Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mounting "Just Tryin' to Help" and "Tolte" progress

"Just Tryin' to Help" is a bronze comprised of two related sculptures, a filly and a man.  Both are 1/4 lifesized.  The man is looking directly at the filly when they're arranged correctly, but after seeing how other folks move them around, I decided they needed to be on a base to relate to each other properly.  So my basemaker, Diane Soper of Sistermaide Woodworking in Lewisburg OH, made beautiful bases for me (as usual!) and today we mounted the bronzes.  It took a lot more doing than you might expect - I hold the horse upside down in my lap while she makes a template for the bottom of the bronze, marking where the drilled and tapped holes are inside the bronze's base.  Then she marks the wood and drills the holes and we spend a lot of time trying to line up the hole in the bronze with the hole in the wood from the bottom of the wooden base.  It's a lot more trouble than it sounds like, believe me!  And because it's so much physical labor and hard on both of us, I think I may have the foundry (which is full of big, burly men!) put the base on "Tolte" since it will weigh between 60 and 80 lbs!  Anyway, here are pictures of my beautiful Bitsy baby when she was a little one, and my hubby John, in a scene from real life here on our farm.


And now more progress on "Tolte."  These pics show progress made as of 12/27/09.

The toothpicks sticking out of her are markers for joints (knee, hock, fetlock) and her eyes, to help me keep things measured correctly.  The small lump of clay at the top of her right shoulder is a note to myself to build that shoulder up more, since her weight is on it (this after a visit from my daughter, Jennifer Truett of Dancing Horse Farm, Lebanon OH - she's a dressage trainer and FEI level rider with a great eye for conformation).  I wasn't really at the point of building that shoulder up yet, but since Jennifer pointed it out, I put a bit of clay there to make sure I wouldn't forget to build it up.  I try to get her to look at my sculptures at least before they  go to  the foundry so someone who knows what to look for can make sure I haven't missed anything!

Yesterday when I went out to the studio, suddenly that right foreleg (the one that's on the ground) looked too far back.  I messed around with the muscle a bit to make sure my eye wasn't being fooled.  It wasn't!  So I had to rip that leg off - yes, that's what I said!  I had to remove the clay that was over the wax, then soften the wax by warming it with a hair dryer.  Once it was warm enough, I could remove the leg and the pad of wax that was holding it in.  Here's the hole after I removed the leg.

I cleaned out the hole, cleaned off the armature wax I would need the next batch of wax to adhere to, and moved the hole in the shoulder forward so the leg would be about 1/4 inch farther forward than it was before.  Here's the horse with her leg replaced.

I still h ave a lot of repair work to do.  I had to cover the shoulder with clay and build it up again (and add the height to it that indicates it's bearing weight, as my daughter pointed out) and repair the sculpting in the leg itself as well as making it stick to the board with some clay. 

The problem with working with wax is that wax chips (bits that get broken off while working with it or while removing clay that's touched it) get into everything, so I spent quite a while picking chips of wax out of the clay.  If I'd left them there, the bronze would have strange-looking bumps and flat spots here and there because of them, which wouldn't be good at all!

Here's the mare with her shoulder repaired and her leg in better shape.

I'm still not happy with her shoulder, but her foreleg is in a better position.  I will double-check the position of her hind legs now that there's enough clay on them for me to have a better idea how all of her parts are going to relate to each other.

I don't know if I've shown you how I melt the wax.  I use metal cake pans on electric griddles.  I have to be careful to not get it too hot.  The lump you see here is the wax I removed from her shoulder, which I used in her shoulder again once it had softened enough to work with.

And that's where I am now.  Her barrel needs to be filled out a bit on the bottom so it's evenly round and I have to check those back legs, but overall, she's getting into decent shape.  Before I get too detailed on her, I'll have to start her rider.  That's another blog for another day . . .

Monday, December 07, 2009

"Tolte" work in progress

This is the piece I wrote about before, when I was showing how I was doing a different kind of armature than I normally do.  She's a lot farther along now than these pictures show, but I haven't had time to take newer pics of her yet.

After working on her for a while, I realized that pushing on her to add clay was making her armature twist on its post.  I should've glued the post into the floor flange as well as the plumbing T.  Normally, wax should hold the T in place with no problem, but I'm pushing the piece pretty hard, so cold wax could crack and loosen.  Super Glue to the rescue!

