Wednesday, 26 February 2014

#508 Ex Libris

I love books and I love to read.

I collect books - new books, old books, and rare books . . .
about many different subjects.  My focus, however, is on art,
animals, and history.  I have a real library filled floor to
ceiling with books arranged in a peculiar system that only
I know but cannot explain.  When I shuttle a book
between the library and studio, I always return it to the
same place.  Typically, I can lay my hands on any
book at any given time and I have an uncanny way
of knowing if a book is missing or is out of place. 
I love ripping cellophane off of new books and the sound of a book
being opened for the first time.  I love the pictures, illustrations,
and maps in books.  I love the bindings, marbling, bookplates,
and pressed flowers that I find in old books.

My library is a baronial-sized room that is my sanctuary,
and when I enter it, adventure is imminent.
I love the reassurance of having a book nearby,
and I'm uncomfortable in a room where there are no books. 

   Although the internet has opened a wealth of access and knowledge to "information  junkies" like me . . .
nothing will ever replace a book.
While a computer can answer specific questions
and epitomizes the ultimate reference source. . .
a book offers the surprise of discovery and may present information that one, perhaps, had not thought to ask about! 

Below, are images of my library and various studio bookcases and shelves.

What are books without bookends?  I love bookends and over the years have created over
30 different designs . . . below are samples.

Quail Gamebird Bokends

 Remembering Will James Bookends

 Reflection and Resolve Bookends

 Rooster Head Bookends

Turkey Bookends

To learn more about the subjects in this blog go to the links below.  
For a complete list of the blog index go to the Index Page and 
type the subject in the Search This Blog link on the right.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith

Sunday, 23 February 2014

#507 Throw on another log . . . whisper

There really are no hard, fast rules or principles of design, 
but simplicity, harmony, and subtlety can be a guide.  
Sculpture does not have to shout - it can whisper.

It's possible to put as much, if not more, 
vitality into a sculpture of an animal in a tranquil pose as in 
one depicting violent action.  The viewer can tire of the latter.  

A work of art combines composition, proportion,
and the arrangement of shapes and form to lead
the view to an artistic conclusion.

The greatest expression is communicated through the largest shapes.
The sculptor must say as much as possible with the large forms before being concerned with detail.

There's no technique or trick that can be taught to explain how to create a good, strong shape.
The theory must be felt or sensed to be understood by both the viewer and the artist.
Just as a whisper makes one listen more closely, one looks with greater understanding at uncomplicated
sculptural statements.  Power is gained through simplicity and simple shapes tell greater truths.

Below, are sculptures of quiet poses, modeled from life . . . the style,
sentiment, and spirit was derived from the subject.

Preening Cat


Sleepy Fox

Cougar at Ease


To learn more about the subjects in this blog go to the links below.  
For a complete list of the blog index go to the Index Page and 
type the subject in the Search This Blog link on the right.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

#506 In the studio: field guides and reference

Start this series with post # 503, Feb. 5, 2014

Roger Tory Peterson's classic Field Guide to the Birds in 1934 quickly became the most practical field guide ever written.  Simple and complete . . . it was a new kind of bird guide which emphasized the characteristics 
of birds when seen at a distance.  See previous blog for more info.

Below, is an image from Peterson's field guide.

Peterson's famous system is based on pattern drawing, field marks, comparisons between species, 
and identification of a bird's silhouette.

Below, are bird silhouette drawings from my sketchbook.

The system became so popular that it found its way into most field guides
published since and has become the universally accepted standard around the world.

Below, are more of the many field guides on the market for the artist and bird lover . . . see previous post for more info.

The role of research and reference is to inspire thoughts and help solve anatomical issues and proportion.  
I become as familiar as I can with the species I'm modeling through live models, taxidermy mounts, videos, zoo specimens, study skins, skulls and bones . . . whatever I can find that makes me live, think, dream, 
see, feel, understand, and express the animal I'm working on.

I have found that a sketchbook and photography is invaluable reference for "in the field" 
experience when choosing a pose or gesture. . . both serve as a memory jog.

