Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rookwood Faience

Fountain of the Water Nymph, 1913

As promised, here are some of the pictures of the Rookwood architectural faience. The fountain in this first picture was originally installed in the Rookwood showroom and was displayed there until the company was relocated to Mississippi in 1960. When the Cincinnati facility was dismantled the fountain was purchased by a real estate developer and installed in a bowling alley, of all places! And here I thought I was brave displaying ceramic horses in a house with young boys. At least I didn't have to worry about someone tossing a bowling ball.

The fountain is actually made of tiles, which is obvious in this photo. The woman is a separate figure set on a tile base and added to the composition. I found this concept fascinating. I have concepts drawn out for future projects that involve sculptural tiles that fit together like a puzzle, but it never occurred to me that the tiles did not have to assemble across a flat surface, or that three-dimensional sculptural elements might be added.

Here is a detail shot of the bas relief pieces on the back. I wish I had taken more detail shots of all of these pieces!

Chimneypiece, 1903

This mantel was a custom design done on commission. At the turn of the last century a simple stock mantel of fairly plain tiles could be ordered for $8.75 (that's $166 in modern dollars), and an elaborate one with mantels, brackets, shelves and bas relief tiles could cost as much as $210 (equivalent to almost $4000 today).

I found this interesting because my first bas relief, the Celtic Pony, was designed for the corners of my own fireplace. He never was installed because I realized I needed to do a reverse design for it to look right on the two sides. Oh, to have the time to design a whole mantel of pony tiles!

This next piece was a carved wooden mantel created for Rookwood in 1851, the childhood home of Maria Longworth Nicols Storer, founder of the Rookwood Pottery. It isn't ceramic, of course, but I thought it was interesting to see how fine craftsmanship was a part of her upbringing.

Angels, 1920

I found these two pieces interesting because they are such large ceramic castings. They are apparently the only two ever made from the mold, and were done for the Seventh Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. They were among the things that survived unharmed the 1970 that destroyed the church, although the glaze was slightly discolored.

The description card stated that the angel had been sculpted in clay and then cast with a "multi-part plaster mold". I have to imagine the angels were themselves assembled from pieces, too. I'd hate to think how heavy those molds would have been wet, or how difficult the greenware would have been to transport. Of course, it makes it easier when your kiln is big enough to sit a dinner party!

The other thing that was striking about the Rookwood Pottery pieces on display was how very different the ceramic world was at that time. The pottery rose to fame largely through wins at competitions for ceramics. The idea of high-profile competitions for ceramic products was interesting in itself, but even more so because the items were cast. That is, at least in the modern ceramic world, just not done. Cast ceramics are not considered a legitimate art form in that community. I have always thought that was a shame because relegating casting to the ceramic ghetto is a big reason why ceramic mold-making is a dying art. What I didn't realize is that it wasn't always that way, so perhaps there is hope that one day the skill involved will be appreciated again.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A visit to Rookwood

It has been quiet here on the studio blog while I get the horse color book ready for publication, but I wanted to share a recent trip to the old Rookwood Pottery while I had a moment. I'll apologize up front for the poor quality of the pictures, but all I had was my cell phone. I was kicking myself for not packing the good camera!

Rookwood was an influential ceramics company around the turn of the last century that played a big role in the development of art pottery. As someone who has always been attracted to the Arts & Crafts Movement - both aethestically and philosophically - I had long admired their pottery. That was why my husband, back when we were newly married, suggested that we have dinner at The Rookery while visiting his home town of Cincinnati. It was the restaurant that used the old pottery building.

The restaurant closed shortly after that, so I was thrilled to learn that it had recently reopened as The Rookwood Bar & Restaurant. My sister-and-law and I had lunch there, and I took the picture above of one of the brick bottle kilns that are situated throughout the dining area. There are dining tables inside each of the kilns, but unfortunately my camera was not able to capture them. Here is a good image of one.

These are the buildings that once housed the pottery. The buildings are located in Mount Adams which overlook the city of Cincinnati. It is a lovely setting.

This is one side of the ornate gates that sit at the entrance to the old pottery buildings. Both sides are topped with the same sculpture of nesting rooks. There is a small fountain off to the side with more rooks, too.