I cut her belly open (not such a huge job since she's still mostly a silhouette,  not filled out much at all) to expose the bottom of the plumbing T and cleaned the wax off the metal at the bottom and up inside the T a bit so the glue would be attaching metal to metal, not metal to wax.  It wouldn't be as strong a seal if the glue attached metal to wax.  To get to the bottom of the T so I could put the glue inside the place where the T meets the pipe, I had to lay the horse over on her side.

Once I got the glue in place, using a toothpick to apply it, the piece could be set upright again and I could go back to work.  I think you'll see in the following pictures that I added clay to the wax around the bottom of the leg wires to help anchor them to the table.  There will be a whole patch of ground under the horse, so once I have that in place, the feet will be secure.  With my normal aluminum wire armature, I just staple the wires in place to be secure, but with this heavy copper wire, that's not possible.

I scraped back the clay at the shoulders and hips until I reached the wax so the wax I'm using to hold the leg wires in place will stay put.  Wax makes a strong bond to other wax, but its bond to clay is not as strong.  The legs are firmly in place now. 

The horse is still much thinner than she will be when she's finished, but I made sure I built the wax and clay up so her legs are coming out at the right part of her body.  They aren't set too far inside nor too close to the surface.  More clay will be added over the wax.  Here's how it looks:

I know it looks like the leg bones are too far back in the front leg that's on the ground and too far forward in both back legs, but I promise  you, once the muscle's on it, they will prove to be in the right place!  And if they aren't, I'll move them until they are!

Here she is after I covered the wax with clay:

She's still skinny, but we're making progress!  Here's how she looked a day later:

I've laid on enough clay to thicken her body quite a bit.  I know there are some proportions that are wrong for now, and the line of her back/loin/croup isn't the best, but I'm getting there!

I have clay down the length of some of her legs now.  I'll take more pictures and show you her progress again soon.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

From book to stage or film

We were in New York City for Thanksgiving (saw the Macy's Parade up close and personal!) and saw "Wicked" while we were there.  It was WONDERFUL!  Fabulous singers, interesting set design, good acting, great acoustics in the Gershwin Theater.  I was familiar with the play only from the soundtrack, which I love, being a singer myself.  I highly recommend the show.  It's great fun!

What I don't recommend is reading the book "Wicked" before seeing the play.  They bear nearly no resemblance to each other.  Those of you who know me at all know that I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, so I know that plays/films and the novels they come from often are quite different, but "Wicked" is SO different!  Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) is goodhearted in both of them until fate turns her around, but in the book, she's a political activist of sorts, fighting for the rights of Animals (sentient animals) among other things.  That isn't the case at all in the play, which is much more about the friendship between Elphaba and Galinda/Glinda.  The personalities and motivations of several of the characters is hugely different between the book and the play.

I have read a quote from the book's author, Gregory Maguire, that he's very pleased with how they interpreted his story in the play, and I'm sure it's more profitable as a play the way they wrote it than it would be if they'd stuck closer to the book.  I think they did the right thing in how they reinterpreted the story for the play.

Since seeing "Wicked" on stage and reading the story, I am not as critical as I used to be of Steve Kloves, who did the screenplays for all but one of the Harry Potter films.  Kloves has kept his screenplays (the ones we've seen so far anyway - all but "Deathly Hallows") much closer to the books, and his characters, except for Hermione in several of the films, have all  been very close to what J.K. Rowling wrote to start with.  (Kloves uses Hermione as an "information dump" in several pictures, often giving her lines that were the boys' lines in the books, which annoys me greatly.  There's no benefit in her saying those lines rather than the boys that I can see, and by doing this, Kloves has made me really dislike Hermione - which is not Emma Watson's or J.K. Rowling's fault.  Kloves gets all the blame for this.)

I haven't done close comparisons between books and the plays or films that resulted from them in quite a while, other than my obvious attention to the Potter books and films.  Seeing "Wicked" and then reading it really made me wonder if authors who see their work performed on stage or in film think "Why didn't I think of that" or "Why didn't I do it that way?" or "I'm glad they paid me a bundle for this because I can't stand what they've done to it!" 

J.K. Rowling has every reason to be pleased both artistically and financially with the results of her collaboration with Kloves, Warner Brothers, David Heyman, et al.  Maguire seems pleased with what they did with "Wicked," but the changes are so vast, I just have to wonder how he really felt when he first saw it? 

