Friday, December 25, 2009

Espanola Valley animal shelter auctions 8 more bronze mice (and a dog bowl decorated by Hugh Hefner!) among other things...

The Scottish Rite Masonic Hall made for a very theatrical venue to auction off another bunch of mice to benefit less fortunate and homeless critters.

It seemed to be a building made specifically for a group of people who shared a remarkable fondness for wearing strange hats.
The walls were filled with framed pictures of current and previous wearers of odd looking hats.
I wouldn't have imagined that so many unusual headgear enthusiasts would likely be found in one place, Santa Fe being quite small and all, but it seems there's quite an underground appreciation for them.

We arrived early, and thanks to a bit of hustling by Fran Nicholson (sculptor, fellow donator and mold maker who lives in the Fred Flintstone house near Santa Fe) we got shown around the dark and cloistered theater by a very nice man, in a strange hat.
The theater is used by the members to enact certain rites of passage, sometimes before an audience, sometimes not.

Your's truly hiding in the trees...

The theater was wonderfully dressed to appear like a woodland scene, and it was quite magical being among the trees.
They are all painted on canvas, and stuck on string netting which allows you to see through the gaps. All stacked up, it makes for quite an illusion.
There's lots more of them up in the ceiling, ready to drop down and envelope the stage in numerous other gauzy worlds. I'd love to have seen more.
They were made in Chicago in 1911 or 12, for another Scottish Rite Temple which ran out of money, so Santa Fe got them instead.

Around 1950 a bunch more temple was added, creating an enclosed garden. It really is quite an enchanting place.

I would have thought it would make an ideal home for a ping pong club, especially when I learned it's unused and empty most of the time.
But alas, the sound of ping pong balls never echoes through its hallowed halls.

Mmmm, I wonder....if only the game of table tennis required the wearing of unusual headgear, then perhaps it might stand a chance....

The mice were arranged to be auctioned as a group of three, another group of two, and three individual ones.

The shelter put on a splendid event, very festive and fun.
My parrot ran out of juice before many people showed up, so I didn't get any pics of the happy crowds that arrived later.

Oh, here's my holiday card.
Hope you're all having fun!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Your Sprightly holiday pictures

I must say I was thrilled when Anne Medley and Dana Currie took Christmas pics of their mice and emailed them to me!

Dana's Sprightly is rummaging about through the Christmas greens...

While Anne's mouse is in front of the tree sporting a Santa hat, which I loved so much I asked her where she got it so I could get one too.

So I bought five little hats!

Inspired by Anne and Dana, here's a pic of my Sprightly with Chubby sporting their brand new festive hats. The spectacular backdrop was provided by Meridee: she painted it, it's the Chama river up near Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu.
So now, thanks to you folks (and Meridee's big stuffed pepper I just ate) I have a nice warm glow inside, just in time for the holidays...Thanks again Dana and Anne!

My website... - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Friday, December 18, 2009

New sculpture in the making: tree frogs on a vine

One tree frog has landed on the vine.
Soon there will be two more joining it.

I already know how and where the other two will land.
Can you guess?

My website... - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sir Ranulph Sprightly Mouse leaves on his epic Antarctic journey to reach the South Pole!

Above: Sir Ranulph, just prior to leaving Santa Fe, Wednesday.

Inspired by Ralph Sprightly's visits to the Australian continent, his uncle, Sir Ranulph Twizzle-Stick-Wicker-Basket Sprightly Mouse, has embarked upon an epic journey to become the only mouse to venture to the South Pole.

"Mice have colonized every continent on earth, except Antarctica..." explained Sir Ranulph, "so I will be accomplishing not just a great feat for myself personally, but something deeply significant for all of rodent-kind."

Above: Artist's impression of Sir Ranulph's epic journey.
"I've been practicing standing on snow and ice for extended periods, and sleeping with the light on" said Sir Ranulph, when asked about his rigorous training regimen.

