Tag Archives: Alpo

The Real Alpo

If all goes as planned, this post will publish while I’m flying back across the pond. It’s always sad to say goodbye to travelling, but I am excited to be home, looking forward to a wonderful summer with a lot of jumping and other fun.

I’ve been following a bunch of horse picture tumblrs lately (a dangerous habit!) and I ran across this awesome picture. This horse looks stunningly like my snotty little model pony, Alpo. I wish I’d had this picture for a reference when I was working on him!


the real Alpo

Alpo compare

Want to drool over some pretty ponies yourself? Fall down this here rabbit hole- but don’t blame me for any lost productivity :) How about some beautiful models? Jennifer Buxton has been photographing and cataloging her amazing collection.

Alpo, take two

It’s down to the wire getting Alpo’s new finish work done in time for the show tomorrow. One of the ways I sped up the process was by doing a lot of his color in acrylics. This also really helped with my other conundrum: how to keep this white horse clean!

One of the things I find difficult about pastelling a “white” grey is keeping the horse from getting bits of darker stuff in his coat, whether it’s pastel or dust or what. It’s difficult, and something that’s never really been an issue on other colors.

But since Alpo has an acrylic base coat, keeping him clean and doing little in-progress touch ups was relatively easy, since I knew what colors made up his base.

Alpo as of yesterday afternoon

Doing so much work in acrylics might not sound speedy, but what helps is that unlike with pastels, I don’t have to wait for fixative to dry for hours between coats. I can get a lot of color and detail in without stopping, so a couple hours in the afternoon goes a long way. By Thursday night Alpo was 98% done. Since then he’s gotten a few tiny nitpicks and several layers of fixative to seal everything in.

Alpo as of this afternoon

My plan is to gloss his eyes tonight and pack him up last minute tomorrow morning before I hit the road.

This iteration of Alpo is in general similar to his original self. His tail is a bit swishier and detailed, and he is a lighter, whiter grey color. I also did his muzzle coloring a bit differently, inspired by one of my favorite ponies, Markey (aka The Great White Sharkey).


Alpo’s last coat of fixative is drying as we speak, and I’ve got my new gloss varnish out and waiting. My other ponies are all packed, reference sheets made, and I dare say I’m ready to show!

Strategies for those Pesky Acrylic Paints

I have tried to paint horses entirely in acrylics before but it’s always ended badly. I find it extremely difficult to blend acrylics properly, let alone get them to go down smooth. The reason I fell in love with pastel finish work is because both shading and smoothness are pretty inherent in the medium. It’s great.

But pastels are not very good for fixing chips or mistakes in finish work. With my recent rash of restoration cases, I’ve been forced to use acrylics- and, to my delight, to get better at using them.

Four strategies helped me in my endeavor to fix the finish problem or chips on Alpo, Doublet, and Troy Soldier.

First: Have plenty of applicable colors on hand. Any base color that might be a part of your horse’s lovely coat can be relevant. While doing these repairs I was constantly surprised by what colors worked and what didn’t. I was very happy to have all these different colors on hand in these great Ceramcoat bottles. I lucked into these at a garage sale for a pittance, but now that I know their awesomeness I’d be happy to pay full price for them. Besides, these little bottles hold a lot of paint and keep it neat and fresh much better than paint tubes, so they’re a good investment. Having so many easy to use, pre-made horsey colors made color matching much easier- and less wasteful too.

Second: Keep track of what works. I use my handy-dandy notebook to write down what base acrylic colors I’m using on the horses so that I can recreate the mixes- or another useful hue- when I go back for more layers or additional repairs. (When I saw the photo of Alpo below I immediately noted on his page “left front hoof needs filing!”)

Third: Work quickly in small batches, with water and a rag close at hand. Acrylics dry very fast, so it’s important to remove applied paint immediately if it doesn’t match. Happily, wet acrylic is easily removable if you act fast. I brush the offending area with water to liquidate the applied color. Then I soak up the water and pigment with a larger, dry brush, which I wipe clean and dry again on the rag. Depending on how much pigment you are removing, this may take a few repetitions. Be careful not to let it leave a line of color around the edges of the area- you may need to scrub the remaining pigment a bit with the wet brush to pick it up.

