces we encountered was Anna Hyatt Huntington's "Deerhounds Playing". I had long wanted to see it in person, after having read about it in an article about the Huntington's Deerhound breeding program. (The Huntingtons founded the first Deerhound kennel in the United States.)

If this particular piece had been on display in the Garden before, I had managed to miss it. The park is really big and things do move around, so that's always possible!

The dynamic poses on the two dogs made it really hard to photograph them. I wish now I had taken more shots of the fur. I had read that Huntington's treatment of the fur was a bit different on this piece than on many of her others. Hair is something I struggle with myself, so how other artists approach this is very interesting to me. I wish I had thought to take more close-up comparison shots. (I think this will be my excuse to go back again soon...)

I did get a lot of details detail pictures of "Adonis" by Eli Harvey. The piece is simply masterful. (There is a shot from the front angle in the trip report on Sarah's blog, too.)

What I find interesting is that this sculpture is supposed to portray a young (8 month old) Greyhound. It was sculpted in 1905, so perhaps erect ears like those on the sculpture were more common in the breed then. The ears and his build give him the look of an Ibizian Hound or Pharoah Hound - at least to me - but those breeds weren't introduced in this country until long after the sculptor's death.

The sighthounds that were common during the time most of the Brookgreen sculptures were made (early 1900s) are certainly well represented. In fact the majority of the canine sculptures are of Greyhounds and Whippets.

I believe this is a Huntington piece.

"Greyhounds Unleashed" by Katharine Lane Weems.

"Whippet" by Katharine Lane Weems. I've always been very fond of this one!

"Greyhound Lying Down" by Katharine Lane Weems.

There is also a life-sized Wolfhound by Zenos Frudakis near the entrance to the Brookgreen Zoo. It was another piece where I found the hair treatment very interesting. You can also see the hollows that make the iris on bronze sculptures. It gives the eyes a very natural look at a most angles, if you are standing at the normal viewing distance. It did make me wonder what the effect might be if we tried that in ceramic. I suspect it would be less effective!

This guy has eyes that are sculpted in a way far more familiar to those of us who work in the model horse community. The softened style of this particular sculpture, "The Guardian" by Sahl Swarz, has always reminded me of the ceramic artist Maureen Love.

Looking at all these dogs has made me want to pull out the small Collie I started a few years ago. I had wanted to make one for my grandfather, who grew up on the banks of Pompton Lake not far from historic Sunnybank. His family had Collies and he passed that love on to me, so I thought it would be nice to make a "proper" Collie for him. (He had quite a number of ideas about what constituted a proper Collie.) Unfortunately I didn't get much further than bulking out the armature and assembling reference pictures of old-fashioned dogs before he passed away. Someday, though!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Claybody Custom preview

This is the third of the four Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig claybody customs I have glazed. (The first one, Dixon, can be seen here. The second one, Dawson, is pictured in this post.) She is still in her bisque form in this picture, and hasn't yet had her handpainted done, so she is both darker and more detailed now. The picture does give an idea of what she looks like, though. I was using her as a sample to show Addi how I dappled, so I have in-progress pictures taken at each step that I will try to post later.

She is scheduled to go in for her (final) glaze fire tonight, and with luck I'll have pictures of her in her finished form some time this weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Jelli

As promised, here is the Jellibaby that Addi brought and that I glazed while she was here. I've named her "Maisy". I usually give horses done during artist gatherings names that somehow remind me of the time I spent, and with her I wanted something to remind me of the time I spent with both Addi and Mel. Since she didn't remotely look like a Trogdar (my youngest son's preference), I chose a diminutive version of "maize" for our time in the Maize Maze. (Don't worry Mel - I have evil plans to reflect Trogdar in one of your horses' names!)

I had originally thought I would sell her and keep the second (as yet unfinished) Jellibaby, but I want to wait and pair her with one of Addi's really neat mares once they are ready. I have her mother's color pictured so clearly in my mind that I need to make them a pair. But that isn't going to happen unless I place her out of sight in the back of the china cabinet before I get more attached to her. She's a really cute baby!

I am also color-correcting pictures of Addi's second Vixen/Imp pair. She'll probably run those on her own blog, so watch there for them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A toast!

Here Sprinkles has fooled Addi with her "I'm a docile, sleepy pony who just wants to be petted" act. It is a routine she has perfected.

A toast to a successful visit! Addi finished her horses on time, and has now arrived safely back in California. We had a great time hosting her here at the studio - even if she did get my youngest child hooked on "Trogdar the Burninator" and my oldest on Dr. Who!