When I write, I see my stories as films in my head.  If any of them make it to the stage or film, will they resemble what I wrote at all?  And how will I feel about it?

If you want to read about the process of going from book to stage, there's a book called "Wicked, the Grimmerie" which tells how it went from idea to novel to screenplay that didn't work to play that did.  It's interesting reading.  I bought a used copy of it on Amazon and have greatly enjoyed it.

If and when I have to face one of my stories as a film or play, I'll let you know what I think about the changes they made!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The New Armature, step by step

I live in Ohio but my bronze foundry is in Oregon, which means I have to make my armatures very strong in order to withstand shipping that far.  Remember, UPS doesn't pay any attention when a box is marked "UP" or "Fragile"!!  If it won't withstand a drop of four feet onto concrete they won't pay for damages, so my pieces have to be built and packed as well as possible.

Because this piece (working title:  "Tolt") is so large (25" high by 28" long, IIRC), I don't think the normal aluminum armature would be strong enough, so I did a slight variation on Karen Kasper's type of armature.  I used a galvanized pipe screwed into a floor flange on the bottom and BOLTED, not screwed, to the working surface so it won't break loose in shipping (that happened once - it was a nightmare but the piece was saved anyway!).  A galvanized T is put on top of that - I'm using 3/8" pipe here.  I used two 45 degree "street elbows" on the T, which is the beginning of Karen's style of armature.  I used 1/4" thick copper wire for the basic framework and the brace for the neck.  Instead of dipping the armature pieces in wax as Karen does, I put the warmed wax on with a putty knife.  The surface is lumpy but that shouldn't be a problem.


I built up softened wax (warmed in a baking pan on top of an electric griddle set to 200 degrees at first, then lowered to "warm" when the was started to get warm) to bulk up the form and strengthen the armature.  I'll still be able to move the armature a little bit once I get that done, but it won't be long before it will be locked in place.  I'll make adjustments as I add wax and clay.

The bump and dip in front of the tail (to the left) indicate where the horse's buttocks should end.  I hope you can see that I stopped short of building the wax that far back.  I did that to allow room to install the leg armature (that comes later with this type of armature) and to insert toothpicks for the length and width of the back of the horse. Toothpicks don't insert into wax well.

I use an oil-based clay called plastilene (some brands are marked "plasticene").  This brand is Classic Clay, and this is the soft, tan version.  They have a chocolate brown clay as well, but I can't see detail in it as well as I can in the light clay.  I have carpal tunnel, so soft clay is much easier on my hands.

Classic comes in 12 lb. slabs.  I get my husband to cut it in thin slices with a machete - honestly that's the best tool for the job, we've found after a lot of experimenting.  If the slices are too thick for me to manage easily, I run them through a pasta machine (with the noodle cutter removed) to condition, thin and soften the clay.

Shown above is another softening method - a light bulb shining on the clay.  I often use a Styrofoam cooler with a light bulb inside it (15 watts - it doesn't have to be high wattage) with the sliced clay in trays stacked in the cooler.  This softens the clay so it's malleable and easy to apply to the armature.

Here I've laid clay over the wax and pressed it in hard.  If you don't press it in, you'll get soft spots that may sink later on, so if you can't press it with your thumbs or hands, use a wooden tool to press it in well.  Unlike water-based clay, it won't damage the clay if you have air pockets, because this clay is never fired.  (Water-based clay with air pockets in it usually breaks in the kiln.)  I've included the pop can on my sculpture stand so you can get an idea of the scale of this piece.


This is the view from the front.  I'm building up the silhouette of the horse and will insert toothpicks to show me how thick I need to make the various parts.  Each of my sculptures is made to measure, an actual scale model of the horse, until I get about two-thirds of the way through sculpting.  Then I let the art take over and the horse may not be to scale anymore, but he will be more dynamic and lifelike than he would've been if I'd stuck strictly to the measurements.  Other people can do scale models that turn out beautifully, but that's just not the way I work.  My pieces are more like an impression of reality than tight reality.  I don't do a lot of veining because the horse is normally in motion, and you can't see the veins clearly on a moving horse.  I figure the veins being detailed stops the motion of the horse, so I don't do them except the big Y-shaped one on the face, and I don't always include that.


