March 30, 2012

Sayaad Al Assad: Creation of NAN Donation 2008


Sayaad Al Assad

(Arabic for "The Lion Hunter")
This piece was originally intended for the 2007 auction, but I was unable to finish him in time. This is by far the most extensive custom I've ever created. He is basically an original sculpture over a whittled down resin armature. In 2008, he didn't meet his reserve at auction, so I did more work on his finish, adding subtle dapples and more warmth to his shading, which I think really helped to being this piece to completion. This was the last piece I offered as a donation to NAN. I realized that I just don't have the time to create a piece each year and give it the attention it deserves. The lack of photos showing his progress is evidence of how precious my time became throughout the process.

This year’s portrait is inspired by the painting, “The Lion Hunt”, by Horace Vernet in 1836
I will be using a Centeno resin by Gudrun Schmidt to customize into the grey Arab in the front. It will be a more involved overhaul than the previous portraits, as I will have to do a lot of refining and resculpting to turn the original resin into an Arab type.

Here is a before picture of the resin:
After the initial review and determining what needs altering to create the portrait, my trusty dremel gets to work.

Here he is shown with his joints cut where he will need to be repositioned, and his head has been whittled down considerably. Next step will be to soda glue the joints in place, attach his head with a thick wire to set his head and start sculpting. Additional dremeling will be needed to refine his legs, but I'll wait until he is standing and the new position is stabilized.
 Next he was pinned back together and dremelled down to an armature. I dremeled down all four legs to realign joints and refine the cannons. Then I sculpted him into his present form.








 Reserve Champion of Division, No Frills Live Show, Huntley, IL, Feb. 2009

March 25, 2012

Leopardo: Creation of NAN Donation 2006


This custom portrait is taken from a large painting entitled, "The Imperial Riding School in Vienna", by Johann Georg von Hamilton (1672-1737). This is the third and final Spanish Colonial horse creation based on the artwork of Hamilton for the NAN Auctions. This particular model started out as the traditional-scale Brigitte Eberl Esperanza resin and has been customized by Danielle Feldman.

I have chosen to call him, Leopardo, Italian for "leopard", in honor of his striking coat. The appaloosa color is no longer found in the bloodlines of the horses developed from the historic Spanish Colonial Horse. "Leo" underwent a transformation from the original resin to portray the Baroque leopard appaloosa in the above mentioned painting. This included resetting his forelegs, changing his broodmare belly to a gelding hay belly, completely reworking his back leg to be resting, including a complete restructuring of the pelvis to be tipped towards that leg, as nature intended in that position. He also had his neck realigned and ears twitched to represent the mood of the horse in the painting. The final sculptural touch is his plaited mane with bow, just like the painting. After hours of sculpting and prepping, I meticulously hand painted him using gesso, acrylics, charcoal, and pastels. He is a warm white with shading showing dark skin on his face and underside, including mottled skin and other appaloosa characteristics. I tried some new techniques to add more depth to a leopard appaloosa coat and I am very pleased with the results.I then added Rio Rondo shoes and painted nail heads. I also made a small base for him with fall-colored landscape material for display or show, close in color to the ground color of the painting.

Detail from the painting, "The Imperial Riding School in Vienna", by Johann Georg von Hamilton (1672-1737)
Esperanza Resin by Brigitte Eberl

 After the initial cutting apart of the resin, poor Leo now lies in pieces. I also whittled down his offside hindquarter to reshape it and allow for tilting the hips due to his resting leg. I also whittled down the belly so he looked less like an aged broodmare. The pile of fluff is only a portion of the resin removed. Yikes, what a mess! I also detached the front legs to set them closer together.

 The pin and glue step follows. Now that I have the parts I need, I can reassemble him to reflect the stance of the portrait. Drilling holes and securing thick wire with soda glue to piece him back together. A lot has to be taken off in order to change the angles of joints, etc.

The "joints" are held in place until now by soda glue. Here I have blocked in epoxy to fill gaps and large areas, some of which will later be sculpted over. 

 This photo show a little more sculpting done with fine tuning, especially of the offside hip and the hind legs.

 Detailed sculpting follows. These show his mane all plaited up with ribbon.

Prepping follows.