I was also able to see an exhibit at the local art museum on Rookwood faience, or glazed architectural terra cotta. (Ceramics seem to like to assign the same term for different things, just to keep things interesting. Faience is also a type of tin-glazed earthenware pottery, but Rookwood produced the former kind of faience.) I took quite a number of pictures, though not as many and not as detailed as I would have liked due to camera limitations. I plan to post those separately, since there are technical aspects I'd love to talk about here.

I also picked up a fascinating book, though I suspect it might be a while before I have time to do more than peruse it.

I find the Rookwood story interesting because, like most of the ceramic companies in the equine collectibles industry, it was started by a woman who initially created the items as a hobby. There are other parallels as well, like the fact that Rookwood initially offered its wares as bisque for others to glaze, and that the company made its name through success through competition. I often think the ceramic community that I am a part of is a bit odd in relationship to the rest of the ceramic world, but in some ways it seems that we aren't odd... we are a revival!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Adventures in self-publishing

(I am cross-posting this from my horse color blog, since it explains why things have been so quiet here - and might stay quiet for a little while longer.)

That’s the print test that arrived late last night. It came with some good news and some bad news.

The bad news is that I will not be able to get books printed in time for BreyerFest, which was my original goal. I knew that was probably a long shot because it was unlikely that everything would turn out perfectly on the first try. Technology has changed a lot since I was last involved in printing, but I was pretty sure that part of it was still the same. Things always go wrong at the printers. Always.

I knew I was looking at a lot of different quality issues, which is why I sent off a sample section to be printed. That’s what I am holding in the picture. (That’s why it is a small, saddle-stitched booklet, rather than a perfect-bound 430+ page book.) I did not know what to expect from the newer Print-On-Demand (POD) technology. I wasn’t even sure I would go that route, because some of the issues I had been told to expect gave me pause. Ideally I would prefer to go that route because I would love to hand off the fulfillment aspect over to another entity so I can return to the studio. Places that do that (companies like Lulu and Createspace) all use the same print-on-demand technology.

What I had heard was that that the color printing, which is used on the covers, leaves something to be desired. That one issue, paired with the still-high costs involved, is why this particular set of books are being designed in black and white. An expensive book with questionable color was a non-starter. I must admit that while it is not the same as offset printing, and I suspect their press wasn’t calibrated well (too much magenta), it wasn’t as awful as I had been lead to expect. It is the kind of compromise I expected with Print-On-Demand. (And yes, I know… a book about color in black and white? I’ll talk more about that later in the post.)

But it was the black and white interior where I found the problems.

Oh, that won't do at all!

Despite meticulously following the instructions for “best results”, many of the photos and illustrations came out too dark. I don’t need color to show how unusual the patterning is on the Hackney in that first photo, but I do need people to be able to see the pattern!

The same image using a wide range of level and curve adjustments

The remedy is to go in and tweak the problem images in Photoshop and print another test to determine which settings will work best. It still amazes me that this is actually economically feasible for a printing company, but it is apparently how it is done.

There was some good news that came out of my test, though. As I mentioned, these books are being printed in black and white. Part of that is the economics, but part is also the subject matter. As I have said before, these are not “how to identify you horse’s color” books. Until color printing becomes more accessible, that kind of information is far better suited to a place like this blog. Instead, these books are about the history of horse color in different breeds. In many ways, they are as much about the history of the different breeds as they are about color specifically. As a result, a large portion of the photos are already black and white because they are old. For some all we have are engravings (like the horse in the image above).

Those images are really important to properly tell these stories, but in many cases the image quality is really poor. Often the sole remaining image of a historical animal is the one that was printed in a stud book. Stud books were often printed fairly cheaply on paper little better than newsprint. For others, the pictures come from old periodicals or bulletins issued by agricultural departments. Those were the images that motivated me to print a test section, because I needed to know if they could be included. With modern pictures I have the option of contacting owners and photographers for an alternate, but for the historic horses often there is only one (bad!) image. If that one image didn’t work, I might need to formulate another plan. But ironically, the bad photos printed well. In some cases, far better than they should have! So while the fix for the dark photos is going to be time consuming, at least there is a fix.

The other great irony?