I have a backlog of pictures to post from the last two weeks, but I also have a backlog of everyday chores to attend. Not the least of these are some really large piles of laundry. I'm afraid that while we thought that sprucing up the garage and adding a spray booth might be a proper way to host a guest, our washing machine thought a dramatic death in the middle of the visit might be just the thing! So I am going to spend the next few days putting things here back in order, but then I'll be back with more blog posts.

Here Addi finds out that it was all a ruse designed to get Sprinkles close enough to a forbidden pony toy - the windbreaker zipper pull.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

First look

Here is a peek at Addi's first mare and foal set. These two came out of the kiln this morning. These are the first of the mares and foals to be painted together as a set, so it's really neat to see them together.

Addi will have more pictures up on her blog later today.

Odds and ends

Right now I am waiting for the kiln to cool so I can see the Vixen and Imp set that Addi has glazed. You can see a picture of them in their bisque fired form on Addi's blog here. We have the smaller kiln cooling, too. Two or three days before the end of a studio visit is always "crunch time" because the firing and cooling times on the kilns limit what can be accomplished at the last minute.

I have been far less productive than Addi, mostly because I have been in my favored mode as hostess. But I do have one of her Jellibabies cooling in the smaller bisquing kiln. I've also been working on one of Sarah's claybody customs. I had her in progress when Addi arrived, and she's been a good subject to show Addi how I layer my dappling. We are a lot alike in our glazing methods; I tend to think of our styles as being most alike among the underglaze artists. But the one thing that has become clear to us is that I do a lot more intermediate firings between all my layers, which is why my dapples tend to come out in soft focus. The downside is that I don't get quite the "punch" that Addi is getting, so I will probably do a bit of experimenting with "getting bold".

I have been taking progress pictures of the softer process on the claybody, though, and will try to post those at a later time.

In the meantime, I wanted to pass along some odds and ends on the color front. Some of you may remember a post I made about the registered tobiano Arabian, RWR Sonora. That was back in February of last year. At the time, I was told by the registry office that the issue would likely be resolved "sometime in October". I guess I erred in not asking which October. But almost two years after the issue first came to light, the papers have been pulled. The registration was marked cancelled in DataSource (the Arabian registry database) effective October 9, 2009.

On a distantly related note, I have meant to pass along a link to this cool article for a while now. Researchers have been testing ancient remains for color genes, and these are the results of that initial study. (The link takes you to the supporting documents, rather than the subscription-only article, but the real information is there anyway.) Thanks to the mummified remains of a Yukon Horse, we already knew that the silver dapple gene was really old. It was, however, surprising to see Sabino 1 and Tobiano dated so far back (early Bronze Age and Iron Age respectively). Of course, this study was conducted with relatively few color tests - only what was available at the time - so it may be that early horses were even more colorful!

I've also meant to pass along this link, too. That's a German Shepherd with a white pattern thought to be the product of a gene mutation (and not, as in the case of the tobiano "Arabian", fraudulent papers). Here is the dog thought to be the point of mutation. Research is being conducted on the pattern (called "Panda") at UC Davis, and there is a brief overview here. It is currently believed that the gene is dominant and lethal (in utero) in a double dose. There have been other "piebald" crop outs reported in purebred German Shepherds, which has suggested that there was a recessive white gene in the breed. (Horses are a bit unusual for domestic animals in that the vast majority of their color mutations are dominant.) If the research is correct then either this is a different gene, or it is a relatively frequent mutation. (A word of warning about broaching the subject of "pandas" with German Shepherd breeders. It's not a good idea.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Such a great time!

Yesterday Addi and I took a break from the studio, and travelled to Pawley's Island, South Carolina to meet up with Sarah and her husband Chris at the Brookgreen Gardens. That's Sarah there with Sandy Scott's Eat More Beef.

I have written before about my love for the sculpture gardens at Brookgreen. I fell in love the moment I found the place, and ever since then I have been dying to share it with my friends in the equine sculpture world. If ever there was a place meant to inspire those of us who love three-dimensional animal art, it would be Brookgreen.

We could not have asked for a more lovely fall day for our visit. And that was a good thing, because the four of us covered every inch of the park. Many of the volunteers there mentioned that they had never seen a group quite so enthusiastic just to be there.

Fortunately for our professional images, they missed a bit of the silliest parts of our visit there!

Here are Addi, Chris and Sarah striking bird poses at the Fountain of Peace. (I'm not sure Chris' martial arts "crane position" is quite in keeping with the fountain's theme...)

