Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beginning of the end - I hope!

I'm getting close to finishing this piece, HUZZAH!  I just need to add a bridle on the horse and do the wrists and hands of the rider, thicken the tail a bit and make the rider's eyes match better - they're a tiny bit off.  Then I have to sign it and I'm finished!!
The horse's tail is nice and thick-looking from the back, but from the side, it isn't quite bushy enough.  Like most Icelandics, this mare has a really thick mane and tail.  I think the mane looks pretty good, but the tail needs to be thicker and needs more movement as seen from each side.  I'll work on that today.

The "splash" you see behind that right hind foot is necessary for support and strength for the piece.  In real life, that foot would be flying through the air like both left feet, but the horse needs more than one point of contact with the base in order to be strong enough to stand without bending the supporting leg.  The "splash" of dirt may be modified a bit, I don't know yet.  It's easy to sculpt them in relief, but doing them 3-D, it's a lot harder to get the look I want.

The stirrups are on the working surface (the board) in front of the piece in the photo above.  They won't be attached until the piece is in bronze because they are too delicate to cast properly.  They will be hand made for each sculpture, just as the bit rings, stirrup leathers and reins will be.  I think I'm going to remake the stirrups out of Super Sculpey so they'll ship more safely.

See how nice and thick her tail looks from behind?  I need to get that feeling from each side too.  Her ears barely show from all the flying forelock in real life.  I'm still trying to decide if I want to put more forelock on her to hide more of her ears or not.  What do you think?  I'm open to suggestions!

The rider's neck looks a bit rough because I haven't cleaned this sculpture up with chemicals yet.  When I finish, I'll use a small filbert paint brush and some orange cleaning liquid straight from the bottle (I'll squirt it into a small bowl I can dip the brush in) and paint the whole thing with the cleaning liquid.  That chemical will melt the surface of the clay just a tiny bit, smoothing out some places and getting rid of the crumbs as well.  I may still need to do some clean-up with tools after I use the chemical, but the chemical will show me where I need to do that.

She looks like my customer, which pleases me a lot since I haven't done a sculpture of someone with an open smile before.  Every picture I have of her, she's got a happy smile on her face, so that's what I used.

I have stirrup leathers on the inside of the rider's legs, cut off at the point where they would not be against hte leg in real life as they stretch to support the stirrups.  The foundry will add flattened copper wire the width of the leathers I've started when they put the stirrups on.

If you have questions or comments, feel free to write me!  Thanks for your interest.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Ahhh, that's better . . . "Tolt" and "Star Sons 2" news!!

I finally saw what was bothering me about the rider's face.  I knew something was a bit off, but I couldn't quite figure out how to fix it.  Then I saw it.  The eyes were set too high (by about 1/16th of an inch), and the place where the nose dips in toward the eyes was set in the wrong place (by an even smaller margin).  So today I put dabs of clay in the places where the eyes were, smoothed that out and started over - not my favorite thing to do, especially on something as delicate and difficult to create as the eyes on this rider.  But I did it, and revised the shape of her cheekbones somewhat, her temples and browbone, the nose, and even brought the brim of the helmet lower and trimmed some off the top of the helmet.  I like it a lot better now.  I think I need to broaden the lower cheeks and jaw just a tiny bit on each side, and then it just might look like my customer!  YAY!  Here are some pictures to show what I accomplished today.

I know her helmet still needs straps, but I'm not going to add them until I'm satisfied with her face.

As you may be able to see from the pictures above, and will certainly see in the picture below, I also started working on the mane, getting the masses of the flying mane and forelock somewhat defined on one side, as well as filling in holes and undercuts so it will cast well.

I think this will be a beautiful piece!  I'm excited to see it coming together so well!

