Saturday, March 15, 2008

Down from the High Lonesome (p4) It Begins

Well I'm entering these blogs today in reverse. Starting at the end of the process of creating the horses armature first and the first part of the process last, because that's the format of this blog. What you enter last will appear first.. Kinda confusin ain't it?
The reason you don't see a photo above this section, is because that's what I start with... Nothing. Just air. It's up to me to fill the air above my sculpting stand with something of beauty and worth.
That's a daunting task when you have to keep creating to keep the galleries, and the people who produce your work happy.
It's kinda like writing a story. You have to start with that first word. The armature for a clay, is kinda like that first word. Once you start, you can eventually get to the end of the story. Hopefully making it interesting and fulfilling for those who read or see it.
So lets start.
First thing all artist's have to do is decide on the size of a painting or a sculpture. In sculpture and more exactly, in bronze art, you have to decide what it will cost to produce what you have in mind, because that will eventually determin what it will sell for.
Doing two riders on two horses is going to cost double and sell for double of what a single horse and rider will sell for. So to keep it in a certain pricing range at the end, I've decided to do a clay half the size of last horse and rider piece I did.
Once I come up with a size, I print out a drawing of a horse to the scale I'm going to do it in. This will determine the eventual length and height of the piece I'm creating.

To make the horse's armatures, I have to scale the anatomy of a horse drawing I've scanned into my computer from a book to the size of the horses I'm going to create. Now I could plot and draw out the layout of the horses anatomy. I would do that if I had an extra day to do that. I figure the books on anatomy are a tool, just like the wire tools I sculpt with. So why not use it to your advantage. So I do.
You'll notice in the drawing of the horse, just behind his rib cage there is a section of white. This is where I cut the drawing to adjust for the length of the horse. The artist who drew this skeletal drawing made the horses anatomy a bit short. The distance from the top of the horses head (between the ears)to the point of his shoulders, is equal to the distance between the point of the shoulders and the highest point of his hips. In the drawing he was shorter and therefore not equal in this measurement.
I start bending the copper tubing to the length of the horses head. Once again the head was shorter in the drawing compared to what it should have been, so I adjusted the length of the armature of the head.
There are formulas for the anatomy of every living creature. A horse is equal in height, from the bottom of it's hooves, to the top of it's shoulders, to the length, from the front of it's chest to the end of his body. Or in a human, the Greeks came up with a formula, thousands of years ago, that we still follow today. A man, for example, is 7 and a 1/2 heads to 8 heads tall. Ideally I make my figures 7 1/2 heads tall. This works for me.
I bend the tubing to follow the neck bones then the main part of the backbone. I bend it back onto itself where the point of the hips are. This gives me the ability to attach the rear legs properly.
I then follow the shape or outline of the thorax, or ribcage.
I don't use anatomical terms, because, quit honestly, I'm not educated in those. I'm self taught. I just know what is where. I ain't a doctor.. so to speak.

I now have a basic structure for the horses armature. This has to be a strong structure. Depending on the size of the clay, this part has to hold the weight of all the clay, for the horse and eventually the man or woman.

To create the legs and to make them to scale, once again I use the drawing of the horses skeletal structure. I bend a section of copper tubing in half then I put the bent part at a point on the back bone of the horses skeleton. I have to attach the legs to the frame I made before so I leave enough room to tape it with electricians tape to the frame of the horse.
With the plyers I bend the two shoulder and leg halves together. The reason I do them together is so that they come out exactly the same in length and angle.
I will change the angle of the shoulders later when I come up with the action of the horse. One shoulder might be raised while the other might fall back a bite. Depending on the horses movement. Kinda like if I were to do a armature of a man or woman, I would change the angle of the shoulders to match the movement of the person.
Bending two halves of the 1/4 inch copper tubing together is not easy, but it's necessary.

Here are the front legs bent and formed. I've separated the points of the shoulders. For a Barb Horse, they would be narrow in the width of the chest. So I don't separate them as far as a modern day horses shoulders.

I read someplace that Barbs were so narrow in the chest that when they stood on all four legs their front legs would tend to pyramid or splay out from the shoulder.
When doing a horse from the west in the early to late 1800's you have to keep that in mind.

This photo shows the finished horse armature done to scale. Now I make the second one, exactly like the one I just made. This took me about an hour and a half.
I've gotten faster at it over the years.
Next step is to create the base that the horse armatures will be attached to.
That comes Monday. So check back in then.