Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tahoe or Bust

Today I left from 0Ennis Montana at 12 pm and headed south towards Tahoe City California. I completed the first leg of the trip driving to Elko Nevada. Hopefully you'll be able to see a condenced version of my trip in this 9 minute video.

This is the second part of the trip. I arrive at the north shore of Lake Tahoe. I'm actually not going to the gallery today (June 30th), I'll be setting up tomorrow, the 1st of July. Excuse the segments where there are black lines going across the screen. Have no idea why that happens.

Well check back in. I'm going to try and set up a live feed from the gallery. If I can get a web connection. If I can, you'll be able to see me live from 12 pm to 5 pm (Pacific time zone)Hope it works out.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Good Trade - Almost quit again on this piece

OK, had another wave of doubt come over me on this piece. It happened as I got towards the end of the day today. I'd been struggling with this piece all day. Something bothered me, and I couldn't figure it out. Well I'll explain how it turned out later.
Started today working on the robe on the mountain man today. I'm adding flaps of material (shown in the first photo on the left) and developing other folds in the robe.
Then I start to put whiskers on his face. It's about now I'm feeling uncomfortable with the piece. Not because of the beard, just somethings bothering me.

I change the headgear now. I was feeling the floppy hat was just to much. I start to put a fox fur head covering on him. I'm liking it now. Still, there's something bothering me.

OK, this is where I'm ready to set this piece aside forever. I talk it over with a friend, Jeff, and when I'm off the phone with him. I'm looking at it. Then it dawns on me. I have to much dark wax. That's whats bothering me, so I start to apply clay to the wax robe. I'm feeling better now. So it was something that simple. I'm back at it.

That's the struggle. You struggle with yourself. If you don't, your not being critical enough with your own work. That's all part of the creation process.
Well that's it till next week. Check back in on Tuesday night. If I've got a Internet connection, I'll update you then.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Good Trade - A New Wife - Face Time

I block in, using lines, the divisions of the Mountain Man's face. Then I start to sculpt the skull features. Finally I start to slap in the muscle shapes and mouth area.

I start to form the large floppy beaver hat. The type that would have been worn during the fur trading period. I form the brim by running a blob of wax through my Pasta Machine. This flattens it out. I then determine the diameter of the brim and use a compass to scribe a circle on the flat piece of wax. I then cut that circle out.
I next determine the line on the head that the hat will fit down on, and then I heat up a knife and cut the top of the head. I set the top of the head aside and place the round flat piece that forms the brim on the cut area. Once positioned, I then put the top of the head back onto the top of the brim. Line it up with the head below. This helps to block in the size and shape of the crown of the hat. Then I start to experiment with the shape of the brim. I may still take this hat off and put a fur cap on instead. I'm fluid with the design.

Now I melt wax, and using rags, I dip them into the melted wax, and then carefully place it over the shoulders of the mountain man and then put a blanket on the Indian woman. I do this to not only to save tons of expensive wax, but also to speed up the process of creation. Here are photo's of the robes on both figures.

Once the Wax in the cloth sets up, I can start to add soft wax to it. I don't just leave the cloth the way it is. I start to add folds and take away folds. This is so I can shape the blanket to match a design in my head.

Well that's for today. Tomorrow I won't be adding to the blog because I'm going to spend the day at the funeral of my friend and neighbor, Jack McGowan.
I'll be back on Thursday, and then will be off till next Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning. I'll be continuing my blog while I'm doing my appearances at the galleries this summer. I'll be at the James Harold Gallery next week. (My schedule is on the top of the right column)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Down from the High Lonesome (p17) Change of Name - "A Good Trade - A New Wife"

First I would like to dedicate this days blog to a dear friend and neighbor, Jack McGowan. He and his wife Barbra have lived across the street from me since I moved here in 1987. Years before, he was the coach at the Ennis High school here. What a gentleman he was all his life. He purchased a few of my bronzes in the 90's, and he was always proud of them. Jack passed away this afternoon while I was working in my studio. I'll miss him.

Today, I started to work on the Mountain Man. Starting with the legs. Please excuse the poor photo's. Working in dark wax is very hard to photograph. If you put a white background behind it, the light meter reads the wall and the wax comes out so dark you can't see it. You use the black background, well it's just hard to photograph wax.

I start to block in the ribcage area. I also try and work out the movement of his torso as the horse moves under him. So I have him leaning into the rocking motion of the horse. This, hopefully, puts across movement. I also take a wooden dowel and cut it to the length of the rifle he'll be carrying and start to experiment with placement.

