Friday, August 18, 2017

Male Model Bronze Warrior

Dear Art Lover,
Male Art model David Sackmary with artist Kelly Borsheim 2011
David Sackmary with me Nov 2011, Quattro Gallery

     Art models are often people who really appreciate the arts.  Their job is not easy, in part because the human body is not designed to remain still.  I have worked with so many wonderful and interesting art models and feel grateful for their services and participation as inspiration for the art that my colleagues and I make.

     Today, I show you a bronze sculpture inspired by a request for a company that found the annual board of directors’ gifts for Southwest Airlines many years ago.  I was asked to come up with a sculpture based on the idea of the slogan for this airline, Warrior Spirit.  I was surprised to receive this opportunity since I assumed they wanted something to do with American Indians, a subject that not only do I know very little about, but that there are plenty of sculptors who DO excel in this genre.
     While researching the concept of "Warrior Spirit" I found references to Chinese martial arts, American Indian philosophies, and even yoga practices. While the term 'warrior' seems to conjure up images relating to aggression, this is not what I found in most of my research. Instead, I read phrases such as "moving through fear," "embracing limitations," living a "joyful, courageous life," "disciplines the mind, body, and spirit," and "leads to compassion."
     A warrior develops spiritual, martial, and ethical skills. He works to obtain an impeccable character in order to serve his community and expand his consciousness. He changes his perceptions about confrontation and creates his own destiny. His strength and compassion make others feel at ease with him, which reduces conflict. In effect, the ideal goal is that he becomes one with the world around him.

Warrior Spirit bronze sculpture male model man and bird detail Borsheim

     I have always had an interest in birds, flight, and bonding with nature. I also loved watching the falconers with raptors at the Renaissance fairs. Their connection always struck me as romantic and absolutely beautiful.

     And so, the idea emerged.  I did not win the bid for Southwest Airlines, but I still liked my idea enough to move beyond my rough maquette I had put together.  With the help of the Austin Visual Arts Association [Austin, Texas], I ran an Open Studio session for sculptors.  This meant that artists wanting to paint and draw were welcome to join the group if they did not have a problem with sculptors moving our stands and art around the room as we needed to change our view, and that the model would be in the center of the room, allowing 3-d artists to have access to all views.

     The male model, David, was a real sport because I asked him to slip his arms into some straps that I suspended from the ceiling of the studio.  You might imagine how difficult it would be to hold your arms out extended for approximately 20 minutes.  How much more difficult to take a short break and resume this position you see in my sculpture “Warrior Spirit” for THREE HOURS!  And he did this a total of FOUR times in four weeks!  TWELVE HOURS of posing this way… what an athlete! 

     [On a side note:  When I work with models for sculpture, we set up the pose and I usually try to explain what I am shooting for, emotion wise, from the pose.  Then I tell the models to take breaks whenever they need to because I tend to work during the entire three hours.  I trust the models to not take too many breaks, but also to know their bodies’ needs better than I ever could.  And, if I know that I want to focus on one part of the anatomy, I will tell the model to “rest your arms and now we will work on the lower part of the body.”]

     Today is the birthday of David Sackmary, the model for “Warrior Spirit.”

Happy birthday, David!  You did some brilliant work!  Thank you!

Warrior Spirit bronze sculpture male model man and bird detail Borsheim
Design by Amber Babcock at
Here is what one appreciator wrote after I shared the work in my art newsletter:

Hi, my dear Kelly. Ohhhh, you have REALLY done it this time. I think "Warrior Spirit" is the most beautiful sculpture in the world. Your pic in clay with the green leaves as a background was also the perfect setting to bring the young warrior to life. His gracefulness really wowed me . . . I am amazed you could capture and express this pose so perfectly . . . And the portrayal of the delicate balance absolutely put goose pimples all over me . . . That man has an appreciation and a curiosity towards wildlife is evident by the expression on the warrior's face. What a fabulous accent this would make in state parks, bird sanctuaries, etc.! A view of the warrior and his hawk certainly create a proper atmosphere.
After I had read your newsletter and studied the pictures, I called to Bob to come and see the pictures of your latest. He, too, was ever so impressed with the beauty. We then went to Winter Haven with Gene and Louise Sauls for fun and early dinner. As soon as we got home, I started calling to Bob and Gene to come quick . . . We had a large but young hawk flying around our pool, trying to find his way out. Neither of the men struck a pose even close to the young warrior's! The enclosed area of the pool made the bird seem even larger and his rapid flying made everyone quickly duck. They were successful in herding the bird to freedom and tomorrow I must drag in the hose and do some cleaning! My story isn't nearly as pretty as your sculpture!
Much love
(9 September 2006; Connie Talbott, Avon Park, Florida, USA, printed with permission)
For more images of "Warrior Spirit," please visit:


