Monday, June 30, 2008

Arg and Dur

Mini Boreas after his jump


This past Sunday the family didn't get together for dinner. I was bored and decided to pick up the slack on my house chores and other domestic duties. My first round of business was my living room. Toys, art projects and dust bunnies all shoed away to their appropriate spots. Ahhh...its good to see surfaces again.

I promised myself that this time I would suck it up and brave the china cabinet. It's one of my least favorite chores. I'm always afraid of casualties taking place and arrr....this time around, one did happen. Little Boreas slipped, flipped, and broke. What an awful sound a leg break is. Nothing more to say but, one BIG sigh.


I was asked months ago to an interview with the International Porcelain Artists & Teachers, Inc. Magazine. For some unknown reason I popped the due date on the calender as July 1st. Turns out the deadline was JUNE 1st! I totally missed it!!! How I managed to do that is beyond me! (I suspect I got my RESS deadline and IPAT deadlines confused). All I can say is I am truly thankful the editor had to bump things along schedule wise for the following issue and I have a new deadline now....July 15th. Phew...a good turnout to a real DUR moment!

Oh, I almost forgot. I took a few shots of my clean china cabinet for you to see. I like to show it off once and a while.

Left side

Middle of cabinet

Right side

It has actually turned into the focal point of the living room. And yes, if you are wondering my son does stay away. I worked with him from the crawling stages and he has learned that space is "mommy's", however, some days he won't allow me to close the door without first putting "his" horse inside front and center. His steed? The Family Arabian Stallion who has been beaten and chewed. I oblige. When its in the cabinet it is truly my favorite horse. He isn't in this shot cause he was snoozing in the barn upstairs. ;) lol

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chalk and More Chalk

Newest piece from the studio

Wasn't it just Wednesday? I really haven't been able to keep up here on the blog as I'd like to. I'm totally blaming it on the weather. It's been so gorgeous out here in NYC. I just can't stay away from the outdoors which makes all my housework and studio work suffer. Thankfully, I am nearing completion on the last two commissions in the studio and have just finished this big boy, a Tennessee Walker by Sarah Rose.

I am loving this piece and the color. This horse honestly should have been done about 5 months ago, but I couldn't pull myself to the table on this one and kept putting him off. I just felt I needed more time to think about color application. I find the lighter colors to be so difficult to produce and when those lighter colors are placed on a really great resin the pressure to produce is even greater. I hate feeling pressure like that, most espeically when I'm being creative. So, I gave the horse some time to sit on my shelf and in my mind. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't think about him or how I was going to tackle this color. In the end, I believe waiting was the best decision.

Here are some more shots of him:

Full shot of the TWH

Head shot

Pretty blue braids on his right side

I mentioned in my last blog post that I wanted to show off his neck repair after that bug spattered itself into that area. It's all clean now. I also want to show off how smooth pastel application can be when it's done properly. I get rather down to see artists rushing this medium and many have rushed so badly that they have started creating a bit of a bad name for the medium. You must go slow! That is the first rule. The second rule is to never skip steps. Too many skip using the gloss fixatives and just go straight to using mattes in order to finish quicker. Time and again I have found that the glossy fixatives do something special to the pastels when they are sprayed. In my experience, just using the mattes have never rendered the same results.

My personal theory behind pastels is that they are "the poor man's airbrush" and when viewed should look like lightly sprayed layers of acrylic. They should never be rushed. Rushing any part of the process can create pieces that look grainy and that is always disheartening to see. But enough of me yappin' about the process. Here is the TWH after his neck repair:

Pastels SHOULD be smooth

Other Inspirations

I've enjoyed watching my good friend Heather explore her new found love of photography. Every day she sends the most inspiring emails filled with beautiful photos of horses or people. I have to say it has been fantastic getting her emails and today when our family went to a cousin's party the first thing I packed was my camera. Not my new slim Casio, but the Olympus big boy. My goal? To get a week's worth of being inspired out and into my own camera. Most of the photos were duds, but this one...

Two Fishes & A Boy

.....of my son enjoying the dark pavement and chalk all by himself was by far the very best photo of the day. He just couldn't resist that chalk and when he popped his arm down and the muscles in his back stretched I just couldn't resist taking the photo. I was so happy I had brought the good camera and had been so inspired this past week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Excitement All Around

The "makeshift" desk in the living room.

