Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snuggle Bunnies

This is actually a piece that I had sitting around for quite some time trying to decide the constant question this art or is it just cutesy.

top view of bunnies

front view of bunnies

I decided that some people might like cute and not have an attitude about the controversy.

A few summers ago I found a tiny bunny in my back yard and knew instantly that I had to do a piece involving rabbits.

I was quickly reminded of a time long ago when our family collie used to bring up little baby rabbits in her mouth very gently depositing them on the steps. She was a natural mother and did not realize that they would die being almost hairless at that time.

shows wax of bunnies
This was like a lot of my pieces, it was an act of love and went very quickly and lesson learned is to trust your instinct on what will be attractive to patrons and what will not.  It has done rather well even though it has not been on the market but a few months and many patrons have even picked their own patina which makes it even more personal for them.

Snuggle Bunnies Ed 5/15

traditional patina

showing without the base which could be an option for patron
my favorite
This shows the unmolded wax ready to be sprued and poured at the foundry. This is also a good view of the wax piece and the mold I had just taken it out of which would also show the high ridges that are in the negative (mold) which you have to deal with when pouring.  You pour the first time with 200 degrees to pick up detail and then thereafter you get cooler and cooler until you actually have to spoon pour the edge of the ridge to get it to adhere. Just remember you do not want your wax too thick 1/8th of an inch is fine....about 3 or four pours.

This also shows the versatility of the patina and the change in the affect. There is such a difference in the opaque and the translucent patina.  My favorite is the last Snuggle Bunnies in the close up.  This just goes to show that you can not only produce cute art but you can enjoy and have fun with it also.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Moose, moose, only a mother could love!

I have been working hard on finishing a moose and doing the research on this animal was just as much fun as doing the actual clay work.

desktop armature for Moose

This is the armature I have chosen for the piece I am currently working on, as you can see I have surrounded myself with not only my own research photograhs but anything I can get my hands on with a moose shown. 

As my son says though you can not take bits and pieces of each you have to decide exactly what season it will be and at what point in time you are depicting. Also with moose they differ so much in each region that you have to be careful not to use the wrong example.You can use your pictures for reference but have to create your own sculpture, otherwise it may look as though you have taken pieces of different puzzles and tried to glue them together.

moose without horns

I first decided that I wanted a mature bull, Alaskan or upper 65th parallel, they are 7 to 8 feet at the shoulder there and the horn formation is quite interesting and can be almost bazarre. I also wanted it to be walking among river rocks which I myself love.

Researching Moose for Piece

This would be a small guy compared to Alaska Moose

Recently in my research to do a moose piece I came across a wonderful book "Moose Behavior, Ecology and Conservation", text by Valerius Geist and photography by Michael H. Francis.

Besides the wonderful photography I found the text so educational that I thought I would pass it along. "A century ago American wildlife was all but gone" "overshadowed by World War I was the birth of North America's continental system of wildlife conservation...wildlife flourished...species once barely alive flourished."

learning to use my Canon digital

"Science was enshrined as a guide to proper public wildlife management".  Thereby entered a unique profession, the wildlife biologist, restoring through intelligent management and for most I have met a passion for the wildlife they conserve. I have had the wonderful pleasure of working with these professionals as a volunteer and have never met a biologist that was not passionate about their work.

Another team to watch in their wonderful photography and reading are Erwin Bauer and wife Peggy, artist or just wildlife lovers have ultimate books to refer or browse through and enjoy

Hopefully any one reading this blog realizes the importance of game management  and continue the legacy begun by our great grand parents. Next time you are buying pesticides or cleaning agents there are numerous new products out there that will not harm our environment or our wildlife and children...leave the legacy in tact.

Thanks to all the wonderful authors that enlighten us and remind us to treat the earth and its wildlife with respect and to also remember John Muir's quote:

"When we tug on a single thing in nature we find it attached to everything else." John Muir

Friday, September 28, 2012

Time to Work!

Sorry but you will not have a blog from me for a few months, I not only have another commission that is in the works it is also verging on the holidays so I will be busy, busy with family.

If you are a patron keep checking out art whether you prefer pastels, etching, pencil or paint and sculpture please try to keep artist in your future and if you are an artist, keep up the good work and don't hesitate to drop by or say hello.