And here Sarah, myself and Addi are duplicating the pose of the "sculptor" (the figure just visible behind Sarah's upraised hand) from Carl Milles' Fountain of the Muses.

Being a good sport, Chris gives it a try.

He was an even better sport when we found this young gator beside one of the ponds. I took several pictures when I realized that while we were impressed with his size, it wasn't really obvious when the only other things in the pictures were grass and water. So I asked Chris to get in the picture, to show the scale.

But the prize for being adventurous goes to Sarah, who decided to satisfy our curiosity and order the Peanut Butter Burger for dinner. My favorite part was when the waitress asked if she wanted pickles and lettuce on it, and Sarah asked if that's how people usually ordered it. The poor waitress looked a little embrassed and admitted that it wasn't something people usually ordered. That sealed the deal - Sarah had to order it then! (with pickles)

She swore it was really good and even got Chris to agree. Addi and I both figured that lots of inspiration and some close encounters with gators were probably enough excitement for the day.

We were so very fortunate that the Breunig's vacation brought them close to the Gardens, and that it did so when Addi happened to be visiting. It made for a wonderful day. I will post some of the inspiring pieces we saw at a later time, but for now I'll just close with this morning's sunrise over the beach.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dog blogging

We are all really enjoying having Addi here this week, but Emma is probably the happiest of all. New people have much less resistance to her tricks (like "wave") than the regular studio residents!

She also approves of Addi's taste in color schemes.

We managed to get our first firing done last night, which Emma also appreciated. Warm kilns make for idle, dog-petting hands! Those horses are now cooling in the kiln, and later this afternoon it will be back to work. Both Addi and I are working on dapple grey horses, and are comparing techniques as we go along. I'll try to post work-relevant pictures next time.

But that probably won't be before we make a totally-unrelated-to-work trip to the Rural Hill Scottish Heritage Center. Emma is not the only one to weedle Addi and Mel for attention; my kids have begged them to join us in our traditional fall excursion to the Center's Maize Maze.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sssshhhhhh! A secret...

I have been waiting to post this little guy for a few weeks now, because I didn't want to give him away. But since his future owner is travelling, I can share him without giving it away.

He's a super-secret surprise wedding gift for my friend, Mel. It's not every day that a friend gets married, and even rarer that it's to someone as nice as Mel's husband, Herm. So I wanted to help her celebrate with something shiny. And since Mel loves foals, an Imp seemed most appropriate.

It should be a great beginning to the first "in house" artist retreat here at home. I've always travelled to retreats in the past, but never hosted. But this one won't be entirely at home, either. Later next week Addi and I will travel out to the coast to meet up with Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig and her husband Chris, and tour Brookgreen. Sharing the sculpture garden with my friends has been something I've wanted to do for ages, so I am beside myself with excitement!

First guest is here!

Addi Velasquez arrived last night for her visit, and here she is breaking in the new spray booth. She's working on a Vixen in this picture. I spent the day trying to decide what colors to make my own Jellibabies and Jitterbug.

I think I'm going to ask our friend Melissa Gaulding to help me decide. She arrives here in just a little while. Addi will be staying for the next few weeks, but Mel is just here for the weekend. We have a special surprise for her, which I'll post separately.

I am going to try to blog through Addi's visit. I've wanted to do that in the past, when I visited Sarah and Joan. Unfortunately I struggle with internet access (and time!) when I am travelling. But I am here with my own computer, so I have no excuse. (Well, except the time thing...)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Finished spraybooth

We connected the spraybooth to the fan last night, and all is working. Alan had designed the system to minimize the noise, but even so I was surprised by just how quiet it was. I have to confess, it made me doubt that it was adequately powered - until I saw that it could pull a piece of paper up against the filter!

I could imagine reference papers getting ruffled around (and knocking down horses), so I decided it was a good idea to install a clip for holding papers. The clip is holding a magazine clipping of an Paint horse in the first photo, and here in this picture it is folded back against the booth. I liked that I could get it out of the way when I wasn't using it.

I haven't yet moved the compressor or airbrushes. I'm still rearranging my workspaces and getting a feel for what needs to move to the garage and what needs to stay in the studio. I am trying to keep my impact on the garage to a minimum, since that's really my husband's "guy space" (as the rack of fishing poles to the right of my booth illustrates!). At least there is a lot more room there now. I think I have hauled off a metric ton of useless "stuff".

Enough that we could finally hook up the freezer we inherited from my parents a while back. It also serves are a useful countertop for proper celebratory refreshments!

Now I just have to work on convincing my husband that finishing and painting the walls won't compromise the essential "manliness" of the place.