Wednesday, 29 July 2015

#656 In the field . . . birthday #72

Last week was my birthday and we returned to the rustic
cabin in remote northern Colorado where we celebrated 
July 24 last year.  We lived in Colorado for many years
and know the area very well . . . we know all of the backroads,
 the best places to fish for Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout,
the trails to the little streams where the Brook Trout
hang out,and where to see wildlife.
The old camp where we stay is close to
timberline and is heavily populated with moose . . .
we never fail to see them.

Below, are images of moose taken last week in the high country.

Below, I spotted a recumbent young bull in the shade from a distance . . .
we left him at peace but got him with a telephoto.

Below, Trish is fishing at a favorite high country lake where we saw nesting Ospreys.

Shown below, is another favorite lake . . . I photographed a Mule Deer doe while enjoying a cold beer and the scenery.

The temperature dips down at night and the old housekeeping cabin is heated with an ancient wood burning cookstove.
The wood and kindling is provided for us, chopped, split, and always plentiful . . . I'm used to wood heat and love it!
Below, is a photo of the dogs warming up on a chilly morning in front of the cookstove while the boiled coffee perks.

The proprietors of the camp are fellow bird lovers and have hummingbird feeders everywhere.  
Below, are photos of Trish, a feeder outside our cabin, and along with the resident Chipmunk,
we could count on a live model and plenty of entertainment during the cocktail hour!

Below, is an early etching of hummingbirds.

Go to the BLOG INDEX on the right for more information.

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

Sunday, 26 July 2015

#655 Animals in motion

It's important for the artist to understand that one of the main anatomical difference between upright humans and quadruped mammals on all fours is the shape and position of the shoulder blades as outlined in the previous 3 blogs. 

Below, is the clay model of a sculpture in progress depicting running horses.


Unlike humans, a quadruped does not have the skeletal support of a clavicle attached to the scapula and humerus. . .
there is no collarbone [clavicle] attachment to the scapula [shoulder blades] and the scapula is not attached to the ribcage.
The weight of the front end of a quadruped is supported by sliding scapulas and the muscles that surround them.
Birds like mammals are vertebrates, they stand upright like humans, and they have a clavicle.
While the shoulder blades are not attached to the ribcage, the hips are. 

   The artist should know how the animal's skeleton is structured and how it is designed to function.
The artist must sense when to exaggerate or diminish proportions to achieve the illusion of movement.
It's the subject's gesture or movement that the artist must capture.

Don't be afraid to "stretch" a proportion to trick the viewer's eye into seeing what you want them to see!
Caliper restricted and exact measurements can result in the creation of a specimen and leave the realm of art.
Calipers and measuring devices are useful for depicting poses of the animal at ease, for blocking in the start-up,
 and especially for those times when you simply stop seeing the work . . . you know something is wrong, but what?
Measuring can get you back on track but don't forget your first impression of the animal's gesture and action . . .
 refer to your drawings or take a picture of the existing work before making too many adjustments and changes.

Note:  A great book and resource for the artist is "Animals in Motion" by Eadweard Muybridge; published by Dover.

Remember, if you know what to look for and where to expect to find it, your art immediately becomes more easily accomplished.  Since the bones of a specific species are fixed as to length and restricted as to range of movement,
they can only assume positions that are governed by the laws of mechanics. 
The first thing to be aware of is the position of the skeleton.  All of this becomes evident if you know
where to locate the scapula (shoulder blade), the humerus, elbow, wrist, pelvis, femur, knee, and the ankle.  

Go to the BLOG INDEX and Reference Page for more information.  See post #616

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

Below, is a link to a credit list of references and resources used for preparing visual images of skeletal anatomy, and structural data for the instructional portion of this blog.  This material is meant to be used for teaching information and studio reference.  Not included in the link is "Zoobooks" which is an excellent artist's resource. Additional sources will be noted when used in upcoming blogs.

Link to post #616

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

#654 Plantigrades, Digitigrades, and Unguligrades . . . land animals

Please see the previous two posts for more information about this subject.
The focus of this blog is four basic types of land animals which are:
Plantigrades, Digitigrades, and Unguligrades . . . both odd-toed and even-toed.

1.  Plantigrades are slow land animals such as bears, raccoons, squirrels, etc. and the paws
 function similar to human hands.  The drawings below are from one of my journals and sketchbook.

2.  Digitigrades are intermediate speed land animals such as dogs, cats, birds, and most mammals.
Surprisingly, elephants are included in this group . . . much more about elephant anatomy in an upcoming blog.
Also, birds - who stand upright like humans -  are included in this group.
Digitigrades walk on the pad of the foot and hand as shown in the drawings below.

3.  Even-toed Unguligrades are faster land animals such as deer, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, antelope, giraffe, etc.
  I can find no info on why they are called "toed" instead of "fingered".
Below is a drawing of a cow that shows hand and foot basics followed by that of a deer.

4. Odd-toed Unguligrades are fast land animals such as rhinos and horses.
The lower leg and arm is the foot and hand region and the animal walks and runs on the toe and finger.
Below, a drawing of a horse shows hand [thoracic limb] and foot [pelvic limb] basics.

