Monday, November 30, 2020

Decisions, Decisions

Five equines, four sculptors, three real contenders;  toying with two colors, choosing one winner.  Is it ever too early to be trying to decide which victim I'll attempt to paint for NMPM?!  In theory any time is right!  But there are much deeper questions.  It isn't exactly easy turning the age I did, this year of all years.   IF I choose to paint (and it is not a given!), this post shows part of my decision process.

Decisions, decisions.  Why are most of the colors in my imagination roan?  Is that the next level of difficulty for this artist?  Am I ready for an action model, now that I've had 3 years of standing (well, almost standing!) ones?  You waited a year for Orion!  Didn't you want something different, something unusual, which is why you got him in the first place?  But others are even more unusual...

Orion, Arab stallion by M. Malova

This shot shows Orlik as very similar to Brasenose.  Orlik's legs are thicker and his butt is a little longer behind.  That mane!  Margarita painted him in dapple grey, I saw it and, god help me, I was smitten.

I still can't figure out whether it was the perfection of that color on that model or whether it was my long-held detestation of grey finally revolting on me.  Unplowed fields! 
Grey is a perfectly good color for a driving horse (for an Orlov Trotter, classic!) and it is also a perfect next-step-up in terms of my painting skill.  (Following the She Moved To Texas blog, with its grey horse, didn't hurt... :)  But even if I don't choose grey, he'd look fantastic as a chestnut,...  or a bay,...  or a roan...
{Editor's Note.  I'm putting this picture here again in an attempt to find out whether Blogger really does pick the Fourth picture for its thumbnail.  Ever since Halloween, Blogger has been unpredictably and freakishly Not picking the first picture, despite years of doing so.  No amount of web research has given me answers.} {P.S. It worked!!  :)}

For years I've been slowly narrowing down on a color for this girl, Sarah Rose's Moxie.

I finally found it.  Does that mean she's next?
Photo by Sarah Sanderson

Not 5 minutes after I took Moxie's above picture, she effectively removed herself from the running by breaking the near hind.  :(  I can mend it,... I think,... but oh so much more work.  (I'd put her back in her dust bag, but I was moving too fast and carelessly with a slippery, fragile package.  I lost grip and she fell to the carpet.  Unlike Breyers, resins don't bounce.)

I named my Hillingar after a word found in Mary O'Hara's biography (yes, that's THE Mary O'Hara, of My Friend Flicka).  The name Shinar referred, in Mary's mind, to the country you went to when you were swept away by imagination and books and where all things were new and shining; the magical place children can get to if they concentrate hard enough.  (Compare Ken looking at the ducks in My Friend Flicka.)  I found it perfect for a unicorn. 

Hillingar by Sarah Minkiewicz
 Unlike all the others in my 5, I have long known what color Shinar wanted to be.  This is both strange and not strange.  (Think emerald dragon.)  Also unlike the others, I have a clear idea about his fate.  Though he's tempting, I must honestly confess:  I am not good enough yet.  He demands more than I have right now.  I'm OK with that.  It's a relief.

Down to three.  But there are yet more standing in line, a second tier of victims.  Three (possibly 4) horses are eager to rise up behind the 5 (I am reminded of standbys on airlines).  Left to right:  Little Lone Star by Rose, Denderah by Gerhardt, and Rocket/Alzucar.

 The 'possibly 4th' is Brasenose, who has been hiding a painful secret.  Remember that I often stand horses near me on the computer,... and how tippy he can be, only I know...

 If I am stuck and can't move, this is a good place to start budging.  NOW is the time to repair Brasenose and (almost in the same breath) to repaint Alzucar/Rocket.  Give that dishwater-doeskin some real black points and a golden metallic body overlay:  here, at least, is a color not roan!  Here is a 6th horse, a Teke still, and connected to your standing-Russian-horse habit,... but easier.  In theory.

All of your victims have been standing.  This is beside the point.  All of your victims have been by Malova.  This is also beside the point.  This habit has been good to me, but it is not set in stone.  I am increasingly ready for diversity.

What bothers me is the amount of unpreparedness,... and my inability to stick to a large project.  Not just prepping - though that is huge.  Not just choosing a color -- though that is huge too.  The question goes even deeper:  Is this the model horse project I wish to devote my precious time to?  What about the book?  and its attendant braidwork pieces?  Apprentice potential...  What about B's harness, committed to now, and every other harness, about to rise up from their fallow-&-now-fertile field??  I can make a connection between the need to get the ink pens working for the book -- and the black points on Alzucar/Rocket,... and another blackpoint who needs repair, my CopperFox Marble's tail, which flaked.  Psychically, practically, Brasenose needs doing, clearly first.