Is it Wednesday already? Wow, time is flying! I suppose time's flyin' because there has been much excitement both in the house and studio since the weekend. I haven't had a quiet moment to really sit and enjoy the internet. That includes my blog. So apologies.

First, my brother JJ arrived at my house. He and his business partner had a skate demo for their company (One Skateboard Co.) at Belmont to attend and I was more than happy to let them hang overnight after their long drive in from Phila.

It's always a blast to see my brother and just laugh with him. We just laugh and laugh. Truly the best time for me is when I'm in mid laugh over something silly with him. When I think about Francesco not having a brother or sister to laugh with later on in life I get a bit teary eyed and start thinking perhaps its time for a sibling. I couldn't imagine not having my brother in my life. Through good, through bad, he is one of my closest and best friends. He's also a pretty darned good skater too. His old bones (sorry J...haha...couldn't resist) are still keeping him flying on the deck.

Woo HOo!
Photo by Willy Sions

After he left it was a quick clean up of the house and a fairly good cleaning of the studio. My second visitor (Karen Gerhardt) was coming and it was wonderful to meet her. I only wish she and her sister could have stayed longer. I was so utterly inspired just within the hour they were here. We talked about graphics and china painting. I guess you can say I've been in a "custom glazing" slump recently with no desire to fire up the airbrush.

Thankfully, I feel renewed now and am really dying to get a few things completed and back to trying my hand at airbrushing. Sometimes just a simple tip or explanation of things is all it takes to make the little light bulb go on. I am hopeful things will work a bit better for me when I sit down to custom glaze some of the gorgeous bisque horses I have here in the studio. I've been really timid about touching them, but feel a bit more confident after Karen's visit.

Karen and I take a quick snapshot together

She and I took a quick shot together before she left. I wasn't going to show it, but what the heck. I laughed when it came up on the screen after download. Heehee...I am SOOO very short!!! You can really see it in this photo. My brother is about her height too so there is definitely a "tall" gene in my family. It just totally skipped over me for whatever reason. In any case, I hope Karen and I get a chance to talk in person again sometime soon cause I enjoyed her visit immensely.

Well, work awaits. As you can see above, the TWH is coming along, but needs much more work on him. The big ol' bug that ended his life on this guy was removed from his neck and one wouldn't even know the suicide occured. I'll snag some pictures of him soon, especially of his neck and the repair. It came out flawless and of course I want to show off how "smooth" pastels can be when done properly. ;0)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sun and Fun

Hangin' poolside

Not much happening except judging a RESS contest this weekend (totally awesome entries) and having fun at the pool with my son. I'll check in with more artistic details this week. I have some company (totally awesome equine artist) coming to visit on Tuesday and I'm totally and utterly thrilled and excited to meet her for the first time and just sit and chat over some coffee or...mmm...a nice chilly glass of red wine or margaritas! :D

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Summer!

My garden coming alive!

The Flowers
by Robert Louis Stevenson

"All the names I know from nurse:
Gardener's garters, Shepherd's purse,
Bachelor's buttons, Lady's smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock.

Fairy places, fairy things,
Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
Tiny trees for tiny dames -
These must all be fairy names!

Tiny woods below whose boughs
Shady fairies weave a house;
Tiny treetops, rose or thyme,
Where the braver fairies climb!

Fair are grownup people's trees,
But the fairest woods are these;
Where, if I were not so tall,
I should live for good and all."

Happy Summer everyone!!

"Fairy Dance"
Illustration in mixed media

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Two Vases

Quick shot of Scarlett and two vases

Today I have two vases and a Scarlett getting ready for final trimming and tweaking. I'm thrilled with how high I was able to pull up the vases and am very happy with how the Scarlett resin came out in her appaloosa coat.

Last night I spent quite a lot of time with the Scarlett resin in hopes of finishing her by Thursday or Friday. If all goes well tonight she will be complete and ready for her final studio shots tomorrow night. While I painted her I fired up the kiln to cone 6.