Ranulph Sprightly Mouse left Santa Fe on Wednesday, and his first stop will be McMurdo Station on Antarctica, where he will have a nice cup of tea and perhaps some biscuits, before hopefully getting his photo taken a few times and then heading off to the Southern-most tip of the planet where it won't get dark for months.

Despite the constant sunshine, it will be quite cold.

When asked about his Uncle's attempt upon the South Pole, antipodean adventurer Ralph Sprightly said "I'm rootin' for ya, unc. There's a cold one waitin' for ya at my place when you get back!'

Stay tuned for Sir Ranulph's updates!

Above: Nephew Ralph Sprightly Mouse looks at Australia's pride and joy, the Sydney Opera House.

Next: Sprightly arrives in Antarctica!

My website... - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How to sculpt critters, make bronze animals etc. 24 of my 'how to' sculpture posts: Now easy to find, all in one place.

I was trying out the search feature the other day, to find an old 'How to' post.
Seems I hardly ever used those exact words, and I know I've posted quite a few of them, so I put them all in one place, in chronological order with the oldest first.

How to make mice, monkeys, elephants, frogs, turtles, bases, and all sorts of other work in progress for anyone interested in having a go, or simply curious about what goes into this sculpting and casting caper...

Beijing Olympic mascot (unofficial) - This post shows a turnaround of my monkey turtle discus thrower as it progressed.

Making of 'Big Boy', my large Cane Toad sculpture - Two of these live on a bridge over a pond in a park in Loveland, Colorado.

Bumper to Bumper. Turtle sculpture work in progress - 1

The birth of Nosey mouse.

More mousey 'how it's done'.

Bumper to bumper turtle sculpture, work in progress - 2

Making 'Tiny mouse'.

Death of an elephant. This is just some pics of a sculpture being 're-claimed' for future sculptures.

Even more Nosey 'how it's done'.

Bumper to bumper turtle sculpture - work in progress - 3

Bumper to bumper turtle sculpture - work in progress - 4

Step by step how to make a tiny elephant sculpture.

Next steps in bringing my tiny elephant sculpture to bronze.

How to make small sculpture bases by cutting up and edge polishing black granite tiles.

Putting it all together (making micro sized bumper to bumper turtle sculpture).
Hoodrats and the black hole of doom!....making the hood ornament version of Sprightly for my car.

Hoodrats, Darth Vader, and the tree snake of death!

Sprightly mouse hood ornament-The hoodrat rides!

Final bronze elephant and more garden snake action!

My new butterfly salad toad sculpture is finished.

My secret weapon and favorite tool for creating sculpture...(worth a look just to see my secret weapon)

Race against the clock- getting new stuff cast in time for my first gallery show...

New shiny toy and new work in progress report.

How a hole in the head sometimes helps, and how to avoid one when it doesn't.

The tree frog has landed.

Well I hope you enjoyed that, there's lots of other stuff buried in the archives too of course!

My website... - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Signs and wonders...How much of modern art is just a glorified 'STOP' sign?

Yesterday I had a headache.
Which must explain how I got my words all mixed up.
It felt good to push my knuckle into a particularly sore and tender spot. I tried to tell Meridee.

‘Ah, it feels like I have a fovea just like babies do’.
What did you say? You have a faux beard, just like babies do? I’ve never seen a baby with a beard. What on earth are you talking about?
‘No. A fovea. You know, in my head.’
What kind of phobia?

Clearly this was going nowhere! For starters, I should have said 'fontanel'.
So a soft spot on my head that felt good to massage had become a phobic baby disguised as Fidel Castro.

Clearly my message wasn’t getting through, although it did make us laugh.

I feel the same way about being told unrecognizable paintings are important works of genius that communicate complicated intellectual ideas.

Words communicate complicated intellectual ideas.

Using words to explain ideas can lead to mis-communication, even though words are the right language to use.

Which is why I’ve always been doubly suspicious of incomprehensible visual art that requires an essay from a noted scholar or critic to explain what it’s really supposed to be saying.
If it was that complicated to explain, why would you try and use paint instead of a pen?

It's always seemed fishy to me.

