Monday, February 20, 2017

NaMoPaiMo - Day 20

Hello again!

It has been 18 days since I last blogged about my NaMoPaiMo (National Model Painting Month) piece, and for good reason. I have spent the last two weeks trying to get over a nasty upper respiratory infection. Sadly, it persists, but I am much better today, and ready to blog again.

I have accomplished very little during the past sixteen days, but I did complete two tasks of note. First, using prismacolor pencils, I applied a somewhat even layer of dark grey fleabites to my piece. Those familiar with the horse color termed "flea-bitten grey" will know that the color that I'm painting is usually referred to as "black" flea-bitten, which is opposed to the color that is commonly called  "red"(chestnut or bay) flea-bitten grey.  My piece has a slightly greater concentration of fleabites over the shoulders, neck and head, which is a common variant of the pattern.  It is absolutely not necessary for fleabites to be distributed evenly; you will sometimes see a real horse with entire "sections" (such as the barrel, etc.) that are nearly devoid of fleabites while they are plentiful in another place. With a model horse, however, it is wise to stick with the more common variations unless you are doing a portrait, or plan to show the piece with a real horse reference photo on the side. The fleabites that I applied are tiny, mere taps of the pencil. I can always go back and increase the size and concentration later, if I would like.

The second important task that I completed during the past two weeks was painting the lower legs and tail to the same warm white that I had painted the rest of the horse. Being day 19 of NaMoPaiMo, it is now the time to get the whole horse painted. There is not sufficient time to leave the legs, tail, or hooves, blank; I need to get them in pigments.

Up until today, I had left the lower legs, feet, and lower tail in white primer. Even though I usually wear white cotton gloves while painting, skin oils, and friction will leave the areas that you hold a bit slippery, and pigments/paint will not adhere to those areas as well. If you use acrylics to paint those areas prior to using them as hand-holds, you are likely to wear off the paint, necessitating further sanding and reapplication later. I prefer to just leave them blank and do the painting later in the process.

A fully white (or flea-bitten) grey horse will have a nearly white "background," with only a few, slightly darker areas remaining on the hocks and legs, and perhaps some portions of the mane, tail and face. Pale dappling will be visible in some areas, namely the neck, mid-barrel, lower haunch, and lower shoulder.

A different color, what I will term a slightly dappled grey, like my fellow, will have much more detailed pattern of color to paint on the legs. I found a few excellent leg reference photos for this phase of dappling, and started in with my pastels (senellier brand) and kneeded eraser. At this point, in the progression of the dappled grey pattern, the legs have some of the darkest remaining pigments on the horse. After very roughly sketching in (with pigment), and erasing (with the kneaded eraser) the lightest areas, this is what I have:

As you will see, the left rump (and right rump, when I get to it) and leg are going to be very detailed. I like where this is going, but I see that I will now need to darken, intensify, and detail some other areas, namely the barrel, shoulder, and neck dappling on the piece, to keep them at the same point in the dappling process as the leg/rump/

I hope to be back in another day or two with updates of my progress and an explanation of my process.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

NaMoPaiMo - Day 2

Hello Again!

I'm very pleased to have painted today, day 2 of NaMoPaiMo! I usually paint at a snail's pace, and certainly not every day, so this may actually be some kind of record for me. I definitely need to thank Jennifer Buxton for the challenge and inspiration!

First, to answer a question from yesterday's blog, I found the address to purchase the dental micro brushes right on the container.

Another product that I can't live without are cheap, disposable, white cotton gloves. You don't want to wear these while pastelling, because they could pick up and smear pastels where you don't want them. You definitely do want to wear them on the hand that holds your piece while painting, however, as they prevent skin oils from adhering to your model. Search for "white cotton gloves" in your size on amazon. I bought mine in a group of twelve pairs at once. They wash well. 

I usually work SL-OW-LY, making careful decisions each step of the way. I'm trying to ramp it up this month during NaMoPaiMo. Perhaps I actually did not "do" all that much today, but I did make a lot of decisions. 

I added a large snip and blaze to my piece. White markings on a grey horse are always a different color from the body color. This is because a white horse that started out dark as a foal and progressively greyed will have black (dark grey) skin under almost all of the white hair. Any white face and leg markings present at birth on this horse will have pink skin underneath. 