Here you can see the layers of clay I've added on teh back and near the bottom of the chest.  I will press them together with a wooden tool then blend the edges with my thumbs or a tool.  The toothpics are markers showing where I'm going - how thick each part needs to be.  There are none on the  head and neck because I'll do those later.

Here the little Icelandic mare is built up some more - yes, her back is not shaped right, but I'll get there, don't worry!  She will have a saddle and rider, so I don't have to be as careful with the shape of her back as I would for a "nekked horse" :D  (a horse at liberty).

She's gotten thicker side to side as well as vertically.  I will start building her thickness after I get her silhouette roughed in at about the right size.

Showing the layers of clay I've added to her neck and head.  I'm not worrying very much yet about getting their shape right  - I'm just laying on clay in an approximation of the way it should be.  Once I have the body bulked out to the end of the toothpics, as it is on her back, chest and rump right now (that's why you don't see those toothpicks anymore - they're surrounded by clay), I'll make sure the clay is well pressed-on, then I'll beat it with a small board (a 1" x  1/2" works for me) to compact it (yes, I will!).  I'll smooth it out with my thumbs and with tools and then I'll get serious about shaping it the way it should be to be the horse I'm sculpting.

If you have questions, feel free to ask me.  Please don't post this anywhere without giving me credit - this page is COPYRIGHT Lynda Sappington 2009 and will be used both on my website (Equine Art by Lynda Sappington) and in the third edition of my how-to-sculpt book, "Sculpting 101: A Primer for the Self-taught Artist" Second Edition (available from me as well as The Compleat Sculptor, NYC, various libraries, Amazon.com and other bookstores).

I will be teaching a sculpting workshop in New York next May (see sidebar for info).  I won't be teaching how to make this particular armature, but the lessons will be similar - some demonstration, some explanation and as much personal help as needed.  If you'd like to try sculpting or would like to improve your skills, come to my workshop!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The value of a critic or gallery owner as arbiter of the marketplace

Fellow equine artist Juliet Harrison posted a question on Facebook asking for discussion about the value of a critic/gallery owner as arbiter of the marketplace, which prompted me to write this post.

After many years in the art business, I think critics and gallery owners look for what's new and different rather than what will appeal to people and make them want to live with that piece in their homes.  They look for the trendy, hoping they'll be at the forefront of something new that changes how we look at art, perhaps, rather than the classic style that is proven to stand the test of time.

Look at what's stood the test of time in equine art - Herring, Munnings, Remington, etc. They're not "edgy" or "hip" and I don't believe they were in their day. I don't know what critics back then said about their work, but today, they wouldn't get nearly the good press that some idiot doing a painting of Mary, mother of Jesus, covered in elephant dung, will get (and yes, that was a real so-called "artwork" that got lots of critical acclaim a few years ago. Yuck.) Yet Munnings, Herring and Remington's work holds up and holds value all these years later.

IMO, art critics' standards of art don't apply to the kind of art you might want to LIVE with rather than what you'd find in a museum.  And IMO, gallery owners know they will get more press by carrying edgy, risk-taking art rather than beautiful traditional art, so that's what I believe a lot of them look for.

We artists have to create what's in our hands, eyes and hearts. Our love of our subjects and our passion for our work will show and those with a grain of sense will buy it long before they'll buy some of that trendy stuff.

My horses aren't tightly detailed because I'm portraying a horse in motion.  You're not that likely to notice the vein on the inside of a real horse's forearm while he's working unless he's a race horse and every single vein is standing out on his body, so I don't sculpt a lot of those details.  That and various other things about my work makes people tell me my horses look like they can breathe, like they can trot right off their bases, and that's what I'm after in my work.  I want to create art people enjoy living with, work that tugs their heartstrings and moves them, work that evokes wonderful memories, and work that looks alive, not frozen in bronze.  That's one of the reasons I use patinas that are as close as possible to real horse coat colors rather than the traditional French brown patina.

My work is traditional, not "trendy," so hopefully it won't look dated in twenty years the way the trendy stuff will.  Remember some of the artworks or knick-knacks that were popular in the 1960s or 1970s or even the '80's?  Today they would look dated unless they were classic in style.  So the critics can keep their criticism and the galleries can keep their edgy art - I'll stick to doing the classical style work that makes my heart sing.  My passion shows in my work, and that's what appeals to collectors, IMO.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sculpting Workshop with Lynda Sappington

May 21-23, 2010, 9AM to 5 PM, $250 for the 3 day workshop at Marienthal Country Inn in Eden NY (near Buffalo), a Bed and Breakfast that's offering a 30% off any room for students. Rooms start at $30/night. The workshop will be held in a converted church that's on the property. For details, see www.MarienthalCountryInn.com

When you get to that site, click on the "workshops" link at the top. The info on my class isn't on there yet, but should be by Monday Oct. 26. However, the application will work with or without my class info being on the page, so feel free to go ahead and sign up!  Class size is limited to 15.