I take a piece of baling wire for one of the arms, and bend the end that will go into the wax ribcage area. I then heat that end and push it into the wax. The bend and the melted wax that surrounds it, locks in the armature for the arm.

I decide for now, to have him holding the rifle with the butt of the weapon resting on the saddle inside his open legs. This will probably change. It's at this point that I decided to change the name of the clay to "A Good Trade - A New Wife". This refers to the fact that he's traded for a Indian woman to help pass the coming winter with companionship. Trapping by ones self could be very lonesome in the long winters of the high country.

Now I start to block in the arms. I roll clay into a long roll and cut it down the middle with a knife and spread it open. Then I wrap the roll around the arm armature. This gives me a base to add muscle later.

I start to block in the woman, working from the head measurement that I worked out for her. She's shorter than the man. You can see the markings for head measurements on the wood of the base. W for woman, and M for... well you get the picture.

Well I may not be back in my studio till Monday, because of the events of today. Next I'll start to create the faces.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Down from the High Lonesome (p17) Subtracting, and Adding

Before I get started, I had a friend come in to see my studio and tell me good bye. Anchalee "Bell" Santiman, is from Tumbon Rangang, Thailand. She has spent the last few months working locally, She's heading home next week. Bell has been trying to teach me Thai... Yep that went good.

As I said in the video, I've remade the armatures, because I'm redoing the figures in wax. The clay is just to soft for high detail in faces, and hair. So I made the female armature a bit smaller than the male. Once made I start to add wax to the legs as I did on the cowboy in Bronc Stompin.

I've cleaned up the horses a bit and worked on the neck of the rear horse. Now I'm putting the saddle blanket on the front horse.

From the saddle tree up, I start to create the Santa Fe Saddle. This is the type of saddle used during the Mountain Man era. I'm making it out of wax.

Then using clay, I start the bear skin that will be over the saddle under the Mountain Man. Using one of my metal tools I start to put texture into the fur. Not sure if this detail will survive the creation of the Mountain Man, but I figure it's worth a do.

At the end of the day, I'm ready to start the Mountain Man tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Yesterday, spent the day dealing with my Internet provider. Today I'm back and ripping it.
I start with bailing wire to make the cowboy's armature with. When you have a cowboy or rider completely out of the saddle, you have to figure out how to attach it to the horse and make it stable enough to work on. I cut two small pieces of wire and wrap it around the lower part of the leg armature then plant it into the body of the horse. Then I stick another piece of wire into the saddle down into the body of the horse and then I tap the upper part of the cowboy to this. Now I have three points of attachment and this makes it so I can work on a solid armature of the cowboy.

As you can see, I start to work on the legs first. Then I add the thorax or ribcage area of the cowboy. Of course I had already worked out the proportions of human to horse earlier. Very important to get that formula down first.

Now I add the arms and start to block in anatomy. Jawline and such.

Well that's as far as I'm going to go with Bronc Stomper till I get to James Harold Gallery in Tahoe City California from the 1st of July, for the beginning of my Summer appearances. (check out the box upper right column for my schedule of appearances this summer)
Tomorrow, I start back on Down From the High Lonesome.

Friday, June 13, 2008

BRONC STOMPER - Flank Cinch and Clinch Latigo

I was going to start the cowboy today. I found a better wax to sculpt with, the only problem, it takes hours for the stuff to soften so I can work with it. Also had to start melting the pot of glue wax, and that takes hours as well. So I spent the day researching the Latigo Cinches. Those are the straps that achor the saddle to the horses back.
This is a double rig. So it takes two straps to fasten the saddle to the horse. I investigated the rings and how the straps were attached and cinched. Pictures below show the finished cinches.

I know the creation of this piece and the other ones seems to be very tedious. It is. An artist has to have the patience to take his or her time. You rush a creation and you muddy it. You tend to get to close to it to see mistakes that you may make. I hope this whole process is eye opening. Artists struggle for their art.
Well Monday I'll get to the cowboy. By that time the waxes should be ready to be worked with. Check back Monday evening.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Today I pick up where I left off yesterday. I add the eyeballs into the skull.

I find I need to re-align the eyes with each other so I cut into the wax and remove the right eye area, and then move it up and down till the two eyes align. (Remember you can click on the photos for a full resolution view)

I start to add muscle to the skull and shape the mouth, in an open, and angry position.

