Monday, November 30, 2009

"Drum" horse drawing and scrimshaw

Approved! :-)

(American Paint Horse)
colored pencil and graphite on tan Stonehenge paper
5x7 inches

(American Paint Horse)
multicolor scrimshaw on pre-ban elephant ivory

Sunday, November 29, 2009

other things

As I was outside in the warm sun today, I was thinking about all the things I was going to write this evening. And now that it's late at night and I'm sitting here in my pj's with a towel on my head and gloves on my hands to keep my fingers from icing up, I can't remember much of what I wanted to say.

It was a relaxing holiday weekend, pretty much. Mom and I were invited to a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with family friends. We've been getting together with them for many years and it's always fun to visit with them! We've all known each other for almost 25 years.

Yesterday, Mom and I went to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. Years and years ago, on a whim after hearing one of their Christmas songs on the radio, I bought the CD for Mom, because she's a total Christmas song nut and I thought it was a pretty cool rendition of Silver Bells. At first it was like "okay, that's different" but it rapidly became a household holiday favorite. I love the story that it tells (admittedly the first few times I listened to it I didn't realize there was a story!). So after years of missing out on the concert she found out about it with enough advance notice to get good seats this year. It was amazing. Awesome. It's like a Christmas rock concert. People were dressed nice, it was a crowd of all ages, and boy did they put on a show. The light show is every bit as important as the vocal performance. If you ever get a chance, GO!

Today I finally got around to finishing the electric fence. I hadn't touched it for months. OMG I'm done!!! The final pasture, which I did in one fell swoop today (oh what I would do for a back massage!) is my arena, which obviously isn't a real arena, it's a pasture, you know, with grass in it. I may regret hot wiring it. Now when I use it as a riding arena, I will make sure to keep a healthy distance from the rail! Getting scraped off on the fence would have a whole new angle to it now. I'll definitely be sure to unhook that section during riding times! :-/

I started another scrim project today. So I have two going on right now, the last two to be done before Christmas (remember they need to ship out in time to be received by then!). I can't show you the one I just started. I'll tell you it's a pendant and it's a dog but I can't show pics. While I don't think the recipient reads this, enough of this person's relatives are prowling around on here that I think I'd best keep it under wraps til after Christmas! I'll be working on the hand-tool portions of that and the knife while eagerly awaiting the arrival of my compressor oil. Usually I like to do the AirGraver stuff first, but... time's a tickin'. :-)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

and the winners are...

Time to pick some winners in the most recent art giveaway!

"Buffleheads" goes to:

Congratulations (again) Ellie, you've won "Buffleheads"! Luck is on your side it seems!


"Night Horse" (warm) goes to:

Congratulations Anthony C., you've won "Night Horse" in the warm colors!


"Night Horse" (cool) goes to:

Congratulations Grannie Annie, you've won "Night Horse" in cool colors!


Y'all have til 10pm next Saturday (Dec 5) to email me your shipping address so I can send those on their merry way! Please email me at

I'll find more stuff to give away! :-)

be still my bird nerd heart!

Apologies for anyone not into birds, or bird pics. ;-)

Yesterday morning there was a flock of wild turkeys in the pasture. Since they are easier to approach in a vehicle than on foot, I drove the pickup out there and snapped some photos. They are more skittish now than they were in the summer, and though they moved at a leisurely pace they were up and over the back fence in not much time at all.

Wild turkeys:

An American Pipit preening itself on top of the round pen:

We'd gotten a little rain that morning. The sky was cloudy and interesting. I could hear Sandhill Cranes flying over. It was pretty good birding weather! So I decided to head on down to the refuge and then out to the delta to see what I could find. Mom wanted to go to. Now I have to say that doing these things with a non-bird-nerd is hard. I could watch birds for HOURS. I could take hundreds of photos of the same thing. Non-bird-nerds don't really understand this mentality. But it's okay.

So first we went to the Cosumnes River Preserve.

Greater White Fronted Geese (plus some ducks and coots too):

It's really a lot of geese...

Canada Geese and coots:

And then I drove out to a particular road in the delta, specifically looking for Sandhill Cranes. It's a GREAT place to watch the cranes fly in at night (it's where I photographed the cranes at sunset a few weeks ago) but there's not much going on in daytime. Cranes were in the distant fields, out of camera range, many napping with the heads tucked under one wing. There was a large flock of Tundra Swans in one of the flooded fields, way out of camera range. A Red Tailed Hawk soared around. Way way way far away, far enough that it was only a shadow in the sky, I saw a flock of thousands of birds rise up. I lamented that I wasn't there instead of where I was. Sigh. I watched the distant swans through the telescope for a while, and was packing up to drive away when all of a sudden the distant shadowy flock of thousands was heading straight for me. OMG! I about died of excitement, pulled my camera back out of the car, and waited like a little kid at Christmas. It was glorious. Glorious. I realize not everyone will find this sort of thing as exciting as I do, but when thousands of birds are flying overhead, it is awe-inspiring. There were Greater White Fronted Geese and Aleutian Canada Geese by the gazillions, and just when I thought I couldn't get any more excited, there... flying in low... Swans!!!! My little bird nerd heart swelled with glee, and I practically sang praises for my super fast and very telephoto camera (so heavy it about made my arms fall off with all this overhead shooting!).

