tributesinwood

Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Archive for the tag “horse”

Painting the Pony and Base

I decided to paint the base in a way that it looks like it’s been around for a lot of years and has seen its share of use.

The wooden base started off with several thin, wash coats of ‘red barn’ which gives it a nice reddish-brown look. I hand painted the lettering with a fine brush and tried to keep the paint a bit translucent to make it look like the letters were fading. Later, I added small dry-brush scuffs of ‘burnt sienna’ and ‘raw sienna’ to show some dirt and wear everywhere on the box, including over top of the lettering. I mixed up a light beige colour using white, brown and a tiny bit of yellow and dry brushed some broader areas to make it look like the paint had worn down completely to the wooden structure.

For the two cylinders that support the horse, I painted them black with a few dry brush marks of ‘burnt sienna’ and then added some touches of silver to make it look like bare metal beneath. I added some aluminum metal tape with an adhesive backing to the bottom hinged cylinder ( simulated hinged! ) and then coated the two cylinders in a light wash of ‘Payne’s grey.’ This grey colour when put on lightly really makes things look like the real McCoy, especially when applied over the metal tape.

The coin return was painted a dark grey, scuffed up with some ‘burnt sienna’ and dabbed with a few spots of silver. Once again, a very light coat of ‘Payne’s grey’ was used over everything.

All of the above got a coat of satin finish urethane. I still use the method that Lynn Doughty has demonstrated and wipe the urethane off before it dries with a single ply kitchen wipe. This gives the urethane a nice dull look rather than too shiny an appearance. The trick is to find a lower quality paper towel that isn’t too “fluffy” as all of that extra fluff that you pay for in a softer towel will come off on the drying urethane and make a mess.

The pony was painted predominantly with ‘raw sienna’ and I lightened and darkened it with browns and yellows. I used washes throughout this process to build light coats on top of dark coats. The effect lightened the pony’s coat on the top and darkened it toward the bottom and in recesses beneath the head, legs, etc. I added a bit of off white for markings and just above the hooves and for the teeth. Again, I showed a number of worn areas by dry brushing “scuffs”of beige here and there. The mane and tail are black with some dark grey highlights. Some final dry brushing with a light beige finished it up. Once dry, I added some satin finish urethane but did not wipe it off this time so that it would have more of a shiny finish as you’d expect from a riding horse.

And, here’s how it’s turning out so far…

A Head Start

As is the case with most of my carvings, my ideas change as I go along. It seems that once I see a portion of the carving, a new idea or, at least, a modification of the original idea comes along that appears to be a better fit for the final project. I’m not sure if that’s a common approach or not but it’s certainly what happens in my brain.

With this one, although I started off thinking that a grown woman would be a comical candidate for riding the mechanical horse, I ended up with the idea that a little girl in cowboy dress would be nicer. So, because I had started some time ago on a head and face of a woman, I cheated a bit and made that original head more girl-like. Basically, I kept the big eyes but rounded the face considerably for some “baby-fat”, reduced the depth of the eye sockets, shortened the chin and changed the hairdo from something fairly stylish to something with pigtails.

The pigtails were done separately, again to ensure that the grain of the wood was running along the length of the pigtail for strength. Of course, a couple of shallow ( maybe 3/16″ ) holes were drilled in to the head where the pigtails would eventually be glued.

The pigtails started out as worm-like shapes being cylindrical with some random waves or curves. My intent was to make the pigtails look like they were jostling around from the motion of the horse ride but not necessarily pinned back like she was riding a real horse in the breeze.

Once the cylindrical shapes were carved, I drew in a herring-bone pattern on the front and back and alternated between carving and using a wood-burning tool to create the valleys. I’m not sure if I have some kind of spatial orientation problem, but was it ever hard for me to imagine how one side of the herring-bone pigtail would mate with and look like the other side. I ended up carving the one side and then struggling with matching the pigtail pattern with pencil before carving the other side. I don’t know why this was so hard to picture…I guess I shouldn’t have always left it to Peggy to make our daughter Emily’s pigtails when she was a little girl.

A bit of wood burning followed to accent the hair on the head and in the pony tail. An interesting thing that I noted, as I went along, was that I had originally carved the hair on the head very flat and when I drilled the hole for the pigtails and attached them, they just didn’t look right. So, I went back and dished out the head hair around the pigtail so that it looked like the hair was being pulled up from the head rather than looking like it was a sharp 90 degree angle from the head to the root of the pigtail. That looked better. Oh, I also added a band-aid to her forehead by carving out some relief shallow relief from her forehead. I figured that her trick riding skills didn’t come without some failed practice sessions.

Painting was done in my normal fashion using acrylic paints followed with a light coat of satin finish urethane ( polyurethane ). White eyes and teeth were first added followed by flesh tones in several washes ( thin coats ). I reddened the flesh colour for around her cheeks, her forehead, tops of the ears and end of her nose as a bit of a sunburn. I used Payne’s grey as a very, very light wash under her eyes, beneath her chin and inside of her ears. Lynn Doughty suggests this method on his cowboys to indicate shadow and a bit of a five-o’clock shadow. I chanced using it on the little girl’s face to indicate shadow and it worked well as long as I kept it very thin and light. I used a combination of burnt sienna and orange in washes for her hair and eyebrows and then used basically the same colour for her freckles. I chanced using a very, very light wash of orange over her cheeks and forehead to indicate a little girl’s freckled complexion and it worked out pretty well.

And, then, the best part…I dug into one of my several boxes of broken things that I keep even though I know that I’ll never use them…and pulled out a broken guitar “b” or, second string, and made a set of braces for her beautifully forming teeth! Ha!

Lots of fun…

Trick Ridin’

When I carved the female head for my last carving of the cowgirl with the fiddle, I had actually carved a second female head at the same time. I didn’t really have a plan for either of the heads, I just wanted to take on the challenge of carving something other than a male caricature.

So, that left me with a second female head and I enjoyed doing the cowgirl figure so much, I decided to come up with another little scene…and, what I’m picturing is a grown young woman wanna-be-cowgirl practicing her trick riding on an old store front mechanical riding pony! With that, here’s the start to the scene with the little pony well underway.

You all know by now how much I enjoy the artwork of Lynn Doughty, so I collected a few pictures of his caricatures of horses along with some photos of mechanical ponies from the web and came up with a bit of a pattern. As you can see, I went to the trouble of ensuring that the strongest orientation of the grain was along each leg and I used a Forstner bit to fit individual legs and glue them in place. To be clear, the round, flat bottomed bit allowed me to make a perfect semi-circle where the legs with the same semi-circle pattern cut on the bandsaw would fit tightly. Again, just click on the photos, below, to make them bigger for viewing.

After everything dried, I used a Foredom tool with a Typhoon bit to quickly remove the edges and get the rough form of the mechanical pony. Remember, if you do this…be careful…wear leather gloves, a leather apron, heavy sleeves, safety glasses and a dust mask…and work over a vacuum system.

With a bit of carving using mostly a knife but also small gouges, I added the detail that I wanted with the facial features, leg profiles and saddle…and, I only broke one ear off a single time during the whole process!

Then came the mechanical parts with a wooden base that would house the motor ( I didn’t carve a motor!), a baseplate with a coin box and the pylons that make the horse rock back and forth.

Placed all together, it’s starting to look like something…

More to come!

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