In the workshop, we'll cover building armatures, measuring the subject (horses, but the same principal applies to other subjects), how to work with clay and building the sculpture. I will discuss mold-making and casting resin and bronze, but there won't be time in this class to do any mold-making or casting.

If you want to get a head start on the class, order my book, "Sculpting 101: A Primer for the Self-taught Artist" by contacting me at Lynda@TheSculptedHorse.com.

I hope to see you there!

2010 Dancing Horse Farm Art Show

Entry Deadline: March 19, 2010

All works must feature a horse or horses.
Divisions: Painting, Drawing, Mixed Media, Photography, Sculpture, with separate divisions for Professional and Amateur artists.

Full entry information is at www.TheSculptedHorse.com/prospectus.pdf. You will need the Adobe Reader to read the Prospectus and entry forms.

Venues: May 1-2, 2010, Dancing Horse Farm, Lebanon OH as part of their Spring Fling Horse Show and Festival. NEW THIS YEAR!!! May 3-16, Picture This Gallery, Lebanon OH.

Awards: Ribbons for first to third place in each division. $100 “Best of Show” award.

Questions? Please contact DHFShow@yahoo.com

Lemon Laptop and sloppy filing by Yahoo

I've written various places about the troubles I've been having with my BRAND NEW (as of May 2009) Toshiba laptop.  IIRC, first there was the problem of the screen going black whenever I'd pick it up.  It would come back right away when you touched a key, but still, that isn't supposed to happen.  Then there was the fact that the cursor would jump all over the screen uncontrollably when I tried to use it in the car (with my hubby driving - I get a lot of writing and editing done on trips).  We took it to the certified Toshiba repair place (and none of this is their fault - they've been wonderful about trying to fix it) and the first time it went in, they replaced the touchpad and the hard drive.  In a brand-new computer, mind you!  The blacking out continued and there was some other problem that escapes me at the moment, so it went in for repair again and they replaced the mother board.  When I got it back that time, one USB port wouldn't work and recently, the right mouse key only works intermittently.  So we took it in again and found out that ALL Toshiba Satellite laptops of that model have been recalled and Toshiba will repair it at the factor.  Excuse me, folks at Toshiba, but there isn't a lot left to repair after you replace the mother board, the hard drive and the touch pad, is there???  *sigh*  I'd like to know at what point they plan to send me a new computer - maybe at THIS point.

Oh, as for the cursor problem - we got a different power converter for the car that goes straight from whatever power usually is to that same format (I don't remember if it's DC to DC or AC to AC - I can't keep them straight).  The old converter went from AC to DC (or the other way round???) and that worked for my old laptops but not for this new one for some reason.  The new one is a Vista machine - I don't know if that makes any difference.  My old one was an XP Pro.

We've had several Toshiba laptops - my hubby has one that's about eight years old and is so heavy it's hard to carry around, but it's still running - slowly compared to new ones, but running!  I use my laptops hard, carrying them all over the house, to art shows, on trips, etc.  They're meant to be mobile and I use them that way.  We've been pleased with our Toshiba computers up until this one.  And I love this new computer except for all the problems it's been giving me!  Hence my griping here.

As for sloppy filing by Yahoo - I keep files on my Yahoo mail account for emails concerning various of my projects (such as the Dancing Horse Farm Equine Art Show or books and stories I'm consulting with my beta readers about), special emails from close friends, emails that I've sent myself to note research I'm doing for stories or sculptures, etc.  Every so often, Yahoo will say I have more unread emails than show in the Inbox listing.  When I look down the list in the Inbox, I may find a bunch of spams have inserted themselves in the Inbox list.  Other times, I'll see one of the files highlighted and the extra "new" emails are there.  That happened this morning.  When I opened that file, imagine my shock when I saw a LOT of e's I'd DELETED had been stored in that file!  These are e's I'd read and didn't need, so I hit the "delete" key and expected them to go to the trash folder.  So I went through all my folders and found some of them in pristine condition, but the ones I haven't used very often had up to about 30 trash emails in them!  I have no idea how or why this happened, but if you file some of your emails on Yahoo, you'd better check your folders to see what's really there!