This was easier to do. When I first announced that there would be books, I had a lot of people ask if they would be offered as e-books or downloads. I said I would try, but I really wasn’t sure that I was up for a great technical challenge like that.

Oddly enough, getting the manuscript into Kindle format was really simple. In fact the biggest challenge wasn’t technical, but one of layout. How could I break down the charts and diagrams (like the one those sample homozygous splash overos came from) so that they worked with that kind of format? That is actually a lot more fun than figuring out levels and curves and file formats! And since I own a Kindle, it is easy to see exactly what my readers will get. I am also told that if I use color images, those devices that can do color will show them in color. That might be the answer for color publishing in the future. So yes, there will be an electronic version eventually. After I figure out how to make the less high-tech version work for me!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

BOYCC Report - Workshops

One of the coolest aspects of the BOYC Convention was the wide range of workshops that were offered. I have attended stand-alone workshops before, but the convention was unusual in the sheer number that were offered. Pretty much every aspect of producing ceramic horses was covered, so that attendees could sample what was involved with each step.

These first two pictures were taken during the Custom Glazing Workshop, which was held on Thursday at Pour Horse Pottery. Participants were given their choice of either an Animal Artistry Dartmoor or Friesian Mare. They masked the markings and patterns, and selected the color for Joan and Addi to airbrush. After that the horse was returned to them for detailing.

Here is my roommate Katie Gehrt with the Dartmoor that she was glazing dapple grey. Joan airbrushed the basic color and Katie erased the dapples and painted the details. All the horses were fired and ready to take home on the last day of the show. Joan even supplied boxes and packing material, as well as offering to ship the horses home for anyone that could not carry them. Talk about full service!

That was a workshop for underglazing, which is the method I use to glaze my own work. The other method is china painting, which is completely foreign to me. For that reason I was really looking forward to taking the workshop on China Painting with Karen Gerhardt. I will post about that separately in the future, because it really deserves a separate post.

There was a two-part workshop on restoration that I would have loved to have attended, but fitting a repair victim in my overstuffed luggage was out of the question after I decided that "Elvis" needed to travel with me. There was also a demonstration on how to pour and clean greenware, which was a lot of fun to watch, since I remember that part of my own ceramic education so well! (No one at BOYCC broken nearly as many legs as I did when I was learning.)

But the coolest set of workshops, in my opinion, were done as a pair. On Friday Kelly Savage gave a workshop on sculpting a simple medallion. Throughout the show on Saturday, a small group of folks worked on their medallions. That was because on Sunday, Margaret Olson of MAO Ceramics gave a workshop on simple moldmaking.

Here are some of the participants making plaster waste molds of their medallions.

(And on a completely unrelated note, the woman in the red shirt is Amy Peck. I've been privileged to call Amy a friend for many years, but my time at BOYCC gave me a whole new appreciation for the level of organization that Amy has. Much of the messy logistics of the convention were handled by her, and she did so with such competence and grace that I was left in awe.)

Here are four of the medallions ready for the lids to be poured. I especially liked that there was a strawberry daiquiri there in the picture, complete with fruit kabob and drink umbrella. The husband of Elli Heritage-Mench, Gunner, kept the Hospitality Suite stocked with mai tais and daiquiris made from fresh, locally-grown strawberries. (The amber liquid in the cup next to the daiquiri is mold soap - an important distinction to remember while moldmaking!)

This full slate of workshops was the part of BOYCC that had me most intrigued when Joanie first explained the concept. As is probably apparent to anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time, sharing techniques is really important to me, and I would love to see this kind of concept take off within the model horse community. Blog posts and articles can convey a lot of information, but there is nothing like handling the materials in person alongside someone who already knows how to use them. It is certainly true of ceramics, but I also think the same kind of format would work well for the other artisan activities like sculpting, casting, prepping and painting.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BOYCC Report - Banquet Dinner

Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig's table, with an inset photo of the two of the magnets she gave to each of her guests.

I have always thought that the equine collectibles community should tinker with the format of our shows, and I've tried to support those shows that did. Bring Out Your Chinas has always been a trendsetter when it came to specialty shows catering to ceramic collectors, but this year was something else entirely. Joan and Addi envisioned something entirely different in concept as well as format; a true convention experience. Because there were so many innovative things about the weekend, I wanted to highlight them in separate posts.