Kelly Borsheim, artist

Warrior Spirit bronze sculpture male model man and bird detail Borsheim

Warrior Spirit bronze sculpture male model man and bird detail Borsheim

Warrior Spirit bronze sculpture male model man and bird detail Borsheim
detail shown in clay before casting into bronze

Warrior Spirit bronze sculpture male model man and bird detail Borsheim

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sculpting Wind

Dear Art Lover,
Kitchen as art studio bas-relief sculpture compressed form
Kitchen as Art Studio
     The last time I showed you a progress image on my new bas-relief sculpture project, “Wind and Wisteria,” was in my post on 18 June, when I was still in a cast for a broken right wrist.  I started the piece with my left hand.  The cast was removed on 30 June, and I have done a bit of work since then. 

     I asked my landlord and my neighbor to lift the big board into my kitchen just before we got a few days of decent [certainly better than nothing!] showers.  This is how far I had gotten with my non-dominant hand.  I wanted the piece more vertical so that I could start developing it.

     Bas-relief is not “puffy painting” as I once thought before meeting Eugene Daub and Vasily Fedorouk.  It is compressed form.  That is a HUGE difference.  What I mean by “puffy painting” is possibly similar to quilt making…where one defines the boundary of a shape and then puts stuffing inside of it.  It is a look, but it is not bas-relief sculpture.

Lighting is important when creating bas-relief sculpture compressed form
Side lighting from kitchen door

Lighting is important when creating bas-relief sculpture compressed form
Harsh top lighting, but you see the difference from above?
Male model young boy in bas-relief sculpture Borsheim Art
     So, I prefer to create a bas-relief sculpture with an overhead light that helps me to see where the material is in relation to other parts.  However, this green plastilina [an oil-based clay] does not seem to have enough oil in it to stick well to the wood board, and I woke one morning to see that the boy’s face and broken away from the composition and slid down.  Luckily it was not damaged much.  I have since developed the form more anyway.  [You may see in the close-up shape here that I still have work to do.  For example, the lips have to be refined.  There is too much harsh light outlining the lips.  I need to fill-in some placed with clay, soften shapes, and think of the form of the mouth barrel.  I hope to make the mouth more kind and youthful.]

     Clay absorbs much more light than metal does.  If something looks contrasty in the clay, it will be so much worse in reflective metal!

     Lately, I have been creating the individual petals of the wisteria.  It is past time for the real blooms on my gate, although I have a few random flowers that are confused by the watering and drought.  Trying to understand them as models, but I am also using images as references.  Mamma mia, what a lot of work!  I find myself intimidated wondering if I can create the airiness of wind blowing in dangling petals in a thin sculpture.  When I feel this way, I often force myself to work and accept that it will go slowly as I figure out how to do what I think I want.  And another part of the day, I start a new project, because starting is always fun, as one sees change and development move along quickly.  I have learned that this is the only way I can get through the hump of the tough times.

Starting to model wisteria in bas-relief sculpture Borsheim Art

Artist working in kitchen during hot summer on bas-relief sculpture in clay

Wind personified as woman in bas relief sculpture
      For the head of the wind, I am also struggling.  I am not sure that I am capturing the idea that she is blowing, ie that SHE is creating the wind, or she is the wind personified.  And I chose to make a composition that will be empty inside the shape, allowing the wall to show through once hung.  This means that I have fewer things around her to show the effects of wind.  Maybe not the smartest idea, compositionally speaking?  Piano, piano as they say too often in Italy, “slowly, slowly.”


Kelly Borsheim, artist

P.S. Look at my cool phone case that I ordered for myself as a gift for moving into the modern age of smart phones.  You may find your own desired cover design, or other products here:

Il Dono - Borsheim Art on iPhone 5c case -choose yours
Il Dono - Borsheim Art on iPhone 5c case -choose yours

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Pond Sculpture Garden Art

Dear Art Lover,
Pond Sculpture Garden Sculpture Rock Towers and Frogs bronze     Last year I created a bronze sculpture to put into a pond [it sits over the water, not really submerged since there may be fish involved].  Here are images of the fairly sizeable artwork:

"Rock Towers and Frogs" /
Torri di sassi e Rane

bronze fountain sculpture
approx. 43" h x 24" w x 24" d [114 x 60 x 53 cm, 57 kg]**
© 2016 
Kelly Borsheim

     I am taking orders only on this work, in part because I have no storage space to create the bronze ahead of time.  But do not let that stop you!  Gardens are always works-in-progress and quality takes time.  A downpayment is all it takes to get the bronze started.  Contact me if you would like to know more.
In the meantime, here are more images of the finished bronze, as well as some of the work-in-progress [WIP]

Pond Sculpture Garden Sculpture Rock Towers and Frogs bronze

     I also had written a new art newsletter that I think I may have forgotten to post here on the blog.  It shows you pictures of my crazy family and an image or two from the wedding in late April in Florida.  The wedding portrait I made to my sister Dani and her new husband Joe’s specs was a hit with them… what a relief, what a challenge! 