Is the art just a ‘STOP’ sign being used to get you to pay attention to the critic’s essay?
In which case it’s the essay that should be up for consideration as meaningful, not the art.

I guess they need each other. Perhaps the learned critic pretends the deeply meaningful and very important 'STOP' sign has something to do with his discourse, and the artist pretends the critic correctly interpreted his idea.

Would no one pay attention to the idea man without the art to get you to stop and listen?
That’s my guess.

The less about anything the art appears to be, the easier the critic can attach any idea he likes to it.
But for you to listen you have to believe the art is very important.

The critic’s got plenty of things to talk about on hand, he’s a writer after all. So the writers gravitate to ever more meaningless work, and declare it has ever more profound importance that they need to explain.
The less you can get from the art the better: it will be less likely to contradict their point of view on whatever notion it is they want to discuss.

If you don't believe the art is very important, you might not realize you are supposed to pay attention to what they have to say about it. So they declare 'this is a work of genius: now you'd really better listen to me!'

So I say the art they pick is often just to be used as a handy STOP sign.
The art has its job to do, which it does, but let’s not get all carried away.
If you can't tell what it's supposed to be saying by looking at it, how important can it really be?

Unless of course you really can communicate complex intellectual ideas with a shambles on canvas, and I, along with a lot of other reasonably intelligent people just can’t see it.

But I always get the sneaky feeling I’m being had by some dishonesty and someone somewhere is having a jolly good laugh!
Not always, but often enough to make me blow off steam about it!

Meridee just read this and said ‘remember that they say a picture’s worth a thousand words’.
I said ‘Yes, but only if it’s a picture OF something’.
She came back with ‘I guess with modern art then you could say a picture spawns a thousand words’.

Now I’m off to solve the healthcare debate using only an accordion and some cymbals.

My website... - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My parrot, and some super cool ringtones...

Meridee calls it my parrot, because it’s bright green and talks to me.
I take it everywhere and it will startle people with its perfect impersonations of croaking toads, tree frogs, gobbling turkeys and howling coyotes.

Or cow-outies as some friends of ours three year old likes to say.

It’s not really a parrot of course. It’s my iPhone with a shiny green cover.

I loaded a bunch of free ringtones which are recordings of various animal sounds.

I was over at Lee’s recently, discussing this or that outside near his workshop. He was working on some of my turtles, toads and tree frogs at the time. He suddenly became very distracted, looking all about the ground for the plains spadefoot toads that had unexpectedly started calling nearby.

While I of course simply fished them out of my pocket, in green shiny iPhone form, and shut them up from croaking before seeing what they really had to say.

Realizing the true source of the sounds, he rolled his eyes and muttered, almost under his breath, ‘Ahh, obsessed’.

Here’s the ringtones. If you’ve ever wanted a howler monkey in your pocket, now’s your chance! (They sound like a very drunk man belching uncontrollably in a small echo chamber. Breaks the ice at parties!).

When I was a kid I developed a kind of signature. It was a super quick cartoon frog which I could dash off in a couple of seconds. I scribbled it on everything.

One of the things I'm doing on my phone is drawing a frog everytime I find myself waiting in line, or waiting anywhere for anything , come to think of it.
I'm using the same basic template in so far as it's the same dozen lines or so, drawn with my finger on the phone but varying the speed or general proportions to see slight variations in each frog.

I even started doing left handed frogs facing the other way to see if would add some more variety.

Each one seems to have its own personality.
My favorites I think are ones done so fast I'm not thinking about them at all. It's fun to see how they turn out.
I'm planning on assembling masses of them together in a giant 'quilt like' print, with a bit more jiggery pokery to boot, to represent endangered amphibian species.

Less destructive than grafitti-ing it everywhere around town! (see, I'm all grown up now).

Oh, I forgot it was Thanksgiving coming up so I'll email the details of my new WIN two mice contest to everyone who's signed up to 'Get Email Updates' (see side bar if you want to sign up) on Dec 1st, and announce the winners on Dec 7th. - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Art rant, new contest this week, and treefrog penthouse.

