Sunday, September 26, 2010

Trying some things out, and this year's Barkin' Ball...

Tiny swimming bronze turtles in resin 'water'

Originally I wanted to make bronze turtles swimming through glass that was cast around them.
But I asked a glass blower and learned that it would crack and break up as it cooled around the hard metal, so I explored other options, deciding to give a urethane resin a try.
I was advised to wear rubber gloves and eye protection, and avoid getting the uncured resin on my skin, as some people have an allergy to it and can develop a poison oak type of reaction.
And if you aren't allergic to it, you can become sensitive to it, so best avoid the situation and cover up.

Once it's cured it's completely harmless, clear, and hard as nails.
Just like what I wanted glass for, so I gave it a go.

turtles on the window sill while the 'water' cures


You have to be really precise in mixing the A and B volumes. That's what the syringes are for.
The straws are for stirring them together.
And once mixed you have a limited working time before it starts to 'go off'.
And you have to keep it quite warm (ideally 140ºF) while it sets, or it will never cure completely.
So the window sill and a lamp took care of that.
The bronze was too hot to touch all afternoon.

Well I really like the effect, especially with a greeny colored patina under it, to contrast with the turtles.
It's got me interested in coming up with other things to do with it!

Mike finished the metalwork on my tree frogs on a vine and did a very nice job on the patina (of course!).
I'm undecided as yet about which base I prefer. I'm having the round metal one all tarted up so I can compare them side by side. I like its minimal profile, but I also like the reflectiveness of the granite.
We'll see...
Mike Masse doing his thing on my tree frogs on a vine

unfinished metal base

Barkin' Ball came along unexpectedly quickly this year. I almost didn't get my mice in on time!
Yee-haw! It's Barkin' Ball 2010.

These critters found a great home...
But I'm glad to say they found a great home at the end of the silent auction to benefit the humane society's animal shelter here in Santa Fe.

The Mouse Project cover and page layouts are coming along nicely, I'm using, so I'll have to post a few pics of them next time around. I haven't done the wordy bits yet. But soon I will have done, then as soon as the last pics come in I should be just about able to drop 'em in and be all done!

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Monday, September 20, 2010

Miracle of the bottletop Virgin Mary of butter...Bottoms up! (the miraculous bottle's topless, but the Madonna isn't!)

So Meridee and I were just in Taos sharing a croissant and cup of coffee.
Taos is full of churches and religious icons everywhere you look.
I always supposed people had made them all, but now I wonder...

I scraped the butter off my knife into a bottle cap, and squeezed it so I could pop it in the top of the bottle.
I looked away for a moment, and Meridee came over all pale and ashen looking.
Imagine my surprise when LO, the Virgin Mary herself was miraculously standing there before us, balanced on the top of the empty bottle!

A feeling of great calm spread over me as I snapped a pic of the miracle on my parrot.

We're home now, and I'm still feeling quite calm.

Unlike these guys...

This other pic will make sense to anyone who is in Grand Rapids, MI over the next couple of weeks...

 It's ArtPrize time of course, starting Wednesday.

Here's how my turtles swimming finished up, I'll post more 'making of' pics next time...

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nearly there! More Mouse Project paintings for the book...

Just a few paintings left to come in, here's another amazing batch for the book I'm putting together to benefit animal shelters.
It's all been just unbelievable stuff!
To see all posts relating to the project, click HERE

Dreama Tolle Perry is doing a whole bunch, having re-named Sprightly mouse Phyllis, and featuring her beloved cat Eddie...

More on my new trough with turtles and resin for water experiment in the next post, and of course ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI starts next week (Weds I think), so if you're there pop into the public museum and check out my 'Amphibian Struggle' presentation!
Click HERE for more Mouse Project posts.

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My mouse project painting in acrylic...step by step from start to finish

I thought Craig Nelson cured me of painting more than a decade ago.
Meridee took me to his very popular week long painting class at the beautiful Asilomar conference center in Pacific Grove, California.
After spending a week hunched over a tiny easel (my easel!) on a very uncomfortable chair (my chair!) for about 12 hours a day I could hardly stand up straight again for a month.

That week didn't turn me into a painter, it turned me into a garden gnome!

I vowed to put away my brushes and never go near a paint tube again...

But after all the wonderful mouse paintings I'm seeing from everyone, I was inspired to:-
• unearth my old acrylics (they were buried under a bunch of carpet underlay foam in a big old cardboard box),
• re-acquaint myself with my old brushes (carefully stored in a plastic bag in case of emergencies) and
• give it a go.

I'd spent much longer messing about with paint brushes before I moved on to sculpting, so I was quite curious to see if I could remember how to make those odd little sticks with the hairy ends work!

After setting up my mice I borrowed a trick from Claudia Hammer using duct tape and some string to help scribble my mice onto a piece of masonite.

Here's how the painting progressed...

I used a Sharpie to sketch in the shapes...

I started in monochrome, exaggerating highlights and focusing on silhouettes.

Then I added a bit of modeling and brightened the shadows.

It's starting to look a bit ghostly now! John Watkiss teaches a method of painting where you alternate between scumbles and glazes. The scumbles have a very softening effect, so you have to be overly angular and sharp with the transparent paint to compensate for it.

Another thing he says is that you must not be scared to lose your painting in the process. 
You have to find it again later. 
Gulp...Here goes....

Ewww! Well that surely needs finding again!

A background re-paint and some more back and forth on the mice and it's starting to look respectable, I was very relieved to discover... 

I snagged a frame from Meridee, since I found one that happened to be 16"x20" in a pile of other sizes.

Those mice clean up quite nicely after all!

I didn't get the level of crispness in some of the strokes I would have liked, but all in all a fairly decent effort, if I'm allowed to say so myself!

Both Craig Nelson and John Watkiss will be turning in mouse paintings soon, and I for one am dying to see them!

Click HERE for more Mouse Project posts.

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Frog or duck?

I doodled a frog on a napkin for no particular reason the other day.
I must have done this scribble a million times growing up. It's practically a reflex action.

Meridee picked it up and said 'oh, what a cute little duck'.
I looked at it again.
The more I told her it was a frog, the more insistent she was that it's a duck.

Perhaps Meridee was losing her marbles.

Of course when she showed me the duck, and I showed her the frog,  we realized it's simply a matter of how you look at it!

Then she said it had kind of Linus hair, which I liked since Linus was always my favorite Peanuts character.

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Your guesses are in...

I've got all your guesses for my most recent win-a-mouse contest.

Thanks for weighing in with your thoughts, here they are from low to high.
No more entries from this point on, since my monthly email alert includes my weight thus far until Jan 1st. Sign up by clicking HERE if you want to get monthly links to the previous month's posts...

As you can see there's quite a spread, demonstrating a wide range of your faith in my fat-shrinking skills!

The winning result on Jan 1, 2011!
My plan is to make it someone near the top of the list, but we'll see...

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille