December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Sorry for the lack of a photo - I'm typing from my husband's MacBook as my Dell has died once again. The hard drive that was replaced last summer is now dead (I always could tell it was wasn't quite right) and a new one is sitting in the package on the kitchen table. I'm trying to decide if I have enough oomph left after yesterday's battle with the computer to salvage some files to begin from scratch again, from the Operating System on up ... (Definitely going Mac next time!) This is the real reason I've been procrastinating work on the next DVDs, I wasn't sure the computer could handle it...

... anyway ...

Here's wishing a Happy New Year to everyone filled with light, love and happiness!

December 21, 2009

A Dozen Wise Men

These were gifts our family painted for grandparents this Christmas. I don't think they'll be checking the blog before then... Everyone pitched in and it was a much needed creative release for me between my Calculus and Statistics finals (2 finals down, 1 to go!). Andy painted the hay for the cradle and the spots on the cows. Audrey painted the donkeys all by herself, as well as the crowns, and helped on lots of others, and Daddy even did most of the camels!
I wish everyone a very happy holiday surrounded by loved ones.

December 2, 2009

Alllmooost there...

If my head has been stuck in the proverbial sand (or in a tree as this poor horse found himself - I think the story ended well for him), it's because I'm waist deep in quicksand homework. Just finished up the last of my 8 midterms yesterday and now I have one more push to get ready for the 3 finals. I will be so happy to finish Calculus - that's what I'll be working on today. Next up (over the holiday break), editing the next batch of DVDs (that I wanted to have released last spring - yikes!) and some repairs and commissions (one for a friend and the other that was a trade I simply couldn't pass up!). If those all go well, I hope to finish up the Arab from the NAN 2008 auction so that he can go home with someone and a surprise sales piece I've been itching to do for a few years now (where does the time go?). Stay tuned...

October 19, 2009

Visions of DaVinci

DaVinci's Horse (note Audrey underneath!)

Last school year, Audrey brought home a book about this amazing sculpture and we discovered that one of the two existing sculptures resides in Grand Rapids, MI...

So, this past weekend our trip to Battle Creek to see family and Ann Arbor for a football game was slightly diverted to the Fred Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. We arrived with only 30 minutes until closing, so we made a quick lap around a section of the sculpture garden after stopping to admire The American Horse.

DaVinci was never able to cast the sculpture himself during his time and the original clay version was destroyed. 500 years later, many artists and individuals came together to recreate DaVinci's dream horse. Il Cavallo resides in Milan, Italy and this one is right here in Grand Rapids, MI.

Right across the way was this sculpture by another artist.

I believe there may be a horse sculpture by Degas somewhere on the premises, so we'll be back someday...

September 28, 2009

Harvest Time & Rainbow Chili

A few weeks ago the kids and I got carried away picking ripe tomatoes in my father's garden. The biggest, mutant looking tomatoes were ones that we had actually grown from seed (our first attempt). I really didn't think we'd see any tomatoes, especially after Andrew found the seed tray and was flinging the dirt out of it. We still ended up with more than a dozen plants, which we took to Papa's house to plant. What to do with so many tomatoes? I tried freezing them. It was actually very therapeutic to peel tomatoes after lots of studying. It was a bit messy, but not too hard to do. Now I have 2 big freezer bags full of skinned tomatoes, and 2 big bags of whole Roma tomotoes - way too many of them to peel them all!

I even made my own chili from scratch the other day. Once I convinced the kids to try it, everyone loved it! I call it Rainbow Chili (yes, I'm a bit cheesey!):

Rainbow Chili

1 lb. ground turkey, browned
2 small or 1 large green pepper, chopped
1 banana pepper (or another green pepper), chopped
2 heaping spoonfuls of dried onions (or chop up a fresh one - I can't bear to!)

-add the last 3 to the turkey while it's about half way done browning

3 tomatoes, chopped
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 tbsp. chili powder (more if you like it hot!, this is mild)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 cans tomato soup
1 can diced tomatoes (1 lb. 12 oz. size) - or chop more fresh tomatoes

Mix everything together in a large crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Yields enough to serve a family of four all week long. Next time, I think I'll freeze half of it. Though it was good on hot dogs and fries, too...


September 16, 2009

What you might find...

if a 3 year old finds your camera...

September 11, 2009

Fun with Friends

A live show is always more fun with friends!

September 1, 2009

RESS Challenge Event

A unique opportunity exists for anyone interested in having their finish work reviewed by myself. I will be the juror at the quickly upcoming RESS Challenge event at Meows and Minis Live Show in Itasca, IL on 9/12/09.

Email Karen Beeson, RESS Challenge Host, at to get the RESS Challenge Packet.

The event is less than two weeks away, but there is still time to enter. The model must be a mini (little bit/pebbles size or smaller). I’m not sure what opportunities exist for proxy showing, but you are welcome to drop Karen a line to ask. The best part - all entries will receive a written critique based on the criteria set forth on the score card. I have participated under other jurors and have found the critiques to be very insightful and helpful to my progress as an artist. I hope to offer all entrants the same quality feedback on their work.

Please consider entering!

August 20, 2009

New Member of the Family!

Our first family pet, Chloe! We adopted her at our local Petsmart from one of the local shelters this past Saturday. Jonathan picked her out and even picked her name. She has the best personality and everyone is adjusting to each other as well as a three year old boy and five month old kitten can be expected to. She manages to disappear and sleep for hours at a time - what would that be like?! It's a decision that's been in the making for months (years, really) and now she's here! Welcome home, Chloe.

August 13, 2009

Play Date

My very good friend, Karen Beeson, brought her two boys over to play with my kids today. Okay, truth be told, it's really a play date for the Moms. :) We have lunch, good conversation and work a little on horses. We both happened to be working on palomino minis resins. Forgot to take a picture of the horses, but I let Karen take a picture of me, too...

August 3, 2009

Four Little Letters that inspire dread...

For me, this week, those letters are G-M-A-T. For others, they may be L-S-A-T or or maybe M-C-A-T. They are all graduate school entrance exams, and I will be spending all my time until next Monday with a final push in preparation. So, I'd better get to it...

July 17, 2009

Breyerfest Sale on DVDs - FREE SHIPPING!

Since we can't all be at Breyerfest this weekend, I thought I would offer a FREE SHIPPING sale on my DVDs. This offer applies to both domestic and international orders.

Sale is available now until Saturday, July 17th, at Midnight CST. Order early as my supply is getting low on a couple of titles. After I deplete my current supply, it may be 4 weeks before they are ready to ship. I will let you know if this is the case. The company that reproduces them does have a very quick turn around time, so it may take less time.

To order, visit my online store at - free shipping has already been applied to all orders.

And for those eagerly awaiting the next batch of titles, please be patient. As with most projects, life interruptions keep me from my overly optimistic timelines. I do hope to have them ready this fall. The next group released will include The Art of Pastel: Bay, The Art of Mixed Media: Chestnut Tobiano and the first installment of The Art of Detail Painting.

July 16, 2009

Valinor's New Look

62% of those voting in the poll chose the braided tail, so here she is... I have some tweaking to do, and I may still twitch an ear, but you can get the general idea now. Let me know what you think. I'm open to breed and color suggestions. :)

July 8, 2009

Off with their heads (and tails)

It started with the little pony and the unicorn in the front. The pony is for my daughter and the unicorn is for another little girl . Then I thought I'd work on a couple Eberl ponies that I'd planned to give new hair-do's. Then I pulled some out that needed head transplants. And thus it goes. I always have more ideas than I have time.

If anyone would like to chime in... The Valinor resin had her muzzle redone and I will be braiding her mane - thinking about flipping an ear back, too. But I'm really on the fence about whether or not to lop off her tail and give her a mud knot? I really like the original tail, but want to make her different. Thoughts? Please vote in the poll to your left. (You can click on the picture to see it larger, than hit your browser's back button to return to this page).

June 29, 2009

The Sunroom Project

I am a very project-oriented person, I think that is partly why I was so drawn to our house in the first place. There were so many projects to be done. The latest was just completed today!

We had a 20-something year old hot tub in a vaulted sunroom right off the master bedroom. We had someone come out twice, but never timed it right so he could figure out why the GFI electrical safety was tripping. Basically, it never got hot enough to use before it shut itself off. Anyway, my husband made the big decision to have it removed when he found someone related to someone he worked with who was right for the task (and it saved us a little from having it "professionally" done by the spa people who we'd already paid plenty to just show up at our house twice and never solve anything, but I digress...).

Sunroom/Hot Tub Before:

After the tub came out, the real work (for me, anyway) began. There were cracks in the walls from the moisture over the years that I repaired first and gave the room a going over with paint. Then the old tile had to come out, especially since there wasn't any under the spa. So I rented a tile stripper. If you've never used one of these, consider yourself lucky. This was the worst part of the entire project. I guess we had thicker tile than usual, since it was non-slip and all. All I know is it took much longer than expected and I had the bruises to show for it when it was all said and done. Then of course, there is still thinset left behind, which is what secures the tiles to the concrete. So I rented a floor grinder. Not so bad after the tile stripper, but I did leave alot of swirl marks in the concrete. And of course, it doesn't go all the way to the wall, so I had to buy a little angle grinder. Nifty little tool, but even more swirl marks.

Once the floor was cleared and cleaned, I stained the concrete. There is this really cool semi-transparent stain I wanted to try that is supposed to help the finish look like natural stone. Unfortunately, the gallon I bought was more pink than tan, so I ended up getting a solid tan color instead. While I'm happy to have pink walls in my daughter's room, I don't think I'd like it so much on my floor... Oh, and I got to install a new fan, too! All sorts of firsts with this project.

Today everything came together and I moved in the furniture that Jonathan picked out and put in the new plants and pictures. Now, we can finally enjoy the view of our lake. (and I have to get back to studying Calculus...)

June 25, 2009

Romeo at NAN - Offers accepted...

I just heard from Stacey that she will be taking the palomino Artist Copy Ravenhill that I recently completed (aka "Romeo") to NAN with her so that he can be seen in person. Photos just can't capture this guy well... She will be entertaining offers and may sell him to the right offer prior to ebay, so if you've been thinking about adding this handsome fellow to your collection, contact Stacey directly. Her website is and there is an email contact link on the front page.

I will not be able to attend NAN personally, but wish everyone safe travels and lots of wins!

June 24, 2009

Pony Rides & Petting Zoos

The kids and I had a great time at Prairiefest, which is Oswego's summer fair. The highlights were the *free* pony rides and petting zoos (one with "exotic" animals and one where you can enter the pen).

Andy enjoyed his first ever pony ride, laughing out loud spontaneously as we went round and round. His poor pony looked pooped. It was *hot*!

And of course, Audrey gravitated to all things equine and made good friends with this furry fellow.

June 19, 2009

Romeo - better picture...

Well, a blue background suits him much better. He will be offered for sale soon. I'll post the link to his auction here.

June 11, 2009

Romeo - Artist Copy Ravenhill

Here is a sneak peek of Romeo, the newly completed Artist Copy Ravenhill. He will be mailed to Stacey early next week and she will be handling his auction. I will post the auction info to my yahoo group, and can post the link here also.

These photos are not that great. I really need to rethink my photo set up. I use a tent and photography daylight bulbs, but can never get the true color and details I'd like. Maybe its the background colors... Hmmm... a discussion for another day.

May 19, 2009

Like mother, like daughter

Audrey had her dance recital this past weekend. It wasn't her first, but she doesn't remember the one when she was three, so she was a little worried. She did a beautiful job. :)

For those that don't know, I graduated with a degree in dance from Brigham Young Univsersity. My emphasis was ballroom with a touch of modern dance. Being back stage with Audrey helping her get ready brought back a flood of memories. I loved performing. Seeing Audrey all dressed up and ready to perform made me a little misty eyed.

May 11, 2009

Art and Chocolate

My dear husband was so thoughtful this Mother's Day. I have a weakness for chocolate and when he saw these artistic chocolates, he knew I would love them!