Newest stoneware vessels

I had a few smaller stoneware vessels inside and I knew I piled on the glaze, but didn't think too much of it since I've piled glaze on before. Turns out it was just a little TOO much glaze and the excess stuck to the bottom of my kiln. Even with kiln wash on I had to rip the vessels from the floor thus creating substantial craters in my kiln floor. Perhaps I needed to add more kiln wash before I fired up? I'm not really sure, but I will be more careful next time I glaze up my stoneware. The glaze colors though made up for the disappointing accident. The colors are amazing and flow into each other so interestingly.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Freshly trimmed bowl with mistake

Having my studio in the basement has it's good points and bad. For the most part, it's been great. No worry about being messy. No more sweating out the summer while trying to work, cause its always cool down there. Working in the basement, however, does have one major downfall. It floods. For the past two days I have had the displeasure of dealing with overflow from the sewage line.

Since we moved my studio down to the lower regions of the house I've had to deal with flooding about three times now. I've learned to keep all my storage units on wheels and to keep everything important up high. Because I learned my lesson during the first flood, clean up was not as painful this time around, but still time consuming. There were a million things I wanted to do other than mop up icky water.

After the clean up was finally finished I did have a few moments to trim some of the new vessels I made about four days ago. The bowl above was coming along wonderfully till I trimmed the bottom a little too far. I tried to salvage it the best I could, but the repair turned into a huge bubble-like impression. Inspiration kicked in and the bowl became a great opportunity to create something unique! Pop a snail sculpture in there and walla! A more interesting creation!

Snail on the bottom

With everything back to normal in my studio I'm very excited to see this piece all glazed up! I have so many color combinations going through my head right now and I'm ichin' to glaze up a dozen other pieces I pulled. There is much to do this week!

Friday, June 13, 2008


A little more progress on Scarlett

I'm not feeling too chatty today so I'll just share photos of some things that I'm either working on currently (layering on Scarlett) or things I've already finished. Have a great weekend.

Showing off Scarlett's head

New pottery pulled from the kiln

Doesn't it look like chocolate
running down the side?

Wow! Spattered blueberries!

Small vessels with top decorations

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Day Of...

Ceramic chips before and after glazing and firing

Today was a day of fun in the park and pulling out shiny new wares from the kiln. We visited the park and had a ball. I didn't take the camera since I just wanted to enjoy being in the moment and not worrying about catching the perfect shot. The perfect ones will remain in my memory. :0)

Vessels before and after firing

The kiln revealed much better results today too. I fired up late last night and was able to open it first thing in the morning. Its much better to sleep through the "opening the kiln" wait than actually WAIT for it. Here are some sample chips and some pretty vessels. My color combinations and applications were much better this time around.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Reprieve

Scarlett (n progress) coming along nicely

The heat wave finally broke giving us a reprieve and it is much more pleasant inside and out. My enthusiasm for work has returned and I'm excited to dive into some glazing work again. I have several pots and small ring holders that are awaiting my paw....errm, I mean,*cough* touch.

Naw, just kidding. I've been looking at so many pottery sites and am excited and more optomistic today about my glazing skills. I'm currently taking a small break from the Scarlett resin. She is coming along nicely (chestnut varnish appy), but I need to view her with fresh eyes so today she will have a vacation day.

The vessels that I recently finished are enjoying life carrying liquids, small flowers and even some fruit. Seeing such a bright red display of cherries here for the picking sorta makes one forget I missed a spot of glaze on that bowl. I'm really enjoying this bowl now.

Fruit looks better in hand thrown bowls

I can't end without mentioning that the breeze has been delightful today. Nothing goes better with a delightful breeze than bubbles. I'm not sure how I got this shot but alas, there it was when I downloaded. (All I did was run it through iPhoto, turn it a faded sepia and blur the edges.) I love that his fingertips look like they are taking control of the big bubble. Simple pleasures.

My bubble man

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

100 degree highlights

100 degrees today.
Too hot to work so we did other things!

~ First "cabana" (out by the picnic table....LOL) get together with niece Christina. Sun, fun, laughs and good snackies.

~ The pool was officially opened today. We will be swimming by Wed.

~ Spraying each other with the hose. Too much fun.

~ Both Kiko and Francesco in the same kiddie pool. My camera was in the house! I missed this shot.

