Dogs and drawings

It has been close to a month and a half that I wrote my last blog. Better than I have done before but still not up-to-par for what I want to do: about once a week.

Sometimes it feels as if life just steps in the way, we need to do all sort of things and then, before you know it, another week has passed.

For example, I am trying to draw at least 1 hour per day on my bald eagle head. Sometimes there are days that I just can’t find the time to draw at all. Could it be because I have SO many projects that I am working on? Maybe…

At the moment I am working on my eagle head drawing, found some pens that I wanted to cover with polymer clay so I am working on that (making flower canes as I go along), last week I’ve finished 2 commissioned dog portrait drawings, I am cleaning out my studio and am amazed at the amount of supplies I have and never used.

At the same time all the household chores come into play too like vacuum cleaning, dusting, getting groceries (one of my least favorite things to do!), cooking, cleaning the windows, and things like that. Next to these “never ending chores” the house needs repairs, renovations, and general clean-ups like cleaning out the garage. One half is cleaned out now so we have room to move stuff from the other half there and throw away what is either broken or not being used. Sorted out all the different types of wood too and finally had the room to put them flat instead of standing up, which can warp the wood.

Then there are our 4 fur babies who all need their care, 3 of them being considered senior dogs because of their age. Our oldest, Bonnie, is an almost 13 year old Westie who was diagnosed with Cushings and, as a result of that, is now diabetic too. I have to admit that I am not checking her as regularly as I have done with my Lab Ruby but she is a completely different dog character wise. She really hates having “stuff” done to her and I am just happy when I can get that syringe with insulin in her twice a day without having to stick it 3-4 times because she pulls away and the needle comes out. I do check her blood glucose levels on a regular basis, but not twice a day as I am supposed to do. Does that make me a bad “Mama”? I don’t think so because I do keep an eye on her and go more by her physical signals (with the occasional blood check), like peeing everywhere when her glucose levels are high, and take it from there.

Then there is our oldest male, Taz, a pedigreed Mutt who will turn 12 in 2 weeks. He has arthritic knees, has had knee surgery done on both knees because of torn ACLs, but that doesn’t keep him from running up and down the fence barking his little head off whenever he sees the neighbor’s dog in their yard. I bet the neighbor hates it now, pulling the old fence down and leaving nothing but the chain link fence when he moved in!

My Big Boy Smokey (Australian Cattle Dog and a rescue) is the youngest senior dog at almost 8 and I just received a call from the vet about his blood work. We brought him in last Thursday because he didn’t want to eat and he was just feeling miserable as far as we could tell. He has thyroid problems (hypothyroidism where it doesn’t work as it should) and during a visit to our own GP I read posters on his wall about thyroidism and everything pointed to his thyroid being over-active (hyperthyroidism) instead of not working (hypothyroidism). His belly is bloated and it looks like he is retaining his fluids in his legs. Now, taking Smokey to the vet is always an endeavor. He gets full-blown “grand mal” epileptic seizures going there and has to be heavily sedated -preferably asleep- when we need to bring him. They did a complete blood panel on him, checked his legs with a thumb print test to see if there was fluid in there but luckily there wasn’t. That also means he, most likely, doesn’t have fluid around his heart for which I am really grateful! As a result he has spots all over him where they had to shave his hair away; maybe I should make a checkerboard pattern on him?

Anyway, his T4-level is slightly high, meaning we overshot the goal with his medication so after we’ve finished this batch we need to go to a lower dose. He has a slight ear infection in the ear in which he had a hematoma last year so got some stuff to put in there. The one that really surprised me was that he has had Lyme’s disease… The Lyme’s disease marker, an additional blood test, was slightly elevated but since he is showing no other symptoms she thinks he has had it before and is now a carrier without having Lyme’s disease. That must have been before we got him, us being his 3rd or 4th family before he was even 1 year old. That poor pup has had a rough start in life, being beaten and stabbed with a knife because he was following his instincts and herding the horses the 1st family had by nipping at their hooves. ALWAYS check the nature of your dog before you get one!! If you don’t want a nipping dog, don’t get one from the herding group! And, of course, some people should NEVER be allowed to have any pets! You know, the people who love the puppies but not the adults and let them end up in the pound so they can get another puppy… Don’t get me started on them!