One of the most unusual things about BOYCC compared to other shows was that meals were part of the event. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided to the participants for each day of the event. Usually these were held at the host resort, in restaurant that looked over the lake. The windows in the picture above show the view we had of the water. It was a lovely setting with abundant natural light for viewing the pieces on display.

On Saturday there was a Banquet Dinner where awards were given for the previous day's competition. It was a great way to truly appreciate the horses and owners, rather than just catching snippets of the announcements while actively showing or judging.

The other unusual aspect of the Banquet was that we were arranged at Artist Tables. Artists who worked in ceramic were invited to host a table. This involved creating a centerpiece that would then be taken home by one of the guests. It was open-ended, with no real requirement about what could be done. I must confess that I came up blank on ideas when I was approached, and suspected that I'd be kept too busy with the name tags to do the idea justice, so I declined to take a table. It was a wise choice, because I would have felt quite the slacker compared to the efforts the artists gave their tables!

The top picture is of Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig's table. The creation of her centerpiece was detailed on her blog. Entrants were asked for table choices, but I didn't have a preference. I figured I would spend most of dinner fretting about my presentation (which followed immediately afterwards), so my only request was that I be seated with fun people. The room was full of those, so I couldn't go wrong no matter where I was, but Sarah's was my assigned table.

One of the things I loved was how well each of the tables reflected the artist who decorated them. This one was for Adalee Hude of Brightly Hude Studio. The butterflies and chocolates sit in a pottery bowl decorated with vintage illustrations. Each of the guests received a hand-painted ceramic pin with a bird. (Click the photo to go to Addi's website.)

Donna Chaney of Animal Artistry had a delicate diorama of an Arabian mare and foal, all in ceramic. Each guest received a custom glazed chess piece. (Living in a house full of chess players, I went away dreaming of a custom glazed chess set of my own - perhaps Pintos and Appaloosas instead of Black and White. Unlike my sons I play pretty poorly, but at least I would enjoy looking at the pieces while I lost!)

This one was from Joan Berkwitz of Pour Horse Pottery. That is an Otto that has been turned into a tea pot. He has a wrapped wire handle and a lid cut into his back, as well as a pour spout through his mouth. A Collier has been turned into a creamer, and a Limerick into a sugar bowl. Joan's guests received Pour Horse pins glazed to match the tea set.

This was the table beside me, and probably my favorite. It was for Karen Gerhardt of Wizard's Vale Arts. Karen went all out with a claybody custom Boreas as her centerpiece. Each of her guests received a smaller Boreas that had been art glazed (each a different color). I loved that Karen brought a bit of her home in Colorado to her table, with evergreen bows, pine cones and photos of the mountains.

Kristina Lucas-Francis had a table done like a Tiki Bar, complete with a Tiki Rex in an aqua green glaze. (For those more familiar with her work on horses, Kristina also sculpts dinosaurs.) Her guests each received a glazed Bucky pins that matched the Tiki Rex.

This was the table for Marge Para of ReMuda Pottery. Marge handbuilt the pot that was her centerpiece, but in each chair was a gift box that contained a different hand-thrown pot. They made me wish I had taken the wheel throwing class offered at the local clay shop earlier this year.

Of all the concepts that Joan talked about while the convention was in its planning stage, this one - artist tables - was the one that gave me pause. Ours is a community with conflicted feelings about the celebrity of its artists, and I worried that dedicating tables to individuals might be awkward. Oddly enough, the tables did not focus attention on the artists, but rather allowed the artists to focus on their customers. Perhaps it was the format of the artist as "host" and the collectors as "guests", and the gifts for each person there. It seemed much more like an appreciation of those who allow us to do what we love, rather than a recognition of some kind of status.

BOYCC Report - Swag!

There is so much I want to share about the recent Bring Out Your Chinas Convention (BOYCC). The format was an experiment conceived by Joan Berkwitz of Pour Horse Pottery and Addi Hude of Brightly Hude Studio, and there is so much to say about it that it will take several posts (and a few more days of sleep for my part).

I did want to share some photos of the "Swag Bags", which are pictured above. Those are actually the Day 1 Swag Bags. So many things were created as giveaways for the show that a second set of bags were required for the second day of the show! My own contribution - the handmade name tags discussed in previous posts - were actually handed out separately so that we didn't have to match the bags to their owners. It was work enough just filling all the bags!