~ Coloring with crayons.

~ Lots of iced coffee.

~ Taking time for a much needed pedicure.

~ Stopping to enjoy a new view of nature near our backdoor:

Back door to the house. What's that sound?

Baby birdies!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Outdoor Studio

Pool, Pepsi and painting

Wow! What a scorcher of a day we had yesterday. I believe it reached 90 degrees here in NYC. It sure felt every bit of that number.

On hot days we all head out and enjoy the sun. I set up the kiddie pool for my son Francesco (which he and all his action figures thoroughly enjoyed) and for myself, set up the painting station on the deck and spent some time working with the Scarlett.

The heat and humidity were killer on the acrylic work though and I found myself looking for new ways to combat the fast drying paint. In the middle of my dilemma I believe I found some answers I had been searching for with regards to acrylic paint and glazing. Everything I did to Scarlett yesterday looks smooth and the transitions between pastel and acrylic are still seamless this morning. Now my head is swimming with ideas and I'm dying to get back into my studio to explore glaze layering a bit further.

But enough of the artsy-fartsy talk. I want to share two "hot day" photos with you. First one is of our lovely pond. The fish looked so happy after their water change.
Koi pond shimmering in the sun

Next "hot day" photo is of our unfortunate outdoor table. We heard a "CRASH" and ran around looking for the cause. I am still speechless at the damage the sun (I guess) caused to this outdoor table.

What the?

It was sold as an outdoor table. Could withstand all temps they said. Aaah...I'm thinking, no! But, the table isn't new so the problem is ours and although the clean up is not going to be fun, the future of this table is hopeful. I am sorta excited about the possibility of creating something new. I'm thinking a wood top with hand placed mosaic chips (mostly china I broke and had been saving for years that I didn't have the heart to throw in the trash) might render a very fun project for me and the outcome a more gorgeous table in the end.

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Excitement meet Frustration

Kiln upon opening after a glaze firing

So, I was all excited yesterday morning when I popped my wares into the kiln. I had such high hopes for all of the vessels. Seemingly perfect in their funky chalky-like glazed state, by hour 11 this excitement for the chalky vessels turned into frustration when the kiln was opened.

There was bad glazing all around except on maybe two pieces. That was disappointing because I really took my time glazing and tried my best to create fun lines with the glazes meeting each other. My main problem was glaze application. Anything goopy in the "chalky state" looks streaky in the finish.

A grouping of the nicer vessels

The rice bowl is one of the nicer pieces. Pretty color combination and a very interesting melding in the middle. Problem? I missed a spot!!! I have no idea how that got away on me. Tells me I wasn't as careful as I thought. I suppose I could re glaze it.


How about my mugs? They had so much promise. Great forms with nicely hand-built handles. I even smoothed out their surfaces with a special ceramic file so they would be super smooth all around, even on the rim where one's lips rest.

Mugs that had promise

The blue I won't even bother discussing (shiver), but the yellow/green one isn't all that bad. This one's problem? It's so darned small that you could never fully enjoy a cup of coffee in it. Fits about half a cup of liquid. Any major java head would wind up throwing this thing against the wall. How did I overlook something as important as size in the bisque state on this one?

All in all, I have a lot to learn about glazing and pairing colors. It's very apparent that I need to complete the task of making sample chips of all glazes I own in order to combat wacky color combos. I started that project months ago and let it fall to the waste side because it's a boring task.

Despite all these glazing and form issues, when I pulled the wares out of the kiln and brought them upstairs my inlaws, who were visiting, snatched a few for their personal collections. So, I guess all-in-all they weren't as bad as I thought. That made me feel really good. People just love ceramics I guess; imperfections and all. That's good cause I have a whole shelf unit full of bisque vessels ready to be pawed at with glaze.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Firin' Friday

Wares glazed and waitin' for some heat

It's a dreary, chilly day here. Perfect for firin' up the kiln!

I glazed a few vessels this week. I was happy to find that they were dry and ready for the kiln this morning. Nine o'clock sharp they went into the kiln. Today is a bit of an experimental day. I bought a new collar which raised my kiln up by about 4". I ran a test fire a few weeks ago but it took many, many hours to reach <04.

