Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Wycked Wynd Coloring Contest

The flood of coloring contests during the pandemic finally reached critical mass for me.   I had tried half-heartedly with one before, but with Morgen Kilbourn's Wycked Wynd I pulled out all the stops!  Having watched Morgen sculpting Wycked from the beginning, I had latched onto the resin -- something about him, perhaps his purity, was irresistible -- and when he was done I decided I wanted one.  The drawing was by Christine Jordan, and very inspiring it was.   It is with inexplicable shyness that I publish here first;  pandemic behaviour may manifest in strange ways.

[Ed note I just realized I've misspelt Wynd from the start.  Sorry, & tried to fix on the 30th!]

From the beginning my artist's vision centered around three choices for this drawing, which would be done in colored pencil.  I knew I wanted a golden bay with minimal white.  I wanted the border to not distract.  And most daring of all, I wanted to put tack on the horse -- not just drawing it on, but actually pasting on leather and silver and sinew --!!

Here is the one shot taken midway through, before the background and the reins were done.

I had once commissioned one of our great painters, Jenn Danza, to do a golden bay "so light you couldn't tell him from a buckskin."  (She accomplished this with superb skill.)  I now found out how hard that was!
I also found out how hard it was to do black with colored pencils.  My black pencil was down to a nub from some previous adventure.  I tried layering various purples, browns and dark blues; this had worked for NaMoPaiMo.  But it didn't quite work here.  In the end I resorted to black Edge Cote, an acrylic leather paint, to finalize the points.

"Colored pencil, marker, nail polish, Gesso, Edge Cote.  Bridle:  leather, nylon sinew, silver tape [aluminum tape], ikandis [metal iron-ons], thread."  And Elmer's.  The nail polish was the shell hoof.

 I felt oppressed by Wycked's border.  No offense to Christine intended!  but I felt it was a lot to ask.  It was distracting when my focus would be entirely on the horse and his bridle.  I was encouraged by one early entry who made their border all one neutral color.  I chose the light blue not only to compliment a golden bay, but to match the interweaves on the rein buttons.  (!)  It's not all solid light blue; the butterfly bodies have interweaves.  :)

This is my one previous try to enter a coloring contest:

I guess you can tell what I'm interested in.  :)

I have been impressed that so many other entrants to Wycked Wynd's contest were bays of some sort,... and of them, many had an off hind sock.  He just seems to look right in that color, though I'm prejudiced here.  I swear I chose my markings entirely independently!

Early on, a friend responded positively to my approach.  Surprising what a difference that makes!  This shot is of my old drafting circles template framing his head.  It shows the originally-designed reins.

Long ago in the dim beginnings of the world, (before I was married, in other words:  about 1981), I made a quilt block for a quilt for my grandparents' 50th anniversary celebration.  (My Mom is a quilter.)  I had just purchased a Florentine Five-Gaiter.  I made my block out of leather and tooled the horse on, then made a two-dimensional harness for it from lace and wire.  I'm dreadfully sorry I can't find a photo of this feat (believe me, I've tried!).  This is my only precedent for what I've done with Wycked Wynd's drawing.  I don't know an official term for it, so I'm calling it bas-relief tack.  

 I designed the bridle for the horse while I was still finalizing the decision to purchase him.  The coloring contest gave me a chance to play with it.   The attraction for a 2D, bas-relief version lay in simplifying it and hitting the sweet spot of looking good without defeating itself and being too detailed or hard to do.  But it was hard!!  The brow concho came first:  a simple circle of silver tape pressed with a leather stamp.  Encouraged, I put on the crown strap bits and started on the cheek medallion.   It was around then I started jettisoning details!  This was going to be tougher than I thought.

The rules said only 'minor alterations' to the drawing would be allowed.  I had to change the width of the eye a little to avoid conflict with the cheekstrap.  The challenge was to get the cheekstrap as far back as possible, yet still be realistic for the head.  As a tackmaker I have fought this battle a thousand times; it is a matter of fractions of a millimeter.

All along I'd known I wanted this bridle elegantly simple.  The horse must not be eclipsed by the tack.  It must enhance him, not overpower; invite, not offput.  No browband, no throatlatch, closed reins; it's hard to get simpler than that one swooping line: ears to mouth to withers. The bit was relatively easy -- more silver tape -- but the medallion took so much work I decided a very plain cheekstrap was called for.  All the leather is stitchmarked by hand.

The reins were last.  By this time I'd given up on things like rein connectors or a curb strap for the bas-relief version, and settled for just one button group on the reins.  Those buttons really are braided on, 9Part 4Bights in white with 3 rings of lightblue interweave.   Of course, for the one-ninth model version, all the details will return.

Now for the background.  At first I thought I'd draw in a horizon, with ocean and cliffs.  (Black Stallion, anybody?!)  But another precedent established itself.  Can you guess?