Go to the BLOG INDEX and Reference Page for more information.  See post #616 and #655

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

Sunday, 19 July 2015

#653 Locomotive anatomy . . . deer

Please see the previous post for more information about this blog.
The focus of this post is anatomical considerations of the deer in motion.

Every artist knows that it's difficult to sketch a jumping or running animal.  Studying skeletons, muscles, and proportions of a species and understanding "nature's one pattern" and waypoints - see blog #644 thru #648 - is invaluable knowledge
for the sculptor and will initiate an understanding of all quadruped locomotive anatomy . . . deer included.

Drawing action gestures and lines in the field, will help you catch the spirit of the pose and will  prevent becoming
involved in the details before you have established proportions and character of the pose.
The legs of a running or jumping deer are moved one after the other in rotation . . . a horse moves the legs diagonally.
Shown below, are quick sketches created afield.

In the field, you will observe that at the beginning of a deer's leap or jump, the head and neck are extended.
As the deer lands, the head is drawn back.  Below, are additional drawings depicting the deer's anatomical structure.
Remember . . . drawing in the field is about curiosity; not the final product.
Look for the big picture . . . don't get mired in details.

Photography is an invaluable tool for the artist in the field.  This little Mule Deer fawn didn't see me crouching behind a bush and ran right toward me before veering off!  All four legs were off the ground and it was demonstrating a maneuver
peculiar to Mule Deer called "stotting".  White-tailed Deer don't do it but some African antelope do.

Shown below, is a recent sculpture of a White-tailed Deer in motion entitled, "Swamp Buck".

Shown below, is another sculpture of a White-tailed Deer in motion entitled, "Whitetail".

Go to the BLOG INDEX and Reference Page for more information.  See post #616 and #655

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

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

# 652 Locomotive anatomy . . . muscle bunching, stretching and more

I've been a journal keeper for many years and my spiral binder journals are filled with notes, sketches, and lots of information that I've deemed worthy of writing down . . . many of my blogs originate from these old journals.  
Recently, I came across an entry that I hope is informative and interesting to you about quadruped anatomy.  
The focus of this post is quadruped locomotive anatomy . . . muscle bunching, stretching, and more.

Below, is an image from an old journal entry depicting locomotive anatomy; bunching and stretching.

Locomotive anatomy, or how the muscles bunch and stretch, must be understood by the artist.
An animal's body compresses, or bunches and extends, or stretches when in motion.
Below, are two images of a sculpture depicting muscle bunching entitled, "Coyote Clipper".

Below, is an image of a sculpture depicting muscle stretching entitled, "Stealth".
Note the stretching of the skin over the muscles from joint to joint.
An understanding of skeletal structure is a necessity . . . see "nature's one pattern" in blog #644
through #648 for more information about quadruped anatomy.

Below, is another image of "Stealth" depicting muscle bunching.

Go to the BLOG INDEX and Reference Page for more information.  See Post #616 and #655

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

Sunday, 12 July 2015

#651 Throw on another log . . . why I'm an artist

Note:  "Throw on another log" is a commentary and opinion about art.

Last week, I was sent a questionnaire from David J. Wagner, PhD.,
a highly respected curator and tour director of art. 
His questions are for promotional purposes and
I'm posting them and my answers on this blog. 

I am happy to say that he has organized a retrospective of my work which will open on Oct. 2 at the Bonita Springs Art Center near Naples, Florida;
then travel to Brookgreen Gardens in Murrell's Inlet South Carolina
where it will open on January 23, 2016.  More venues are scheduled. 

As artists, we get many questionnaires for articles, catalogues, etc.
I love the simplicity, yet thought provoking nature of Dr. Wagner's
five questions and I've spent hours pondering, soul-searching,
and writing down my thoughts.   I found myself bouncing back
 and forth between the questions . . . in other words,
they are all interrelated.  The questions are:

                          1.  Why are you an artist?
                          2.  Why do you create sculptures, etchings, and drawings?
                          3.  What goals do you set for yourself as an artist?
                          4.  How do you measure success?
                          5.  What would you like your legacy to be?

I've never really understood why I was compelled as a child to want to draw and why I was inclined toward creativity as I got older.  I only know that since I was little, I've had a never-ending energy and motivation to create . . . to be alone and to express on a deeper level, through art, what could not be said any other way.   I think everyone is born with some natural talent but it takes desire, motivation, and training to become a professional artist. . .  children typically love to draw but usually stop drawing when they're about ten years old because their drawings either don't look as good as the other kids' work or their drawing doesn't look like their subject.  As a youngster, my case was different . . . I was encouraged.

As a child, I had supportive parents and art teachers who not only encouraged my interest in art, but gave me confidence in early efforts. . .  it was not praise I was after . . . I just wanted to be by myself and draw things - mostly animals that I was used to seeing in rural Oklahoma where I grew up.  I excelled at drawing and later the high school art teacher informed my parents that a portfolio of work should be sent to the Kansas City Art Institute for admission and I was accepted.  To this day, I view the time spent there as the awakening of my senses as I absorbed the rudiments of what would become a lifelong journey in the arts.  Nothing since has equaled the enthusiasm in which I immersed myself in the study of art.  To this day, I thrive upon the confidence instilled in me by competent instructors who inspired and directed me toward achievement.

