Sunday, 29 December 2013

#491 In the field: Africa . . . Elephant

Please start this series of posts with #477

Over the years I've created a few etchings and sculptures from zoo reference.  No zoo experience,
however, can equal the first-hand knowledge gained by observing an animal in its natural habitat.
I am now working on an African portfolio and have discovered that my recent trip to
Tanzania is the motivation and driving force for understood creativity in the studio.          

There are approximately 40 zoos in North America that accommodate the African Elephant
and below, is a sculpture modeled from drawings and photographs made at the San Diego Zoo.

16"H 19"W 8"D

I'm currently working on several Elephant sculptures from reference gathered in Africa.
For anatomy reference, go to posts# 563, #616, and #655

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

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

#490 Throw on another log: 'tis the season . . .

Merry Christmas!

Original etching by Sandy Scott

A roaring fire at the Wyoming studio . . . single digit temps and snow on the ground.

Blog, text, etchings . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith

Sunday, 22 December 2013

#489 In the field: Africa . . . Hoopoe

Please start this series of posts with #477

While in Tanzania, I saw the Hoopoe bird only once,  but I knew immediately that I wanted
to include it in my African portfolio of sculpture.  I saw the bird in Tarangire and was
struck by it's brilliant orange, black, and white color and by the distinctive crown of feathers.  

Below, is a photo of the Hoopoe without it's head feathers spread and displayed.
Although I saw the bird open up and show the feathers . . .
I was so impressed by the beauty that I simply experienced the event without taking a picture!

 The Hoopoe - pronounced hoo-poo - is classified in the group with kingfishers, rollers,
and bee-eaters and there are nine recognized subspecies of the bird.

Below, is a drawing of the Hoopoe with it's crown of head feathers spread.

The colorful Hoopoe is a medium sized bird - 10 to 12 inches - with a 17 to 19 inch wingspan. 
 It has a distinctive long, thin tapering bill and unique head feathers.  
The Hoopoe is widespread in Europe, Asia, and Africa.  
Interestingly, the Hoopoe is the national bird of Israel. 

Below, is another drawing from my African sketchbook.

Our guide in Tarangire informed me that the Swahili word for Hoopoe is hud-hud.
Below, is a quick clay sketch of the hud-hud in progress.

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

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

#488 In the field: Africa . . . Hippopotamus

Please start this series of posts with #477

The focus of this post is the Hippopotamus.  Before my recent trip to Tanzania, this animal was not on the short-list of species to be included in my African portfolio.  I completely changed my mind after experiencing the hippo in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and in Tarangire.

Below, are photos taken in Tanzania.

Hippos can always be found around water.

The hippo - its name is taken from ancient Greek for "river horse" -  is more closely related to whales and porpoises despite their physical resemblance to pigs.  Whales and hippos split in the evolutionary process around
60 million years ago.  A group of hippos is called a pod.

Hippos are well adapted to their mostly aquatic lifestyle and typically spend most of the day in or around water.
The large quadruped is aggressive and dangerous on land.  They stay cool in water during the day - like pigs, they are nearly hairless - and emerge at dusk to forage on grasses.

Hippo shapes are an obvious delight for the sculptor:  Barrel-shaped with short, stubby legs; enormous, cavernous mouth with long, large teeth; tiny ears, a unique shaped head and huge snout . . . present a plethora of outstanding shapes and forms for the sculptor to assemble and design with.  

Below, is a hippo sculpture - in progress - started a few days ago.  The two animals modeled are depicted in a pool and are the "supporting cast" for a third hippo which will be created with it's mouth open while yawning.  The dramatic creature will be included as a species in my African portfolio.

Below, are drawings of a yawning hippo . . . the precursor to the modeling and final design.
I learned from our guide in Africa that the Swahili name for Hippopotamus is kiboko. . .
The Maasai name is olmakau.

for anatomy reference, go to posts #563, #616, and #655.
Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott

Sunday, 15 December 2013

#487 In the field: Africa . . . Flamingo

Please start this series of posts with #477

The Flamingo is the focus of this blog and is another species I experienced on my recent trip to Tanzania.

