Thursday, December 21, 2006

New Sculpture - "Speedy"

Some friends were over and we started talking about my sculptures. I'm not sure if it was Jim or Cindy that started the idea rolling, but the idea just took off. Each of us making more funny suggestions. So the credit for the idea of "Speedy" was a group effort. I got so excited over the design that I put my present sculpture on hold to start him.
"Speedy" is an adrenaline junkie. That tongue is outrageous! And his lips and eyes are flapping in the wind. He wears special custom made goggles and a funny hat with ear flaps. Of course he goes nowhere without his race flag scarf. He is so fun, I love the way he turned out.

"Speedy" Free standing SculptureSize: 16" tall x 15" wide x 29" long

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Making of "Battle Cry"

First comes a trip to the "Bone Yard" as I call it. I live on a ranch, and any animal carcasses are dumped in a corner of one of the fields. My problem is matching up and identifying the bones. There are so many of them, and all sizes and kinds. Pretty gruesome. My first visit, gave me the creeps. But I'm getting used to it, and now I find it interesting. I pretend I'm in a CSI episode.

I try to select a skull that is relatively clean and intact. The word "clean" means little, to no nasty bits or bugs. I cart all this home for a through scrubbing and closer inspection. Once scrubbed with disinfectant soap and hot water, the skull is ready to be glued and sealed. I glue any loose joints and always the teeth. Then the whole thing is sealed. I found from experimentation, that this keeps the joints from spreading when exposed to the heat of baking.

The skull, clean and glued and ready for sealing. This is a huge skull. I'm pretty sure it was a yak (Tibetan bison)

Did I mention baking? You have to have a nice large oven for this project. I use polymer clay for the sculpting. It requires baking at 265 degrees F for 30 minutes to cure. Since my only oven is in the kitchen, this is truly a test of one's love of their art. There is a horrid smell produced when baking an animal skull. I was in the middle of my first sculpture, "Father Time", when I had a date over to pick me up for dinner. Might as well let the guy in on my little secret early on in the relationship. Well, to make a long story short, he never called again. Just proves he wasn't the perfect man for me. But I digress.

Once everything is nicely sealed, creating the armature begins. I use all kinds of wire sizes, depending on what the situation calls for. Mostly aluminum and galvanized steel wire, for their non-rusting properties. The skull provides many natural holes for inserting wire, but I always have to drill a few extra holes. With the first sculpture, I made the mistake of wiring the jaw assembly
to the head too soon. With the mouth wide open, I had a hard time fitting the whole thing into the oven. I've learned that the jaw should be attached, only after all the baking and painting is completed. This is the completed armature, ready for clay. The head is not attached, just propped up for visual effect. He's starting to look interesting, huh?

This skull is heavy and huge! Barely fits in the oven. His tongue looks like a giant jalapeno pepper. The color of clay I used was whatever was plentiful, looks silly in orange and green, but it all gets painted.

Applying the clay is the tricky part. The clay needs to be seamless. I roll out large pieces with the pasta machine, and then join them by rolling together between 2 pieces of wax paper. Then I drape and smooth the clay over the armature, trimming any excess as I go. The first bake is never perfect. That's OK because I know I can go back and sand off any lumps and add more clay where needed. This process repeats until I am satisfied.

Once I'm happy with the clay, the whole thing is given multiple coats of gesso, and then I make the stand. And he's ready to stand on his own. The lower jaw is still not attached. Makes it easier to paint the underside.

The painting is now well under way. Notice how he's now residing on the kitchen table? He has become too tall to work on comfortably on my workbench. Lovely kitchen decor I think. And the teasing comments from my friends, "Are we having teradactyl for dinner tonight?"

I decide that the feathers need to be detachable, and build a separate armature to hold them. This armature is painted to match and attaches to the back of the scull with 4 tiny screws. I also decided the base was too tall, and cut 5 inches off the bottom of the 2x2.