Kiln at its normal size

New collar raising the kiln height

Of course, I had a shelf placed in the kiln that was much larger than the one I am using this morning. I believe that shelf prevented the upper portion of the kiln to get the proper amount of heat, so this smaller shelf should work much better. My rice bowl sits perfectly in the spot too!

I'm trying every which way to deal with the fact that I really need a larger kiln. I'm not sure this solution works, but there are definitely some advantages to having the higher collar. I can now fire a few of the larger vases I threw on the wheel and I can finally fire my bisque Pixie without worrying about her head frying to a crisp! LOL

Thursday, June 5, 2008

This Week...

Scarlett. A work in progress with some
friends in the background

Scarlett, Independence, Valentine and a Galena resin have all been getting my attention this week. I have been very focused on painting the horses and am pleased to tell owners that their horses will be coming home soon. The Valentine has been my biggest thrill. He was probably the very WORST model I have ever had to prep. It took about four prepping sessions to get him correctly fixed for painting. I have never seen so many pinholes before. Spray him and "pop" out came more pinholes fiercer than before!

The Scarlett is my next sales item. Yes, yes, have to get that sales plug in now. She looks pretty ratty at this stage. She will smooth out and soften up. She is typical of how my roans and varnishes start off. I've decided to paint her a chestnut varnish appaloosa. I mean, how could I not go wild with her? Wild is what everyone wants anyway and I sorta was curious to see how ol Barney's color (he used to be one of the old, old horses down at the barn) would look on this gal. I'm very excited to see her a little more finished.

Galena and an Independence resin

First though, Galena. She is being painted for a very good friend who is in dire need of a pick-me-up right about now. I decided I shouldn't let this resin sit on the shelves any longer. She needs finishing and is almost done. After tonight's entry I'll sit down with some green tea and continue to layer her hair and dapples and work on her hooves. I'm off the hook on her eyes this time around. The owner popped in these nifty glass eyes, so she'll get done quicker than normal. I'll be sure to show off some close up shots when she is complete. She is a stunning resin that I believe would look amazing in just about any color.

Infamous desk shot.
Its really dirty there this week.

Lastly, another infamous "desk shot" completely piled with pigment dust. I haven't even bothered to clean up yet since adding solid base colors to these pieces has been my main focus this week. Once I complete all the pastel work though I'll slowly start to clean up. Phew, gonna be a big job this time around.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Weekend Deadlines

Sneak peek at my RESS project

Normally, I wouldn't even think of missing a deadline. When that deadline lands on a weekend though, all bets are off on me getting the work in on time. My RESS deadline fell on a Sunday and I spent time here and there this past weekend trying to get it completed to no avail. I finally just gave up and saved all my final tweaking and editing for today. So, for a portion of the afternoon and evening I worked on RESS stuff.

Molded in earthenware clay

Early on in the year I was asked to write some newbie articles for them and I gladly accepted. It has been nice exploring favorite subjects like mold making and painting techniques, but with a beginner in mind. I honestly enjoy writing for newbies more than I do for more experienced artists. Newbies have an innocent desire to learn that is infectious. In most cases they will dive in blindly and try a technique. I have always found that to be the best way to learn. Dive in and just try everything that you can.

I guess in a way I miss my newbie days too. The days of my heart racing over a Zimmer custom or the latest pinto by Cook are long behind me now. Although I truly enjoy seeing what all the other sculptors and painters are up to and my heart does race over much of the stuff I see, it never races like it did way back when.

Now, I really enjoy seeing what our new artists are up to. Even the ones who have not really come close to gaining a solid handle on their chosen mediums. I can always see the artistic sparkle in these works and while everyone is calling it trash, I can't help but see it as art. To me it's some one's heart on a 3-D canvas. It is always most inspiring.

I hope my articles for RESS will be an inspiration to our newbies and that they will be well received. For more information regarding joining RESS or viewing the future mold making article please visit the following link: Realistic Equine Sculpture Society.

Work from my newbie days

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Bubble hearts


The day to clean. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. I can't work well on my art if the house is overly dirty. I let the house go for a couple of week so cleaning took longer than usual, but I did get a little reward toward the end. A little floating bubble heart appeared in the dirty water. I just looked down and there it was. I couldn't resist showing someone else.