I saw the striking birds from a distance in the Ngorongoro Crater . . . they were at ease on the mud flats
 of a shallow, salty lake.  Although my photos below, are of poor quality and have heat shimmer,
I was excited to spot them in their natural habitat.  Flamingos typically fly at sunrise and sunset
and I did not get a chance to see them fly . . . maybe next year!

Below, flamingos and wildebeest.

Below, flamingos and hartebeest.

Below, flamingos and hyena.

Below, lots of action in Ngorongoro Crater.

I've seen flamingos many times in the United States in zoos such as the San Diego Zoo and in more natural environments in Florida.  Many scientists believe that the American Flamingo of the New World tropics is
so like the Greater Flamingo of the Old World - which includes Africa - that they are probably the same species.

Below, are drawings from my sketchbook.
The beautiful bird will be included in my African portfolio which is in progress.
I plan to present the creature as a life-sized sculpture . . .  the armature has
already been built and the design has been created, mentally and on paper.

Below, is an original watercolor-tinted etching created many years
ago from reference gathered at the Hialeah Race Track in Florida.

for anatomy reference, go to posts #563, #616, and #655.
Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

#486 In the field: Africa . . . Ostrich

Please start this series of posts with #477

This post focuses on another species I experienced on my recent trip to Tanzania. . . the OSTRICH.

The ostrich is another subject that will be included in my portfolio of sculpture - in progress - depicting African animals.  Below are photos taken in the Serengeti, Ngorogoro, and Tarangire. several weeks ago.
The larger male has distinctive black feathers;  the females' are grayish brown.

Below, the male and female look after their brood.

Below, The big bird often follows animals such as zebras and other
hooved animals that kick up insects and other edibles.

The ostrich is the largest bird as well as the largest two-legged creature on earth . . .
it can be over 9 feet in height.
Below is a drawing from my sketchbook.

  Before approaching the sculpture stand, each species must be researched to perceive behavior, gesture,  pose, individual shapes and form, and proportion.  Below is a drawing of a running ostrich. . . 
this is a pose that is frequently seen in the field and is typical body movement and locomotion.

The ostrich is a unique bird with a bizarre appearance and communicates many distinctive shapes
for the sculptor's use.  The comical-looking creature has a huge rounded body; a long, skinny neck;
an unusually small head with big eyes, long eye-lashes, and a broad, flat beak;
spindly legs with enormous calf muscles; and only two toes.  The combination of
shapes and form presents a bonanza for the sculptor while creating and designing.
Below, is a drawing of the bird's unique head.

It is shapes and the arrangement of shapes and form that make sculpture and sculpting any species is the process of assembling shapes and forms that are unique to the subject.  The sculptor must develop sound technique and be under the influence of their subject. . . I always ask myself: "What was my initial impression of this animal when I first saw and experienced it?"  In this manner, I attempt to leave my imprint upon my creation and retain clarity and purpose.

For anatomy reference, go to posts #563, #616, and #655
Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith

Sunday, 8 December 2013

#485 In the field: Africa . . . Secretary Bird

Please start this series of posts with #477

Over the years and before my first trip to Tanzania in October, I had developed a short-list
of the different species I hoped to experience in Africa in their natural habitat.
The Secretary Bird was the number one bird on this dream list and I was not disappointed.

Below are images of my first "in the field" encounter with the Secretary Bird in the Serengeti and Tarangire.

Like eagles, hawks, falcons, kites, and vultures, the Secretary Bird is a hawk that is a member of the Falconiformes order and is indigenous to Africa.  It is so unlike other members of the order that it is placed in a family by itself.

The name, Secretary Bird is derived from the long quill pen-like crest feathers that emerge from the back of the bird's head that reminds one of a secretary's writing instrument.  Below, is a drawing from my sketchbook . . .
the profusion of crest feathers on the head will be a delight to design with in the sculpture studio!

The long-legged bird of prey is known for hunting and killing its primary diet - snakes.
It also preys on other reptiles, small mammals, large insects, and young birds, and eggs.
Below, is another drawing from my sketchbook.

The huge bird hunts by running after its prey in a zigzag manner; stomping with its feet and battering with its wings . . . killing its prey using powerful blows.  The bird will typically hold its dropped wings forward to avoid
being bitten by a snake.  Below is another drawing from my sketchbook.