Talk to you again in January.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Exhibiting via truck and trailor

The past two weeks have been exciting but exhausting also. I had my largest show of the year in Loveland, Colorado, the Loveland Sculpture Invitational and a new show the 17th Street Art Festival in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

17th Street Art Festival
 This particular view is of the set up I had in Cheyenne, Wy. this past weekend. I attempt to draw viewers in by working live on a  pedestal in the center of the 10 x 10 area.

You notice that I placed a large piece that drew a lot of attention in one corner at the front and another large piece at the far opposite corner in the back.

I do take a few extra pieces in order to not have an empty pedestal when one sells.

Loveland Sculpture Invitational
  This is a view of the set up I had with the same 10 x 10 space at the Loveland Sculpture Invitational in Loveland, Colorado.

This gives a better view of how I played with the area, giving room for the patron to browse and make a circle of the entire area.

The two uses of the space allowed one to browse entirely on the outside in Cheyenne and to enter the space in Loveland.

Often you will show in different spaces, one allowing people all around you the other only allowing people to see you from the front and enter from the front (you have other artist butting up against you on either side.

I haul 12 or more pedestals to shows in order to get the look I want
 This shows how I haul pedestals and in the case of the Loveland show we hauled also an atv on a flatbed to unload on the premises and hook up to the flatbed unload the pedestals and load the work (hauled both in the truck and my car) in order that we could pull onto the show grounds going from parking lot to 10 x 10 space where they did not allow vehicles.

If only I could get enough courage to drive the atv up in the pickup and use the trailer as already loaded with pedestals it would not take me so long to set up.

Yes, I realize that I could bust out the glass in the back window or roll over myself off the back so I doubt it will happen anytime soon...only in my dreams.

Each show is different and each time you may set up your space differently to allow the best view and traffic. I have exhibited in the center using two C shapes to each side with me in between allowing viewers from each side to view as they are circling  tent.

I have learned over the years to allow patrons to look uninterrupted and if they are interested in a particular piece or want to strike up a conversation they just have to be attentive and friendly, connect them with a piece they may be admiring by telling a story about that particular piece.  Give it life and personality in their view. Otherwise you will constantly be scaring off people by trying to entertain them or carry on a conversation when all they want to do is look.

I had a great time and made new friends (both fellow artist and patrons). Had return patrons and gave them a percentage on another purchase...this is how you develop as an artist...produce and market, you can not do one without the need of the other.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Art Demo's in Public

Doing an outside demo is always fun for me because I get to talk about my favorite passion and show people just how I arrive at pieces I create.

I was involved with a studio Creations, Art and Gifts in Louisville, Colorado and they were nice enough to let me demo in a tent outside during an art walk.

What you have to remember when you are introducing your particular medium to non-artist is that many do not have a clue as to the process.

I have been asked many times how I paint the metal onto the clay object and I am tickled to introduce them to the fascinating process of lost wax casting.

During a demo, I not only try to show them the creative process of the artist conception in clay but also the remainder of the process as referring to the mold, casting, metal chasing and patina. I try to explain that I am not the only artist that touches my work and I often refer to the other artist as my team because without them I would not be able to complete my work.

I usually take with me clays, waxes, molds and raw metal if available to show them as many examples of each process as possible.

I also invite them to take a tour at one of the foundries in Loveland (they give wonderful explanations of the process).

I have done demo's also during important shows such as the Loveland Sculpture Invitational coming up here soon in Loveland, Colorado.  When you have three days to talk you find all kinds of questions and almost form relationships with patrons letting them into your private world of creating. Don't sit back and just let them look at things, talk, talk and talk. A relationship with a patron is important in the sale of your work, they must feel a connection with you in order to feel connected with your work. Show the passion!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pouring waxes "the good, the bad and the ugly"

Preparing Mold

 I have talked about pouring wax before but maybe not quite as in depth.  This first picture is of me putting my molds together in a really simple two piece mold which I have already sprayed with release and in my own creative method taped the sides together with reliable old grey tape.

You can not tell but I already have had my cookers on for several hours, which is what it takes to melt all my wax down to where there are no clumps or chunks on the bottom and as they are melting down I clean all my spoons and dipping pans. Make sure your dipping pan has a pour dent.

You actually have to start the roasters out at around 400 degrees to get it to all melt then you begin backing it off to the temperature you desire, one tub is 200 degrees and the other is anywhere from 180 to 160 depending on what I am pouring. I have thermometers in each roaster (which you can see in the second picture) showing me the constant temperature.

