Thursday, February 27, 2020

Marimba 13: Finished

I DID IT!!!   Finished Wednesday night, the 26th.  The homestretch was an hours-long struggle with that mane.   The Muse dragged me down a path I didn't even know was there!!  But I am SO happy with her -- !!!

Here is one of the first pictures, taken on a winter day.  Normally I shoot my tack and horses on this railing, but this is the first time it's actually had SNOW.  The light makes her look like a real horse (or as I prefer to say, full-scale).
That last evening, I was happy at first with her mane, and the tail was what fought.  Back and forth:  Add color, take it away.  I was using isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol as a solvent and it allows erasing as much as deposition, but it's tricksy.  I eventually used the X-Acto, cutting down in places to the resin.  This helped with the tail but was a liability with the mane, as it revealed the pinholes.
Deep in the heart-heat of creativity,  I am not happy or sad, just INTENT -- this is the finest hour of artistry ---

At an unknown stage of the proceedings, when I got the tail to a satisfactory 3 colors, I tried Pearl-Ex on it (micro pearl).  Amazeballs!!  The tips suddenly got as white as I wanted, it blended well back up the length of the tail (pearling the red beautifully), and best of all, it obscured the dark lines and pinholes that the tips had so much of.  The tail was solved.  I could see no way to make it better.

In contrast, the mane got worse.  Worse and worse.  My dreams of a Flame mane -- orange & yellow, straw & gold, cherry & lemon -- were dying.  Hard.  I got the tips white, and through all that followed, they stayed that way:  A vision that insisted, that stuck in until I had to accept it.  The white mane -- how it crept, higher and higher, rising and falling like a tide with my efforts -- gave her an Atlantean look, like Princess Kida in the Disney movie. 

Once I saw this, the battle between a white mane and a Flame one was foredoomed.  But oh how hard I fought.  I tried and tried.  Orange, copper, gold, yellow I tried;  even, towards the end, I tried pure flesh tones.  The yellow was a horrible mistake.  Late in the game I cut the tips white again, down past the primer -- reckless yet determined.   One secret was to raise the white past the mid-point of the mane.  Another secret was four bands of color:  for quite a while I was happy when the neck around the white tips was a proper orangey... in defiance of the rest!

Very late in the game I realized I had to use pearl here too, to match the tail.  I put it on one tress at a time;  you can see there are a lot of tresses.  The Pearl-Ex did a beautiful job of covering up the pinholes, hiding the dark crevices which had so bothered me.  It blended reasonably well with the chestnut roots.  I was beat:  Flame manes would have to wait for another year.

The end result is not exactly a Perlino so much as a pearled Atlantean fantasy!  But I had been true to the artist's vision.  I had fought the battle to a successful end.  Given the skills and tools I had, she could be no other color.
 I had not so much painted as unpainted her, building up layers of browns and reds and then melting them off, and laying down a transparent yet blending coat of pearl over them.
Ambolena's [the filly's] Pearl-Ex spread a sheet of clear gold glass over her.  But Marimba's Pearl-Ex was much more of a translucent effect, an aurora-borealis shimmer of a blending:  the milky pearlescence of a sea shell.  Indeed she reminds me of carnival glass...!

I learned so much.  I learned not to put too much alcohol on the brush: That was huge.  I learned to sweep upwards from the mane tips with the brush pointing upwards:  a process that destroyed the brush! but gave lovely blending, a beautiful shading.  I used Q-tips to strip when I ran out of patience (which was often).  Just like Brasenose the chestnut stallion, my quote became: "Many Q-tips were destroyed in the making of this animal."
In a glorious Victor Hugo finish, I used up my last Q-tips right as she was done.
Victor Hugo reached the end of his bottle of ink precisely at the last words of his famous novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831).

Lor' she fought so hard.

Largely after looking at so many beautifully oiled and shaded other peoples' horses, I passed through a phase of deep shame.  My poor prep job -- she's so rough, so coarse, grainy and nicked: her nose, her lips, her mane and hock.  Her lack of face shading -- for all of Sarah Mink's best intentions [Mink's face shading tutorial].  Her eyes, believe it or not:  They were done with colored pencil, as I wasn't going to go downtown and buy another pastel for so small a dot of color.  Thanks to L.K.Magga & Gretchen Haskett for their help there!

Most of all I was ashamed I'd started so late, and chose to lower my standards because I hadn't left myself much time.  Ambolena [2019] was finished the 22nd;  Brasenose [2018] the 20th.  Just 10 days have seen Marimba:  17th started prepping, 20th started painting, finished the 26th.  At least 2 days in there I was doing nothing on her at all.
Truly a rush job.
 It quails me a little -- me who have nothing to apologize for.  This is the first NMPM I have felt so ashamed.  But then came that last evening, and I am charged with satisfaction.  That last deep session was a fitting match to Ambolena's gilding, and to so many others' accomplishments.

What's remarkable about this family is that all three were sculpted by the same artist:  Margarita Malova of Bologoye, Russia.  All three were painted by me, who have not painted a horse before NaMoPaiMo.  (Ahem:  Thoughts on NaMoPaiMo 2017  shows you repainted and haired a couple in the 1970s and 80s, then etched a handful up thru 2015.)  All three depict the same breed, rather amazing when you consider my history:  I have gone through Quarter Horses, Belgians, Moroccan Pintos and Peruvian Pasos in turn over the years, with Clydes and Pintos holding slightly lesser place.

I learned how to paint with some of the most difficult and unforgiving mediums:  rubbing alcohol and nail polish.  I have also (this is the place to boast) blogged nineteen (19) times about NMPM:  once in 2017, nine times in 2018 and six times in 2019!!  Yikes!!!!!!!!!
And yes, the painting artist made the tack.  :)

I read somewhere that the Akhal Teke mare does not wear the alaja (neck jewelry).  Oh such hard news!  Having made Brasenose his beautiful set -- those are REAL emeralds -- I simply could not resist.  Photo-shoot heaven.
I also read somewhere that while a Perlino can have a buckskin foal, a liver chestnut cannot, or shouldn't, be the father, at least out of a Perlino.  Alas.  Once again I'm going to ignore reality.  These little guys have been hoping for one another for 3 years.  I can't separate them now.

The Thank-You list:
Jennifer Buxton, for dreaming it all up.  And for finding the energy to comment positively on a majority of finishers, myself included.  I am amazed, honored, fulfilled.
Margarita Malova, the sculptress, for creating this horse right in the middle of my plans to paint another, and making her irresistable.  You did a good job!
Sarah Minkiewicz and Christine Riley for encouraging tutorials.  Friends near and far for encouragement, period.
Arthur Baboev, for photos of Akhal Tekes.
Ryan Buxton, who may have saved Jennifer's life with his software.
Lizzie Kanavy, who first saw the finished product, and responded most favorably.
And to George, my husband.  Without him I could have done none of this.

Long live the supporters of NaMoPaiMo!

What's next?  Finishing the 2nd Goehring saddle, of course.  Fixing up Brasenose, who is quite scratched -- ah, the powers of PhotoShop.  Tack short orders.  I am helping judge Michelle Sepiol's show on March 21st.  I plan to attend NAN as a volunteer photographer.
There might be a collar to my Emerald Teke set for NMTM.  :)
And there just might be more Teke sets in the future.


  1. Love her! Congrats on getting her done.

  2. Like the suggestion on the Pearl Ex Micro Pearl - will have to try that out!