Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Winter Warlock

Before I left for Europe, I sent a handful of Michelangelo medallions to some of the hobby's best - and most generous - artists. All of these will be painted and offered for sale, with all proceeds benefiting NaMoPaiMo.
One of those artists was Amanda Brock. Here is what she did with her Michelangelo.
Amanda writes: As soon as I saw him, I immediately knew Michelangelo needed to become a unicorn! After giving him his horn, he was prepped and painted to an intricate star-dappled blue with loads of pearlesence. His starry dapples vary from stark to slightly blended, his mane and tail have lots of hand painted details and fade to and from blue and white! He has lots of painted facial details as well as a glossed eye and inner nostril. His background was achieved using resin, glitter, and pearl pigments to create a starry or snowy night sky. Glitter resin snow has also gathered along the top of the NaMoPaiMo lettering. His horn is also encased in glitter resin and almost looks coated with ice. 
Winter Warlock is currently for sale on Model Horse $ales Pages. Please visit his ad before tomorrow evening to place a bid!
Thank you so much, Amanda.
I can't wait to see what you do with that Hillingar!

The horses of Europe: Tornado

"Germany is famous for its horses," I told Carol. "I really want to ride while I'm there."
She agreed this was a good idea, so we started looking for a stable. 
I thought it would be easy, but it turns out that the horse on Stuttgart's coat of arms is a lie. This big manufacturing city is decidedly unhorsey. I started looking further afield, but I was handicapped by my lack of German language skills. I was beginning to worry this wouldn't happen when fate intervened in the form of Kim Brandner
Kim read the blog post I wrote about my upcoming trip to Europe. In it, I discussed my dreams of  "taking dressage lessons in Germany" thought, "I can make that happen."
Carol and I drove to Kim's house on my first Saturday in Europe. We spent the morning in Ulm.
Then we raced down some country roads to an indoor riding ring.
A few minutes later, a horse trailer pulled up, and I met my first European horse, Tornado. Pronounced Tor-Nah-Do rather than Tor-nay-do, this big boy is a Polish Warmblood gelding belonging to one of Kim's friends.
We tacked him up and led him into the ring. I canned the area looking for a mounting block. I didn't see one and wondered how I was going to get myself up onto this giant mountain of a horse. 
Fortunately, a solution presented itself. 
I gathered up the reins and asked Tornado to walk on. We warmed up a little bit on our own.
Then Kim stepped into the ring and my lesson began. 
I didn't know what to expect, but what I got was a basic, but challenging, lower level dressage lesson. 
Kim is a good teacher, and Tornado was steady and well behaved.  
Despite that, I struggled. I've spent the last five years taking small, hot horses down the trail, and apparently, I have forgotten how to ride a big, quiet horse in the ring. 
The canter was especially humbling. I really need to get back into some kind of lesson program.
We finished the lesson with a couple good decent walk-halt transitions.
"Good boy, Tornado." 
Although I wish I could have ridden, I am still so happy I got to check the German dressage lesson off my equestrian bucket list. Thank you so much, Kim, for making it happen, and thanks also to Carol for taking all the pictures!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

My NaMoPaiMo sign-up

This morning I got up before sunrise - thank you, never-ending jet lag! - and officially signed up for NaMoPaiMo, In keeping with tradition, I am posting an illustrated version of my registration here.
My name is Jennifer Buxton. I am fifty one years old and live in Aurora, Colorado, USA.
My skill level is Advanced Amateur. This will be my fourth NaMoPaiMo.
I will be painting a Jennifer Scott Zephyrus resin to a shaded black with conservative white markings. I will be using acrylics, pastels, pearl-ex and possibly oils in an effort to make him as un-boring as possible.
This year's NaMoPaiMo is bookended by other big events - my trip to Europe on the front end and BreyerWest on the backside. My main goal is to have a smooth and drama free month, filled with education, excitement and camaraderie. Can we paint them? Yes, I think we can!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Micro mini prepping tutorial

I'm home safe and sound, but jet lag is really taking its toll on me. Fortunately, I have another great guest post to share. Thank you, Megan Namaste!

Micro Mini Prepping Tutorial

by Meghan Namaste

With the ever-increasing number of micro mini resins, pewters and Breyers out there, a lot of people have questions on how to prep them. Prepping is incredibly important and is the foundation for your paint job. I see prepping flaws and inadequate prepping across the board but wanted to focus on the micro scale here as there are a couple unique concerns when prepping these tiny guys. 

The most common issue I see with micros is a loss of detail. This happens most commonly in the prepping and priming stage. It's also fairly common to see seams not properly removed on micros, especially in hard to reach areas. I have developed my prepping method over the years and am satisfied with the results. I don't use any different tools or primers on my micros than I do on the bigger guys, and my method is pretty much the same across all scales except for a couple special considerations for micros.

The first thing I do is sand any seams that I am able to sand out. I will use a needle file and/or sandpaper for this. I might use the file a bit more on pewter castings but otherwise I don't treat pewter any differently than resin. I use the file quite a bit on resins as well because it helps to reach the seams in cramped areas. Pewter is a soft metal so anything I use to file it won't hurt the resin. I don't spend a ton of time on this initial sanding, any seams that I can't easily sand or file down all the way will be addressed in the next stage.