They are Godiva's G Collection. The tag reads "the fusion of art & chocolate." How neat is that?! They really do remind me of gem stones.

They're so pretty we haven't even tried one yet!

April 21, 2009

While I've been studying...

... the horses have been out to play. My good friend, Karen Beeson, has been kind enough to proxy several of my horses for me this spring at some of the local shows. Here's a picture she just sent of my minis from one show (there are a couple new faces that I squeeked in this spring: the grulla Constantine and the appy Imp).
Thank you, Karen!

April 5, 2009

Pressing my luck...

I should have known better than to post a packing technique article on April Fool's Day. The little AA model I repaired is being sent back for repairs again after his trip home... I used the packing materials that were sent with him, which is a departure from how I normally pack. Tsk tsk.

April 1, 2009

Packing Safely

Here's an article I wrote awhile back for anyone interested. Most people pack fragile models well, but it doesn't hurt to share the information I've gleaned over the years.

That's a Tuesday resin demonstrating how bubble wrap can be used to build a support structure.

Here's the link to the article: Proper Packing Techniques - PDF document, 27 KB

March 27, 2009

Creativity isn't everything

Orchestrating productivity in the studio is more about project management and organization than creativity.

For example, I was repairing an Animal Artistry mini resin's legs today (that's the picture of him before the accident). After inserting wire into his leg and sculpting over the repair, I had a tiny glob of apoxie left over. So I smooshed it in place on another piece that is in progress. Of course, the loss of a small amount of apoxie will not bring my productivity to a screeching halt (I have plenty of other distractions for that to happen), but planning ahead so that I always have an in progress piece in need of filler keeps things humming along. By so doing, that little model will be ready for sculptural detailing next time I go at it with apoxie, as the fill work is now done.
Another productivity saver for me is working in batches. I rarely work on one model at a time, especially when it comes to prepping. I usually prep in batches of about a half dozen models. They all get their seams cleaned, then all get a bath in Comet, and so on. Why get the mess out for just one model at a time? This is true when working with pastels, too. Pastels make such a mess of my work table, that I usually try to work in batches of about three models at a time (more than that is more distracting than helpful for me personally). They aren't all the same color (I'm not mixing batches of wet paint that need to be used up), but they all go through the pastel phase together. Then I clean up my work area completely and they all go through the detailing stage together, whether one takes 5 hours or 50 hours to detail. In this case, I am working with wet paint for eyes and hooves and I'm less likely to waste paint on those small areas if I have more models to use it on. And when I'm done, hopefully I have another 3 models already prepped from the last prepping session to start on.

March 17, 2009

Audrey meets Pal

Audrey joins me at all the local model horse shows. This past weekend we had the pleasure of attending Show for the Cure, where I also had the privlege of judging the china divisions. And while we were there Breyer's mascot, Pal, stopped by and we got to say hello and snap this picture.

Audrey is my little mini-me. Here's a picture of her painting at 4 years old.

March 16, 2009

Sneak Peek

This fellow has been in progress for well over two years. He is the demonstration model for one of the new DVDs I've been working on: "The Art of Mixed Media: Chestnut Tobiano".

Just wanted to share a sneak peek of him while I was taking pictures of some other things. I have plans to finish the next batch of DVDs this spring!

March 5, 2009

Mare's Milk!?

I just saw this interesting article, dating the domestication of the horse back further than previously thought, to 5500 years ago. The conclusive evidence? They were able to detect mare's milk on the pottery!

Check it out:


March 3, 2009

Four Hour Final

Just finished taking my final exam for Accounting 210. Took me four hours to wade through 25 questions and I'm still scratching my head on some of them. A big thank you to my sister for babysitting Andy!

I've been working my way through accounting and business classes, which is why I have not been painting much the past year. I still have several classes to take. I'm currently enrolled in Corporate Taxation and Marketing, so I don't foresee to much time in the studio this semester.

I do hope to be able to finish the footage for the next batch of DVDs. The bay and chestnut tobiano footage is nearly there. I really want to get them finished this spring.
I have enjoyed my studies though. As someone once said, the more you learn, the more you realize you don't know. I think everyone should take a class or two. :)

February 20, 2009

New Favorite Primer!

