May your Christmas day be Bright, your Winter Wonderful, and may you have a very Happy New Year! And because this is a blog dedicated to my art, I'll leave you with a peek at a fun little piece I did recently:
Whenever I talk about sculpting, I tend to mention one of the best tools for growing as a sculptor- critiquing. Even the best among us is not above it; we all fall into traps set by our own brains*, and critique is one way out of them. Self critique is an important first step in the critiquing process, and I'm working on it more and more, in an effort to push myself as a sculptor. I want to grow more in my own knowledge, in figuring out what is correct and incorrect anatomically (those 'aha' moments!), rather than relying on others to do the 'dirty work' for me. I do feel fresh eyes are good for one's pieces, but I want to get my pieces as far along as I can before I subject them to other eyes! Self critique is also a good technique for those who have limited access to other artists eyes and opinions. Let's move forward with some ways to look at your horse in a different light, all on your own! Idea One: Mirror, Mirror
In drawing, many know that holding your piece up to a mirror can give you a new perspective, and help you to see flaws that were previously eluding you. The same can be done with a sculpture. In fact, if you'd like a fancier, more helpful way to do this, I highly recommend taking a picture with a digital camera, and flipping it horizontally with a program like Photoshop, or Photoshop Elements (for any serious artist out there, I find having at least Photoshop Elements is invaluable! ). Things begin to pop up, when you can analyze your work backwards!
Idea Two: Photographing for Symmetry
Along the line of mirror imaging, you can easily snap photos of the the two sides of your horse for symmetry comparisons. Say you want to compare the sides of the face- snap & bring them up side-by-side on your computer- presto! Instant comparison fodder. This can also be done with other areas, depending on your horse's pose.
Idea Three: Trace the Face
If you have photo editing software with the layers feature, you may find this idea a help. First off- it is by no means a perfect solution to anatomy problems; there are a lot of factors to consider- angle of the original photo, breed type and position, camera distortion, etc. That said, it is good for general help. What I'm talking about is comparing a photo of your sculpture to a real horse photo. If you don't have fancy software, just bringing up a pic of your sculpt alongside a pic of a real horse in a similar pose can be a big help. If you do have the means, a little bit of tracing can reveal new insights.
I'm currently working on "Adagio" a rearing (Levade) horse of historical Lipizzaner type. In working on his muzzle, I've looked at many different pictures of horses in this pose, focusing on their noses. I've chosen one here (an older, historic photo, that I've tweaked a bit), for my starting point. I'll probably use this technique on a few more photos as I move along, to get different ideas of how my horse's muzzle should be.
It's a fairly simple process. I take the real horse photo, and trace the important features that I see, onto a new (top) layer. That layer gets copied, and placed on top of a picture of my sculpture, in a similar angle.
From there, I can compare Adagio to one version of a real horse. Note- important differences may exist between your real horse photo, and your sculpture. For example, I really liked the nostril on this real horse, but I realize that its mouth is slightly open, due to the bit- something my sculpture won't have! I will take that into account, as I continue sculpting.
All in all, this technique can provide suggestions, but unless a real human mind is constantly analyzing all of the factors, sculpting purely from traced photos would give you a fairly warped horse in the end! The technique is all about having an idea for a new direction, and then going from there.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, we have:
Idea Four: The Real Deal
This step is the one, sadly, I am most guilty of under-utilizing. It is getting out there and spending time with real horses of the breed you are trying to sculpt! Or at least, a similar breed, if you are doing something rarer. Nothing beats the epiphanies you can have when studying horses live. Not just taking reference photos, which is good, but sketching, analyzing different angles; even grooming is a great learning tool, if the situation allows. Yeah, I need to get off my butt and call one or two Lippizan ranches!
Okay! There you have it- some ideas to push yourself, and your art. If you have any self critique ideas of your own that you'd like to share here, please feel free to do so in the comment section! It is always good to try to lift each other up, as artists.
Oh, and by the by, in case you are wondering just how small Adagio is (and how crazy I am!), here you go:
Yeah, I need to trim my nails!
*I sometimes wonder if my brain is trying to be more efficient with its tendency towards generalization, or if its simply lazy...?
I'm so sorry for missing a couple of weeks here! I *am* sculpting again (yay!) but I'm not quite ready to share (I know, boo!), so I was a little at a loss as to what to blog about. But surveying the landscape of late has given me fresh inspiration.
Being born & raised in Southern CA, fall colors were something at which I marveled. In December, two types of trees would turn (in their little squares of dirt, in between the concrete sidewalks and the street). Scattered dots of color that brightened the often bleak landscape; I loved them. But I never really understood the concept of autumn, until I spent a year living in Illinois. After seeing what fall really could be like, I knew I needed to live in a place with a bit more nature, and a few more seasons! I think I found the right mix here in WA; we have definite seasons, though they're a bit more mild than in the mid-west!
Anyhow… We are blessed to have six Japanese Maples that came with our new house. Five of them have turned (one of them is a little past its peak now!). Fantastic works of art, from our Creator's hand. Here are the four that are at their best:
This guy glows neon orange when the sky is gray (which is often!).