I took hundreds of photographs. Really. A lot of them are terrible. I still don't know how people get really crisp photos at such a distance. If you see these full size they are a little gritty. I DO wonder if lenses that are specifically made for a DSLR would fix that problem, since I'm using old lenses from a film camera. But buying new telephoto lenses, psh that's not going to happen any time soon, uh uh. I guess considering I was not using a tripod, mostly shooting overhead, and focusing manually, the vast majority came out pretty well!

Did I mention there were a lot?:

Aleutian Canada Geese (note white ring around neck versus regular Canada Geese):

Aleutian Canada Geese and Greater White Fronted Geese flying together:

Tundra Swans!:

You can sure pick out the juveniles in this flock!

I didn't notice til I looked at the pics that some of these swans are wearing neck bands!

Adult Red Tailed Hawk:

Juvenile Red Tailed Hawk:

It was awesome. Right time at the right place.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

November 25 work in progress

Today I transferred the image to the knife. And breathed a major sigh of relief when I was done with that. I always find that part nerve-wracking, it's the foundation. A foundation of microscopic dots. I do have kind of a weird life, don't I...

See the dots? They're not much to look at before they are inked.

Gotta be inked!

Do you know it can be very angst-producing to post these WIPs on line? It's really different than a finished piece!

Anyway, we're going to have a slight change of plans here in the near future. I realized tonight that my air compressor, which has been getting a heavy duty workout lately, is low on oil. I ordered more, it's some special thing, you can't just go buy it at the hardware store, alas. Anyway I'm guessing that will take at least a week to get here, and I think I'd be better safe than sorry so I'll hold off on using the compressor (and therefore AirGraver) until then. Soooo... I could do all the hand-tool work on the portraits I guess, though I sure wanted to get that border in first. I started it tonight, didn't photograph that though. Or I may put this aside and start on the next project which is not something I can show in progress, though that one needs some pneumatic tool time as well. Hmmmm.

Right, don't procrastinate on buying compressor oil, especially in Christmas crunch time. I'll figure something out.

Remember, you have until Saturday night to enter to win free art! I need to make that only a seven day thing next time, this is taking forever! Saturday night I pick winners!!! Be sure to check back in or else you lose out on it!

Oh yeah, and Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! I hope you have an enjoyable day, spend it with people you care about, and don't get into any more family drama than is necessary. ;-)

Here's my very first poultry art, in keeping with Thanksgiving blog tradition:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

starting a new project

Okay, so tentatively I'll be meeting with the lady who commissioned the drawing and pendant of "Drum" the horse next Monday. Look for them to be posted in their completed full glory shortly thereafter. This is normally something I would do via email, sending a proof, but alas not everyone has email. (gasp!)

Today was one of those "between projects" days which tends to mean I have 94750987 little piddly things to do, run errands, etc. I did go out to lunch with my neighbor though, which is always a treat.

I am ready to start my next project, which is a smallish but incredibly complex image on a knife. People portraits! I hear the collective gasp. Yes, people portraits are challenging, but I'm trying not to get overly hung up on that. Follow the form, like any other subject. I'll refer to this as the Generations Knife, since the image features three generations of men in a family (the youngest of whom is my friend DC... who is married to JC and lives 3.5 hours north for those of you who will know who I'm talking about). It's a Christmas gift, but I have permission to post works in progress, because the recipient (his dad) won't see this.

To my eternal gratitude, the pre-ban elephant ivory scales have been polished glassy smooth, so no fiddly touchup for me to do! YESSS!!! This is a kit knife. DC made it.

As you can see, it's a lot bigger than the zebra knife! Sorry, not great lighting, I didn't think to do this in daylight today.

The back:

Pretty damascus steel blade:

Pretty colors on the metal, ooooh:

I don't want to accidentally mar any of the surfaces, so I've wrapped it in felt and tape except for the area where I'll be working (red felt, so festive!)

Tomorrow I'll transfer the image, which is going to be REALLY difficult! I need to take that super slow.

On another note, I have to share a photo of Olin, my adorable and dorky cat. This blanket on the couch is his new favorite place to be. He got himself all smooshed in there!

Speaking of adorable and smooshy, did I mention that my niece is not only the cutest thing ever, but also brilliant? Check that out, seven months old and already with the New York Times! ;-)

Monday, November 23, 2009

a series of leaves, part 2

Leaf overload, I know.

Leaf #2, which I did not photograph when it was green.

a series of leaves, part 1

I finished the horse scrim pendant! But my client gets to see it first. I hope to schedule a meeting for this week.

So, instead of that, now that the leaves are all brown I'll show you the whole series of leaf photographs, starting at the beginning (so some of these are re-posts).

Pics were taken between 1:30 and 3:30pm on an almost daily basis.

Leaf #1