I have a new favorite primer, Tamiya surface white primer. I read about it in one of the RESS forum posts, sorry I don't remember who posted it. It is made for miniature painters and is incredibly fine. And it comes in white, which is ideal for my pastel application.

I've only used it on about 8 minis so far and haven't even finished the first can (I bought several), but it goes on fine and thin. No loss of detail on those tiny wrinkles and veins. And it dries nicely to a slightly chalky feel, which makes me believe it will take pigment well. Haven't yet started painting, but I don't foresee any problems.

Not sure yet how it will fair on plastics. Tiffany Purdy told me there was some chemical (aluminum something???) in white primers that interacts with the plastics, which is why so many of them stay tacky after priming. I thought it was just the Krylon formula for their sandable primers, but maybe it is all white primers? I rarely, rarely work in plastics, so I haven't done alot of exploring on the topic. If anyone has any advice/thoughts on priming plastics, feel free to let us know in the comments! And since these cans are written in Chinese characters (or maybe it's Japanese?), I wouldn't be able to read the ingredients if I tried!

Anyway, I think this is a wonderful addition to the prepping aresenal. A must have for prepping minis scale models, in particular. I don't believe it is carried in any hobby stores, but it can't hurt to look. I ordered mine over the internet (the link above will take you to their site - it's the cheapest I'v found so far, let me know if you find it elsewhere for less).

Note: always protect yourself when working with spray primers and paints by wearing a gas mask and only spray where there is good circulation! Even the outgassing while they dry is better done away from people and pets.

February 17, 2009

Woes of Technology

I knew the hard drive was on the way out, I backed everything up (I thought) to our massive external hard drive, having been victim of "learning it the hard way" the last time our hard drive failed...
Our laptop isn't even two years old, but shutting it off in the midst of a Microsoft update proved disastrous for Ruby (the laptop). I ran the backup utility, which was set to backup EVERYTHING on the hard drive, just to be on the safe side. Then I performed a back up of Quicken into its own little folder. Then I tried to tackle Outlook. I installed some nifty backup tool provided my Microsoft and followed the instructions, putting it in its own little folder where it wouldn't get lost.
Well, the new hard drive is running nicely (thank goodness for warranties), and I downloaded all the drivers, the antivirus software, Office, Quicken and the printer (I still have oodles of software to download). Quicken is up and running with all the data intact, but much to my dismay all my Outlook data appears lost forever. The backup didn't backup the .pst personal file, it actually appears that it didn't back up anything. And my back up in case that didn't work was that I had done a back up for the whole darn C drive. Nope - it doesn't back up certain types of folders/files and that included the App folder under my user name that housed the personal file. I believe there are times we need to purge in our life, but I usually prefer it be on my terms. It's always refreshing to clean out the closet and the boxes stacked up and donate stuff to your favorite charity. And there is much to be said for simplifying our lives. I just wish I could still have all my contacts, past emails, and tasks at my finger tips. This happened to me once before and I survived. Lesson learned - again. Luckily, the most precious things (the thousands of photos of our family) and critical things (financial data) are intact.
So, after you finish reading this, please go back up your data!

February 8, 2009

The Artist's Eye

An interesting discussion cropped up on the RESS forum, started by Lesli Kathman, and I wanted to share a bit with you.

First of all, take a moment to take the Munsell Hue Test to assess how well you see color. The lower the score, the better you "see" color. Now, keep in mind that monitor variations may alter your score a little.

My husband thinks I see colors funny. It all started because I called his Honda Accord brown when he thought it was grey. In his defense, the factory color was called "Charcoal." Now, brown is a very broad term for color, but he would not accept that the car was more brown than grey. Grey is an interesting color becuase it can have brown tones that make it warmer. The point is, I felt vindicated when I got a near perfect score on the hue test. Ha ha!