 Some molds are actually small enough that you can do them the way I am doing but then other times they are too large and you need two people one to pour and the other to support and roll the mold. Also notice that I have a heavy apron on the protect me from splatters of hot wax and a bowl of water in between the roasters just in case I have to dip my hand in to cool or peel off the hot wax.

actually pouring into small mold
Look at the figure I am holding in the third picture and imagine it covered in plaster where you can not see the shape, you have to know where the nose is and where the tail is and just how much to tip the mold to get the hot wax to run into the ends.

 You have to pour the first 200 degree wax into the mold and fill it all the way to the top,  shake it a tiny bit to get the hot wax to go into feet and tiny details (horns if applies) and especially rotate it towards things like noses or tails. Then as you start to rotate your mold and tip it to empty the hot wax you make sure you are covering every square 1/2 inch of pour spout to show you that you have evenly distributed the hot wax all the way around as you rotate and tip to pour it out.

I usually pour two of the 200 degree and then two of the 170 or so temperature making sure to get the complete rotation of the work to where the thickness is the same all the way around.

The most important is of course the 200 because it is picking up the tiny details and if poured too fast it will be the one to create bubbles or if you pour too slow it will show the ripple affect on the side of our wax when you pop it out of the mold.  You want your wax around the 1/8th of an inch thick all around the work.

There will be cases where you will have a tiny piece and only pour one pour and it will be solid.  I make all my horns (because I work desktop and small) solid where they will handle the sprueing and preparation of the crust mold that is produced before casting.

Where I have found problems is when I have created something for instance an animals curled up that creates a cavity in the center then that will be a hill or high point in your mold (you are looking at the inside). You will actually at the end of pouring the four times have to cool your wax even further and spoon a little at a time to cover the "protruding areas" or high spots or you will have a hole there.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Just wondering

It seems most of my views that are on the post  I am explaining a technique that I use or something I am working on, I could use some feedback on what it is my viewers would like to see or would be interested in watching me do.

I realize that the times you are reading me you are away from your own creating or personal time so I want it to matter. Let me hear from you and if I can possibly help or explain I will. I was recently talking with a woman that works in another medium and was curious about the process of lost wax, I steered her in the blog direction but I also remind people that only by going back to the very beginning of the blog can they get all the necessary steps of clay to bronze.

I have recently been searching for a new camera, digital and a new experience for me so wish me luck and I would welcome any advice from any artist currently using one.  I use mine not only for long shots of animals for research but close up of details and also my online submissions.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Just thinking.....

If you have checked in on me very often you remember I love finding quotes and ran across this gem.  "When you move forward with passion about what you know, what you don't know won't paralyze you." author unknown

When I think about 17 years ago and whether or not I should have or should not have started sculpting it puzzles me as to how I thought I had the guts to jump into something at that point in my life when most people would have been thinking of ways to live an easier life.

Sure there were a lot of things through the years that if I did not know I had to either ask about or  experiment until I found a solution. Some things just had to be done rather than explained because it was the feel of something not necessarily the explanation of how to do it.

In the old days there was a clay that was probably one of original oil clays (Plastilene) and I began in California with it...until the first time I wiped my eye with a dirty hand and the burning from the residue of the clay made me start my search for another clay quickly. Most of the time it is the effectiveness of a product, or the smell or residue of a product that turns me against it.

Also in the old days we used to do plaster molds by the old method of a large bucket of water and putting your plaster in until it started to "hill" then we kept eyeballing it until it was time to add the fiber glass. I played with silicate sand in sandblasting not knowing it would be later found to cause cancer and cut stained glass letting chips fall where they did not knowing some would remain in my skin and cause little bumps when skin grew over them.

When you are young you are fearless.....and a little dumb!

Now I am smart enough to know that certain products are not good inhaled or handled bare handed. Often I have to move something that is too heavy and I know better but no one else is around, that is knowing better but doing it anyway....also dumb.

So  just to let you younger artist know, we all start out with a dream and learn along the way but don't ever let your fear of failure place blinders on your creativity.

Want to close with another favorite that I ran across that I feel we have always wanted to do as an artist and maybe on a personal level also....we all wish we could do that fantastic monumental piece of art but we need to know that all our small endeavors are important to someone also.

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble." Helen Keller

Regardless of the work being accomplished, do your best and always work with is forever and it so speaks of our society as a whole.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lab pup, cute or artistic?

There is always quite a conversation on what exactly is art and whether an artist should do "cute" pieces or should they do creative, artistically unique work.