I wish I knew an easy way to save what's in those folders to my hard drive and get them off Yahoo.  I don't know how to do that except by opening every one and saving it as a Word document or something, and that would take an awfully long time with some of these files.  If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to  hear them!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Random weirdness, etc.

Random weirdness - I typed the URL for my blog into the URL box and it redirected me TWICE to a Warner Brothers page!  Then when I tried it again, I got a dropdown list showing my blog's address and my blog's address with a redirect to the Warner Bros. "landing page"!  What's up with that?!

More random weirdness - Today's one of those days when spam shows up in my Yahoo inbox sprinkled randomly throughout all the e's there, yet they don't always drive up the "unread mail" count.  Why is that, and why are there some days, just every so often, when all these spams just dump themselves into my inbox rather than the spam box?

Etc. - I've been getting emails from readers of "Star Sons" wanting to know when the second book will be out.  Well . . . I've been stuck in rewrite-land, but the biggest problem is that I still have not come up with a decent title for it!  But I'm slugging away at it and hope to have it published by late winter/early spring.

Meanwhile, the HP story is coming along nicely, but once I get to a place where I've caught up with the ideas I had for the first part of that novel, I'm gonna concentrate on Star Sons 2.  SS2 began as a Nanowrimo novel ("National Novel Writing Month," which is November each year - writers who take the challenge try to write 50,000 words of a novel during November.  I got 90,000 words of SS2 done during Nanowrimo - it's now over 120,000 words, IIRC).  Finishing the revisions in November would be poetic or something.  :D

Off to do my writing for the day . . .

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Entry Information on Dancing Horse Farm Art Show

What:  Fourth Annual Dancing Horse Farm Equine Art Show

Where:  May 1-2 2010 @ Dancing Horse Farm, Lebanon OH as part of their Spring Fling annual horse show and festival; May 3-16, 2010 @ Picture This Gallery in the heart of historic Lebanon OH

When:  Entry Deadline:  March 19, 2010.  Other dates are shown in the prospectus.

Who:  Professional and amateur artists and photographers.  Divisions include Painting, Drawing, Mixed Media, Photography and Sculpture.  All work must be ORIGINAL and all must be the work of the entering artist.  No works in progress will be accepted.  Jurying will be done via .jpgs, so you won't have to ship your work unless it's accepted.

How:  Entry information is here:  http://www.thesculptedhorse.com/prospectus.pdf

Awards:  Ribbons for first to third place in each division.  Best in Show Award:  $100.

Questions?  Please contact DHFShow@yahoo.com

2010 Dancing Horse Farm Art Show News, etc.

The Dancing Horse Farm art show will run May 1-17, with it opening at the farm as usual, being in a lovely gallery in the heart of historic Lebanon Ohio from May 3-17!  The Picture This Gallery is partnering with Dancing Horse Farm to give our equine art show the best possible venue, which will include a lot more foot traffic than it gets at the farm!  So THANK YOU Picture This Gallery and owner Becky George Gebhart!

May 14-16, I plan to be in the Cincinnati Dressage Tradition show with Ricos.  May 18, I'll start packing up the unsold art at Picture This to return to the artists. May 20, I'll be traveling to New York where I'll be teaching a sculpting workshop May 21-23.  Heading home May 24, collapsing May 25 . . . but it should be an exciting month!

I will have the prospectus for the show online ASAP - watch for an announcement that it's available!  (It could be online later today - stay tuned!)  And get your equine art ready for our show!

Somebody book me the first week in June at some lovely beach in Florida, okay?  I'm gonna need it!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lack of sleep

Why is it that my creative juices always flow the best when I'm asleep?  If I'm truly immersed in a story I'm writing, I will dream entire scenes and hear the dialog in each character's voice.  I can even rerun the scene in my dreams and edit or revise the dialog.  But when I wake up . . . I'm exhausted because I've worked all night!  I relish these times when my creative juices get fired up that way because that means I'm going to be very productive creatively during the day, but it sure would be nice if I could get some restful sleep at least part of the night!