Why is there more bad art today than there used to be?

Because the definition of art has been thrown so wide open, nothing gets left outside.

You can call the best stuff in the drawing room art, but you can’t deny the contents of the toolshed, compost heap and the outhouse being called art too, not if they demand to be.

So fine, it’s all art. The good, the bad and the ugly.

And now of course, even the smelly, too.

Lots more stuff calling itself art equals lots more bad art.

By the same token, there should be lots more good art, too, presumably.

Like me, I imagine your idea of what counts as good art you'd enjoy reflects your tastes and values that you either grew up with or have chosen to adopt.

In my case (for better or worse), it would be something excellent that stands above the crowd of mediocrity.

Probably came from a craft which demonstrates a high level of skill, shares my impeccably good taste (of course!) and has an emotional impact on enough viewers that it wasn’t an accident, whether the viewers are fellow craftspeople or not.

Good design, pleasing composition, interesting visual ideas.
The combined results of study, practice and talent.

These things would count for me.
They are present in all the artists I admire, and are at least what I try to put into my own work.

Which is not to say everything else isn’t art, of course.
It just wouldn’t likely be popping my cork.

Fortunately there’s plenty of what I’d call good art around that I can enjoy.

But also of course an awful lot of art I wouldn’t call art at all.

There would have been plenty more bad art back in the day too,
if only they’d been 'smart' enough to call it art!

End of rant!

I’ve made a couple more mid sized (4” long-ish) turtles, but since there’s no chance of them getting cast before the holidays, I’ll just leave them to one side for a while, and work on some more tree frogs which are coming along nicely so far (fingers crossed).

The real one I have as my muse got an apartment upgrade recently.

I rubber cemented a long oval plastic flower pot to the floor of the tank, so when I put water in the tank it doesn’t get inside the pot.

Inside the glued-in empty pot is a same sized pot with a bromeliad and some compost in it, which I can lift out if I need to.

I put a heater in the water, so now the water is nice and toasty warm, which heats the air above and creates a dripping wet humid environment that my frog loves.

To slightly mis-quote Edmund Blackadder, ‘It’s as damp in there as a pair of armored trousers after the hundred years war’.

My frog now emerges from the cosy spot in the bromeliad every evening without fail, to crawl about on the vines and leaves in search of crickets.

I dream of making our shower into a walk-in tree frog home, with branches, waterfalls, plants, sculpted backgrounds, a pebble filled pool, ahhh..., I wonder when Meridee has any extended painting trips planned…

Oh, I'm going to run another contest to give away another mouse, but I'm only announcing it to people who have signed up for email updates. So if you fancy your chances, sign up in the side-bar where it says 'get email updates' (it's secure) and I'll announce the new contest in the next few days (besides that email updates are monthly).

Max Love from Kerrville, TX won last time, and had this to say...

'I received the mouse yesterday afternoon. :)
It is a truly remarkable little sculpture. He will have a good home.
Much thanks on your craftsmanship,
Max.' - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My show last night at Manitou here in Santa Fe was a blast!

I had a blast last night at the reception for my sculpture show. It had been written up in Western Art Collector magazine , publicized by the gallery and me, and happily we were rewarded with a great turnout of strangers, neighbors and friends who all seemed to be having as good a time as me.

I got a real kick out of being present to answer questions from buyers who were thrilled with their purchases, which made me happier than ever.

Gigi bought a mid size bumper to bumper, and wanted to know how it was made. I cheerfully explained as much as I could, but of course suggested she find out more by searching for 'bumper to bumper' on this blog, since I’ve given detailed photo enhanced ‘how to’s’ on that piece in various sizes!
She’s off home again today after enjoying a re-union with friends.

They all seemed to like my suggestion of naming each one of the turtles after the re-united buddies!

Gerry from across the street added a Nosey mouse to her collection.

Bob and Aggie, who star in this video on YouTube (perfect for very tiny tots, it will DRIVE YOU NUTS if you aren't 3!) brought along some friends.

Thanks again for letting me invade your house with my video camera!

