Saturday, May 20, 2017

The race after the race

In a little less than an hour, a field of ten horses, including Kentucky Derby winner Almost Dreaming, will contest the one hundred and forty second running of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, Maryland.
Shortly after the conclusion of that race, I will restock my Etsy Shop. My previous Etsy listings have sold out in less than five minutes, so don't delay if you're interested in any of these items.
Good luck to Always Dreaming et al. and also to everyone who participates in the race after the race!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Painting a dapple grey with pastels and pencils

NaMoPaiMo is over, at least for this year, and I haven't touched a paintbrush in more than a month. Still, I'm always interested in learning more about finishwork, so I am absolutely delighted to share this guest blogger post from Zane Lahdentranta of Frosty Birch Studios. Zane's dapple greys are outstanding, and I really appreciate this peek into her creative process. Thank you so much, Zane!

Painting a Dapple Grey with Pastels and Pencils

by Zane Lahdenranta

Every paint job starts with reference pictures. It is important to study real dapples, to get inspiration and also a feel for how the pattern works.  Dapples are somehow very organized chaos. I spend a lot of time just looking at pictures.
Before starting the dapples, I applied a base coat with pastels. I used many different grey tones to do this. In this photo, I have just started dappling Benicio's neck.
Now let me tell you a little bit about my tools. This brush has lost most of its bristles. It is now very hard, sharp and precise. I use it to apply pastels in small crossed lines.
Here you can see result. I blow off the extra pastel dust before proceeding to the next step.
This is a micro applicator. I use it to tap pastels in many small continuous dots.
These applicators come in three sizes. I saw them on the NaMoPaiMo page and had to order some right away! Before I used cotton swabs, but these are much smaller and more precise.
Here are the dapples after being tapped with the micro applicator. Dapples, especially star dapples, are not really stars. They are more like snowflakes. Tapping many dots next to each creates the snowflake effect. 
After I blow off the extra pastel dust, I brush over the dapples with this very harsh brush in the direction of hair growth. Sometimes I take darker pastels and apply them on top of the dapples. That creates the small dark hairs inside the dapples.
Here is a closer look at the first layer of dapples done with brush and micro applicator. Sometimes brushing over the dapples makes the background too light. When that happens, I have to go back and add darker pastels between the dapples.
Here is the first layer of dapples before... and after sealing. The dapples are almost gone!
When the sealer is dry, I repeat all the steps from the beginning. I should mention that I use white pigment mixed with little bit yellow and grey pastels for the dapples.
Here is the second layer after sealer.
Next I use pencils to add more detail. On this model, I used Koh-i-noor grey pencils, Prismacolor white and yellow tones plus color blender and white coal. Unfortunately, the white coal disappeared too much after sealer, so most of the white is Prismacolor.
Benicio's back dapples were done with pencils. I used blender to smooth them out. Otherwise, the dapples looked grainy.
Here you can see the upper dapples done with pencils and the lower with pastels. I didn't like how pencil dapples looked, so in the next layer I went over them with pastels.
Here are some more pastel dapples.
These dapples were done with pencils.
For comparison, Benicio's right side is done with pastels and blended with harsh brush. The left side is not blended yet.
Here is Benicio after blending, but before sealer.
I refine the dapples until I am satisfied with how they look close up. In these last two photos, the dapples are done.
I still have to paint the white markings, mane and tail and other details.
Thanks again, Zane. You make this look positively do-able. Maybe next year's NaMoPaiMo horse will be grey!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Let it snow

It snowed today.
This year Denver has had more snow in April and May than it had in February and March.
What's up with that?
Fortunately, I was in the mood to stay home and make tack. I built this Arabian style stable halter...
and put the finishing touches on this Western show bridle. 
I've been working on this bridle for more than two weeks. It's fought me every step of the way, but now that it's done I almost want to keep it! 
There's a pony sized hunter bridle on the work desk and more snow in the forecast.
 Saturday's Etsy sale just might be my best one yet. Let it snow!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Onward, upward

Breyerfest isn't free. Neither is driver's ed, wrestling camp, community college or any of the other things the Buxton family is planning to do this summer. Yesterday I rested on my laurels, but today I am back to work with a vengeance.
The first order of business was finishing this racing set. 
It features a white leather bridle with faux rubber reins... 
and a newly designed jockey saddle. 
This will be one of the offerings available in my Etsy shop immediately after the race on Saturday. Good luck to Always Dreaming and also to all the prospective Etsy shoppers!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Four million

About three minutes ago, the Braymere blog received its four millionth pageview.
That's a milestone worth celebrating, so I'm packing up the ponies and taking this show on the road.
How does Lexington in July sound?
Thanks for reading, everyone, and here's looking forward to meeting a whole bunch of you at Breyerfest!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day

Yesterday was Mother's Day, and I used all the holiday's leverage to get the kids to go to the barn with me. It was grey and windy so the photos didn't turn out quite as awesome as I'd hoped, but that's okay. I still like them. Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Donkey days

Today was Spring Open House day at Longhopes Donkey Shelter.
The public was invited to tour the facilities...
and meet the donkeys. 
James has attended a lot of Longhopes events with me, but at fifteen, he'd rather play video games with his friends. I get it, but I can't say I'm pleased with this development. Fortunately, Teresa was more than happy to take his place.
We spent a fun morning cuddling donkeys of all sizes, 
and colors. 
Some, like Nacho...
and Serenity were old friends. 
Others, like Foster,
and Maude, were new faces. 
This donkey--I think his name is Matisse-- showed us how to do the hula hoop donkey style. 
 He held the hoop in his mouth and walked through it with his front legs.
Then he let go of it and walked through with his back legs. Good trick! 
This was such a fun day.
photo by Teresa Buzzell
I love Longhopes!