Friday, January 29, 2010

PAINTINGS - "Christmas Boat"

There's a nice little story that goes with this oil painting I did at the end of 2009.

Last October, Cat and I got to travel out east to Solomons, Maryland, to attend our nephew Christopher's wedding to his new bride, Angela. During the outdoor ceremony at Back Creek Inn, we enjoyed the beautiful view of the creek which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. After the wedding, as is tradition, the moment arrived when the groom has a dance with his Mom (my wife's sister, Lin). However, the tune that was chosen to play during the dance was a bit unusual..."White Christmas". Sensing the crowd's confusion, Lin yelled out, "I used to sing this song to Christopher when he was a baby. It was the only song that would get him to stop crying!" To which Chris replied, " still works!"

At that moment, with the song still playing, someone pointed at a sailboat that was slowly passing was green with a bright red sail! Perfect!

My wife took lots of great photos that allowed me to do the painting back in my studio. Chris and Angela got the surprise gift a couple of weeks ago.

Here are two shots of the painting in various stages.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Behold...the fearless Samurai Beetle on his mighty Battle Frog!

Well, it's all painted up and finished now. This project definitely took me longer than I expected, due to the extra level of detail. Below are are few more more views. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

SKETCHBOOK: "Florida Trip"

I'm taking a little break from posting my sculpture. Here are some sketches I did last week when my wife and I went to Tampa Bay, Florida for her parathyroid surgery. The first image is the view from Cat's hospital her suggestion, I signed it and gave it to Dr. Norman, her surgeon. The next image is the view from the waiting room...same subject matter, different window. The two skylines are from our hotel...the view out the front door, then from the back balcony.

These other sketches are at KCI airport, and some during the flights there and back.

Here's a photo of my sweet wife, Cat, and I the day after her surgery. She was a real trooper...being next to Sand Key Beach on the gulf sure helped!

I had to get a shot of this hilarious inflatable slide on Clearwater Beach...I want one for my backyard!

Here's a composite panaramic view I pieced's from the Marriott where we stayed.

This is a gorgeous sunset seen from our balcony the night we got back from the hospital.

And finally, a big thanks to my long time friend, Becca, for her hospitality...appreciated the conversations and the tour of Clearwater Beach and your home! We'll definitely be going back to explore the coast...and, God willing, with NO hospital stays!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Frog Rider" pt.6

Here's the Samurai Beetle, as promised! (Editorial update 1/17/10: I originally picked this style of beetle, because I thought the horns would make a cool helmet. Did a web-search this morning, and found out that it is a "Japanese Rhinoceros Beetle"...perfect! That goes great with my "SamuRhino", too.)

Before I get into the sculpting process, let me first say a big THANKS to those of you who were praying for my wife, Cat, while we flew to Florida for her surgery. We literally just walked in the door from our return flight home. She had a rare, benign Parathyroid tumor removed. The procedure was very successful, and her life should improve greatly. It was a long week, and we're glad to be home! Well, was gorgeous in Tampa Bay, and we've still got gobs of snow here! (Of course I took my sketchbook along...but more on that in another post.)

Okay...let's start at the's the beetle's behind! I made the lower segment first, then drilled out the underside out so I could add wire for the legs.

Next I made some little tiny feet. I baked them before making the rest of the legs, so I wouldn't mash them.

I super-glued the feet onto the leg wires. I tried to make the belly look like a woven armor pattern. Then I sculpted the legs with shin and thigh armor. Once I had that part figured out, I could make the saddle for the back of the frog.

The katana (sword) was created by hammering some heavy-gauge wire. Next I add a little detail for the hilt, then make the scabbard from a thicker piece of wire and some epoxy.

Below are a few details from the rest of the process. Upper left is the head...below that are the arms being sculpted. The middle image shows the upper torso with the helmet on. Next is the banner that will be attached to his back....made from toothpicks, wire and aluminum foil. I coated the banner with wood glue, when completed.

Here's the final beetle design! He's all ready to be painted.
Once you soak all this in, I'll post the images of this little guy riding his mighty Battle Frog!

Monday, January 11, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Frog Rider" pt.5

Last time I said I'd be showing the Samurai Beetle next...sorry. I had some unexpected modifications that I thought were worth noting...especially when one of them was a really STUPID mistake.
Here's the saddle for the Samurai Beetle. It has some odd little indentions, but that is from the legs of the Beetle being pressed into the sculpy. You won't see that part when the rider is sitting astride his mighty steed.

I never did like the way the gauntlets looked...too chunky. So I decided to get out the dremmel tool and grind it down to a simpler shape. (The epoxy is tough stuff.)