I also decided to create a mixed grey mane and tail, with a darker area toward the withers and a lighter portion on the forelock. Today's work included some further pastel work on the face, and mane, plus further definition of some of the facial features and neck wrinkles with varying shades of grey paint. Finally, I started adding some very tiny fleabites with a dark grey prismacolor pencil. 

The last decision that I made today was to give my piece a name! I have named this horse Umberto, for the Italian author of the book, The Name of the Rose. 

From his shoulders forward, my piece, Umberto, is really starting to take shape. 

Join me next time to see his progress! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

NaMoPaiMo - Day 1


Yes, it has been nearly two years since I have posted here. That certainly was not my intention, but life got in the way.

This month I'm participating in a 28 day challenge called NaMoPaiMo. What is that? National Model Painting Month was conceived by Jennifer Bray Buxton of the Braymere Blogspot fame. Today, Febrauary 1, 2017, marks day one of NaMoPaiMo. While I have been whittling down my outstanding  commissions, I have realized that what I really need is a boost. A shot in the arm. A way to get myself back in the habit of truly thinking about painting and just getting it done. As a result, I signed up for NaMoPaiMo and successfully completed day 1 of the challenge.

I started with a "Maxixe de Barios" Criollo resin body, sculpted by the talented Morgen Kilbourn. I have long dreamed of transforming this sculpture into a piece for my own collection and show string.  My plan is to paint this piece to a lightly dappled, and lightly flea-bitten grey.

I started out with this fellow primed in Rustoleum Painter's Touch Primer, flat white colored. My first step was to paint him a slightly creamier (not so stark) white in acrylics. I used several layers of thinned (watered down) acrylics to achieve the desired results. 

My next step was to add some shading on his face. Why do I start with the face? Humans are innately programmed to look at the faces of all other humans, as well as all other beings, miniature reproductions included. While the work on the body will be extremely important, creating a realistic and expressive face that the viewer can relate to is a primary concern of the painter. 

I admit that pastels are not my favorite medium. They are potentially messy, and require a fixative spray, however I have never found another medium that is so successful at recreating the delicate color transitions on the face of a light grey. 

I'm painting in February, near Chicago, so pastelling outdoors or in the garage is not an option. Instead, paper towels, taped down to the table, are an excellent surface for catching stray pastel dust. I start out with a small amount of wax paper on the surface as well, which I use as a palette for a bit of black paint for the eye balls. 

Some artists keep the eyeballs white throughout the painting process but I prefer to darken them from the start, adding additional colors and details closer to the completion of the piece. Why do I do this? Maintaining that the face and expression are of utmost importance, I like to have an idea of what the large, dark eye will look like on the piece from the start. 

I have mostly Sennelier brand soft pastels, but as you see, I crumble and crush them into small containers, labeled with the stock number for each color. This is another tactic for managing the dust. 

My tools today include a pastel smoothie and two small dental tools. Pastel smoothies are large, fluffy brushes, which can distribute a delicate layer of pastels where you want them. They are also superb blending tools. These are available from various art supply shops. I believe that these come in three sizes, and I find the smallest smoothie to be the most useful. The dental tools come in various shapes and sizes and are available online. I have had them so long that I no longer recall the source. You can see two in the photo: a green handled tool with a round end, and a white handled tool with a pointy end. These tools are best for applying a small area of pastel to your sculpture. They are intended to be disposable, and come in packages of 100 or more. 

Following a few hours of applying pastels, spraying, and drying, I have blocked in much of the facial detail on Maxixe. 

Watch here for further progress!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

No Frills Live 3/14/15 - Chinas and Customs

Hello! It has been a long time, but I hope that I will be getting back to regular blogging. Today I'm sharing some gorgeous models that I spotted at the wonderful "No Frills Live" show yesterday. Thank you very much to the Great Lakes Congress for hosting the show, and to Lisa Esping for judging the China, CM, and AR Divisions!  Please comment if you would like to provide any names of the artists and owners that I could not credit.

Exquisite Hagen-Renaker Fez owned by Elizabeth LaRose.  

Outstanding China Scarlett (Stacey Tumlinson Sculpture) produced by Tom Bainbridge and owned by Marilou Mol. As you can see, she was a big winner! 

Could this be any cuter? Donna Chaney sculpture owned by Linda Jensen.