Right now, my creative juices are flowing on a new HP story as well as trying to design a costume for my horse and myself for the Halloween show at Dancing Horse Farm (where both horse and rider are required to be in costume - argh!).  I've also gotten the go-ahead from my commission customer for the Icelandic Horse portrait she's hired me to do.  She's decided to go larger than we originally planned, which means the horse will be 13 1/2 inches tall at the withers, the biggest one I've done so far.  With the rider on, I'm wondering if I'll even be able to lift it when it's bronze!  Hopefully I will, but the best part is that being that big, the tack and the facial details of the rider will be SO much easier to do!  Working at 1/8 to 1/6 lifesized as I normally do, those parts are teensy-tiny!!  So I'm excited about working that big and seeing how well I can capture the horse and rider with that much room for good detail!  And my Andalusian stallion sculpture is ready to be cleaned up, finally.  I've had to fight with the mane and tail to get them where I wanted them, and then when I thought it was finished, I noticed that one hoof was smaller than the others.  Unless you sculpt, you have no idea how hard it is to add about one millimeter of clay to a part and get it smooth and shaped right and perfect.  I had to resculpt the whole hoof to make it work - it was about an hour's work, just on that one hoof, but now it matches the others!  Yay!  Now if I could just get a good night's sleep!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Resin casting/mold making

I get all kinds of questions via my website from those who are just learning to sculpt.  Today I got one from a retired dentist who is using his moldmaking and casting skills from dental work for his scuptures.  He wanted to know how to make molds for sculptures.  Well, gee, that's a wee bit more than I can do in an email - it's a weekend-long class, one I'm not really qualified to teach since I'm only an expert moldmaker for one-part molds (open-face molds for reliefs).  I decided long ago that it would take too much of my time to learn how to make 3-D molds properly.  I made a few, did some casting and decided I'd rather sculpt and pay someone else to do the casting!  (That said, I am looking for a reasonably priced resin caster - please email me if you do such work so we can discuss what I need and whether you're the person I'm looking for!)  I told the person who wrote me that I took a moldmaking class at Syn-Air in Chattanooga TN years ago and I highly recommend them - but then I looked for their website so I could see if they're still doing classes and they've been sold!!!!  ARGH! 

If you use SynAir products for art, you can still buy them through your local distributor or via Puma Polymers  who are now producing the Pour-A-Kast and Pour-A-Mold I like to recommend to beginners because they're so easy to use.

While looking for another site offering classes and materials, I found http://www.brickintheyard.com/training.html which includes a link to quite a few instructional YouTube videos as well as information on classes they provide.  I learned something new while watching the first video, and that's always fun!  So I guess I'll be recommending them to those who ask for such information in the future - I sure found their videos to be well-done and interesting.  And now I'm itching to play with some of those new products I saw used in the videos!  NO NO!  Bad artist!  Stick with the current projects until they're FINISHED and THEN you can play.  *sigh*

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Putting on an art show

For the fourth year in a row, I'm putting together an equine art show at Dancing Horse Farm in Lebanon, Ohio.  The first year, the show was part of the farm's Grand Opening celebration and was a children's art-only show.  We had such great entries from kids from three years old thruogh eighteen year olds.  We gave fun prizes donated by local merchants and the K-12 Gallery in Dayton OH.  The second year, at what has become Dancing Horse Farm's Annual Spring Fling Horse and Equine Art Show, the artists invited to enter the show were all from the Equine Art Guild, one of the groups I belong to.  Last year,  we opened it up to anyone who wanted to enter, but we didn't advertise it widely.  We had entries from the Equine Art Guild and others, including one entry from The Netherlands!  We've had Canadians in the previous show, so it's been an international show for a couple of years now.

Next year's show will have an interesting new wrinkle - Jennifer Truett, owner of Dancing Horse Farm (and my daughter) and I have been talking to the owner of a lovely art gallery in the heart of the historic district of Lebanon.  We're working out details now, but it looks like once the Spring Fling weekend is over, the art show will be moved to this gallery for a couple of weeks, which will expose it to a lot more traffic!  The lady who owns the gallery couldn't be nicer and it's a beautiful gallery in a great area.  There should be lots of traffic through the show, which hopefully will lead to good sales!

I don't know why I consider doing all the work involved in putting on an art show to be "fun" but I do - silly me!  I'm really excited.  This is the first time we've had the prospectus and other things lined up early enough to get good coverage in magazines!  I'm hoping to get some editorial coverage as well as listing the show itself.  Cross your fingers that I can pull this off! 