That's right:  the cover of the Guide.  Rainbow-like rays fading to white in the center.  I really am predictable.

A thousand thanks to Morgen and Christine and Shauna.   It was heavenly pleasure to be braiding again.  It was fabulous fun to combine tack with coloring!!  

I'll try not to wait so long next time.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ahkal Teke Set 4 Progress


 Finally finishing AT4's cape and both neckpieces, I held a shoot with no less than 7 horses.  This is clear evidence of pent-up-ness!  AT4 has not been the fastest piece I've ever built.   There were too many obstacles ranged against it for a swift completion, and they ran the gamut from a bad arm to bad weather,... from volcano-watching addiction to plain old quarantine blues, and many others.  But yesterday things turned around.  I had to try out this fascinatingly-colored set on quite the range:  Two Perlinos, a palomino, a pearl gray, a golden bay, a liver chestnut and a pearl-black!   Be warned:  this is a long, photo-heavy post.

In every shoot there is at least one surprise picture.  In this one there were several.  Here is my favorite, the pearl gray:  Celestine, known as Palustris in my herd (after pinus palustris, the longleaf pine of the south).  Who'd've guessed she'd turn out looking so good!

She shows the colors of the gemstones the best.  This whole post is about trying to depict the jewel colors. You've heard it from me before:  It's really hard to shoot these sets!!
Here's Palustris from another angle, which shows the forehead.  I'm sorry the cape doesn't fit right; this is another tale of woe you'll hear about later. 
This set, Akhal Teke presentation set No. 4, is being made to fit an Altynai, who will be in the color of Breyer's Perlino.  That makes Shazada the model of choice for shooting it, as we saw last time:  Starting Akhal Teke set no 4.   Here he is showing off his beautiful color with the light blue aquamarines.

Each of these shots is processed separately, and thus they don't always match each other.  (Honestly, my house is not really that color.)  Here's Shazada, in whole body for reference:

And a close up of his portrait.  The colors of the stones range from light to darker and from greenish to blue. 

Very close up on this horse.  The 2-ply neckband (the top one) is made with aquamarines, the very smallest ones I had.  The 3-ply is made with sapphires, as I didn't have any aquamarines the right size.  (Larger ones will go for the breastcollar.)  Note how some sapphires are less blue than the aquamarines.

Here's a Bird's-Eye shot.  The cape jewel was lighter than most, and thus very hard to photograph.

Here we see it all on Marimba, my own resincast Perlino.  She was my NaMo horse for 2020.  The slightly smaller size was a challenge.

A close up of Marimba.  Despite the poor fitting, I like the colors on her.  Her slight reddish cast seems to bring out the blue.

Moving on to the centerpiece horse, Altynai / Talisman simply steals the show.  I put him in just the neckpieces at first.

The above was another of those surprise shots that came out far more striking than I had anticipated.  It needed no PhotoShopping in its colors.  However I was unable to resist cleaning up the horse!  I smoothed the ridged moldline on his face.

More Talisman posing in all his wild-eyed glory.  With a bit of darkening overall (the overcast was a help here), the jewel colors came out well.

Here's a shot taken only on this horse.  I wanted to depict the color of the central throat jewels, which don't show up in any other pose, (except laid out, below).

 Here is Altynai/Talisman in the full bridle, cape and neckpieces.  It's a shot made possible by the zoom feature of the camera.  Still washed out on the face but the neck is realistic.

He is larger than Lonesome Glory, but there is overlap, fortunately.
Another view from the offside.

If it weren't for Brasenose, I'd quit here, with this super portrait.  What a photogenic horse!  As it is we're using it for the frontispiece:

I could always fall back on the tried and true Laid Out on the Rail approach:

THAT shows everything!

But it's fun struggling with the horses.  Who's next?  How about a wild card!  Of course the neckpieces don't fit at all on a Saddlebred.  The cape or crown piece, made to be strung on the poll strap, really doesn't fit this larger throatlatch (viz., Palustris).  The cape is trying to fit over the poll buckle and can't do so; I may try to correct this.  But the view of the jewel colors is a pleasant discovery, especially when you remember how many Akhal Tekes will be in golden yellow.

The brother of Laird is, in my herd, Rafael.  Here unfortunately is a disappointing pairing.  No matter how I darkened, his black coat washed out the camera every time.  Still there is potential; in person he is lovely.

To end this undoubtedly indulgent shooting session, I present my original and still beloved Russian resincast Teke, Brasenose my NaMoPaiMo horse from 2018. 

How do these aquamarines look against a bronze liver chestnut?  Pretty good, I think.
Nearside view.  Yet another pleasant surprise.  The cape needs to be trained; until then, sticky wax is indicated.
I will finish with a Bird'sEye view on this horse.  In an attempt to show the cape jewel, I've left this shot unlightened, so he appears somewhat darker than before.  Dig those jewel colors on the neck!
We still have the breastcollar to go, but the end is in sight.