After that, it's a contest between Orlik and Ziggy.

Ziggy Stardust by Laura Rock Smith

Why doesn't Ziggy have a name?  (What's wrong with Stardust?!)  Orlik is sweet faced, familiar; he would present a safe place for a different, possibly difficult color.  I love a driving horse.  Yet Ziggy is a throwback to an earlier, older and oh-so-happy addiction, the Ragtime Carousel glory of a historical world, one I've long observed and researched, and read about.  There are so many connections to ragtime and so much of my own history here,... 1987 to the middle 90s, to start with.  Scrapbooks, photos, models, pictures books trips art calendars childhood memories!  The list is endless.  Oh he is completely undecided as far as color!  But does it matter!!  He leads to Shinar if he succeeds.  Maybe even to Rogallo, my full scale carousel horse, (who does have his color chosen, ever since I got him in 1991)... That is a dream beyond all possibilities,... but no crazier than Denderah,... or any other unfinished.

I see these two as essentially two halves of my own personality.  One is gentle and kind and the other is barbarically wild.  Both are necessary.  Ideally, then, I should do both.

 Well guys,

we're down to two.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Orlik Unboxed

It isn't every day you unbox a horse and discover three more you weren't expecting!  But that is what happened to me today.  Thank you Margarita!!  I was so surprised I laughed out loud, and I said, "This is a lot better than candy!"  All the previous times I've opened a resincast from Margarita Malova, she has so sweetly and kindly included an extra little giftie along with some candy:  Christmas-tree-ornament rocking horses and a pony.  Every time I'm impressed and humbled and don't know what to say.  Most of my hobby experience (more than 40 years now) does not include this level of gifting.

But Orlik knocked it out of the park.

The story starts with the box.  Technically it starts 3 years ago with Brasenose, my first Russian resincast, whom I saw in October 2017, purchased in November and opened in January 2018.  He was my first experience with Russia Post and the packing tape with Cyrillic letters on it.  The next 4 horses (Ambolena, Marimba, Orion & Orlik) have arrived in similar boxes.

This is Orlik's box.  He is my fifth Malova resincast, purchased in October 2020 and opened a month later.  This time the box was a little squished, but as it turned out, no harm was done.

Habitual letter-filer that I am, I keep the paperwork.

I even keep the wrappings.  The habits of recycling everything, well-started by being raised on the Colorado Front Range during the 60s and 70s, are truly set in.

There was a mysterious flat package alongside the cocoon of the horse.  Margarita sure knows how to pack:  Orlik was swathed in multiple layers of paper towels, shrinkwrap and bubble wrap.  Still completely unaware, I opened it. 
I could not believe my eyes.  Already painted!  I'd seen this medallion once before, and fallen in love with it then.  (I ask you, as a harnessmaker and lover of Tekes, how not!?!)  My gawrsh, this was going on a wall where I'd see it every day -- it's much too nice to tuck away!   Believe it or not, this is only my second finished flat pony.  It is unsigned, but I'm going to sign it for her.
On second thought, the fact that Orlik is an Orlov Trotter explains this medallion rather thoroughly.

Getting closer.  I was a little surprised by how big Orlik was appearing.  I am well on the way to keeping his mold name for him, a rarity for me; but it just sounds right.

I thought I'd pull back and put this operation into perspective.  This is the floor of the TSII tack shop.  The upper left corner is where I stand for my NaMoPaiMo selfies.  The tack benches are to the left (note the chair mats and the chair).  The air conditioner on the right (purple bandanna) is the one that died over the summer and is still waiting to be repaired (am I not multi-functional?!).  The stack behind it and right, under the hat, outside the shelves, is my pile of Breyers New-In-Box.  The deep-yellow box is TSC's Eclipse.


This is a good time to trot out the line about how I couldn't tell a buffalo from a horse.  Hah!!

Success.  Thank you so much, Margarita, across the miles and the years.

Calm and sweet, he's exactly what you'd want in a driving horse.  If you're thinking, "It's just Brasenose with mane and tail," it's true, they are very similar, although the shoulder and haunch musculatures are somewhat different.  But what does that matter if I want him?!

His face is so noble.

Close up, there are a number of pinholes -- almost unavoidable with this technology.  Her other horses had them too.  Pardon me while I run down a rabbit hole, but I couldn't resist digitally smoothing him out, as well as lengthening the mouth and enlarging the nostril a little.
If only prepping would be that easy!

Next up:  I'm in for some HARD decision-making before NaMoPaiMo - !!