Well "Battle Cry" is finished, and I'm excited to start the next sculpture, "Speedy." He will be fun and comical. Why am I creating these sculptures? Good question. They really challenge my design abilities, and I love a good challenge. Each sculpture is unique, with new design problems to solve. I have conquered the "gross out" factor, and no longer have that queasy feeling in my stomach. I've learned a lot about bones, and now view them as fascinating material to work with. And maybe in the end, I am somehow honoring the animal by giving it a second life.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wild New Sculpture, "Father Time"

We have all seen "Father Time" represented as an kindly, old man with a long beard. My version of "Father Time" is not so gentle and kind looking. I wanted to illustrate time in relation to space. Time as infinity, yet time as short, with teeth. Wake up! Get going, before time bites you in the ass!

"Father Time" was a huge stretch for my design skills. More than once, I thought about giving up and working on something less challenging. I'm glad I didn't, I love the way he turned out. The whole concept started with an old rusty clock mechanism. I wanted to find a way to incorporate it into a sculpture. Then I found an old skull in a creek bed, and the finished sculpture sprang into my mind. I saw it completely painted and assembled in my imagination. But taking an idea from concept to completion is another thing. How in the world could I make this work? The jaw bone was only half there. I had to sculpt the other half, and the eyes, nose, teeth and that wild tongue! I wanted him to be free standing and viewable from all sides, so I had to mount him firmly to a base I made. Then the task of painting began. I used images from the Hubble Space Telescope. There are galaxies, planets, nebulas and stars. And an image of a clock sliding down his throat, representing time sliding into a black hole in space. He is finished on all sides, so he looks great from every angle.

This sculpture was so much fun, that I've started another one. Just how far can I take this whole concept? Just wait and see.

"Father Time" Free standing Sculpture
Size: 27" tall x 9" wide x 17" long

Sunday, October 08, 2006

New Pieces - Sculptures

This is something really new for me, sculptures! It all started with a visit to Firedworks Gallery. The owner saw my 4" faux turquoise cross necklace and asked if I could make the same thing only larger. "Of course I can" I boasted. Did I stick my foot in it or what? After a couple of attempts, I finally came up with a 15" version. It turned out so good, that I had to try something even larger. My design parameters being limited to the size of my oven, I had to remember to scale the horse down a bit. What to do for bases to hold these things up? I remembered that I had a nice pile of beautiful cut timbers in the backyard. Perfect! I borrowed the neighbors tablesaw and squared them up. Then I whittled and cut, and glued and painted the bases.

The gallery loved these, and they took all of my sterling silver jewelry pieces, too. I'm making more with embedded stones and jewels. Of course, my mind is busy thinking of more designs.

"Turquoise Wall Cross" limited edition sculpture 15" tall x 11" wide.

"Turquoise Cross" limited edition sculpture on base 17" tall x 11" wide.

"Wild Horse Turquoise" limited edition sculpture on base 15" tall x 21" wide.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Big Move- part 4, Yahoo, Colorado!

I decide not to stress the old truck's transmission pulling the trailer over Raton Pass, and detour North. Turned out to be a good plan, as I later heard that Raton Pass is closed due to smoke. I take a rarely used back road to Walsenburg. Didn't see another car the whole way, so I decide to stop in the middle of the road and do some picture taking. I love this, not a soul in sight. I notice a dark cloud directly in my path. It's unnervingly ominous. I find a spot and decide to pull off the road. To my surprise, it begins to hail. Large balls of ice are bouncing off my windshield, I never expected this in June. When the storm passes, the landscape has turned to white. What a beautiful welcome. Of course I can't resist taking more pictures. Crazy tourist lady with the Florida license plates is my excuse.

I get to La Veta Pass and find it is closed, also. That's OK, it's an excuse to spend the night in a lovely state park with HOT SHOWERS Yipee! I needed that hot shower pretty badly. I pull a blond move, and discover only after I am completely undressed, that the showers require quarters. I can't be the first person to do this, so I dart to the change machine dressed only in my towel. This trip just keeps getting more fun. I feel clean and I smell clean, but best of all, I'm finally in Colorado.

The next morning, the announcement is made that the pass will temporarily be open to traffic. I thank my guardian angle, grab a quick coffee and hurry to get in line behind the escort vehicle. There are fire trucks and fire fighters everywhere. This is almost too much beefcake for a single girl to stand. Ah, Colorado, the colorful State.