Here are a few of the items: a ceramic mug with one of the early Pour Horse logos. The roll of blue cloth is a lint-free towel for cleaning dust and debris from ceramics; these were extremely handy for those of us who took the workshop in china painting! The retractable white brush in front came from Kristina Francis. To the right is a memory book for attendees to sign. It was one of my favorite things from the event, although I am sorry that judging kept me too busy to sign as many as I wished.

More swag! From the top left there is a cartoon pony keychain (my son already claimed it) and a plastic piggy with tiny dominos (again, claimed by my kids). The white paw prints are handmade soap, and they sit on a handmade koozie. There is a pen that reads "playing with mud" and a key fob that says "BOYC". To the lower left are some index cards for last minute show entries (boy was I glad for those!). Sitting on top of those is one of Karen Gerhardt's pins in a pretty lavender porcelain. We used the same pin in glossy white for her overglazing workshop. (Mine is, not surprisingly, so far from done that there is no point in photographing it yet.) The two small buttons were done by Melissa Gaulding. She made enough for everyone to trade, and I ended up with two appaloosa foals. I am still kicking myself for not taking the time to find someone willing to trade the splash overo one.

Lynn Fraley of Laf'n Bear sent some of her bear tiles. I really liked the blue-green glaze on this one.

Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig included one of her Dancing Horse tiles. Sarah sent a truly staggering number of tiles for gifts and awards. I was lucky enough to win several of them, and will include pictures in later posts about the show and Saturday night's award dinner. I am afraid all they did was succeed in making me greedy for more of them, so I hope that she stocks some in her Etsy store soon. (hint, hint)

Another big hit from the swag bags were these candy parrots, made by Jen Kroll. She did a number of different color patterns and I was fortunate to take quite a few home. I didn't have the heart to eat them, though.

I couldn't eat these, either. Liz Holm donated custom-printed M&Ms with "BOYC 2011", "Shiny!" and a silhouette of the HR Morgan Stallion. I didn't know that could be done, but here is the site for ordering them.

I didn't have to eat them, though, because the bags were filled with all manner of snack foods - and that was on top of all the meals that were provided as part of the event.

And finally there was this guy. He was part of the booty Sarah sent down for the show. I had seen them on Sarah's blog post and coveted them. My roommate Katie Gehrt won this one (my favorite!) as a door prize and gave him to me. It made my day! He sat next to my laptop during the horse color presentation, so that I would see him each time I changed a slide. It was almost like having Sarah right there, which of course made it impossible to be nervous.

I will post more about the workshops and the show and the presentation in the next few days. I want to tell as much as possible about BOYCC in hopes that more people will consider using it as a template for future events.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Almost time to go

I leave for Bring Out Your Chinas in just a few days. Now that the presentation and the name tags are done, I am starting to get excited. Joanie and Addi have come up with a very different format for an equine collectibles gathering, and I cannot wait to see how it turns out.

I know I am particularly interested in seeing how this guy turned out. He's going to be one of the table centerpieces for our meals. Different ceramic artists are sending special centerpieces, which will be fun to see. I am going to try to post the different ones here.

In fact, it is my hope that I'll be able to do some live blogging from the event. If there is a reliable internet connection there at the convention center, I will try to send pictures and posts.

Friday, May 13, 2011

What was I thinking??

When my husband and I joined our church, we were given name tags. They weren't the ordinary printed kind; instead someone had painstakingly embroidered each of our names alongside the shield that is the symbol for our denomination (Episcopalian). It was a very personal gesture of welcome that we, having only recently moved to the area, really appreciated.

So when it came time to come up with an idea for the Bring Out Your Chinas Convention swag bag, I wanted to do something that would give the participants that seem feeling of personal welcome. I am really good with the idea of welcoming.

I am not so good with numbers. Or estimating time. It's not like a didn't know there would be forty or so participants, which would mean designing and coloring forty cards. In the past I have shied away from Trading Card swaps because I wasn't sure I could finish the two or three cards required. Yet for some strange reason I just didn't think much about the scale of this a project. Needless to say, I really know what forty or more cards means now!