But, it makes me wonder about how people see colors differently. As an artist seeing color is important, obviously. But what about the buyer of a piece? Does the interpretation of a piece change simply because somone sees colors differently than you? For example, choosing paint and looking at more than a dozen shades of "beige." While some people think they all look the same, others can distinguish more gold or more grey in each color chip. In our last house, the beige on the wall and the beige carpet didn't quite work together, in my opinion. Did the previous owners not see it (or maybe they just went with what was on sale)? When working on our next house, a fixer upper, I was thrilled to be able to make sure the carpet worked with the color palette I had chosen for the walls. I think the color harmony contributes to the peacefulness of the environment (when all the toys are put away, that is). Of course, everyone knows colors affect mood (which is why Pizza Hut is red, which is supposed to make you hungry), but does the harmony of hues also affect mood? And what does that mean, if some people can't distinguish hues while others can?

I think part of seeing color is developing an eye for it. I had a great art teacher in high school that taught us how to start looking for color. She really pushed us to see beyond the obvious to see what colors were making up the object (like green in skin tones). Being from Illinois, I became fascinated by the range of colors in the corn fields. There is an infinite number of shades of green, alot depending on how the light is filtering through it. Nature is so full of color. Look at the picture above. Leaves aren't just green, but a hundred different shades of green. And green happens to be my favorite color, maybe because nature is replete with so many variations of it. It has a soothing effect on me, which is why my kitchen, master bath and bedroom are all a different, lovely shade of green.

But, maybe not everyone can be trained to see color? Are there limitations that prevent some individuals from seeing hues as clearly as others? And likewise, are some people naturally able to distinguish colors more easily? There is a study showing that some women are tetrachromats and can see in four colors, having an extra cone on the X chromosome that allows them to see millions more colors than the average person. I wonder what percentage of these individuals find themselves drawn to artistic fields?

So our genetic makeup determines how we see color. We can be trained to "see" color to the extent that we actually can distinguish the hues. And even for those who are only trichromats, there are still millions of colors to enjoy.

January 18, 2009

Joining the Blog Wagon...

...the time has come...

This blog will be a source of ramblings on varied topics (please feel free to leave comments about what you'd like to see posted on the blog). And with this inaugural post I thought I'd share a list of recommended reads. I love to read. If I start a good piece of fiction, I am pretty much useless until it's done. It is not unheard of for me to start and finish a book in one sitting. I figure you can tell alot about a person by the books they read, so for what's it worth...

I am forever a Jane Austen fan and like many, have gone on to reading adaptations and sequels written by others involving the characters she created. Darcy's Story is one of my favorite ones. It's Pride and Prejudice from Darcy's point of view.

Another piece of fictional work that was introduced to me by the same person, is The Great Good Thing. It's a children's tale, but fresh and fun (and it's a quick read).

I am currently a student of accounting and business, so I recommend Naked Economics, a great primer on economics. I am still amazed that I graduated college without a more thorough introduction on this topic. This is a great read, not dry like so many of my other assigned readings.

Another great read from college assignments is the Pulitzer prize winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. I love nature and Annie Dillard captures the experieces beautifully.

For a very moving and inspirational read try The Hiding Place. It's the true story of Corrie Ten Boom during World War II.

Another one to get you thinking, but in a lighter way is The Tao of Pooh. Oh bother. It looks like I'll have to read the Te of Piglet next...

The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands might be a little more controversial. She approaches a woman's responsibility from a very conservative position, but it did make the New York Times bestseller's list.

And following the family theme, if you're pregnant or thinking of having a baby, I'm a huge fan of Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. Maybe some day I'll share how my son came to be born at home on the bed...

And once those kids are in school, I recommend The Public School Parent's Guide to Success. It basically instructs parents how to get the most for their child's education using the public schools, but keeping the mindset and diligence of a homeschool parent.

In light of the financial times, I highly recommend the very sage Suze Orman. She has a selection of books, as well as a TV show. She'll give it to you straight.

In honor of New Year Resolutions (it's never too late to start), I offer You: On a Diet. This one was featured on Oprah apparently. My favorite part is the explanation of your body reacts to different kinds of foods. And the recipes are pretty darn good, too!

And what would this blog be without a book about Horses? This one is a photographic collection by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. His work is definately worth checking out.

For a list of recommended equine books for the artist, I highly recommend checking out Lynn Fraley's bibliography.