Unlike other birds of prey who, for instance, soar to hunt . . .   the Secretary Bird has relatively poor flying skills;
however they are capable fliers and have been spotted as high as 12,000 feet.
They are frequently seen in pairs and like most large birds, are believed to mate for life.

Below, are additional drawings from my sketchbook.

For anatomy reference, go to posts #563, #616, and #655
Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

#484 In the field: Africa . . . Black Rhino

Please start this series of posts with #477

There were four different subspecies of black rhino at the beginning of the 20th century
and an estimated 1,000,000 animals roamed the savannas of Africa.  There are now only
three subspecies in existence as the Western Black Rhino was recently declared extinct.

Below, is a drawing of a Black Rhino from my sketchbook.

Authorities differ on how many black rhino remain on this planet but it's estimated between
2300 and 5000 animals of the remaining three subspecies exist and they are being killed daily.

Why is one subspecies extinct and the remaining three subspecies vulnerable to extinction?

TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine was promoted in Asia between 1950 and 1960 as a way to
unify the country against Western civilization and the use of Western medicine.  Between 1960 and 1975,
98% of the black rhino were killed by poachers to supply powdered rhino horn to Asia from which was said
to cure everything from hangovers, to fever, to cancer.   It is now considered a status symbol
as science has verified there are no medicinal qualities in powdered rhino horn.

On our recent trip to Tanzania, Trish and I were in the Ngorongoro Crater on two different occasions and both times we spotted a black rhino in the distance.  Our guides concluded that even though we saw a black rhino over two weeks apart, it was probably the same animal.  The photos below were shot with a 300 mm lens and are of poor quality due to distance and heat shimmer.  The fact remains that we experienced one of the few remaining black rhinos in existence.

I took drawings of various animal skeletons with me to Africa.  They are a great resource when spotting
an animal at a distance and only the shape and silhouette is recognizable.

Upon my return to the studio, I was anxious to model a clay sketch of the black rhino . . .
below, is a quick block-in that I'll return to when I gather more reference material.
I was cognizant of the fact and captivated by the knowledge that during my lifetime,
the magnificent animal could be extinct. . . and I'm not that young.

Our group of artist ambassadors are in the process of raising money and awareness against
poaching for not only the black rhino, but for the elephant through our artworks.
Please follow our posts, blogs, and links and help us.  Link to

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

Sunday, 1 December 2013

#483 In the field: Africa . . . the big cats: Lion, part 2

Please start this series of posts with #477

Before I approach the sculpture stand and begin to model clay, most of the actual work has been completed through planning, researching the species to be depicted, drawing, photography, and importantly . . . in  the field work.  Being there is a huge part of the process for without it, the desire, inspiration, interest, and knowledge is simply not realized.

Below, are images of Lions from a recent trip to Tanzania.

If I struggle with a design, typically I'll either put the work aside or start over. . . rarely, will I force the sculpture to completion if the concept continues to present problems.  If I need additional understanding regarding anatomy, I will return to my reference and resources . . . but planning and envisioning what the finished work will look like, 
BEFORE I begin the actual sculpting, is paramount.

More than anything, I'm in search of the essence  and  essential character of the species I'm working on in the studio and I constantly ask myself:  "What is the most significant thing that I felt when I first laid eyes on this animal?"
I keep in mind the fact that feelings cannot be forced and I continue to seek meaning and substance in my work by constantly seeking the basic nature and spirit of the animals I've experienced in the field.    

Below, are drawings from my sketchbook in the Serengeti.

Below, is an etching drawn from a zoo animal before I travelled to Africa.  Although I've created a handful 
of works from zoo animals, it's not the same as seeing a species in the wild.  I see animals in a totally 
different way in their natural habitat  . . . not only do they look different, but they evoke an emotional 
response  and connection that is conducive to creativity.

Below, while photographing in the field, I take many close-ups of various details which are great reference in the studio.

I was very anxious to start work in the studio upon my return from Africa . . .  with over 20,000 digital photos and lots of drawings and inspiration, I could hardly wait for the clay to warm!  I have several works started and blocked in. 

Below, is a head study of a male Lion, in progress.

For anatomy reference, go to posts #563, #616, and #655
Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish Smith