The above photo is of world champion dressage horse Totilas from Germany.
I have LOVED horses since I was 4 or 5 when I put the word “horse” together with the animal. The feeling could not be squelched no matter what my parents tried. I wore out all the knees in my pants by crawling around on my hands and knees neighing. I also galloped on my two legs most everywhere I went. I’m pretty sure I was/am trans-species. I started drawing horses in grade school and at age 9 or 10, I began checking out horse books from the library and drawing the photos (not tracing, though I was tempted). In 1972, at the age of 11 my uncle who raised horses gave me a 6 mos old spot-less Appaloosa gelding. That began my in-bodied love affair with the living breathing animal.
I’ve been waiting for my needle felting skills to mature enough to do justice to the beauty and elegance of The Horse. I decided to start with a well-known contemporary horse, one that is on You-tube if anybody wants to see him go. This is Totilas. He’s flawless. I can only hope that my sculpture will express some of his energy and elegance.
I always start by finding photos to use as references. This is the exact pose I wish to sculpt. I will not use wire or armatures inside. The sculpture will be 100% Suffolk Sheep wool from our flock.
Next I find photos of the skeletal system of the horse. This will help me better understand how the joints work underneath all that beautiful muscling. I’m a realist in my work, so this is VERY important to my satisfaction with my work.
I usually start by working out a cylinder that is about the size of the body, which I did this time.
Next I started sculpting the front legs. I began with Totilas’ right leg, the one in the air. I worked up about mid-canon bone, then switched to his left front and worked up the same distance. I worked back and forth like this for a while adding wool and packing it extremely densely. The wool has to be so dense that it almost won’t bend at all. This takes a lot of time. It becomes quite hard.
Yes, a lot of pictures of two legs. For me, the legs are where the energy starts. I must get these right or the whole piece will be unsatisfactory for me. I really enjoy the challenge of crafting the tendons and ligaments and bones in the legs!!
This will be quite a slow process but one that brings me great joy!
I’ll post more photos as the sculpture progresses.