Below, is the clay model - in progress - of "Little Blue Heron".

Below, is the sculpture cast in bronze.

Little Blue Heron

To learn more about the subjects in this blog go to the links below.  
For a complete list of the blog index go to the Index Page and 
type the subject in the Search This Blog link on the right.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith

Sunday, 16 February 2014

#505 In the studio: field guides

Start this series with post # 503, Feb. 5, 2014

Most bird artists are not ornithologists, but knowing how science has organized and classified birds in a 
field guide is an enormous help to the artist while researching an individual species.  
The importance can be summed up in one word . . . research.

Below, the publication of field guides such as Roger Tory Peterson's Field Guide to Birds 
in the United States in 1934, has greatly facilitated the identification of different species of birds.

In the 1960s and 1970s there was a proliferation of bird guides for North America, Europe, 
Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Africa, and a multitude of additional regions.
There are currently over 30 different field guide for North American birds . . . 
including :  Peterson's, Audubon, Golden, Reader's Digest, 
National Geographic, Kaufman, Stokes, Sibley, and many, many more. 

Below, are a few of the many field guide publications available to the artist . . . I use them all.

Some field guides, such as Audubon feature photographs, others such as Sibley present accurate illustrations that highlight species patterns.  Almost all,  begin with the most primitive species such as the flightless birds and work their way through the orders listed in the previous blogpost . . . ending with the highest evolved order - the passerines.

The artist will find that the field guide is an essential, well-tested, and practical system for learning 
species description, shapes, size, silhouette, and proportion.  In the studio, it is my starting place  
when a new clay block-in of an individual species is on the sculpture stand.   

Below, a field guide provides proportions -  length from tip of the beak to tip of the tail and wingspan - 
of a Northern Goshawk.  Shown, is a block-in demo at a recent Scottsdale Artists' School bird sculpture workshop. 
Note the L and WS  (length and wingspan) marked on the armature base are 50% life-sized . . . 
proportions and measurements are critical when starting a sculpture.

 In the year 2000, bird enthusiasts were introduced to the much-anticipated publication of 
Sibley's Guide to Birds.  Although I own and routinely use many field guides by different publishers, 
Sibley's is the one I teach with and use most in the studio.  Below, is a spread from Sibley's.  

 Since birds in flight don't pose for the artist . . .  when I start a block-in of a bird in motion or in flight, 
I accumulate everything that can serve as reference: various field guides, field sketches, 
photos, notes, videos, books, and my clip files and tear sheets from old magazines, etc.  
Most important for finishing a sculpture is "in the field" encounters with the specific subject.

Below, one of the primary ways to identify birds in the field is the realization of shape and silhouette 
of the individual species. . . a field guide is a"must" for the bird artist when in the field.   The overall silhouette 
of the subject must be perceived by the viewer at once . . . both in the field and in the completed sculpture.

Below,  is a sculpture entitled, Falcon Heart Humming.  Each bird has a distinct shape and silhouette and the most important characteristic of the subject must be grabbed and perceived by the viewer at once.    

Falcon Heart Humming
20"H 20"W 16"D

To learn more about the subjects in this blog go to the links below.  
For a complete list of the blog index go to the Index Page and 
type the subject in the Search This Blog link on the right.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

#504 In the studio: Birds . . . classification

Start this series with post # 503, Feb. 5, 2014

Scientists have organized and classified birds into major groups called ORDERS.

Each order contains a number of entities called SPECIES.

Species refer to all the birds within an order that are like one another . . . robins, for instance, belong in one species, 
and are in the order passeriformes.

Since "arky", more than 1.5 million species of birds 
have existed on this planet . . . of these, approximately 
10,000 species have evolved and remain.