Then there is our youngest, Kender, almost 4 years young and a chocolate Lab, very energetic and I wonder if there is a way to bottle her energy and use it myself. She tore a nail all the way to where it comes out of her toe, had the nail removed, it got infected, got that infection taken care of and now she has an infection in the same foot but different toe.

My day starts with getting up at 06:00 or 06:30, let the dogs out, feed them, give their medication, fight with Bonnie to give her the insulin, then put stuff in both her ears, then onto Smokey to get stuff in his ears, then get some hot water and Epsom salt to soak Kender’s foot and that is the same with their evening food. It has become quite the ritual.

All this (puppies, house chores, renovations etc.) leaves not much room for my hobbies but trying to squeeze it in there every day.

Here is where I am now with my Bald Eagle Head; he already has the raptor glare of the eye and right now I am working on the grassy area between the eye and the beak where all sort of little feathers are sticking out. Still needs a lot of work but getting there like the tortoise: slowly but surely.

Hope everyone will have a wonderful day!

Eagle Head

Mustang logo done. Onto the bald eagle face…

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! I hope that you spend it with your loved ones, fur babies included!

There isn’t much to say about my genealogy efforts, although I did find a number of family member on Facebook so that is great! Now I need to pick their brain for all the missing information….

I finished my drawing of the Mustang logo and it turned out rather nice if I can say so myself. Never drew anything metal-like so it was a nice change -and challenge- and something I can use for my dog portraits if they wear a collar.

astrid_mustang

Now for my next project I might be a little too ambitious but I’m going to give it a valiant try. It’s the head of a bald eagle and I would like to draw it very realistic; after all, that is what I am practicing for and practice makes perfect, right?

Set up the sketch and worked some on the eye yesterday evening. Instead of using a ball stylus to indent (something I am used to use for (white) dog hairs) I am going old school and do the real negative drawing to make the feathers stand out.

DSCF2265enhanced

This is the sketch. Not much to look at right now but I do hope I’ll have the eye done by next week; maybe more of the feathers that go around the eye and work my way around from there.

Hope everyone is staying warm with this cold winter. Time for Spring to spring!!

Reviving this old blog of mine and what I’ve been doing

I see I have been gone too long from this blog and it is about time to pick it up again on a regular basis. Time just seem to fly by so fast nowadays; it is weird that we’re already mid-August in 2014 when I can still remember my New Year resolution for this year: finishing things! I am really bad at starting something, then put it aside because there is something else I want to try or a commission I have to make. Being on Facebook also eats up a lot of time….

What have I been up to, you might wonder? Well, my Thor is still in a drawer which is a shame BUT it is a good thing in a way because I looked at him the other day and found that his head is unproportionally small compared to the rest of his body. So there are 2 option as I see it:

1) I can start all over again

2) I can decapitate him, make a new head and attach that to the body, rebake, and see how it looks.

I think I will go for option 2 and if it doesn’t look good I can always start over, right?

I have been sculpting some characters from Harry Potter and finished Snape, McConagall, and Hagrid for my own collection, plus made 2 sculpts of Dobbie, one for my daughter and one for a friend in the UK. I have to make another Dobbie for another friend, so that one is on my list of “things-to-do”.

On my “sculpts-to-make” list are also 2 things I need to make for my sister: 1 of the old Celtic God Cernunnos (also known as Herne/The Horned God/the Stag God) and 1 of the old Celtic Fertility Goddess. I am looking into the Goddess one because there are so many fertility Goddesses in Celtic lore and myth and not sure if I should make the 3 (Maiden, Woman, Old Crone) or go for something simpler like Arianrhod.