Familiar faces from my blog came along:

Mike Masse, Santa Fe’s patina king.

Lee Wilson, as good a mold maker as you’ll ever find.

Frank Fritzges, without who’s casting skills I wouldn’t have made much of a start at all into the miniature end of the world of bronzes.

I was delighted to run into many others, a few of which I’ll mention here…

Peter Wright, glass artist and bronze publisher . He’s been responsible for publishing many of my larger in physical size, smaller in edition size pieces. In fact I just got news (while writing this) that someone just snapped up one of those pieces, a turtle !

Michael Tatom, a jeweler and sculptor who I first met during Sculpture In The Park, at Loveland, CO.

Vince Maggiore, who did the patinas on my first bronzes, the life sized rabbits, while he was working at Shidoni foundry.

Michelle Chrisman
, who paints regularly with Meridee came all the way from Taos with Phil (and then had to drive all the way back again to let the dogs out!).

Juanita who works at Nedra Matteucci’s gallery, and turned a blind eye over the release of my turtle who modeled for me, into the splendid pond they have in their sculpture garden. He’s doing very well, by the way, and is getting quite large now (but not nearly as big as the other turtles there).

Elizabeth who knew Meridee in a former existence, and Kent . They are a pair of authors who've had some very notable successes.

Lots more folks besides, I really appreciate your coming.
Thanks to everyone at Manitou , and of course an extra big thanks to Meridee.
I’ve bent her ears more than most people could ever stand to hear about all things clay and bronze!

I should do this more often!

(did I forget to thank the academy?)

It’s nice to feel like a star for a night! - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tiny turtle wins award, the show is installed, and not just my Sprightly has to deal with snakes!

I'm ecstatic to say a trip to the mail boxes was rewarded with a note saying my tiny turtle won second place for sculpture in this year's miniatures show held by the Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers society of Washington DC!
The show runs from Nov 22 thru Jan 2.

I popped into Manitou Galleries today and they'd just finished getting everything in place for next Friday's reception. They just have to get the lights all pointing in the right directions and they're all done.

I'm really looking forward to hanging around a room full of people enjoying my handiwork for the evening and answering lots of questions.
That's my hope; of course my secret fear is spending the evening all alone with my work in a big empty gallery to the sound of crickets chirping.
But don't tell that to anyone!
If you read my blog and live nearby, come and say 'hi'!
I'd love to meet you.

Thanks Bobbi for the pic you sent of your Sprightly mouse standing his ground against his mortal foe, the dreaded bull snake.
Mice dread them anyway, I find them quite appealing.

I just completely re-vamped my tree frog's home.
I'll get some pics up maybe next week. It's a froggy penthouse now. - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A night at the museum, and my Nov 6 show progress...

Last night Meridee and I went to the Albuquerque Museum's miniatures and more show grand opening.
I'm lucky enough to have had three of my mice and tiny bunnies picked as two small sets of sculpture. I'd never been there before, but I was surprised by how grand it really was.
I've never seen so many people all dressed up to the nines around these parts before.
Maybe I've been hanging out in all the wrong places, but I felt strangely transported to New York City or something.

Anyhow, the way they sell stuff is quite interesting.
Every painting and sculpture has a price on it, and also has a number next to it, and a correspondingly numbered ballot box type thing mounted somewhere nearby.
You get a bunch of green paper slips when you go in, so you can fill out your info if you want to buy something, and drop it in the right box.

At the end of the evening the boxes are opened, and a name is drawn from each box, so that person gets to buy that piece.
Since paintings are one of a kind, most boxes will only have one winner.
But bronzes are different.
I had 5 available listed, so if there were more than five names in the box, the first five pulled would be winners.

Of course they don't actually win anything. Except the chance to buy their prize.

Since I'm one of those self obsessed artist types I contorted myself about so I could see down into my boxes (a bit tricky without blocking the light from getting in through the tiny slit in the top).

Of course I cunningly disguised my actions to resemble someone with some very serious muscle imbalances, thoughtfully peering closer at someone else's work.