I believe sculpture, printmaking [such as etching], and drawing are skills that can be taught and learned.  
I've taught bird sculpture and anatomy workshops for almost thirty years and know this is true.   Art and the motivation 
for becoming an artist is difficult to define.  However, no amount of art education and practice can cause just anyone to develop into a creative genius.  There simply is no scientific explanation, no gene, for what causes some and not others to become a great artist capable of creating what is regarded as masterpieces and what stands the test of time.

While I was exposed to all mediums at Kansas City Art Institute, drawing and sculpture excited me most. 
Etching is simply another drawing process and was a natural technique for me to pursue.  I love the time-honored "feel" 
of intaglio and the "look" of paper pressed upon an inked plate.   After a successful printmaking [etching] venture in the 1970s with gallery representation and collector acceptance,  I found myself pulled toward sculpting and shaping clay into a three-dimensional form.  Not only do I like the permanence of bronze but as an artist whose design source is animals, I love the analytical approach and the necessity to understand anatomy and structure.  It is my belief that painters paint what they see and sculptors sculpt what they know.   In order to go beyond "specimen" work, the artist must have a developed sense of composition, balance, form, line, contour, etc. and all of those things that make up that elusive, subjective thing called "art".  Drawing remains a precursor to my sculpture and typically I work out design and anatomical solutions with a pencil on paper. I truly enjoy the process of making art. 

 I feel a desire to connect with the animal . . .  be it my dog, cat, or horse, or a subject that I've experienced in the wild.  I want to capture what I saw and felt.  I want my work to resonate with the viewer and while making art is indeed personal, the impulse to communicate continues to have profound meaning.  This causes a search for a universal statement and I tend to portray what is typical of the species as well as what I find beautiful.   

Over the years, my work has given consistency and meaning to my life and while the motivation has been a passion to create, art has provided a solid and stable income.  What counts is the fact that I'm happy and alive when I'm working and therefore consider myself successful.  I measure success on a daily basis.  If I wake up excited about going to the studio or if I'm on a reference gathering field trip and can't wait to experience the animals, I'm having a successful day. If things aren't going well in the studio, I'm miserable and everyone around me is miserable.  I truly think I could win the lottery and be miserable if I'm having an unsuccessful day in the studio.   Any artist will tell you that there's no greater feeling of well-being than when things are going well with a work in progress.   Everything takes a backseat to creating art and it goes without saying that I would create even if I wasn't paid for my efforts.  How do I measure success?   If all of the shadows fall in the right place.   

It is my hope that my work will give insight into the animals that inhabit this earth and will be an artistic record and legacy of the creatures who coexist with us in a chaotic world. 

"We need another and a wiser, and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals . . .
They are not brethren, they are not underdogs, they are other nations,
caught with ourselves in the net of life and time,
fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth"

                                                                                                                - Henry Beston

Go to the BLOG INDEX on the right for more information.

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

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

#650 National Sculpture Society Celebration in Philadelphia, con't . . .

For more information about this post, please see the previous blog.
The focus of this blog is the historic cast collection at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Philadelphia boasts the nations first museum and school of fine art. - The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), founded in 1805.  When I attended The Kansas City Art Institute - (KCAI) in the early 1960s',  the historic cast collection
 at PAFA was legendary.  KCAI had a few casts but nothing like PAFA.  At one time, most art schools had substantial collections of plaster casts but sadly, during the early and mid 20th century, some museums and art schools purged themselves of plaster casts of ancient sculpture in their quest for modernism.  

It was a great loss to art education . . . incredible collections of casts such as those at Vassar College, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and many more institutions, saw the destruction of plaster casts which were regarded as
"out of date" in the deplorable wreckage and frenzy that followed the 1913 Armory Show of modern art in New York.

Drawing from plaster casts of ancient sculpture has a long history in academic art education:  
 Public institutions in the 19th and early 20th century acquired cast collections of ancient Greek, Roman, French, and Italian sculptures as a method of instructing and solidifying a student's drawing skills.  Capturing the subtle variations of light across a plaster surface was the most challenging endeavor I remember from my drawing classes at KCAI. 

A representative from PAFA participated in the National Sculpture Society Celebration in Philadelphia and 
 graciously agreed to escort a group of us to the Academy which was only four blocks from our hotel.  
A dream come true and an incredible experience to be guided on a private tour of the historic cast collection!  

Tours can be reserved when the classrooms are not in use.  
For more information call 215.972.7600 or visit

Below, are images from a memorable day at the Pennsylvanaia Academy of the Fine Arts.

Above, fellow sculptors, Lee Hutt and Kent Ullberg

Above, fellow sculptors, Nina Akuma and Tuck Langland

Go to the BLOG INDEX on the right for more information.

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