     I hope your summer has been going well.  I move slower than usual [which my mother told me that if I ever did that, people might bury me… hahah, whoops!], but am making forward progress.  Still in therapy for my broken wrist, and trying to take the time to heal my knee properly so that I can get back to full-time art-making.

     Thanks for hanging in here with me.  I hope to show you new work in August!


Kelly Borsheim, artist

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Car Buying in Italy Sleeping Angel Summer Sale

Dear Art Lover,

     How many friends does it take to help a girl buy a car in a foreign country?  Well, in my case, in Italy, I would say more than a handful.  I was not really prepared to buy a car just yet.  I mean, that I WAS, after having gotten my international driver’s license when I was in the US and I gave myself three weeks to research and find a car to buy [before the license went into effect] so that I could go to the quarry and start carving a new stone sculpture.  But after falling and breaking my wrist, the need for a car so soon drove away.  

     Then it was suggested that I use my healing time to at least start researching what I wanted.  I asked on my Facebook page for much advice from locals.  That posting led to a friend tagging me for an old car for sale in my area.  It looked ok in the photos, one owner (a 90-year-old woman), less then 75 kilometers (which is pretty amazing, especially if you change that into miles!), and decent looking tires [but bad spare under the hood].  

     However, I was nervous and did not feel ready yet.  I did not respond to the ad for about a week.  In the meantime, I did more research, vacillating about whether or not I really wanted to take action now.  I am still paying off my trip to the US after all and I cannot physically drive yet.  But, hey, I might as well go see it and re-learn what to look for in a car.

     The man selling my future car met me at the bus station in Montecatini Terme, a town perhaps 40 minutes by transport from my home.  But he was in a hurry and I worried it was a scam.  I sat in the car, turned on the ignition, moved the gears around, but was unable to drive it (time and ability).  I took a few photographs that I thought my helping friends could use.  I asked where to put the oil into the engine, as well as where to check it, but stupidly did not even take a look at the oil myself.  Sheesh, what was I thinking?  

     This is only the second vehicle that I have ever purchased myself.  Before I got married, I usually drove whatever old car my father had to give me.  Once I got married, my husband made all the car decisions, often surprising me with a new-to-us Volvo 240 when he deemed the time was right.  But after college and before meeting “the man,” I moved to the big city of Austin, Texas, and bought a 1979 GMC Dura Van.  That was in 1987.  I paid $3,000 cash for it, with a partial loan from my father that I paid off sooner than later.  I had had a long-term dream to finish college, get a dog, buy a van, and drive to Oregon.  I did those things and in that order, coming back to Texas as an engaged woman.  In 2015, I gifted my van to a friend who does art restorations in Austin.  I loved that vehicle!

     Back to 2017 in Tuscany (and single again):  I returned to my new hometown in the hills of Italy via bus after my short visit with the 1998 white Fiat Panda.  I had a conversation with my landlord [and his brother, who recently replaced his old white Panda with another] and showed him some of the images I took.  Later that evening he spoke on the phone with the seller and then me.  Trustingly, I committed to buying the car that night, but it was not for two more days that I returned to Montecatini Terme to do the title transfer and get driven home.  My landlord was there and looked over the car [saw a weld in my future] and met the man he had spoken to a couple of times by then.  I was handed the keys as the man and his friend drove off in a little Smart car.

     I had bargained some, but gave all of my remaining cash towards the new car.  For those curious, the title transfer cost me 370 euro in cash [since I have no bank in Italy].  Had the size of the motor been larger, the fee would have been higher.  That is more than half of what I paid for the car itself!  My landlord took these snapshots of me with my new vehicle.

Artist with new old Fiat Panda art sale car buying in Italy

Artist with new old Fiat Panda art sale car buying in Italy

     I am still not driving. Although my landlord and another neighbor helped me get an amazingly low quote on car insurance for when I am ready, I am postponing buying insurance, hoping to sell some art first.  But also, my right wrist is still not strong enough.  I could not even take off the emergency brake!  Another neighbor, who really encouraged me to get a car and helped a lot in the research, came over to take a look.  He later drove it over to his property:  it is illegal to park a car without insurance on a public road.  So, the Panda is safe there and I can even see her from my windows.

     I am still thinking of a design to paint on her.  I bought a small can of blue paint for metal.  As I told the man in the hardware store, “I just bought an old white Fiat Panda.  Everyone seems to have one.  How will I ever find my car in the parking lot?”  I want a design that helps me recognize my new baby, but not one that shouts, “Kelly just drove by.”  You know, in case I do something stupid.  [Oh, and the low insurance price came in part because the agent will install a scatola nera [black box] in my car.  It will know where I am driving [so it knows the local speed limit] and monitor my driving habits.  So, perhaps the first year, I will be constantly taking an exam.  And towards the end of this year, I need to take the Italian driving class and exams and earn my Italian driver’s license.  So, I get to feel like a teen all over again.  Joy.