Our tallest tree- it was all green this summer:
The third back yard maple. It was dark red, and now has turned brilliant:
I call this last one "Firework!" It used to be green.
And all over the neighborhood, and in the parks and forests around here, I'm seeing much of the same thing. I'm going to enjoy it while I can! Thanks to the many evergreens up here, I don't have to worry about a completely bare winter, but I'm going to miss these colors when they go. Hope you're finding some of nature's art in your neck of the woods!
Look for an announcement here, on the BHH Blog, and on the new BHH Facebook page when everything is up & listed! The Palomino Pegasus appreciates your patience while we set up shop (a longer process than we initially thought), and hopes to see you there on Monday, October 15th!
I am most pleased and excited to unveil my big project that I've been working on for months now… decorative mobiles! Just a little something to hang in your office, in your kid's room, or over a crib! They add a bit of whimsy to any room, are cute to look at (but not overly-cutesty, I hope!), and are fun to see swaying and gently turning to any bit of circulating air.
To start with, I've got two main themes going with my mobiles- "Under the Sea" and "Fantasy." Since this is my studio blog with a strong connection to horses, I'm going to share my fantasy themed mobiles here! I'm thinking y'all are going to like my unicorns and pegausus (pegasai?). These are just a couple of quick shots- more will be shown when the Etsy store opens on 10/10, and you will be able to see even more 'sneak peeks' on the new Brightly Hude Home Facebook page! Come on over & "like" us to see what's always going on at Brightly Hude Home.
Enough talk- pictures now!
The Unicorn (yes, I did do the flaxen chestnut appy!).
The Pegasus Mobile (I've got a palomino one ready to be assembled!).
And Hubby's favorite… the Dragon. He still needs to be put together…!
They are all made of high quality wool-blend felt, are freehand quilted with hand-stiched details, and are filled with non-allergenic poly filling. They hang from wooden embroidery hoops painted with chalk paint and sealed with local beeswax.
I'm kind of late posting this Friday, as I’ve been busy working! I've been cutting and sticking and quilting and trimming like never before, as I’ve finally picked a date to open my Etsy store- October 10th! I thought it was a fitting date, as it is the anniversary of me being a sole-proprietor, as you may recall (number 11 this time- was #10 really almost a year ago? Crazy!).
Anyhow, today I'm happy to present to you a sneak peek of a couple of items that are in store for the store (there are a couple more pictured on my Home Blog, too!).
As I’ve been collecting embroidery hoops for the major item in my store, I decided that it would be fun to also use them in a more conventional manner- wall art. I’ve come up with a few fun designs, and since the sky is the limit, I’m sure I’ll come up with a few more in the months to come!
First up, the pony design, of course! She has a fairly straightforward design, though she did take a little longer than I'd anticipated (the first one is always like that!). Still, I think she's pretty cute, and can see her in all sorts of colors!
Her 6" hoop was painted a robin's-egg blue using chalk paint, and it was sealed with local beeswax.
Next up, the curled-up kitty design! Yes, this one does resemble Jeanie… are you surprised? But I shall do more cats in more colors & have fun mixing up the trims and such. Her 9" hoop was rubbed with chalk and sealed with beeswax. The bow is of vintage lace.
Okay! That's all for now. I've more work to do after I walk the dog and grab some dinner! And stay tuned for more fun pictures next week! I'm getting jazzed….
I'm still keeping busy, working on stocking the shop- I'm hoping to have things to show you next week- we'll see! Gotta quick blog post for ya'll today, just wanted to let y'all know that I'm now on Pinterest! Well, I've been there for a few weeks, but I didn't really want to announce it until I had a few pins up. I've got some fun home, craft & vintage stuff pinned there, and of course- horse stuff! I'm still working on building up my collection there, but as it is such a nifty way to organize and share photos, you can bet I'll be pinning much more as I go along! Click the pic for the link:
Wow, what a fun Wednesday! My friend Barb had the day off, so I played hooky and we headed down south to Albany, OR & Salem, OR, for a day of antiquing, food and carousels! I had been wanting to take her to the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum since my visit earlier this year. After finding a few treasures and having a tasty lunch at the local burger joint, we made our way to the museum where we wandered around for a bit longer than we meant to! It was just all so fascinating- a project that really touched our hearts.
You see, the Albany Carousel is a true community project. It is an in-progress, 52 animal carousel project that is being run & crafted by volunteers. And the time and attention these volunteers put into their pieces really shows!
The front of the museum, when you walk in the door, houses their painting department. In the front window their were several finished pieces slowly drying. They'd been painted in oils, and we were told that they needed to dry for some months before they got their heavy lacquer layer. Volunteers were busy painting away at pieces big and small.
To the left is a little room with vintage carousel pieces and displays. Carousels have been around practically forever, and were very popular in the Victorian era. In this room they have several neat examples of old pieces. I loved this large gray horse- so very animated!
From the vintage room we went to the main workshop where the pieces were being carved. They were in all stages of production- from completely finished like these pieces:
To others like this one who just needed paint:
Some were nearly there:
And all of the earlier stages were present too:
And of course, there were plenty of these guys floating around for reference!