Still it was a fun break from my ordinary work. The horses (and a few dogs) are mounted on patterned or textured cardstock, and I got to play with colors that I don't usually get to use - like Jackie Arns-Rossi's card with the spring green background above.

This was one of my favorites of the group, done for fellow Collie person Mel Miller (her name is on the outside of the card holder).

The rest of them can be seen here. There are five pages in all, so look for the links at the bottom to take you to the next page.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A spaniel for Kelly

Since Kelly Savage is coming all the way from England to help out at BOYCC, it seemed only fair to make a special card for her (see her comments from the previous post). Kelly, it's not a proper English Cocker Spaniel, but it is a Cocker Spaniel for your name badge!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


When my friends Joan Berkwitz and Addi Hude began planning a true convention for the ceramic horse community, I knew I wanted to be involved. Joan had mentioned that they would be looking for donations for the "swag bag" that entrants received, and to be thinking of something I might want to do. I decided that we needed name badges. It seemed appropriate, because I'm a big believer in the idea that no one should feel like a stranger at a model horse gathering. But they couldn't be just any name tags. We needed artwork! And of course, if we were going to have artwork, all the horses needed to be cool colors. Lots of different colors.

I decided I would use lineart, which is common among those that enjoy two-dimensional horse art games. For the mock-up, I used Jacqueline Ferrigno's coloring book pages. For those that never outgrew coloring books, I highly recommend her site. That's him sporting leopard spots in the first photo.

That first badge was done last year, before I had the lineart prepared for the upcoming horse color book. Unfortunately my own artistic style isn't quite as romantic as Jacqueline's, but they do tie in with the presentation I will be giving at the convention. (The presentation is partially based on the contents of the book.)

When I did my sample, and the first few badges, the holders fit a 3 x 4 badge. That's the larger one at the bottom. Then when I returned to get more holders, the only kind available were smaller. I didn't realize this until I got them home, but they have the advantage of holding a card the same size as an Artist Trading Card. As a collector of those, I liked that idea so I decided to make the rest smaller. The top card is the smaller size. Hopefully no one will mind the inconsistency.

Here are some of the in-progress horses. They get cut out and pasted on the patterned paper backgrounds. It has been fun working with color again after months of focus on black and white book pages.

Here is a scan of one of the horses. No effort goes to waste around here; he's also an illustration in the upcoming book. I originally planned to color the book images digitally, but I found that the time saved on the repetitive parts was offset by how much longer it took me to do things. I suppose I am still a traditional artist at heart.

The horses were colored with Copic Sketch markers. I've always liked them, and for my last birthday my mother gave me this colorful box filled with them. I love their vibrant colors, and the brush tip (see the bottom marker) feels more like painting than coloring with a marker. And unlike my Intuos tablet, I can bring them with me to the beach next week. That's how I plan to spend Spring Break - sitting under the Spanish moss coloring little horse faces for my friends at BOYCC!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The book that ate my brain

As an avid reader, I noticed that in the acknowledgments, authors almost always thanked their long-suffering family members. I routinely wrote articles and blogged, so I really wondered just how bad could it be? Now I know.

I had great hopes that I could juggle studio work while finishing the upcoming horse color book, and still continue to post to the blog. Obviously that has not been happening! Over the last few months, my world has narrowed down to just the one thing: the book. I do not multitask well at all because I tend to lose myself in whatever project is in front of me, but I must admit that preparing a book has taken that obsessive focus to a new level. I am fortunate that those around me have been very patient with my partial presence; some part of me is always working on the book.

I am getting closer to completion, although I suspect that what looks like the end is just the beginning as I begin to deal with the actual publication. Towards that end, I have begun assembling the necessary photographs and illustrations. Just a few weeks ago, I made a trip to the National Sporting Library in Virginia in hopes of securing better digitized images from some old stud books. It was one of the few equine libraries I had not yet seen, so I was excited about the prospect. The building, pictured above, is in the style of an old coach house, and contains over 17,000 volumes dating as far back as the 16th century. I went with some specific goals, so I only had the chance to skim the surface of what was available there.

Civil War Horse, bronze by Tessa Pullan (1996). The sculpture, which stands just a short way from the spot where the Battle of Middleburg (part of the Gettysburg Campaign) was fought, commemorates the more than 1.5 million horses and mules that died in the Civil War.

There were restrictions on taking photos in the upper levels of the library due to some of the artwork on loan, which was a shame. The interior is lovely, and gives the impression that you are visiting the personal library of some nineteenth-century Virginia gentleman.

But this is where I spent most of my time: the basement. Over the years I've learned that the really useful stuff is usually in the basement. This one was far, far nicer than most. The moving shelves in the picture hold most of the stud books in the collection. To get to the necessary aisle, the handles are turned and each case slides along a track to open a path. If only I had something like this in my house! (Lacking such fancy solutions, I have relied on the Kindle to make space for more books.)

I intended to get better copies of images that I already had, but I made a few finds while I was there. One of the best was a handful of images of the famed, but sadly extinct, Hanoverian Creams. This one came from a 1909 book on horse breeds. There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the actual color of the Creams, so finding a handful of images was an unexpected bonus.

Pistachio, one of the last living Hanoverian Creams

So progress continues on the book, albeit slower than I would like. I had hoped to have copies in time for the Bring Out Your Chinas Convention, but I have other projects that have to be done for that event (including the presentation there) that are going to require that I set the book aside for a bit, so I suspect that is not going to happen. My next big make-or-break deadline will be BreyerFest. I am much more optimistic about making that one.

In the meantime, I fear this blog may still be more sporadic than usual. I have gone ahead and set up the blog for the book, but it is only a placeholder at this point. It should go live once the book is well and truly off to the printers. That's also when I should return to the studio, and pictures of shiny ponies will once again appear here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Articles on Pattern Interaction

With the unfortunate passing of the Realistic Equine Sculpture Society, publication of the organization's newsletter The Boat has ended. The last issue was sent to members this past week.

Like so many readers, I eagerly looked forward to each issue. Twice a year we were treated to 200+ pages of in-depth information on everything remotely related to the business of realistic equine art. I benefited immensely from what others wrote, and I was flattered to be asked to contribute articles of my own.

When my friend Sarah (the tireless Boat editor) asked if I would do a regular column, she suggested that I write something more advanced that the usual "this gene does this" type of series. I jumped at the chance to explore a topic that I had only touched on briefly in previous seminars and articles, which was how the different patterns interact with one another. It's pretty esoteric stuff for real horse people, but for us as artists there aren't many aspects of horse color that are more useful. We need to know which interesting aspect of a reference can be realistically combined with a different pattern, because all of us do that a lot. Can this face marking go with that blanket pattern? If I decide to use grey as a background color instead of bay, what changes about the spots on my leopard? All of these are important questions for us, and I thought it would be fun to look at them from an artist's point of view.

I decided to start with the appaloosa patterns. I had not written extensively about them before, and there was a lot of ongoing research into them. There was a lot of potential for new discoveries. I also, as it turned out, had become the rather unexpected owner of a very loud appaloosa of my own.

Four installments of the series "Hoist the Colors" were published. A fifth is partially completed. Since the position of RESS was that the copyrights remained with the authors, I can republish the articles however I see fit. I decided to upload them to the website. The links for each one are:

Part 1 - Pattern Interaction Overview

Part 2 - Appaloosa Pattern Basics

Part 3 - Base Color Interaction

Part 4 - Appaloosa Dilution

I probably will not get to the (almost finished) fifth part until after the first volume of the Color Book is published. Right now that is tentatively scheduled to coincide with Bring Out Your Chinas Convention in May. So if the blog is quiet in the upcoming months, know that I am just working on that - and the studio backlog.

Once the first book is out, I do plan to split this blog off with a separate one devoted to horse color. I have been told that publishing tends to flush out missing information (that is, you will get a lot of corrections!), which has been part of my motivation in writing. I want to make that easier, so a blog seems logical. I just don't want the subject of horse color, which by its very nature is likely to generate a bit more two-way conversation, to overwhelm the studio chatter here. So watch for that later this year!

In the meantime, I'll still be posting the goings-on here at the studio. I am not sure there will be a lot of new information since I am focusing so much on the books. But little by little I am trying to wrap up stalled projects, and as those are finished I will try to post pictures at the very least.