This is a problem for artist that do representational work because we constantly float between doing what we think people will love and what we love ourselves or experience.  I happen to love labs and we have had quite a few wonderful dogs.

In your lifetime you will see moments that tug at your heart that you just want to freeze and this particular moment that I have tried to capture here is just that moment.

First Retrieve
I worked this up in Chavant clay and used an armature that is fairly large to capture the awkwardness of this pup. The trouble with puppies is that they do not stay the same size long at all so you are either constantly hurrying or you constantly change your design as the pup changes. My thought is to work fast and be able to catch the  moment within the week or two that you desire. Measure, measure and take photo's of every little detail...remember people that will be attracted to this piece love labs and pups and will know if anything is not right.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Crazy time! Exciting time!

This has been a very busy time for me and as I have mentioned before on my blog, your work should always come first not the internet requirements or marketing.  If you do not have the work or portfolio there is no need for the other.

I am trying to finish up a commission that has been a difficult piece, it is a mastiff.  Hopefully it will go to the mold maker next week and I can get on with life.  I am at the same time also working on and finishing up a mule deer and taking some molds to the foundry.

For the next few months until Aug. you will probably hear less of me than you have ever heard but it is because the Loveland Sculpture Invitational has always meant a lot to me and I am in it the second weekend in August. It is a major show for me and I usually do well in selling as well as commissions. This will be my fifth year to participate.

This is one of the largest sculpture shows in the US and is held under seven large tents with almost 300 artist so it is very competitive but gives you the opportunity to talk with the patron and him or her to you which is very important. You see every type of medium available and every subject matter.

I will post later when the details are closer at hand but hopefully if you are a sculptor (beginning or honored) you will come visit the show and say hello.  If you are a patron please come enjoy yourself and visit and ask questions or watch demo's.  With the economy picking up we are expecting a great year.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wiley Coyote

Coyote in the mountains hunting

One of my favorite animals to watch is the coyote. He is often a lone hunter but as good at finding small animals as the fox and often watches for quite some time before pouncing (and yes they do pounce just as a fox or even a cat).

This is a view of my work space showing the clay on the armature, always remember when doing a vertical work that you have to not only support the clay but you have to remember to build it strong enough to support the weight of the molding material also.

If you notice I have used a discard cabinet board from Home Depot and the bought armature which I have to admit is better than my pipe creations because of a simple little hinge area to add to the top of the post in order to change the slant of the top portion.  I have bought several of these and they really come in handy with animals because of the movement you want to show.

The cabinet portion is also great because of the finish on the surface allowing you to put the Vaseline or release of some sort onto it in order to be able to pull your mold off after it has hardened. Remember also that you have to add another product to keep the silicon from slipping off the vertical figure unlike your molds you make for something flat such as a relief.

Wiley Hunter
This particular figure is one of the few pieces I created not using Chavant and ended up not ever using it again for the very fact that it did not hold up as well and was way too soft.

This has been a popular piece not only because of it being a fun animal but also because coyote are found almost all over the U.S.

One of the few times I have seen coyote's traveling in groups was in the Rocky Mountain National Park and they were following a lone elk cow that did not look healthy.

Again often I can open my windows onto the Platte River at night and hear them running along the river in packs and crying out in answer or response to others or even neighbor dogs yelping. This is an animal that is a great example of one adapting to civilization and often seen even in alley's or backyards.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Domestic animal sculpture depicting an industry

I have been blessed with the pleasure of having several commissions for the beef industry which has put food on my table for years and I admire ranchers and farmers tremendously.
USDA Prime
This depicts a finished steer and the pride of an industry and the work put into a steer over a period of 120 days or more.
Sheep Industry

This is a desktop of an industry that I see a lot of in Colorado and was honored as well to do some work for these nice people.


This piece was created for a feedlot and depicts two steers looking through the pipe fencing and is perfect for a desktop depicting your office decor and an opportunity to show a customer that you are committed to reflecting your lifestyle even in your office.

All of these pieces as well as others were done on location and viewing the animals up close.

I always challenge any industry to welcome an artist to do a piece either for entry or office to depict the very industry they represent.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another great powerful read!

Just finished The Power of Who by Bob Beaudine and as always I relate it to the art field regardless of what I am reading. If you have been following me you have read how much my art friends mean to me and how they support me...they are a few of my Who. Ok now I admit I am beginning to sound like a Dr. Seuss book.

