Monday, April 6, 2015

Muddling through the "Good Life"

I picked up the other day "The Creative Spirit" by Daniel Goleman and found one of my favorite people Chuck Jones had added a few of his cartoons being my favorite Wile E Coyote.

Chuck Jones "fearing the dragon of anxiety is the necessary springboard to creativity."

Concentrate on what truly matters and don't get caught up in the banter of life, tv, computers, all are distractions.  Go for a long walk when needing refreshing  or to clean out the trials of the day.  Who doesn't think of great ideas or solve problems while showering or driving or on a leisurely walk.

"Four powerful tools for developing creativity.
Faith in your own creativity, absence of judgment, precise observation and penetrating questions. Remember the only dumb question is the one you do not ask."

Which brings me to add a note that I have declared 2015 to be the year of learning by asking dumb questions. If it saves me time or money I want to inquire as to "how" and learn.  Humbling yourself by asking advice (something a lot of us have problems doing) is as it should be an adventure in learning.

"Interpersonal intelligence is knowing oneself". You know where you have doubts and fears or where you fall in your day to day creating journey so you know what needs to be worked on or supported.  Everyone needs to embrace and cultivate this self knowledge.

"Life is, after all, not a question with an answer-it is a project to be lived." Eric Maisel

Listen to your inner thoughts more than the chatter of everyday demands, just remember to delete the negative. Mindless chatter does not benefit you, try to recognize beneficial ideas.

I wish I could watch Wile E Coyote cartoons in my studio all day as I work...I think it would add to my "joy", enjoy your creating.

"If one advances in the direction of his dreams, one will meet with success unexpected in common hours."  Henry David Thoreau

Friday, March 13, 2015


I know you are wondering where the Big Horns are and where in the process they are...they are being placed on a walnut base at the moment and will not have any photographs until April (first week) so must be patient which is always hard for me to be, have already had a gentleman look at it and make an offer but it was just a shy short of where practicality steps into the picture. Never rip yourself off trying to make that piece start moving right away before you even have it public there will always be people watching a piece that are familiar with the foundry and process.

Always remember until you have all your figures and expenses and can know exactly what you should charge not to cheat yourself you can not allow that piece out of your possession even if and especially if you have not even taken it home yet or to its first showing.

Always remember also that you have no photos of that piece and in the beginning it is so important to not sell a piece of work without pictures. It is your most important marketing tool. You can not sell Ed. #2 without pictures of Ed. #1 to use in marketing while the other is still in the foundry process.

Public Art

I wish I had nice things to say about public art but....

My few experiences with public art have been tragic and very disturbing and I have decided that they are not worth the time it takes to get nervous, get your own bids, write up the proposal and submit in the hopes that you will be picked.

About two months ago I received an email from a woman handling the prospects of rounding up bids for a project acknowledging therapy dogs....she contacted me due to the referral of a friend and business associate. This journey began on a Wednesday, she did not give many details except that it would entail a donation that had been given for that purpose. I informed her that I would love to hear the details.

Friday she emailed me that it concerned therapy dogs and wanted to show the relationship and interaction with patients or humans. Said she would get back to me as soon as she had more information due to the fact that they just started.

Monday I noticed that four different artist were receiving the same email and inquiry rather than me personally so I knew there would be competition. The lady sent pictures involving the site located and how it should relate to the existing sculpture of two children playing.

Tuesday I inquired as to where the proposal should be sent and whether there was a budget of any kind or cap on the response.

Wednesday morning I received an address and told to just send my proposal as long as they had it by March 31, which is when they would present it to the board........two hours later I received an email saying thanks for participating that the artist had been chosen and that they could move forward. I was blown away by the nerve, rudeness and assault on my being. They should at least give other artist an opportunity to open their minds with new ideas, fresh, exciting thoughts. Even though it is legal it is still soooooo awful.

Later I read on that that is the case quite often where they have already picked the piece and artist but legally have to make it public and offer it to other artist.

Another case in point, I heard on the news that they were attempting to pass the city legal red tape to build a new stadium where my children went to school and I thought "ah, another chance" so since they had not made it public yet for 1% and the budget was 220,000,000 that I could sure get my bid in and began again to come up with the paper work involved and bids. This time would be a little different because I had a maquette that would fit the plan.....a week later I find the layout of the budget online for the stadium and the piece of sculpture is already allotted for and described as half football player and half Ram.

So I admire anyone that has been able to break into that realm of business because unless you finance a piece yourself (which I am talking 50,000 or more depending on how large you are talking)  to have on hand or donate a piece (which believe it or not artist do) just to be able to break into that side of the business and say they have one out there it is a tough road. I have met artist that have said they have tried for 20 years and never made it, yet I have other friends that do nothing but outdoor monuments or outdoor installations and it is like asking the "great big secret" to find out how they began. I do not need that kind of frustration, art is difficult to get correct enough as it is.

So I guess I will forever do just desk top pieces and be proud of those and love my patrons as I do..

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Creating with Fearless Abandon

If you read me often you know I love books...well here is one to read." Coaching the Artist Within" by Eric Maisel

"Creating should come first thing every morning before the "mental chatter" begins and chores are demanding." Negative self-talk is a creativity killer.

Effectively coach yourself- can you positively influence yourself, openly communicate with yourself, monitor yourself and chat with yourself. You birth someone who knows you, chids you, congratulates you and loves you when you need it.