It's what us artists do you know.
Is it the money, or the tickle to the ego that makes us do it?
It's either a bit of both, or a lot of both. Probably a lot.

The place was jammed with the elegantly dressed. But every once in a while I would glance around and see another strangely twisted person appearing to scrutinize some art, while hovering directly over a ballot box.

Well I was very happy to see more than one green slip in both my boxes.
So I felt rather pleased with myself when we left.
Which was a bit before the end, so I'll have to find out later how it all went.

Well, thanks to Lee Wilson, Mike Masse and Madd Castings I've got everything I need for my show.

Strangely I already sold all but one of my new small-ish turtles, so the one at Manitou will have to be for order taking only until I get more done.
So besides all the stuff already over there, there'll be tree frogs on balls, a mid size bumper to bumper, some wine bottle stoppers (turtle and rabbit), a toad on a leaf, and the small-ish turtle.

I should insist on putting it all in a sealed glass display case with a load of live crickets wandering about among them.

My website, - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The tree frog has landed...

One small step for a tree frog,
One giant leap for tree frog-kind.
(I've not actually had any real tree frogs confirm that last part)

Anyhow, I've got my first two tree frog sculptures finished.
Over at Mike's secret patina cave we tried a few things. Like some greens in various hues, but ended up liking a transparent golden-ish bronze with dark blotchy rings best.

The blotchiness is very similar to the markings on my real tree frog as he might be seen in a gigantic version sitting on the earth and viewed from space.

Unfortunately a tree frog's place on our planet is a bit precarious these days.

So now I know I'll have tree frogs in my show at Manitou Galleries on Nov 6, thanks to Madd Castings turning the raw metal around so fast, Lee's speedy mold making and wax work, and Mike's splendid metal finishing and artful patina work.

I'm sure I must have had something to do with making them too, but it seems so long ago I can hardly remember!

I took a few pics of one over at Meridee's favorite garden center.

I've got more frogs up my sleeve I'm itching to get going on, but first things first.
Will I get my new turtle pieces finished in time for the show?

Oh, speaking of shows, I'm honored to have some mice and tiny bunnies in Albuquerque museum's miniatures and more show which kicks off next Saturday (Oct 24).
Not sure if Saturday is open to the public or pre-arranged somehow.

My website, - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

9 mice auctioned at the "Barkin' Ball". How did they do?

Last night was the humane society shelter's "Barkin' Ball".

I really didn't have much clue what to expect, except I knew there'd be a bunch of stuff up for silent auction, some food, dogs and hopefully some beer.

Check out the pics, taken with my new fangled shiny phone thingy that does a gazzillion things, and even lets you send and receive calls!

The tables were laid with silverware and dog treats!

Check out the hound packing heat!

It sold out which we know because some friends of ours decided to try and get tickets.
It was much bigger than I expected, in a huge room in the new and very tastefully decorated conference center.
So it turned out there was a bunch of stuff up for silent auction, some food, lots of very nicely turned out dogs, and happily some beer.
And a band.

I'd swung by the shelter a couple of weeks earlier to drop off three more mice since the last half dozen.

I was pretty eager to see how my critters were faring in the silent auction.
People put their name (or ticket #) next to how high they're prepared to bid.
They had all nine sprinkled about either individually, or as group lots of 3.
Lots of good stuff on offer.

From what I could tell by nosing about the mice pulled in more than their retail value, which is great news for the shelter's critters, and a nice stroke for my ego which is such a delicate, fragile little thing!

Lots of dogs got a real kick out of the event.
Like they knew it was all just for them!
Some others looked a bit overwhelmed by it all.

That's Valerie above, one of the many volunteers helping out. She walks dogs at the shelter.

I noticed one of Louise Peterson's Great Dane miniatures was also up for auction. Her stuff pops up everywhere!
I saw her in Loveland while we were both participating in 'Sculpture in the Park' in August, and was mightily gratified that she asked to trade me one of her puppy bronzes for one of my mice.
I like her work a lot.

My website... - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.