                     1  Tinamiformes:  tinamous and rheas
                     2  Struthioniformes: ostriches
                     3  Casuariiformes:  cassowaries, emus, and kiwis
                     4  Galliformes:  gamebirds
                     5  Anseriformes:  waterfowl
                     6  Sphenisciformes: penguins 
                     7  Gaviiformes:  loons (divers)
                     8  Podicipediformes:  grebes
                     9  Procellariiformes:  albatrosses and petrels
                   10  Phoenicopteriformes:  flamingos
                   11  Ciconiiformes:  herons and allies
                   12  Pelecaniformes:  pelican and allies 
                   13  Falconiformes: birds of prey
                   14  Charadriiformes:  gulls, plovers and allies 
                   15  Gruiformes:  cranes and allies
                   16  Opisthocomiformes:  hoatzin
                   17  Charadriiformes: waders and shorebirds 
                   18  Pteroclidiformes:  sandgrouse
                   19  Columbiformes:  pigeons
                   20  Psittaciformes:  parrots and cockatoos
                   21  Musophagiformes:  Turacos
                   22  Cuculiformes:  cuckoos
                   23  Strigiformes: owls
                   24  Caprimulgiformes:  nightjars and allies 
                   25  Apodiformes:  hummingbirds and swifts
                   26  Caliiformes:  mousebirds
                   27  Trogoniformes:  trogons 
                   28  Coraciiformes:  kingfishers and allies
                   29  Bucerotiformes:  hornbills and hoopoes
                   30  Piciformes:  woodpeckers and allies
                   31  Passeriformes:  perching birds, song birds, ravens, and allies
Each bird on the planet falls into one of the ORDERS and is arranged in a sequence that indicates its closest relative.  Outward appearance does not always place birds in the same ORDER as ornithologists look beyond appearance and rely on factors such as anatomy, skeletal structure, DNA analysis, etc.  A complete list of all birds on the planet can be found online by going to Wikipedia: List of Birds. The different species in each ORDER can be found online and in various
field guides which will be discussed in the next post.  Scientists, however, continue to disagree as to the exact 
number of birds in existence as well as to what ORDER some should be placed. 

The highest ranked order, the passeriformes, or perching birds are the most adaptable and are 
considered the highest evolved . . .  the lowest ranked are the flightless ostriches and rheas.  
Over half of all birds on earth belong to the passeriformes order.  Some scientists believe that early in the 
evolutionary process, birds split into two diverse groups.  The first, and much smaller group comprised 
ratites, tinamous, waterfowl, and pheasants.  The second group included all the other avian orders.

Below, is a drawing of an ostrich and a image of a raven sculpture.  
Most scientists consider flightless bird the lowest ranked order 
on the evolutionary classification chart.  The passerines - which includes corvids like 
the raven - is considered the highest evolved and most adaptable.

Black Magic
23"H 17"W 17"D 

Following the Jurassic Period, dinosaurs became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period . . .  flowering plants flourished and, released from competition with dinosaurs, birds (and mammals)  occupied some of the niches of the bipedal dinosaur.  Under these conditions, birds thrived and diversified.  

The function of classification is to make sense of the diversity of species by grouping together related forms.  
This diversity is the result of rapid evolutionary change during the past 50 million years.
To avoid confusion across languages, Latin names are used in bird classification, as they are for all other organisms.  Closely related species are grouped in one genus, closely related genera are grouped in 
one family, closely related families are grouped in one order, and so on.          

Since the late 20th century,  fossil discoveries in China and DNA studies continue to present 
controversy among  scientists as to the distantly related ancestors of the modern bird.
Technically, birds are "avian dinosaurs" and the debate continues as to whether they evolved from a bird-like reptile.  

Below, discoveries, analysis, and debate will continue among scientists, but for now . . .
"arky" remains the universally recognized transitional fossil - or link - between dinosaurs and the modern bird.  

Below is a drawing of "arky" and a photo of the fossil found in 1861 . . . see the previous post for more information.

Blog, text, photos, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith

Sunday, 9 February 2014

#503 In the studio: Birds . . . evolution and anatomy


Birds appeared more than 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic or possibly the Triassic period.
The recent discovery of vast beds of fossil birds and "feathered dinosaurs"  in deposits in northeast China
and central Asia has opened argument about whether birds descended from dinosaurs or earlier
 archosaurs but also clarified an ongoing question:  Birds and two-legged creatures such as
the carnivore, Tyannosaurus rex, are on the same branch of the evolutionary tree.