One really cool item on display in this room was the mock-up of the carousel. Man, it is going to be huge! But just seeing how all of the pieces fit together is fascinating.
Another neat feature found in the room was a finished panel from the upper exterior of the carousel. It was pretty nifty to see its size, and see all of the lights lit up:
I put a few more pictures of the museum on my flicker account. Check it out to see more pieces in progress! And if you are ever in Albany, I *highly* suggest taking a trip to its cute downtown area and checking out this museum! For more info on the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum, or to get involved, donate or volunteer, please check out their website!
From Albany, we made our way north to Salem, OR where we stopped (and rode, of course) their community built carousel! The Salem Riverfront Carousel was a blast to check out- a finished community project along the same lines as the Albany carousel. This one was an all-horse 34 (I think that's what I counted) piece project with nods to the Oregon Trail (anyone else play that game as a kid?). It was very cute, very shiny, and Barb and I had a grand time. Here are a few shots of this finished work of art:
I noticed as I was getting off that they was a tiny rattie carved into the saddle of the horse next to mine. There wasn't enough room for a direct shot, but I managed to snap one through a mirror:
Good times! So, a little more antiquing, some tea and a slice of pie later, we were on our way home (well past Portland traffic time, thankfully!) happy for a day off spent in good company, seeing beautiful things. And I, of course, am very inspired.
As promised, here is one of the finished blue eyes I spoke about, in a previous blog post. I'd say adding a little more detail worked! It didn't all fire away, like I thought it might, so I'm happy. I may experiment sometime with adding a couple even 'bluer' streaks- we'll see! But for now, I'll be content will a pair of pretty baby blues on Mr. Alphonse.
Also- here's a reminder that his auction & the others' end today! The Jelli bisque ends at 6pm PST, Tootsie & Poppy end at 6:15, and Alphonse at 6:30. Best wishes to all & happy bidding!
Well, the beasties are coming along! I've been scritch-scratching away, and digging out my tiniest paint brushes; now they are nearly ready for glaze and one more trip (hopefully) into the fire! Just a little more left to do on each of them (Alphonse is the furthest along), but I thought y'all would like to see their progress!
Tootise & Poppy mainly need some hoof-work, and a little mane/tail stuff:
Alphonse basically needs nose-pink!
A close up of his detail- there's that eye from last week!
These pretties will be up at their respective auctions sometime next week (Tootise & Pop will be sold as a set). I'll also be including a bisque Jellibaby in the mix. There will be no reserve on any of them- you set the prices, and shipping will be included! I will make the announcement first to the Brightly Hude Yahoo group, then on to FB and the like. So stay tuned for shiny fun!
My trusty palette that I've been using since 2001… it's a popsicle holder!
You may remember a last year on this blog I did a post which mentioned my technique for painting blue eyes. I thought I'd revisit that now and go a little deeper, seeing as I'm painting a horse with two! I've been working to make my blue eyes even better over the years, and I'm pushing that a little more with Mr. Alphonse (who still needs a bit of scritching touch-up). Hopefully it will all work out! I took pictures so you could see, step-by-step, one of his little eyeballs becoming blue. I'll be sure to show a close up of him when he's all fired so you can see how he turned out….
Step #1 The first step is always starting with a blank canvas. I tend to do this before his paint is fired on, because it makes scraping it off so much easier! I make sure that the area where I want eye white is truly scraped well- I can leave a little gray around the edges of the rest, as I will be painting gray next.
Step #2 I outline the shape of the eyeball with dark gray, as blue-eyed horses often have a gray outline (the shade varies) to their eyes. It is handy to have lots of reference photos available, so you can check your work against reality. I do like using a darker shade of gray, for contrast.
Step #3 The gray 'circle' gets filled in with my blue/gray/white underglaze mix. I do overlap the dark gray a bit, for blending purposes. I tend to do 3 thin coats (or 2, if I got the paint a little thick). The trick is to get solid coverage without getting it too thick. I once had some blue just pop off an eye in the glaze fire because I went too crazy with layers!
Step #4 Blue eyed horses will often have darker blue and/or gray striations through their eyes. I use a pure (baby) blue for a few stripes in the middle, to bring this out. Here you can kind of see them drying (they dry rather quickly, so remember where you put them!).
Step #5 Back to dark gray! Traditionally, I've just done an outline of the pupil in a darker gray, before adding the black pupil on top. After re-examining my reference photos, I've decided to push the gray out a bit more, and add some striations using a thin, thin brush. Don't worry if a line gets a little too thick- you can use an x-acto to clean it up a bit, if you use a *very* light touch!
Step #6 I cleaned up my thin lines a bit, and added more gray to the middle of the pupil area.
Step #7 Add the pupil! Do look at photos to make sure you've got it lined up right. This will only take one coat of black, as black is quite opaque. Yay- you're done!
Okay- hope this was a help to any of you artists who aren't too familiar with blue eyes in ceramic, or that it was interesting enough to those who are just plain curious! Like I said, I will let you know how the extra little lines work out- if you can see them, or if they just fade into the eye after it fires. I'm hoping I made them dark enough to stay- we'll see!
Stay tuned for more detail-oriented painting posts as I finish up the claybodies!