Kitty details.

How is it possible that this is a RUBBER model??? It is a Collecta. Painted by Tiffany Purdy and owned by Linda Jensen.

A perennial favorite, H-R customized and painted by Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig. Owned by Elizabeth LaRose. 

Such a gorgeous face! 

This fantasy piece is best appreciated with the eye, rather than the camera. I so wish I could share the shimmering jewel tones of amethyst and jade. CM by ? and owned by Leslie and Dan Hahn. 

Photo 1 of the  ultra high quality "Other" breeds callback class. Credit given from top row to bottom and from left to right. Customized by Minkiewicz-Breunig and owned by LaRose. Customized by Stephanie Michaud and owned by Marilou Mol. Customized by Karen Dietrich and owned by Chris Wallbruch. Customized by Lynn Fraley and owned by Wallbruch. Customized by Minkiewicz-Breunig and owned by LaRose. 

Photo 2 of the CM "Other" breeds callback with credits given from top row to bottom and from left to right. CM by ? and owned by ?.  CM by Minkiewicz-Breunig and owned by LaRose. CM by Tiffany Purdy, Painted by Carol Huddleston and owned by Karen Beeson.  CM by Tom Bainbridge and owned by Mary Jo Nerly.  CM by Purdy and owned by Mary Jo Nerly. 

Photo 3 of the CM "Other" breeds callback with credits given from top row to bottom and from left to right. CM by Purdy, Painted by Huddleston, and owned by Beeson. CM by Minkiewicz-Breunig and owned by LaRose. CM by D'Arry Frank and owned by Marilou Mol. 

View from the other side of the CM "Other" breeds callback class. 

A lovely, soft pastelled piece, customized by Stephanie Blaylock and owned by Linda Jensen.

A pintaloosa Seabiscuit customized by Kim Naumann, who sadly no longer paints for the hobby. Owned by the lucky Chris Wallbruch. 

Weather Girl can really pull of a splash white pattern! CM by Tom Bainbridge  and owned by LaRose. 

"Quiver" customized by Minkiewicz-Breunig and owned by LaRose. 

"Ina" customized and owned by Karen Beeson. 

Darling little appy customized by DeeAnn Kjelshus and owned by Nerly. 

Breyer SM Foal "Amezquita" Customized and owned by Karen Beeson. 

A piece I was fortunate to snap up for my personal collection, "Per Se," customized by Stephanie Blaylock and owned by Beeson. 
Please watch for my next blog post showing pieces from the Artist Resin division! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fraley "Chickory" Pony to Buckskin Pinto by Beeson at auction to benefit Meows and Minis Live!

This little chubby-wubby pony, sculpted by Lynn Fraley and painted by me, is currently up for online auction to benefit Meows and Minis Live, a cat shelter benefit show! Please check him out and place your bids!

He is a 100% donation to the show (100% goes right to the shelter!), VERY generously donated by Marilou Mol!

Online Auction Link:

Please note that these photos show this fellow MUCH larger than real life. 

Ad photo/image

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year and Johann Clarification

Happy New Year!  It's the year of the Horse!  May 2014 be a better, brighter year for all!

Old-Style Morgan Gelding circa 1890
Traditional Scale "Johann" sculpture, sculpted by Morgen Kilbourn
Painted by Karen Beeson
Multi-Champion, Multi-NAN Qualified in Breed and Workmanship

I have a clarification to make today, to hopefully "squash" what it starting to sound like a scandal brewing in my mail box. I have received a rash of messages about a piece currently posted for sale on the MH$P.  No, that is not "Sebastian," the Johann sculpture (sculpted by the talented Morgen Kilbourn) that I painted.  This is what the first burning question was.  The piece is advertised by a known artist, and while it is not stated there, I expect the piece was painted by the artist who placed the ad.  What one will notice if you compare the two pieces is that the advertised piece appears to be painted in acrylics (perhaps by airbrush) while Sebastian was painted in oils by hand.