 Please stay safe, and

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Starting AT 3 & 4


This is the beginning of my next two Akhal Teke presentation sets.  I'm cutting 3mm silver squares into thirds and then 'curling' each tiny 1mm x 3mm bar longways, into more of a tube shape.  This is accomplished by hitting it, silver side down, with the dull chisel, in the wood groove.  The bar's edges are gently mashed, 'broken in' and pushed into a more tube-like shape.  At this scale most of what I'm hoping for is a change of texture.  The tap of the mallet changes the bar from a flat tile to a more rounded, realistic metal-spot.

Why so much work?  In scale-model miniatures, little effects matter a lot.

My two recent post-qualifying subjects chose FB rather than blogging.  It's always hard to choose when the content is small.   But now I'm going to try a short blog post.  I need to explore the sweet spot between the immense blog post (such as one on puzzles [38 so far!!], or remembering my car [12 years!!], or a canoe trip [movies!!]) and the necessarily short FB post.  Already this one has grown beyond FB even though there are only 3 pictures.

The two bowls on the left are genuine Oriental pieces I inherited from my Grandmother.  She traveled to Hong Kong twice in her life, a remarkable record for a woman born in 1900.  She collected Oriental porcelains and jade trees;  I remember vases, bowls and mantelpieces from childhood.  These tiny dishes are perfect for model tack use;  I couldn't care less about the edge chips.  :)

The one on the right, however, was picked up in a Cedar Key Florida gift shop just last Christmas!  I'm pretty sure it's an ashtray!  It's in for a delightful change of purpose, for my whole family is vehemently anti-smoking;  you have only to know I was a brass player to deduce this.  I looked through every dish in the store before choosing this unique one.  The photo doesn't show it well, but the colored crystals in the center are beneath a thick clear smooth glaze.  It is the most lovely little thing; I was entranced.  My dear husband got it for me as a gift.  It stands now as a reminder of a wonderful trip taken in the freedom of the Before Times.

Each Akhal Teke set will use around 327 of these tiny bars.  I've found it takes me about an hour to make 30 of them.  Can you say boring.  This is a good time for Mares In Black.

There is an earlier blog post about this process:  Akhal Teke Jewelry Decisions.

And here's a reminder of what this is all about:

Thanks for your patience.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Laird my Hamilton II

 I'd been dreaming of PhotoShopping Hamilton into a trot ever since the first cries of pain arose over the fact that Saddlebreds are not shown in Parade at the rack.   I knew it was going to be a difficult undertaking.   When Hamilton was released in palomino, and later on when I obtained one, the project crept closer to reality.   But it was the Mares In Black Spooktacular Fun class, "Look Ma, PhotoShop," that finally pushed me over the edge.   Thank you Jackie & Heather!

I saved this entry 'til last, even though I'd worked very hard on others.  It was, without doubt, the most difficult of all of my show entries.  In the end this image took me 2 days.  I used all my skill, hard-fought over many years, and (as is the way with PhotoShop) I learned a lot more in the process.  Also, as is the way with PhotoShop (and many other complex projects), what I thought would be hard was easy.  What I thought would not be much work turned out to take most of the time.  Hah!

I started out knowing that the rearmost hind leg would be the one facing the viewer.  Why?  Because my skill did not at all extend to re-sculpting an entire folded-up haunch!   It would be hard enough bending that hoof around.  Here's the start:  a normal Hamilton.

First step:  flopping.  I'm only dimly aware of why I didn't do this entire project from his off side.  I think I was aiming for a saddled horse, that's why.  Even more dimly, I had a preconceived mindset that saddled horses were approached from the near side... proof will be shown later!

I would be looking at this picture for a long time.  Shamefully, there were very few 'saves' that occurred in the intense flow of this process.  But the one below did get caught.  I had done so much at this point:  moved the near hind hoof, moved and bent the hock (a LOT of work), moved the canon, stifle and hoof of the off hind, and filled in the cloth background.  You can also see how I thinned the stifle bend.

That background was what I'm referring to when I say "what I thought would not be much work."  It was truly a beast to fill in the missing textures.  You can see in the final version how bad it is.  In hindsight I suppose I should've just clipped him out entirely and put him on a new background, but I wasn't thinking of that at the time.  I was so deeply consumed, so carried away, that only another artist will know what I mean.  It's been quite a while since I was swept off like that:  It was marvelous.

Ready for the next step:  bifurcation!

Since a trot has parallel-canon opposite-corner legs, I'd known from the beginning that I'd be cutting him in half, flopping a half and trying to blend the result.  I'd been doing this in my head from day one.  If you try to include a saddle, it would indeed be almost impossible.  And yet here are some pix I took in the early stages of my dream.  These should stand as proof that a complex project enforces its own triage, and winds its way to completion down ever-narrowing paths.  Including a saddle rapidly became a dumb idea.