I also decided to remove the hip guards. They didn't seem too practical for a jumping frog...always would get in the way. So I ground off the right hip problem. Here's where things took an ugly turn. Instead of being patient, I decided to speed up the process, and used some wire cutters to try and snip off the left side. CRACK...busted both hips! So I had to cut away the sculpy, fill back in with epoxy, and rework both legs. Truth is, they'll be stronger than before, and you shouldn't notice, once it's painted. time, for sure, I'll show how I made the Samurai Beetle...really.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Frog Rider" pt.4

I've now completed the armor for the Battle Frog. This stage has been a bit frustrating, due to limitations with the materials. Once I had coated the frog sculpt with glue, I couldn't use Sculpy and bake it any longer. I used Epoxy Plumbers Putty to add on the various elements of armor. Unfortunately, the time-window to mix the putty and then sculpt before it hardened was brief. It didn't allow me to refine some of the shapes as much as I would have liked. No excuses, but I would have changed a few things. There are epoxies out there with longer set-times, so I'll have to explore that on future projects.

I won't belabor the details of how I made each component of the armor. It's pretty straightforward. I make a section, then coat it with wood glue...sculpt more...coat it with glue.
It's a mixed bag of results when I use the glue. I do lose some detail in the sculpture, but the overall surface is more unified, and it softens the edges a bit. I can thin the glue with water, if I need to. A lot of the detail will be brought back when I paint everything.

Here's the full armor...forearm gauntlets, shoulder pads, chest plate, back blanket, cute little sumo-style briefs, hip guards, thigh and shin guards. I'll make a saddle later.
Next time, I start working on the rider...a "Samurai Beetle"!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

PAINTINGS - "The Vark Returns!"

Here's a piece I did over the holidays. I was experimenting again with trying to paint a robot conventionally. The image above is "sweetened" digitally in Photoshop...I couldn't make it look like I wanted without some help on the computer. (So sue me, all you "purists" out there!) Seemed like a good situation to put The Vark into...turns out, he's a pretty good Giant Bot Fighter!

This time I used acrylic paints (instead of oils, like I did for my "Hopscotch" painting). Below is the process. I didn't want to spend any time sketching out the idea beforehand, so I just went with what came to mind spontaneously. I would have to say, it might have turned out better with a bit more thought, but this was mostly just a test in technique. I used a sharpy marker on some canvas board, and just started drawing. Then I blocked in the larger areas, trying to stay loose. I just kept building up glazes on top.

This is where I left things in the final painting stage. I took this image into Photoshop and started working it over. I wasn't that excited about the way the painting looked, but I did like the final digital version enough to want to try this approach again sometime.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Frog Rider" pt.3

Today is the last of my two-week vacation, so these sculpt-in-process posts will start to slow down some. As I said last time, there were some structural issues that developed with the way I designed the leaping frog. While Sculpy is great for some things, it's not quite strong enough to handle the pressure that this pose put on the wire armature. So I started to find multiple cracks in the weight-bearing areas. It was necessary to cut away the original sculpt, add some new support wires, and re-sculpt the damaged parts.

Here are the finished repairs...additional grass blades, and some more water splashes on the front leg. I wish I could have kept the original minimalist approach, but that's the way it goes. What looks good in a sketch, may not work in the actual sculpting process.

There were still some hairline cracks all over the base...perhaps the sculpy was too thin in places. And there was a crack all around the ankle in the water-splash (left leg) that needed to be filled in. So I decided to use a thick coating of Elmer's Wood Glue over the whole base. I thinned down the glue to a watery consistancy for painting on the rest of the frog.

The next stages will be the addition of the frog's armor. Since I cannot bake the frog any more, I'll have to change up my techniques. I will add on bits that are sculpted with epoxy putty, or glue on sculpy parts baked separately.

Till next time...

Friday, January 1, 2010

SCULPTURE - "Frog Rider" pt.2

First off... "HAPPY 2010!" Hope you all have a great new year!!

Okay, back to the "Frog Rider" sculpt-in-process. Here's where things are at the moment...the basic frog body is now finished.

Here's how I started the head...a little foil, and some wooden beads for the eyes. I baked it in stages, so the detail wouldn't get mashed along the way. I apologize for the blurry images. My wife reminded me how to turn on the "macro" setting on the camera...but it was too late to retake these early steps.

Below shows the head sculpted onto the body. I added a bit more "flesh" to fill out the plump little frog belly.

Part of me hates to cover up this little guy with all the Samurai armor...but he's way too cute at this stage. Way.

I've now got some structural issues to resolve. I will be adding some more foliage to help support the weight of the hyper-extended pose...the sculpy is cracking under the stress. Next time, I'll show how I repair the damage, and add on the extra blades of grass.