Thursday, February 28, 2019

He did it!

"This is the Overland High School Attendance line. If you are calling your student in absent or tardy, please leave your child's name, spelling the last name slowly, date and reason for absence."

"Hi, this is Jennifer Buxton letting you know that James Buxton - B U X T O N - will miss his third period class today. He needs to come home and paint his unicorn."

Okay, it didn't go down exactly like that, but pretty close. I called James out of school today so he could finish the Glitter Queen.
And he did it!
They're both fabulous.
I have no regrets.

I did it!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

One more day

Tonight's "I Did It!" collage contains images of three hundred twenty one models.
Bubbles still isn't in there, but that's just because I ran out of daylight. Her finishwork is as complete as it's going to get. Tomorrow I'll take the glamour shots.
James' unicorn is also absent, but there has been enough progress to make me cautiously optimistic about the Glitter Queen's prospects.
Tomorrow is the last day of NaMoPaiMo. The end is almost here, but there's still time. Keep on painting!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


There are now two hundred sixty three models in the winners circle.
My pony is still not one of them.
I really thought today would be the day, but this morning's painting session did not go well. In fact, it went so poorly, I was forced to walk away and get some perspective.
Forced, I tell you! 
After my ride, I came home and tried to finish up Moosifer. He is just as close to being done as Bubbles, but was just as uncooperative today.
Clearly, the problem is me. I have painted every day but two this month. I never expected to be part of #TeamLastMinute, but here we are. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

Demystifying white markings

Most people's NaMoPaiMo goals are limited to painting, but not Meghan Namaste. In addition to completing her model, she also vowed to write two tutorials on finishwork. The first was published earlier this month, and she  she completes her mission with today's excellent post on white markings. Thank you and congratulations, Meghan. You are a blogging winner. Now go finish your horse!

Oh, I Would Paint 500 Layers and I Would Paint 500 More: Demystifying White Markings 

by Meghan Namaste

Full disclosure: white markings are one of my least favorite things to paint. I was never a “color inside the lines” kid, so outlining and painting countless layers of white and trying to keep it smooth and even feels too much like the industrial kind of painting that I despise. I usually have lots of mess-ups with paint going outside the lines, and little paint goobers and hairs seem magnetically attracted to the white areas. But while I will probably never “like” painting white markings, it doesn’t cause me the stress and anxiety that it used to.
What Not To Do

As a teen and a fledgling painter, I was a raging perfectionist. I would pick out all the teeny, tiny flaws and never see anything good in what I did. My “rock bottom” was when I was working on a horse that I would eventually name “Monk”, after the obsessive-compulsive detective from the TV series. He was a black leopard Appaloosa Rasam resin, and I was obsessed with keeping his white areas flaw-free, because in my mind if he didn’t turn out “perfect”, he wouldn’t stand a chance in the show ring. Well, once I got to the show with my imperfect horse, I saw a lot of other imperfect horses. I realized that I wasn’t alone in my struggle to get smooth, flawless white markings, and that I needed to strive for excellence instead of perfection. I’ll always keep Monk, the reminder of my rock bottom, the horse that taught me a valuable lesson: loosen up, buttercup.
Bob Ross Knows Best

I break white markings down into 3 steps: blocking in the pattern, endless white layers, and detailing. All 3 can be nerve-wracking for different reasons, but blocking in the pattern used to really trip me up. I’ve never had issues recreating a color from a reference photo, but for some reason I struggled translating patterns from the reference to my model. I tried so hard, but it never looked enough like the picture to suit me, and I’d get frustrated. Then I watched an episode of The Joy Of Painting with Bob Ross, and it totally changed my technique for the better. Something about the way he created trees out of little squiggles with a fan brush resonated with me, along with his calm, quiet demeanor. I thought “I can use these techniques on a model!” I had a fan brush (I’d never used it), and I picked it up and started making those little lines and squiggles, and it worked! The pattern wasn’t exact, but it was actually much closer than when I’d tried to painstakingly recreate it, and it looked much more natural.
Here’s the thing. Patterns and markings on horses have a certain organic, random flow to them. Tensing up and trying to recreate a pattern perfectly will only mess you up and lead to unsatisfying results. I’m not suggesting you can just fling paint at a model and it will land where it needs to, but if you’re struggling with recreating a pattern, try loosening up a bit. Try different brushes (especially the little fan brush. No, seriously, get yourself a little fan brush) and learn what effects each brush can produce. There are times when you need a steady hand (like when trying to stay in the lines), and times when you need to just let the brush do its thing. 
Getting Technical