The second burning question was if the piece up for sale is a "copy" of Sebastian. With much gratitude to those who know my work and wrote out of concern for me, and the originality (within the laws and colors of nature!) of my work, I must explain that I have no reason to believe that the piece currently up for sale is a "copy."  First of all, the artist's address shown in the ad is in the East, and Sebastian has never shown outside of the Chicago area. I attend nearly every shows around here (Chicago), so I would have probably met (or been aware of) the artist had she been here. Also, to my best knowledge, Sebastian's photos have not made it out on the web much, or perhaps at all; I  lost my ability to add a watermark to my photos and suffered a computer crash shortly after taking his final photos, so the only three of his studio photos that exist are those that I was able to retrieve from my e-mail. I would have liked to add a watermark and post and share these photos, but that just never happened. There is a chance that Sebastian may be posted in someone's online show photos, but his showing has been limited so this is unlikely too.

Even more significant is the fact that while we all now know about "colorful" Morgans (duns, buckskins, etc.),  the breed is still predominated by a few select colors.  Bay with limited white may very well be the #1 most common color represented by live animals of the breed.  Think of all of the Friesian sculptures that will be painted black by so many different hobby artists. The concept is the same. While preparing to paint Sebastian, I looked around online and chose a very red shade of bay to specifically avoid coming close to the many other shades of bay that I did find on painted Johann sculptures.  The red shade is plentiful within the breed, however, as I found many wonderful references showing real Morgans sporting coats much like the color of both Sebastian and also the advertised piece.

So for the sake of comparison, here is Sebastian himself.

Old-Style Morgan Gelding circa 1890
Traditional Scale "Johann" sculpture, sculpted by Morgen Kilbourn
Painted by Karen Beeson
Multi-Champion, Multi-NAN Qualified in Breed and Workmanship

Thank you very much to all who wrote in kindness and concern, and please forgive me if you weren't one of the first, and received a note referring you here for a reply!

HAPPY 2014!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

1960's Toy Store Fantasy

I have this fantasy of finding a picture showing a 1960's toy store Breyer display, complete with decorators.

Back in the 80's, before the current clear window Breyer boxes, toy stores would take out one of each model, for display in glass cases or sometimes even on open shelves.  Sometimes the open displays resulted in dismembered display models, but it was still wonderful to be able to compare your options side-by-side, on the floor, on the counter, paired with models you already have, paired with models you want, and in every imaginable scenario, prior to making a decision.

Once you made your decision, you would then need to ask for the model from the back, or choose an unopened box from nearby. With all of the color and shade variations of the day, you didn't necessarily always get what you saw.  Sometimes your model was much darker or lighter, or painted less neatly than the display version. Going back to my fantasy, I suspect that displaying one copy of each model would have been standard in the 1960's too, when each model came in a sealed cardboard box, later with line drawing of the item, and more often with just the name and number of the model.

As a child, I purchased my model from about ten different nearby toy stores. We had a Circus World Toy store in the Yorktown Mall in Lombard, IL until the early-1980's. This store was only about ten minutes away. Another Circus World location was a bit farther, a 30 to 40 minute drive.   It was this farther, North Riverside Mall location that my father drove me to one evening in roughly 1981when I was nine.  I had saved enough money for my next new dream horse, the dapple grey Old Timer.  For some reason, apparently low popularity, most stores didn't carry that model, so once I found him by phone, my Dad spent his evening trekking to Riverside just to help me purchase him. The "sample" model was behind the glass, but I got a boxed version.  It felt like forever between asking the clerk to get the boxed model (which was kept in the back), paying, and when I could finally tear off the cellophane and open the box to "meet" my very own Old Timer. How I wish I had taken pictures of that moment!

At least I have the memories of the model displays of the 1980's, but I still dream of seeing what toy store Breyer displays looked like in the 1960's. Some searching led me to an interesing site, . Two photos from this site intrigue me (all credits to the site and photographers listed there).

Photo source:  Full Credits provided there. 

The Breyers are in that first glass display on the far left! Is that the grazing mare I see? Are those the boxed models on the shelves below? This looks like the late 1970's and early 80's Circus World stores that I remember. 

Another photo appears to be much older. Look to the right and left of the shopper's head. Are those the charcoal Family Arabians that we are seeing to the left? Is that a black Fury model that we are seeing to the right? What is on the next shelf down? I enlarged the photo but still can't see the horses very clearly.

Photo source:  Full Credits provided there. 

My fantasy is still unfulfilled, but these old photos delight me, and I'm still hopeful that my "dream photo" will turn up someday.