     Ok, so here is one way that I hope to earn that insurance.  But really, anything I still have in stock or even many of the products, such as my book about street painting in Florence, or shower curtains, pillows, a phone case, prints on metal, etc. would help me while giving you something that I hope enriches your life… check out some of the art products here:

Sleeping Angel original pastel painting on art sale car buying in Italy

Summer SALE: Original pastel, framed in wood, with glass and acrylic spacers [to protect pastel from touching the glass] $1500 [o 1200 euro se sei in Italia/Europa], world-wide shipping included. As usual, payment plans accepted.  Offer ends 31 August 2017.

"Sleeping Angel"
[Caravaggio-inspired original art]
18" x 24" [framed with glass and acrylic spacers, black wood]
Pastel on UART Acid-free Premium sanded paper
© 2010 - 2012 Kelly Borsheim 

I look forward to hearing from you. 

Kelly Borsheim, artist
Go shopping and share with your friends:
Thank you!

Sleeping Angel original pastel painting on art sale car buying in Italy

Sleeping Angel original pastel painting on art sale car buying in Italy
Detail 1:  Soft texture on the male figure to contrast with...

Sleeping Angel original pastel painting on art sale car buying in Italy
Detail 2 : I really tried to rough up the texture in the sheets.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Pescia Italy Church Fresco

Dear Art Lover,
Oratory in Pescia Italy Open Door leads to fresco and sculpture
An open door leads to art, Pescia, Italy
     Sometimes people tell me, “Wow, you are so courageous to just pick up and move to Italy.” Well, first of all, that is not exactly what happened, and it took me years to finally find a place to call home and … whatever.  I usually respond with a confused look and a, “What?  Italy is not Afghanistan.  And anyone with a credit card can come to Italy.  I am not particularly special.”
     Still, to live outside of the country you were born in is not at all the same as visiting a foreign country.  And thankfully, at least in my experiences, there are many people, Italian and other expats alike, who really help out.  [I use the term ‘expat,’ which to some is a bit controversial, to mean someone, like me, who chooses to live outside her native country, but has not given up her citizenship in her native land; versus an immigrant who either has given it up or has become a dual citizen.]
     It was in this context of neighbors helping neighbors with health insurance issues that I found myself going again near the hospital in Pescia, Italy, the nearest decent-sized town to where I live.  We were looking for a specific office/person to help with my neighbors’ health-insurance, a tip from an Italian neighbor.  But this time, on the walk down a somewhat familiar street, a rather plain old wooden door invited a look inside.  I was surprised to see frescos and a dramatic light emerging inside washing over the art.  So, this was a small old church tucked into modern surroundings.
     Ever curious, but aware that we were in a hurry to find this person, I quickly snapped some images and gazed up a bit to try to understand what treasure we had discovered in this little city once famous for its flower productions. 
     It is the Oratory of Saint Antonio Abate. There was a date in the sign of 1210-1220, but I had too much glare on the laminated sign and am unclear on what the date refers to.  However, the organ at the back was constructed on 1853 by Nicomede Agati.  And the wooden sculpture [Umbrian-Tuscan sculptor of the late nineteenth century. XIII Deposition of Christ, carved and painted wood], was affected by the great flood in Florence of 1966.  Well here is the translation of part of the sign I photographed in the oratory:

“The part of the Superintendence at the Galleries was mainly in the recovery of the famous Romanesque wood group. It had been restored for the first time in 1943, albeit with poor results because the technical means available at that time had failed to block the process of infestation and disintegration of the wood, which was for the second time hospitalized in the workshops of the Superintendence at the Galleries Of Florence, had the misfortune to suffer on 4 Nov 1966 the flood water damage.”

As for the fresco around the altar, it seems to have been restored in 1975.  Enjoy the snapshots!


Kelly Borsheim, artist 

Oratory of Saint Antonio Abate wood ceiling typical of long ago
wood ceiling typical of long ago

Oratory of Saint Antonio Abate fresco 

Umbrian-Tuscan sculptor of the late nineteenth century. XIII Deposition of Christ
wood sculpture, restored again after great flood 1966, Firenze

Oratory of Saint Antonio Abate fresco

Oratory of Saint Antonio Abate fresco

Oratory of Saint Antonio Abate fresco

Oratory of Saint Antonio Abate fresco
the ceiling fresco

the organ at the back was constructed on 1853 by Nicomede Agati
the organ at the back was constructed on 1853 by Nicomede Agati


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