Since it has been rather warm here, it has also been the time to work with my gourds. I do that mostly during the summer months because then I can sit outside since carving and sanding makes such a mess. Gourd birds can be made all year round, they aren’t as messy as carving a bowl!

Other than that I have been making mushrooms, gourd birds, dragon head sculpts, sculpted dog portrait pendants, some drawings, and whatever tickles my fancy but for the coming week I really need to work on 2 commissioned dog drawings for my “Bonnie Fund”.

You might be wondering what my “Bonnie Fund” is. We have 4 dogs and our oldest female Bonnie, a 12 year young Westie, jumped off the recliner chair some weeks ago and she tore her ACL and her meniscus, so that meant a costly surgery. We also found out that she has Cushing’s Syndrome, which is a hormonal disorder caused by high levels of cortisol. Bonnie has terrible allergies and she was on Prednison regularly, which I think might have caused it. Anyway, with the vet bills rocketing sky high ($2,000 for her knee surgery and $200 per test for her Cushing’s and we need 2 or 3 of those, plus $95 medication for 30 days) I thought to start a fund raising and have put reward levels in there for certain amounts. We’ve already given all our savings towards her ever increasing bills and are falling terribly short for which I feel terrible! After all, one has to take care of their four-legged furry family members, right?

If you want to check it out, here is the link http://www.gofundme.com/Bonnie-vet-bills

So far we’ve already received $265 through that link and the 2 commissioned dog drawings, which I received through my Facebook account, are part of my “Bonnie Fund” Fundraising too. We are so grateful for people’s generosity! Even if one can’t donate, sharing the link helps tremendously too because then it can reach a lot more people. The funds we’ve raised thus far will pay for her next blood test on September 2nd to see how she reacts to her medication plus we can pay some off on the bill for her knee surgery. Gotta love vets that are willing to set up a payment plan for you 😀

My drawings are calling me so it is time to work more on those. Next time I’ll post some pictures of what I’ve made and what I am working on.

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

Thor on the back burner, show, gourds, and Chester

I should have posted last week, but I have been busy getting ready for a local Arts & Crafts show that we had last Saturday. Thor has been put on the back burner because I still had some gourd birds I needed to finish and had to put some flower arrangements together. Why I don’t know since this was the worst show I’ve ever been to. All day long we had people walking into our booth, telling us how great everything looks but we didn’t sell one single thing… Last year wasn’t that great either and with this year’s experience it shows that this is just not the venue for our art.

Here are some of the (small) birds I took with me. I have to take more pictures, also of the flowers.

Gourd birds

Gourd birds

The day was long, got up at 5am to pack everything onto the truck, extremely hot and we packed up before the show was over because there was a thunderstorm coming. It did give me time to work more on Chester, a Springer Spaniel I am drawing for a good friend of mine in the UK. I promised to draw Chester for her after he passed away last year but I’ve been too busy with other things. I reckon that big black cap was putting me off too! But, I am getting there now, started to give the basic black to the cap, still have to start on the gown and of course it needs a LOT of details still. Thought to show you though…

Chester

Drawings and tutorials

I thought that today I could write about my drawings, my favorite pencil drawings artist and his free tutorials.

I have been drawing for as long as I can remember (and that is a long time LOL) and I think the only good things I inherited from my father is my love for drawing and building wooden model ships 🙂

It has only been a couple of years ago that I picked up my pencils again after I’ve found the artist Lisandro Peña and his awesome free drawing tutorials.

When you go to his website www.onlypencil.com you will see why I think he is really awesome. His drawings look like pictures and not like drawings at all! People always think I make a joke when I say that I want to be as good as he is when I grow up, but it’s true…

My RubyI do notice that the more I make drawings, the better they get. The other day I was comparing JoeJoe the Beagle that I’ve just finished to my first drawing of my Ruby from a couple of years back and there is a world of difference. You might not be able to see it, but I do and I don’t mean that my Ruby-drawing doesn’t look good. It’s just that I see that I’m using different techniques.

