Sometimes ideas come and are quickly brought to fruition. Sometimes an idea gestates before it takes material form. The idea for my Dream Horses began last summer. Before I could express them three dimensionally, I developed them in drawings and paintings.
But actually I saw the three dimensional horses first. Like the 2D versions, my new sculptural Dream Horses are stylized and leggy with strong geometric references and derivations from ancient cultures. The techniques for these new horses evolved from my work with the clay fish.
Each horse begins with a set of four legs in two pairs. I search my home landscaping for branches that suggest front legs and back legs. The branches are sun-cured for several days before they are stable for use in the sculpture.
Next, a gestural drawing from heavy gauge copper wire is created. This wire work serves as both a guide to the finished horse, as well as an armature to strengthen the sculpture. Because the wooden legs are integral to the finished horse sculpture, I needed to find a medium that hardened without firing. I began my prototypes by sculpting with air-dry clay. This clay proved unsatisfactory, as it was too fragile to withstand the demands of sculpture. Through lots of experimenting, I’ve developed my own compound, (my secret recipe), that improves the durability of the sculpture. The compound I use behaves much like fired stoneware. When the form has evolved to my satisfaction, I finish my horses with carved geometric designs. At this point, the horses must rest to cure. After many days, the sculptures have hardened and are ready for the finishes.
I begin by applying a matt black paint to the entire surface of the sculpture. Next I burnish with a metallic medium, carefully blending the colors to the effect I envision. When the colors are balanced and desirable, I put several coats of clear acrylic glaze to enhance the colors and further protect the sculpture.
I finish with copper wire, in colors carefully selected to complement the surface design of each sculpture. The wire is shaped and modeled, refining the personification of each horse’s spirit.
The Dream Horses will be showing August 21st through September 14th at Commonwheel, 102 Cañon Avenue, Manitou Springs, CO. To purchase, visit the gallery or contact Juanita 719-685-1008.