Next comes the filling stage. I used to use Bondo spot putty for this but I no longer use it for several reasons. I always had problems with it drying up in the tube, the fumes are terrible, and most importantly, when I have stripped models that had Bondo used on them, the stripping agent would dissolve the Bondo completely. Obviously epoxy is not one hundred percent foolproof, and there have been cases of lifting epoxy over time, but I prefer using something that oven cleaner doesn't dissolve. I also find epoxy goes on smoother and sands out easier than Bondo. It can also be used to re-texture areas when needed, such as manes and tails on very rough castings. I like Aves Apoxie Sculpt in White for prep work. It gets very soft with water and can really smush down into small areas to fill divots and seams. I will sometimes get it so diluted that it goes on almost like a glaze and barely even has to be sanded. I don't want to put anything thick on micros, especially small, heavily detailed areas like their faces and legs.

This horse has had the initial sanding and filling done and has been sanded smooth. Depending on what else I find after the sanding I may do more filling with epoxy, or if he looks ready for the initial primer layer I will wash, dry, and then prime.
This micro has had an initial primer layer. I use my go-to primer, Painter's Touch in White, which is a relatively thick primer. When priming micros you want to have a VERY light hand. The initial layer should look very spare and grainy, and you should be able to see the colored resin or pewter through it. This is just an initial test to see what other sanding or filling work your horse needs. 
After allowing the initial primer coat to dry for at least twelve hours or so, I go back in and do more sanding and/or filling. You can see where I have found areas that need additional attention, but the initial primer coat is so thin that it allows for subsequent coats to go on without filling in the detail.
Depending on the horse, I will repeat this process at least two or three times. Always remember to wash your horse before each primer coat, and allow them to air dry. Even if you wear gloves, you will still want to wash all the dust off. Make sure the horse is dry before you prime it, and remember to check underneath it where water droplets tend to flow and hang out for a while even when the rest of the horse is dry.
This horse is almost ready for the final primer layer, but has a couple issues that need to be addressed. Can you see those little raised bumps on his shoulder and hip area? Those need to be lightly sanded out. Otherwise, he looks good to go. Don't be in a rush and give yourself a deadline to get horses prepped, this process can take a while. It can be annoying, but your careful prep work will pay off in the end.
When I'm finally ready to do the last primer layer, I will spray a slightly thicker coat than the previous layers. You can see that this horse is shiny and the primer isn't grainy, but the detail is still intact. The primer doesn't look thick, and isn't pooling in the crevices. 
What do you do if you get all the way to the end, get that perfect primer layer, and find a spot that you somehow missed? Don't worry, it happens. Let the horse dry (give it a full day of drying time to be safe, you don't want to be trying to sand a sticky mess, and remember that a thicker layer will take more drying time), sand out or fill the spot in question, wash and dry per usual. Then when you go to re-prime the missed spot, hold your thumb or finger over critical areas of detail such as your horse's face, and spray away.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

How to paint better

I still have a lot of stories and pictures to share from my trip to Europe, but from this point on, the travelogue is going to have to share space with painting posts. NaMoPaiMo is less than ten days away! Today's post is a timely reminder from Melanie Miller that best way to paint better is to paint more. Thank you, so much Mel!

How to Paint Better

by Melanie Miller

There is a challenge for artists to re-draw an old piece to demonstrate improvement. While that's not super practical for model horses, I did find a reasonably similar piece in my archives to compare with my most recent horse, mini Anise. This Arista resin would have been painted in the early 2000's. For novices, keep in mind I was reasonably proficient at the time, having started seriously painting in the mid 90's. 
People often ask "How do I improve?" thinking there's just information they're missing. But the difference between these two pieces isn't really a knowledge gap that can be filled by someone else. It's time filled with lots and lots of practice. You'll learn tons of small things that add up to big gains during that time; what works best for you, how exactly your media works in detail, a new refined technique here and there, and just overall development of motor skills. All of these things can only be learned from doing, the "how to" basics are always the same. NaMoPaiMo - National Model Painting Month 2020 is almost here, and is a wonderful resource for learning the basics and troubleshooting. If you know the basics, then you already have everything you need to improve, so get practicing!
Registration for NaMoPaiMo 2020 is open until midnight, January 31. If you've ever thought about painting a model, now is the time. Please help us make this the biggest and best NaMoPaiMo ever!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Last hurrah

Today was my last full day in Europe. The morning was spent in Stuttgart. I introduced Carol to my new favorite craft store and made a few last purchases.
My suitcases are overflowing, but this is small. I'm sure I'll be able to squeeze it in!
The day's main event, however, was a trip to Marbach Stud in Gomadingen.
Marbach Stud is Germany's oldest state-run stud farm, with a history that dates back over five hundred years. 
Visitors are welcome to walk through the barns, and we did that.
Unfortunately, Tuesday afternoon in mid-January isn't the best time to visit Marbach. The museum and gift shop were closed, and most of the horses were tucked away in stalls. Other than a riding lesson in the indoor arena, not much was happening.
Still, it was a nice, laid-back way to spend a couple hours. I hope to go back someday when it's a little more lively.
I can't believe my time here is all but over. It's been a really wonderful twenty eight days. 
As happy as I am to be heading home, I know that by this time tomorrow I will already be missing Stuttgart, Europe and especially, Carol.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Real quick, real tired

Today we walked through the Catacombs...
and climbed to the top of the Arc de Trimophe.
I love Europe, but man, there are a lot stairs.
We ate a late lunch.
Then we slowly started making our way back to the hotel. Some of the train stations are closed due to a strike, so we avoided all that and walked most of the way. 
Our route took us through Jardin du Luxembourg. That's where we found the ponies.
I was so happy, I completely forgot about how much my feet hurt!
After the ponies, we stumbled upon a dog park.
More happiness!
We have walked almost twenty miles in the two days we've been in Paris. It's been amazing and also exhausting. Tomorrow, it's back to Stuttgart, and then Wednesday I get to go home.