Another thing I like to do is to block the pattern in during my base layer. Instead of pasteling the whole horse, I will only apply pastels where the body color will be showing through. It makes for a very time-consuming first layer, but it really cuts down on work once you get to the white layers phase, and I just find it easier to transfer a pattern from the reference to the model this way, and I find the white markings end up looking softer and more natural.
On a model that has a lot of roaning, like my NaMoPaiMo horse, I like to add the roaning before I do all the white layers, because some of the white layers will go over the roaning in certain places to soften and enhance it. I take a small, fine-tipped detail brush with a very small amount of paint on it, and do the hair by hair roaning. If I get some hairing that doesn’t turn out, I will smear/blot it with my finger and then go right back over the smudge with a fresh round of hairs. This creates random roany patches, which add character and dimension to the coat. 
I will do hairing around some of the marking edges, but not all of them. I leave some smooth, and I do a little crinkle effect on some, depending on how my brush is behaving, and how I feel the overall picture should look. If I do need to get rid of a mistake (say I went outside the lines) I keep a “mistake eraser” brush nearby at all times. Get it a little damp, pull the paint away from the area, and wipe clean (I have to do this a lot when I paint - again, I never colored in the lines as a kid).
When painting white layers over roaning, it’s best to use the last residue of paint on your brush after painting a layer on the main markings. You want to go over the roaning with a very thin, very minimal layer of paint, because you never want to cover up all that hard work. I only add white layers over parts of the roaning, never over all of it, because some of it is very subtle and I want it to stay that way. Generally the closer to the main white areas, the more white layers I will do over the roaning. On my NaMoPaiMo horse, I have done white layers over the roaning on his sides, 
up near his back... 
 and the top of his rump. The other roany areas have been left alone.
With this horse, I alternated a lot between white layers and detailing. It was helpful to break up the monotony, as well as giving my eyes a break. White markings are certainly never “fun”, but they don’t have to be stressful. Every time I paint a pinto, I swear I’m just going to do solids and striped things from now on, because they are just too tedious. Then I see another gorgeous, unique pinto pattern, and next thing I know I’m right back to doing endless white layers all over again.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Winners circle

As of an hour ago, there were two hundred twenty one models in the NaMoPaiMo winners' circle.
If my time and energy were limitless, each and every one of those horses would get an individual mention on my blog. Since that's not the case, I've randomly selected twelve models to showcase in this year's first Winners Circle post. 

First up is Emma Pelin's Jasper. Emma writes: This month I learned the importance of patience, proper prepping and found a love for tiny brushes! I'm honestly super proud over him as he is the first bay roan I have succeeded with. Huge thank you to everyone who's supported and come with tips, tricks and feedback. Definitely taking part next year!
Molly Bates also made a list of: Things my first Namopaimo taught me:
  1. Some projects have a mind of their own 
  2. I equal parts love and hate my airbrush 
  3. Take your time prepping the first go around. Three preps and strips later, I can finally say I DID IT! 
In all honesty, if this wasn’t my Namo model and I didn’t commit to finishing him, I would’ve abandoned this project a long time ago. He gave me such a run around with prep work, and some of those problems/flaws are still visible - but I’m still so proud of this model because he forced me to problem solve since I promised I’d see him through to completion. Thanks for a great learning project, Namopaimo 2019 - I’ll see you next year!
This wasn't Lynn Weber's first NaMoPaiMo, but it was the first she's completed. She explains: I did it! Two years ago I entered and never even picked up my model. This year I finished one, am close to finishing another and have two more in the works. I bought so many supplies I’m going to have to finish another six models to justify buying it all!  But most importantly, I had fun and realized how much I missed my artistic side, and for that, I have to thank Jennifer for engineering this!
Marci Smith Driscoll is another person who's NaMoFailed in the past. Not this year! Just look at her awesome unicorn.
Truly, this has been the Year of the Unicorn. There have been so many, and all of them are amazing. I am particularly taken with Christine Jordan's blue Appaloosa...
Shannon Robinson's gorgeous and exotic Tempest...
and Mariah Harrison's Porphyrios.
Sara Roche used four colors of hand-painted acrylics to create this leopard Appaloosa Valegro. Amazing!
Also amazing - this stablemate was painted by four year old Reid Wasco.
Reid's mother, Krista, also painted a model. This is her rose gold decorator mini vaulting horse.
And here's another mother and son pair. These horses were painted by Holly Jane Mason and her son, Joseph.
Last but certainly not least, is Kim Prosek's beautiful little draft horse. Kim writes: I was intimidated with doing dapples but I’m thrilled how they turned out and the dimension they add. I just want to say thank you for the Feb 17 post on your blog. It really hit home and had me tearing up. It’s nice to hear that a person is not alone in their struggle and feelings of inadequacy. So thank you! They were the words I was needing to hear.
Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you again to everyone who's shared both their triumphs and struggles. Truly, we are all in this together!

A family affair

For reasons known only to himself, James signed up for NaMoPaiMo this year.
Today is Day Twenty Five, and his model looks like this. I haven't given up hope, but I won't be shocked if this one doesn't make it across the finish line.
That's okay. I found something else for him to do.
Last year, Kylee cast all the Van Gogh medallions herself. That's a lot of work - too much for one person, really. This year, I asked her to please send me a Frida mold or two so I could help out.
Of course when I said, "I could help out," what I really meant was, "James could help out."
Can you believe he did this all in one day? Amazing!
I still hope he'll paint that unicorn, but if this is James' only contribution to NaMoPaiMo 2019, it will be enough. Thanks, James!