At some point I realize that the space between the two eyes is to narrow, so heating knife, I cut into the wax, and widen the space. Once widened I fill it in with soft wax, and it's done. I constantly cut and adjust as I go along. You have to be willing to take a chance of destroying to perfect a thing.

I add the saddle blanket and mount the saddle permanently into position.

Well it was a great day. I stopped coughing for the first time in a month. As I write that, I coughed. Ha ha. I felt great today.
tomorrow I start the rider. I can't wait.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

BRONC STOMPER - Suffering for my work

Sorry, I've been suffering from a Spring cold the last couple of days. So I've only worked as long as I could stand to work for the past two days. It Snowed today here in the Madison Valley. That's what it does occasionally in Montana though.
I Finlay finished getting the body of the horse fleshed in. Was just about to put the eyeballs into the horses skull when I start coughing like crazy. So I quit. I'm fine. Just needed to drink something hot. So home I go.

Well we'll see if I make it to the studio tomorrow. Frustrating.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Untitled Bronc Buster - I've come up with a title - BRONC STOMPER

Was watching the movie "Monti Walsh" staring Tom Selleck, yesterday. In this movie, he was trying to get a job on a ranch as a bronc buster, or as they called it, "Bronc Stoper." I love the phrase, so I did a bit of research on the web to see if that was an actual term from the 1800's, and found that it was. So This is the new title for this bucking horse piece.
The light was off of my wax yesterday and so while I was waiting for the wax to soften, I started to work on small details of the saddle. I literally build up a saddle from the wooden saddle tree. To make the leather parts, I use a pasta machine to roll out my wax. Yeah a pasta machine. It's a great tool. Dennis Harrington an artist friend of mine showed this trick a couple of years ago. Sorry Dennis for giving away your secret here... lol

I cut out the fenders for the saddle and then straps for the stirrups. Now I put them together.

Melting glue wax (extremely sticky glue, used by foundries) and dripping it onto the end of the fender that will fit onto the saddle, I attach it to the saddle.

Now to create the metal rings encased in leather that are attached to the saddle, shown below in reference photo, I wrap a thin piece of wax around the bottom of the xacto knife handle. Turns out it's about the same diameter that the ring should be.

Now the wax has finally started to get soft enough to work with, so I start working on the muscles of the right rear flank, and leg.

Now I add the saddle to see how it looks on the horse.

That's it for today. Check back in tomorrow.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Untitled Bronc Buster - Neck, jaw, shoulders

Not many photo's today. Just a few showing progress on the neck area. Below you see how I started. I shaped the foam I sprayed yesterday, and then started to add wax for the gut area and blocking in muscle groups.

After a full day of interpreting photo's of horse with their heads down. Trying to figure out what muscles came into play, and then sculpting them. I came up with the structure of the neck. I found that the esophagus of the horse stayed straight. No curves, just a straight line from the breast to under the jaw. As you can see I now have a jaw attached. Jaw slightly open for now, because I may, or may not have the mouth open.

I started blocking in muscle groups of the horses hip area. Did I mention that working with wax is 10 times harder than working with soft clay?
Well that's it for the weekend. Come back next week.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Untitled Bronc Buster - Saddle, Foam, and Muscle

I was getting ready to go to the studio this morning. I looked up at the shelf in my bedroom and there was a wax, 1880's saddle, I created back in 1993. I never put it on the horse I was working on, so I set it aside on the wooden mount that I made to sculpt it on. Well there it was, and the thought occurred to me, is that the scale, that would match the scale of the horse I'm currently working on? Took it to the studio and by golly it was the right scale. (Pictured Below)

So I'm going to see if I can use it in this sculpture. Never throw away anything.

I needed to fill the space that would eventually be the belly of the horse. So, using duct tape, I made a temporary reservoir for the foam I'm going to use to fill the space.

While I'm waiting for the foam to harden, I start to work on the horses other end, his head. I framed in the upper part of the muscled neck. This just helps me to visualize.

The following photo's show the progression of the horses skull, while using a real horses skull as a guide.

I fine tune the shoulder bones. Have to. The muscles attach to specific parts of the bones in the shoulder. I'm not trying to get an exact shape of the bone, just a sketchy form of the shoulder. Here I've started to construct the shoulder's muscles on the right side of the horse.

This is the final views of the wax as I quit for the day.

More still coming.......