In other news, I've finished the revisions on my second "Star Sons" novel (titled "The Gathering Alliance") and am printing it out right now for a final read-through to make sure I haven't missed anything in proofreading.  The cover art is finished and there are only a few details to complete before it will be ready for publication.  HUZZAH!!!  I'll post ordering info here and on Facebook and my Yahoo groups when it's ready to go.  It will be available from me as well as from Amazon.com, BN.com and various other outlets. You will also be able to order it in your local bookstore with its ISBN number.  I'm excited to have this finished!  YAAAY!!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Evolution of a Face

As I posted on my fan page on Facebook, I had to cut the face off of my rider and redo it.  I thought you might enjoy seeing how a face evolves - at least, the way I do it.

My rider started out with just a piece of clay shaped vaguely like a head, with eyes, nose and mouth just roughed in to give me a place to start.  I left her like that while I worked on her body and clothes, the horse and saddle.  Now I'm back to working on the rider's face.

The face I first put on any figurative sculpture will look odd because I make the bone structure very prominent, particularly the cheekbones.  It's also my habit to start with more clay than I need and carve down to where the portrait is.  Above you can see I've started refining the features on the left side of the rider's face.

Here you can see the roughed in features and the basic shape of the head from the side.  It isn't too big yet, but it's heading that way.

At this point (a week later than the previous pics), I've added and subtracted and pushed and pulled the clay trying to get the features placed where I want them.  Some of it's coming together, but the cheekbones are, as usual for me early in a figurative piece, too prominent and too high.  As you can see, the head is now too big, although I haven't enlarged the helmet enough yet for it to look like a real helmet fitted properly to her head.  It's mostly a brim on the skull I'd made before at this point.  The nose is too long too.  This is a petite lady with nice cheekbones, but hers aren't this extreme.  This is just the way I do it as I try to find my way to the portrait. 

This is a couple of days later, more refined and looking more human, but the head is still too big.  I just  haven't noticed it's too big because I'm focusing on it too much.  The lumpy clay in front of the rider is the beginning of the flying mane on the horse.

Side view from the same day.  I like the ear but it's a little big for her.  I'm not happy with her nose, it just isn't right yet.  The head is still too big, and this is the day I realized that fact.  To say I was unhappy is a bit of an understatement.  *sigh*

After I realized the head was too big, I spent some of that time away from it trying to figure out what to do about it.  I finally realized I was going to have to cut off the entire face.   Argh.

Yes, it WAS painful to cut off her face!  And then I had to cut off both sides of her head (two nice ears!  WAAH!) and trim the back of it too!  But it certainly improved the piece.  After several hours of work, I was pretty well pleased with how she looks.  I used minerettes (tiny tools - see picture below) and a small, firm cone-shaped rubber clay shaper to do most of the work.  The tools near the top of the picture (below) are normal-sized tools.  There's a pop can to the left of the minerettes to give you an idea of their size.  The metal one has a squared off loop at one end and a pear-shaped loop at the other.  The two wooden ones are about half-again the thickness of round toothpicks.  The top wooden one has a curved blade shape carved in each end.  One of them has gotten rough from use (plastilene can grind down even metal tools over time).  The bottom tool has wire tips that end in flattened spoon shapes.  The wire isn't much bigger than straight pin wire.  I got these in Loveland, Colorado - I haven't seen them in catalogs, but if you search for them, you might find them.  I don't often need them, but sometimes they are exactly the right thing to use.

And so I made a new face on my rider.  Here's where she is today:

She still needs some work, but she looks a lot more like my customer now!  You may notice she has an open-mouthed smile now.  In every photo I have of my customer, she has an open-lipped smile which is very pretty but darned hard to sculpt.  I tried giving her a closed-mouth smile so it would sculpt more easily but gave up on it.  The horse is flying and she should look like she's having fun, so an open smile it is!

I don't have the right lighting in the studio to show the detail of her eyes, but they look better than they do in these photos.  I'm going to re-measure to make sure I have them at the right height.  From the side they look fine but from the front, they look too high-set.  Argh . . .

The mare has ears, a forelock and complete mane now, and I've started detailing it.  That's a lot more fun than fighting with tiny details in the face, but boy, fighting with those details is worth it.

Hope you've enjoyed watching "the evolution of a face"!  I'll post new pics as she continues to evolve.