Fourth: Blend beyond the repair. The goal of finish restoration is of course to repair the part that’s damaged. But if you only put your acrylic patch there, even the best color matching is going to leave a funny shape. You want to concentrate your pigment on the problem area, but use that same color watered down to blend into the rest of the horse. Alpo had a weird “rain rot” mark in his pastel work, outlined in red below. That’s where most of my pigment went, but I brushed thinner and thinner acrylic over the rest of the purple-outlined area as well to blend the repair into his body.

Speaking of acrylics, here’s Lilah with some of her acrylic detailing mapped in. The orange in her mane and tail is a bit garish, but even with that toned down I think she’ll be quite a stunner.

Batch Progress

I currently have two batches of horses being worked on rather regularly, which is fun and awesome and means serious progress. Rotating between them leaves time for epoxy or fixative to dry, and means more solid work time over all.

Speaking of epoxy! I have always used “but I have wet epoxy!” as an excuse not to do chores, but that explanation may now be futile. I learned from Karen Grigson’s Bluebird Studio blog that you can slow the curing time for epoxy by putting it in the freezer- and thus save your leftover bits until you have the time to use them.

The Akhal Teke lost his head and hooves but has since gained epoxy, and is at least giving me the attitude I want.

Baking soda and glue to the rescue!

Hmm… that face needs serious work.

It’s fun and interesting to be sculpting a horse with such specific and unusual breed characteristics. With the Akhal in my Sculpting WIP Batch are my Thoroughbred racehorse with her new opened mouth and the one time “Head Down Mare” who is now destined to be a gelding and has put on some serious weight. I’m thinking Percheron/Quarter Horse. All three of these are quite challenging- I’ve got the unique Akhal type, a tiny open mouth, and some big muscle groups to sculpt. And I’m having a ball.

In the Pastelling Batch it’s a big ol’ Pony Party.

From left: unnamed potential sale pony, Typhoid Mary, Alpo

The chestnut pony is almost done, which is satisfying. I think she’ll go up for sale when finished. Typhoid Mary is just beginning to get layers of dapples and individual hair detail, so she’ll be on the table for a while. Alpo mostly has his body done, but matching his mane and tail and making them match his body and be realistic will be a definite challenge. I’m looking forward to having him done- such attitude.

Don’t mess with the poneh.

I also finally photographed my sales horse “Jaycee” so she’s up on my sales page and on MH$P.

Remake progress

I am having a bit of a crappy week but I hope to spend much of this weekend working on models and distracting myself from the aforementioned crap.

Several of the models that I have been sculpting for weeks are nearing completion and will be ready for painting to start. I have been having so much fun with the sculpting aspect of things that I have barely done finish work lately. But soon I’m going to be overflowing with models needing paint work. I like to work in these batches, with lots of models needing sculpting or paint, because I can go slow and rotate around, working on each one each day and still having plenty to keep me occupied. Otherwise I work too fast and bad things happen.

This is Alpo, a snotty little pony made from the G3 Highland. He’ll be painted a very white grey.

This is a PS mule with a new belled tail. I’ve redone that darn tail about 5 times but I think this time I might actually keep it. He’ll be a chestnut with pangare.

The G2 Shetland with a less neurotic headset, new ears, tail, and knotted mane. She’ll be a semi portrait of my friend’s adorable rose grey Welsh.

I love to chop up stablemates. My original idea was simply to use the back half of the G2 ASB with the front half of the G1 Morgan mare (left) but then my friend told me I should put the two remaining halves together too, so the model on the right was born. Colors, names, and breeds are still undecided, and I have a lot of sculpting left to do on these two. The model on the right is my first to require massive muscle re-sculpting… I’m learning lots, and fast!

Mostly the above models require sanding, sanding, more sanding, and a few little tweaks. I also have a G3 Cantering Warmblood who I hope to start today; he’ll be a warm dapple bay. I may also get feisty and try some acrylic body work on my another (uncustomized) G3 Highland pony.

Model horses are great therapy.