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." author unknown

Everyone has a group of people that they turn to for advice, encouragement and support in their lives and this book clearly gives them credit to the development of your creativity. Loved this book!

"A who friend will call a halt to fearful thinking. When you are in fear of losing yourself call a who, a who friend will redirect you to the light when on a dark path. A who friend knows your true identity and won't let you forget."

"When you move forward and find a closed door just remember that door was not meant for you so look for another one opening to lead you forward. Don't take life as it comes."

"A who will confidently listen, care and help strategies with you."

"Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get". George Bernard Shaw

"If you want to have something you've never had before  you've got to be willing to do something that you've never done before". author unknown

Quite often I begin an art day dragging and really not into my work (other things digging into my brain and ruining my focus) but I have also learned that if I stick with it and go at it from all different directions then I find in a few hours that I am working and pleased with my progress. Then it is hard pressed to get me to come up for air or food and water. Pure Joy!

When I am down, not because of burn out or boredom but just because the price of copper is rising and I can't quite get a handle on the kind of wire to use on tiny antlers without having to do a lot of wax re-work or the marketing end of art is driving me nuts....I turn to my "Who"....hopefully you do also. This post is dedicated to my very special "who" and I feel in the description above they will recognize themselves.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lightening thought

I was working on a mule deer the other day and realized I have a definite method of working in clay that I had not realized after all these years.

I find that I work based on angles, and silhouettes. I began thinking as I worked what it is I look for in identifying an animal whether in the mountains during good light or at dusk only suggesting a form in the distance.  Bingo - exactly! Outline or silhouette is what you instantly search out for identification. You are looking for familiarity of form, length of ears, shape of body, curve of horn even stance.

That is where knowing your subject backwards and forwards comes into play and why if you walk into your working studio and something just does not look right it is because you are looking for that familiar outline or profile in your clay piece in progress. Always remember that the longer you work on a problem area the more your mind and eye get used to seeing it that way so in essence it looks normal to you when it really isn't. This is the point where you know something is not right so you either cover it up for a week or so then go back and by then it will be obvious to you or you place it in front of your corner mirrors (remember I mentioned that I have my pedestal in the corner with each wall having a mirror so that I see it from all angles) or another thing would be to slowly rotate it each day to the angle you see the minute you walk into the room and the minute you walk in and say "hey that is all wrong" you will know that the profile is not right in your minds eye from the vantage point you are looking at it so that will be where you need to make the corrections...(my English teacher would freak out looking at all my run on sentences).

One last thing I want to leave you with (you know my love of quotes!)

"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you". Henry Ward Beecher

If it does not look right to you, keep at it until you are happy because you know what you are trying to depict and what you want to convey to a patron. Don't get in a hurry, don't compromise because you are on a schedule and have deadlines or the kids need picking up from school or the phone is ringing (turn it off while sculpting), if you don't have time to do it the best you can be then DON'T. Don't ever let something leave your hands with regret on your mind...GET ER DONE!

As always I love feedback or comments................

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Refuge in the Wetlands

Refuge In The Wetlands
 This piece was created after a volunteer job for the Division of Wildlife.  This was not a pleasant job but it gave me the closeup, hands on feel for a duck.

My son and I teamed up with a DOW office and two gentleman from Ducks Unlimited to pick up dead or dieing ducks of botulism.   This occurs with certain weather conditions and is not preventable but everyone on lakes all over hurry to remove the infected ducks before they are eaten by predators or spread to other birds. (We did find a few crane dead also). We carried them out by the hundreds as we walked in chest waders dragging a contractors trash bag behind in our wake.

This is exact measurements of a mallard (life size) drake and I depicted him banded to honor those dedicated to preserving and tracking waterfowl.  Our DOW volunteers work hard to assist the Division of Wildlife in anyway possible and when it comes to ducks, work right alongside state biologist and groups such as DU. I have been busy lately and need to get back into volunteering with DOW in order to give something back.

The cattails were difficult in this piece considering the weight they had to support of the incoming mallard.  Hopefully it gives the illusion of flying into the cattails. As in a lot of my pieces these two forms were never married in clay but welded together only after casting in bronze.

I used tiny balsa wood pieces and wood dowels to cover with clay before molding and by surrounding an upside down paper cup it maintained its shape and formed great support in the circle of cattails depicted. This was constructed so that it could be placed in a pond outside on a metal plate or on the base shown in an entryway. The stray reed arching over in front broke up the upward motion nicely. It sits on dark green stone to portray water.