Well, I made it, and I have been spending more time goofing off than working. Moved into my quaint little rental house. Been visiting old friends and making new friends, lots of hiking, sight seeing, off roading, and just generally not getting much work done at all. Then I took a side trip to Grand Junction to see Mom and Dad, when inspiration struck. An idea for a whole new series of paintings.
I am really excited about these, and I am on the third one. I call this series, "The mountains are Sleeping." My Mom wasn't sure she liked my new idea. 6 foot, life size paintings of naked ladies, didn't sound proper to her. When I sent her a picture of the first painting, she was relieved.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Big Move - part 3

I can tell I'm in the west, when the landscape changes from farmland to grazing land. The trees are short, the green grass turns to sage brush, and the vistas become truly grand. The air changes too, I no longer need the air conditioner to fight the summer humidity. The air is drier, and clearer. The veil of humidity is gone, and I feel I can see so much further. The pets notice the change also, and are eager to sniff this new smell.

I spent the night at a rest stop almost on the Okalahoma/Texas border and awake to a surprise. I find the whole parking area filled to capacity with 18 wheelers. My big truck and trailer looks dwarfed, in amongst all those titans. I feel like I am a part of some large wagon train, bedded down for the night. With a laugh, I hurry to get my camera. Feeling an eager anticipation for the coming day, I can't wait to get back on the road.

The scenery is gorgeous and the weather is perfect. I just might make it to Colorado before night fall.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Big Move - part 2

Driving from sun up to sun down and sleeping in my truck at rest stops, was a whole new experience. Truthfully, it wasn't that bad. I met some nice people, learned that there are a lot of women driving 18 wheelers, and found endless photographic opportunities. I found that I could steer the truck with one hand and shoot pictures with the other. The pets and the radio kept me company, and not once did I feel uneasy traveling alone.

The second day I traveled from the Florida panhandle to just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. Right through the Bible Belt. Churches everywhere and not a bar to be seen. The land is covered with crops, and cat fish farms. The people are friendly and happy to chat with a stranger. Very little traffic and lots of scenery. I enjoyed the drive that day.

I spent that night at a rest stop, parked next to a nice retired couple on their way to Alaska. They were concerned about me being alone, and promised to keep an eye on me. I knew God was keeping me safe, and I slept soundly that night.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Big Move - part 1

After many months of preparation and planning, I left Florida and moved back West. I had not been looking forward to hauling a trailer 2400 miles. The idea of driving cross country, alone with no one but myself, to get me out of a jam, intimidated me. I had never towed anything before, and my trailer was loaded to the top. But the day arrived when there was nothing left to do, but load the pets into the truck and start driving.

The scarriest part of the trip was leaving South Florida. I left at 5am and the traffic was still horrendous. I was told to keep my speed down to around 55mph, and everyone else was flying past me at the usual South Florida pace. (They made the movie "The Fast and the Furious" in Miami for a good reason.) At least Florida has nicely paved highways.

Florida did not want to let go of me that easy. I blew out a tire on my trailer and had engine trouble with my truck before I got out of that state. Thankfully, both problems were easily fixed, and I was quickly back on the road again, headed west.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

New E-Commerce Website in Progress

I have been looking for an alternative to the steep eBay fees involved in having a store, and listing auctions. Many of my fellow eBay Artists will relate to this situation. What to do? Hummm...maybe my own e-commerce website.

I had no idea how much work was required to create a full-blown shopping cart website, especially if you are picky about things like I am. I checked into the ready made stores, where you just up-load your products, but I didn't like the looks of any of the less expensive ones. The expensive ones were way out of my budget. So off I went to research "e-commerce" on Google.

What I found was that I needed a database driven website. SQL is the database part and PHP is the code that manipulates the data in your database. Lovely.

Html, like I use on eBay, is simple compared to this new language. A steep learning curve is involved. After many weeks, I am starting to get the hang of it. It is a scarry thing, though. I have been dreaming about php code!