Fearlessly acknowledge the problem.
Inquire as to why.

"When you can't step away from yourself to observe, when you are boxed into yourself, your sight is myopic and your thinking repetitive and stereotypic. You can't see answers in fact you can't even see questions."
If you don't think that you, your ideas, or your work matters you won't have the motivational juice to create.
"What I think and create matters."  (mantra)
"Act like you have an inner cheerleader."
Make your life meaningful to at least yourself.
Live authentically!

What is your real reason for living and the role you intend to play in life?
Fill your days with Love of Life! (and it will show in your work)

This is an older book but I still may invest in it to have to re-read often...great read.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Difficulty of Armatures

Often the non-fun side of sculpting for me can be figuring out the armature for whatever you are planning. Planning ahead in a game where it is so much easier to be spontaneous is painful.

Ask yourself these questions in advance.

          What kind of support do I need from this structure?
notice it will come into the side of piece

This one will come into the bottom of the piece

all the different pipes and flanges that it often takes

I know, I know, don't you wish that I could straighten this mess on this site but there is no place to do that. But you can see what I am referring to as to where the pipe enters into the side of a piece of the bottom of a piece.

      Does it allow for the weight of the mold?

            Where are my body part extensions, wings, neck, horns, whatever, and do I need extra support.

           Is it secure with no movement and lastly where do I want my design to have a hole in it because where your armature goes into your piece is a hindrance to both working and accessibility for mold creation.

Now the dove that will sit next to this one is just coming into the space so it will have its wings extended so I will use the side armature to come in just under the wing uplifted so that it does not interfere with detail of wing feathers. Also where my T comes out with the wire for the support of the wings it will be several not just the single wire and I use everything from aluminum sculpting wire to copper wire...whichever the strength needed.

I can already tell by the hits on this topic that it is one people are curious about and there is another earlier post that talks about armatures also so go back and refer to it. I will try to do another one on a more difficult piece this was so simple that it would have been a beginner piece.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Continuation of Bighorn (waxes and molds)

This is a continuation of the work done to develop my Rocky Mountain Bighorn piece.

This is following the pouring of the waxes and molding process and cleaning up the waxes to prepare them for the foundry.
This is showing the mold involving the legs and horns which are molded separate from the body

This is just showing the empty mold just before you spray it with separation material where your waxes will come out perfect. I then put the molds together and band them with huge rubber bands bought at Home Depot and pour two coats with 240 degree and two coats of 170 degree, give it a few days then un-mold and clean.

This shows the bodies of the rams after you have removed the pour spot and are ready to begin re-assembling the rams to where you can return them to the foundry.

This shows the pour hole that must be repaired and also shows that the limbs where cut off needing to be cleaned out and made where the metal will flow continuously.

Now this shows where I have cut the holes in the ends of the limbs where the legs can be rejoined and the flow will be uninterrupted.

Notice the horns are the same I must clean out the seal where the metal will flow into the tip when it is welded back on.

See the little mark that shows where the tip is to be welded back onto the base of the horn, it is wise to score any where that must be welded onto another matching piece.

This looks terrible because the glue I used (sticky glue) is the color of honey and also the wax leg was poured in another color of wax rather than the dark almost black (such is life). Notice the slash mark to match objects.

This just shows where I have put legs on and also sealed the bottom pour hole so that it must look just like it was intended to look in the clay.
After all is re-assembled you need to go over the entire piece for any imperfections such as bubbles, cracks, holes or bumps and remove...this is important and saves money on the metal side when you have to remove them or correct them in metal (which is harder). Always check ears, eyes and noses because a tiny bubble is easily formed in these areas.

Next stage is the trip to the foundry


Friday, November 21, 2014

Journey of creating a piece, Rocky Mountain Bighorn

A lot of people still ask me what all entails coming up with creating a piece from start to finish and it is not something you can tell in 15 seconds.

To begin with you must have an idea of what you want to do and be able to play around with it so that it is not set in cement. Ideas are great but they often have to be flexible, you will run into problems and have to spin off in a different direction.

When I began my research I first had to decide which animal I admire enough to spend 4-6 months creating it and devoting my time to developing it. Out of the same family there are several rams that are similar but divided by geography and often build or coloration.

Dall Sheep

Desert Bighorn

Stone Sheep

These are all so similar in genetics but not in region.
Rocky Mountain Bighorn

I very seldom use taxidermy animals but have resorted to using for delicate areas that I would be unable to view on a live animal.
These were all animals at the DOW office down off of I-25 in north Denver. In fact the bighorn is the state record for largest Rocky Mountain Bighorn. These photos will play an important part in the development of this piece (plus I won't have to guess).
Now the next step is to do your own research from you own sightings and watching the animal move will help you decide exactly what position you want to begin your armature.

This was a very nice Rocky Mountain Bighorn caught enjoying his high view in the Big Thompson Canyon.

These are a little grainy but gave me an idea of the terrain around the animal.
Now the idea is established and the work begins, first the armature and catching the gesture that you want.

Often you will play with clay figures until you get them exactly as you see in your mind.

You play with clay until you find they are looking more like the stone shelves you saw the animals on being sure to not leave undercuts where they do not need to be (making a clean mold take-away). I actually separated the base so that they are each standing on their own little base removing some of the weight and also distraction from the piece.
I will dedicate another post to the casting and final work on the piece.
Thanks for checking in on my blog.