I had thought it would be hard to turn and twist his front half to match.  Silly me.  It was easy.  Here's a normal Nearside shot:

And here I cut him in half and erased the near hind hoof.  I was after a front half with a standing foreleg on the off side.  I didn't have to flop it; that had already happened, with the haunches.
Here was the last, and most challenging, step:  blending the halves.   This is where the background work took forever.  There was a lot of select, edit, copy, move and paste... and a LOT of blend and smear!  I'd learned that with the digitization of the Guide in 2016.  NOTE that what you see here is a re-make of what actually happened, so the halves don't quite line up the same as the finished one does.
It was at this step that whatever mistake with his spinal alignment was made.  Viewing the finished product, I do sometimes think (with the criticism of the artist, ever present) that his back is a bit arched.  But it was rather inevitable.

The finished view lowered the off fore hoof (compare with above).  I did what seemed like hours of blending, then ran out of spunk and decided to leave the dark upper corner for the signature.

Even now, he still shimmers from all the effort I put in.  I named him Laird Crown Imperial II, even though he is not a real horse.  Maybe he'll give somebody ideas.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

12 + 4 Haiku: Spooktacular entries

This is really two posts, a long one featuring my Spooktacular Online Photo Show entries and a short one on 'life now.'  A couple days before the first presidential debate (Sept 29), three haiku rather suddenly insisted on appearing in my Notebook.  A fourth was born during the night of the debate.  Poetry of course is not unknown to me, but to have them pop into existence like that, without warning, was a little surprising.  I suspect quarantine life has something to do with it.  Those first four can be found at the end of this post.

Subsequently I decided that each of my entries for the Mares In Black Spooktacular online photo show was going to have its own haiku.  (I know, obvious connection!)  The entries suggested themselves in twos and threes; each time I successfully completed one, one or two others would arise in my imagination.  This went on until the deadline!  Twelve haikus later, I decided to publish them here.  The poem is above its photo each time.  I'm going to present them chronologically:  earliest entered first.

 Up to this point I'd used mostly photos I already had.   The prompt Your Horse is Weird, Dude was one of the few that really set me dreaming.  My original vision was of two people pointing at each other's not-so-normal equids.  But once I actually set up the scene, it took on a different interpretation. 

With Babysitter I wanted to emphasize that no matter how outlandish the coat color, Mom still knew best.  She was outlandish herself.  I got to make up a breed for her ("Celtic Decorator") but the poem is really a subtle comment on skin color.

This poem makes more sense once you know this horse took a dive off the computer and scratched up his near side something awful.  I still need to repair him.

This is as good a place as any to discuss Talisman's gender.  I first encountered the word 'risling' in Mary O'Hara's My Friend Flicka series.  I was slightly confused, pairing it with Truman Capote's biting comment 'Gertrude Stein suffered from undescended testicles.'  Only recently, with Honor A. P. running in the Kentucky Derby and being listed as a 'ridgeling,' did I do more research and realize these two words refer to the same thing.

Altynai is so narrow and slab-sided.  Upon turning him over, I decided 'he only has one.'

 The last line refers to George Orwell's famous quote from Animal Farm, 'None of you have ever seen a dead donkey..."

The only word you might need help with is 'desfile' which means parade.  But here's a full translation:  A festival parade is a happy occasion for the horses.

 Truly this next one deserves a blog post of his own.  He took 2 days to create.

Being the artist, I focus more on what went wrong, or what I think didn't go so right.  Yet he is everything I wanted.  My vision came true.


The following haiku can only be described as reflecting the current societal and political climate.  The first came before dawn on the 28th of Sept.  I'm pretty sure it refers to marriage: coexisting with someone 24/7 for months at a time.  Stress either cracks you apart or presses you closer together.  Also I'd gotten hold of James Nestor's book Breath.

These next 2 were written during the day.  The last line of this one could've been arranged several ways.

I was really struggling with not being able to see my parents.  Mom had finally, miraculously, come home from hospital and rehab after 7 weeks.  The first line refers to the springing distance, the space between predator and prey. 

This one was written after listening to about 10 minutes of the Sept 30 debate and not being able to stand any more.  I didn't know how the debate would end; I could only imagine what I wanted.  I'm quite pleased by the two ways to read the last 2 lines.

Quarantine poetry is a bottomless subject and I shan't go any deeper into it here.  Still I can't resist a grateful hug to the mask-makers of the world and a fond wave to the medical specialists who saved my life back in 2010.  They made it possible for me to be happily entering photo shows today.  Good luck to the judges of Spooktacular!