The completed Leopardo. I really enjoyed the creation of this model and feel that I captured his personality.

The following year I started on a new theme with an Arabian, but was unable to finish it in time for 2007. He ended up being offered in 2008. It took more than two years for his creation, my most drastic custom effort yet, be sure to join me next week for his creation.

March 17, 2012

Inky: Creation of NAN Donation 2005



Manchado de Tinta or "Inky" for the short English translation - Donation to NAN 2005 Auction
Manchado de Tinta (aka "Inky") is a custom portrait inspired by a historical painting by Johann Georg von Hamilton, the court animal painter of Emperor Charles VI. Countless hours went into transforming a Brigitte Eberl "Verocchio" sculpture into this historic Spanish Colonial Horse performing the Levade. He was meticulously hand painted with acrylics and pastels and sports one blue eye, delicate, shimmery bows, and even subtle shading on the white. Note that he does not require the use of the base, as he is perfectly balanced free-standing.

Here is the painting that provides my inspiration for the piece and a before shot of the resin.


Repositioning has begun. I used the cutting and heating method to move parts. Some parts required being completely detached and pinned into their new position. Still need to tweak the angles of the legs so that they are in proper alignment. Right now the hocks are a little too close together, which was proper for the way the original sculpture was moving, but not for the levade. The forelegs were actually easier than I planned and I should have only minor shoulder work for their new position. The head had to be completely chopped off as the resin was solid and too hard to bend. This will create more work in rebuilding that area, with all the fine veining and wrinkling that were obliterated in the process. And the ears were removed so that they will both be back. They are refined enough, I may use the original ears with minor modifications rather than sculpting new ones from scratch. I guess we'll have to wait and see. He looks pretty frightening right now, so be sure to come back and see his progress!
Getting the alignment of all the parts was very time consuming, with much trial and correction. I had to remove the hock, pastern, elbow and knee joints on two legs either because the armature wire was in a place that did not allow me to work with the original structure or I did some drastic bending of those particular joints from the original position. I lopped off a good portion of the tail to raise the body angle, and this also helped to back-weight the piece so that it appears that I will be able to finish him free-standing. The pastern angles and hooves will have to be tweaked by sanding down and building up with epoxy as the armature wire was too stiff to bend any more in those short areas. I also cut off more of his neck at the poll to give me freedom to place the head where I needed it.

I used soda glue to secure the pins in their new position, which has great strength to hold while I assessed the new positioning. I found it fairly easy to work with when I needed to undo a section since I didn't build it up too thick during the trial stage. In one area I did overdo the soda glue and had to dremel it down to change the joint. I don't recommend dremeling soda glue or heating it up, it has terrible fumes. Lesson learned!
I have discovered that sculpture is really problem solving in three-dimensional form. As soon as you correct one part, another part begs looking after. And then there is the balance issue that calls for constant problem solving when working with that moving equine! One thing I tried this time was to use soda glue to adhere a series of washers to the base of the tail to create an armature of sorts. I was hoping it would add weight as well, but the epoxy was heavier than the washers I could find. I've been finishing his tail seemingly prematurely because I need the weight of the epoxy there so he doesn't tip over when I start working on the forehand. He's going to be one very heavy boy! I did put aluminum foil in the neck cavity before laying epoxy over the top to make some effort at keeping his forehand light. Here's hoping that the delicate balancing act of sculpting will end up with a steady horse in the end. Here's a couple more pictures with some sculpting work done.
Okay, some more work done. The alignment of the right hind leg was still bothering me, so I chopped it off at the stifle and slid the whole thing forward. Lots of rebuilding was done in that area. He is getting heavier and heavier with all the epoxy. Good news is that by moving that leg forward, he is completely stable on his tripod support now, the extra weight will just be padding I guess! Changes aren't very visible in the photos other than the creeping amount of epoxy covering his body.
Showing off his newly finished mane and pert, little ears. Sculpting is done!




Prepping is done, here he is all in white. Some of the photos got awfully pixilated when I shrunk them down, he really doesn't have a bumpy exterior!




And finally, the completed Manchado de Tinta. Although he came with a custom, landscaped base with tiny blue wildflowers, note that he does not require the use of the base, as he is perfectly balanced free-standing.