When I just started to draw again, I had a real problem with black areas. You could say I was afraid to make it too black? But that is what you have your eraser for 🙂

Also, Lisandro uses a needle and an empty pen to scratch in hairs, like making a negative drawing. At first I was scratching the hairs to my hearts content but along the way I started doing that  more sparingly because, to me, that is not always the right way to do it. I’ve found that a blunted needle doesn’t ‘do the job’ for me so I turned to a ball stylus.

I spent weeks looking here in the US for those things and couldn’t find them anywhere, so I had my sister in Amsterdam sent some over. When I was looking for something entirely different on eBay I came across these ball stylus tools that I’ve been looking for since forever and got me some new ones because my thinnest one was starting to show some wear and tear; it didn’t indent the paper anymore but really scratched it…not good!

If you’re looking for them too, here they are, it’s a link of one of my favorite eBay sellers, Morezmore, or click this link

Who would have thought they were Kemper tools for sculpting!

Since I am talking about favorite things and tutorials, visit the Morezmore Estate Blog where you can find a wealth of information and free tutorials on sculpting.

Off to the outside world to work some more on my gourd birds 🙂

Finished JoeJoe

JoeJoe

 Finished JoeJoe’s drawing last night and I think he looks good. Hopefully his ‘parents’ think so too… I always believe that a black matte  brings the drawing out more, somehow it gives it more character?

Anyway, 1 drawing down and 6 more gourd birds to go before I should start on my Thor sculpt.

I say ‘should’ because I have already started a bit on it. Printed out some skeletal anatomy for the frame and think I will stick with the 1:12th scale. That will make Thor about 4.75 – 5 inches tall, but I have to include the chariot he stands in too and then figure out how tall, or small, his goats will be.

Today I got an UGLY pink envelope from my friend Mozelle but I love the contents. She had sent me some wool straight off the sheep that I can use for my sculpt 🙂 That was really sweet! I call the envelope ugly because I detest the color pink. Not sure why, but I just do…

Yesterday I got my ProSculpt clay in that I’d ordered. Never used it before but it is praised to be one of the best sculpting polymer clays. Reckon I have to put it to the test!

I’ll make pictures of my progress with the sculpt frame and will post them at a later date. Off to the gourd birds I go…..

Hello world!

I have been wanting to start a blog for a while now, but was never sure what to write about. I mean, what is so interesting about silly ol’ me that other people would like to read this?

Then I got this idea of writing about my Arts & Crafts, my ideas, execution, problems I run into and things like that. I have too many hobbies to mention but clay in all forms, pencil drawings, gourd art, and wooden model ships are the main ones.

Right now I have the idea that I want to make the Norse, Greek, and Roman Pantheon, until my friend Fred pointed out that the Greek/Romans have about 200 Gods and Goddesses and the Norse are closing in on 100… That is way too much!

So, I will start with the ‘main’ Norse Gods and Goddesses and have this idea about making Thor. Not the way he was portrayed in the latest movie and comic books but according to the Norse Mythology where it’s said that he is barrel-chested with flaming red hair.

The Norse believed that during a thunderstorm, Thor rode through the heavens on his chariot pulled by the goats Tanngrisni and Tanngnost (“Gap-Tooth” and “Tooth Grinder”) and lightning flashed when he threw his hammer Mjollnir.

The idea that has formed in my head for this first sculpt is the Mighty Thor on his chariot with his 2 goats, yielding his hammer Mjollnir.

Before I can start on that one and post pictures and descriptions of how and what I’m doing, I have to finish a couple of things first.

First of all I have to finish a pencil drawing of a Beagle that I’ve promised to make since the beginning of the year AND I have to finish some gourd birds that I’ve started on so bear with me while I blog about that…

Hope everyone is having a great day!

JoeJoe