Well, my new e-commerce website is starting to look pretty good. And as of tonight, everything is working properly. But, I'm not done, every time I make a change, I hold my breath and hope I don't get the white screen with the FATAL_ERROR message. Of couse, I've learned the the Fatal _Error message is no big deal, it just means I have one too many commas or I'm missing a parenthesis. An hour of digging through code and every thing is fixed.

It's still a work in progress, but I'd be pleased if you would take a look and let me know what you think. You can't buy anything yet, as the credit card module is switched off, untill I'm done tinkering. But I have a shopping cart that remembers what you put into it, even after you leave and come back; a customer Wishlist, customers can keep multiple addresses, write product reviews, and many more niceties.

So exciting!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

"The Geology Series, Turquoise 111"

Contemporary Art Abstract Turquoise Painting
For Sale
The Geology Series, Turquoise 111"

Another Hugh Turquoise Painting, using my Recycled Plastics Technique. This one is 2 panels each 24" x 30" for a total of 30" x 48". See it on my website In Art "Turquoise 111" or email me:

Monday, March 06, 2006

"Lapis 102" - 30" x 48"

Contemporary Art Gemstone Painting

Back to Painting. I love the variation of blues in this one. The more I look at it the more I like it. The colors are so striking. From my "Geology Series" this painting is for sale. See it on my website In Art "Lapis 102" or email me:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Painting Ponies

Here are some new polymer clay ponies I just finished painting. Will be adding them to a new painting. I will be carving some more horses in the near future. I have lots of new ideas for these little guys.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Core Samples 101" Painting

Innovative Cut Canvas Painting
Now this one is really different. It's the first time I have combined my Cut Canvas and Recycled Canvas techniques. I think it's pretty cool. From my "Geology Series" this painting is for sale.
"Core Samples 101" or email me:

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Too busy to get into trouble

Between trying to finish 4 paintings a week, working on my jewely designs, and sourcing materials on the internet, not to mention the time it takes to photograph and list all this stuff; it's no wonder I don't have a social life. Oops that reminds me, I need to check my internet dating website. :)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

"Turquoise & Wild Horses 101"

Abstract Turquoise Paintings

For Sale
A good friend was visiting and saw my Polymer Clay horses laying on the work bench. Left over from a past project, they are too large for my jewelry (except maybe a belt buckle) He suggested I put them on one of my turquoise paintings. Great Idea! Turquoise and horses, what could be better? You can view full details here: "Turquoise & Wild Horses 101" or email me:

Friday, February 03, 2006

Fun with Polymer Clay

Original, Sterling Silver Jewelry an Mixed Media Paintings from Contemporary Artist Liana Bennett. Art that is innovative, unique and daring. Innovative Art Studio is always pushing the boundaries of Contemporary Modern Art.
Been making polymer clay horses. I use the small ones in my jewelry designs. I carved the originals and used them to make silicon molds. Then the horses are individually hand painted. These little guys are tedious to make, but so pretty. I love making them.
Note:Polymer clay is a soft, moldable form of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) that once "cooked" becomes hard and almost indestructible. Just like PVC pipe, it can be sawn, sanded, drilled, etc. Wonderful medium for exploring creative possibilities.
See an example of my jewelry here: "Three Wild Horses" Necklace

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Good News!

My Grandson, Nicholas, started pre-school last week. What a big change in the little guy's life. Instead of being a cancer patient he gets to be a normal little boy. His doctor says school will be good for him. He has enough immune system to handle the inevitable colds and flus. He still goes to the hospital twice a month, to be checked that his leukemia is still in remission. But, the rest of the time he gets to play with other children and learn. He loves school!

It's been 3 months and no one has taken me up on my Painted Artist challenge. So.... time for something new. I have been busy in my studio. Lots of new paintings finished, and sold. Some new ideas starting to take shape. I will be posting some of these soon.

And my jewelry is doing well. I listed some of my jewelry pieces in my eBay store, never thinking they would actually sell. What a surprise! My little polymer clay horses are popular. I enjoy silversmith and beading, as a way of taking a break from painting. And polymer clay is too much fun to work with. It makes you see the world in a whole new light. When I see something cool, I think "I could make that in polymer clay!"