Monday, September 07, 2009

Writing vs. Rewriting

My HP story was off to a really good start - great opening, good scenes, good plot, everything moving along well when I realized I needed to explain some stuff.  Enter the flashback, which I hoped would be brief!  Unfortunately, I needed to share more detail in that flashback than was reasonable, and the flashback became unwieldy.  I finally had to stop working on the story.  I couldn't get it to move forward the way I wanted it to.  I liked it less and less, although I still loved the beginning of it.  If not for that beginning, I would've started over days ago!  I had even gone to the extent of writing out notes on the plot on note cards, something I've never found necessary or useful other than to keep track of character names and who died when, that kind of thing, but even that didn't help. 

Finally, I had to admit there was nothing to do but start over. So yesterday, I didn't even open the old file so my mind wouldn't be distracted by that truly lovely opening!  It took a bit of doing to get started, but once I got the story going, it rolled along quite nicely!  I wrote ten pages (and that's single-spaced!) yesterday!  I usually write much faster than that, but I've been truly stymied for a while.  I just couldn't bear to give up the lovely opening I'd written for the other one.  I will see if I can use it in this version, but if I can't, that's okay.  I'll keep the old version to look at from time to time and perhaps I'll find a way to use those opening paragraphs someplace else someday.  I sure hope so - they just SANG!!  But they were singing the wrong song for this fic!

When I get to the point of needing to stop writing today, I hope to have enough energy left to get back to polishing my novel, which I really need to finish.  I got frustrated with it and put it aside so I wouldn't ruin it by working on it while I was annoyed with it.  Sometimes that's the best thing to do for both writing and art.  If you're annoyed by what you're working on, that isn't the time to be working on it, IMO.

I got the mane finished on "Feather" today.  I need to rename him - "Feather" is his name as a Pegasus.  As a stallion, he should have some other name, but I don't know what.  Something else to ponder . . .  Anyway, I just have to finish detailing his tail and clean him up and I can ship him to the foundry, YAY!  I'm eager to see him in bronze.  I think he's going to be a really nice piece!

Happy Labor Day, y'all!  As a British friend commented today when he wished me a happy "Labour Day," it really is an oxymoron, since most folks spend the day doing anything but labor!  As for me, I'm plugging away at my usual work, sculpting and writing, while my husband finishes tearing down an old shed that's needed to be taken down for years.  He's nearly done with it.  The yard already looks much nicer with that eyesore gone!

Whether you "labor" or play or sleep all day, have a happy day!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Poor neglected blog

I'm a bad, bad blogger!  I've been so busy with my new horse (Ricos, who I got at the end of October - he's the one I'm riding in my new picture here) and learning to ride dressage that EVERYTHING else has been neglected!  Now I'm back to sculpting and writing and blogging as well!  And I'm still riding! 

My second novel is languishing in the land of neglect for the moment.  Other inspiration has hit me and I'm pursuing that for the moment.  The other inspiration is another original story (novel?  Perhaps) and a new HP story I'm writing to keep my fans happy and to help publicize the second novel when it's published. I'm venturing in a new directions with the HP story, which will be a good way for me to polish different ways of doing things before I get very far on the new original story.

I've nearly finished my Andalusian stallion sculpture, which will be offered as both a stallion and as a Pegasus.  I'll get one of the bronzes sent to me with no patina and will create wings that will fit him precisely, then mark on the bronze where they go.  After that, the foundry will know how to mount them the way I want.  I've tried every way I can think of to create an armature for a winged horse that would stand the vibration of shipping (I'm in Ohio, my foundry's in Oregon), but every one I came up with just wasn't stable enough.  Doing the wings separately seems to be the better idea.  You can see pics of him in progress on this page: http://www.thesculptedhorse.com/feather.html

My sculpting book, "Sculpting 101:  A Primer for the Self-taught Artist" Second Edition, ISBN# 978-0-9723805-3-9, is now published.  You can order it directly from me or from Amazon or other book sites, and from brick-and-mortar bookstores as well for $19.95 plus s/h. has been completely updated and has new chapters covering how to pack a raw sculpture for shipping, how to safely ship bronzes to customers and how to build a carriage.

I'm now on Facebook and Twitter, if you'd like to follow me there.  Just look for "Lynda Sappington."  That's me!