The earliest known bird was the Archaeopteryz - pronounced arky-OP-tuh-ricks - the word means "ancient wing" in Greek.  A fossil discovered in Bavaria in 1861 shows that the creature who grew to the size of a crow, had feathers, claws, and other features that scientists think is the link to modern birds.   Six specimens of "arky" have been found . . .
all in limestones in southern Germany and all dated between 200 and 140 million years ago.

Below, is a photo of Archaeopteryz . . . "arky" for short.

Although "arky" had many unmistakable bird features, much of its skeleton is akin to those of reptiles.
Scientists think a bird's scaly legs are the last reminders of a reptilian ancestor and that feathers originated as
reptilian scales . . . feathers are made from the same horny substance of which fingernails are made.   

Feathers - not flight - set birds apart from other animals. . . many species, such as ostrich, have evolved with an inability to fly.  The evolution of powered flight required major skeletal modifications to change its early gliding wing movement to flapping flight.  The small,  two-legged, carnivorous dinosaur designed for a life of gliding from tree to tree in a gloomy Jurassic jungle evolved into today's modern bird and Archaeopteryz is the missing link.

Most, but not all birds fly.  The bones are light but remarkably strong, and some contain air sacs connected to the lungs.  Below, is a drawing of a bird skeleton and illustrates a number of modifications that make flight possible.
(1): Heavy teeth have been replaced by a light bill

(2): The bones of the skull are thin.

(3) and (4): The bones of the wings and legs are composed of thin-walled, honey-combed  tubes.
Nature has sluffed off weight to enable flight.

Although the information presented in this post is current . . .  as new discoveries are made,
both in the field and with DNA, scientists will continue to fine-tune,
fill in the details, provide a more complete picture, and debate the evolution of birds.

The fact remains that "arky" was unique for it possessed feathers.
The development of feathers was one of the crucial steps in the evolution of birds.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

#502 Museum Shows: The Briscoe . . . "Briscoe Bison Fragment I"

Our next major show is the Briscoe Museum's "Night of the Artists".  Located on San Antonio's famed River Walk, the institution is housed in San Antonio's first public library.  The newly restored Art Deco masterpiece consists of the historic museum building,  the newly constructed Jack Guenther Pavillion, the adjacent McNutt Courtyard and Sculpture Garden and is spread across one-and-a-quarter acres in downtown San Antonio.

Invitational and juried museum shows such as the Briscoe and the Autry Museum's Masters of the American West - now in progress -  have played an important role in the resurgent interest in representational art.  Quality, originality and healthy competition among the artists has been the result and astute collectors and museums recognize it.

The prestigious shows are coveted invitations and I always introduce new and current work at the important events.  
The Briscoe "Night of the Artists" opens Fri., March 28 with a gala opening event.
Public exhibition open March 30 and continues through April 27.

Shown below, is one of the new works I will introduce at Briscoe . . . Briscoe Bison Fragment I

Briscoe Bison Fragment I
30"H 19'W 9"D

Shown below is the new work in progress and in clay.

Shown below, is my model for the new work.
For more information see posts #458 - 461, Sept 4 - 15, 2013.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith

Sunday, 2 February 2014

#501 Museum Shows: The Autry, con't . . .

The Autry weekend is over and below are
 images and memories of one of the most important
exhibitions of representational art in the country:
The Autry Masters.  
I enjoyed good sales, met lots of collectors and saw many old friends.

The exhibition is open Sat. Feb 1, through Sun, Mar 16, 2014
 more information start with post #498, Jan. 22 and go to

Below, the high-relief sculpture, Hawkeye, is mounted for a wall hanging.

Below, Great Horned Owl, 5 x 7 oil on panel.

Below, are images of the new works that were introduced at the
Autry Museum's Masters of the American West Exhibition and Sale.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith