Sunday, 29 March 2015

#621 Equine conformation and proportion

Please start this series of posts with blog #616

Equine conformation is the method of evaluating correctness of a specific breed's body proportion, bone structure, and musculature.  While judging a horse's conformation, "form follows function" is considered:  What is the animal's intended use?  For instance, a Clydesdale is certainly not intended to be used in the same manner as the American Saddle Bred!

While researching a specific breed for sculpture subject matter,  I refrain from slavishly analyzing strict conformation and typically experience the breed in its environment, up-close and personal.  I pay attention to my first impression of the animal and what impressed me most.  Afterwards and in the studio, I usually have a more analytical approach - particularly to proportion -  while going over my sketches and photography.  I also obtain all the information
 and imagery I can in my library and the internet. . . I'm after the "look and feel" of the breed . . . 
the GISS, or General Impression, Size, and Shape.

Below, is a great source of equine reference:  The visible horse, purchased in a toy store.

Below, is a sketch of my approach to basic equine proportion which was discussed in the previous blog.  
Two different breeds are highlighted in this post:  The American Saddle Bred and the Clydesdale.

 I do not hesitate to exaggerate and/or distort proportion while seeking an artistic statement about the specific breed's conformation and proportions.   For instance, making the waist of the Saddle Bred a bit smaller causes the animal to look more athletic and modeling the head of a Saddler slightly more refined creates a more elegant appearance. 

 A great place to experience the beautiful American Saddle Bred is a horse show.   
I'm researching and planning a sculpture of a Saddler and below is an image of the horse's silhouette.

The American Saddle Bred - whether three-gaited or five-gaited  - is an elegant horse with well-sloped shoulders, 
flat croup, long and fine neck, and strong legs.  Three gaits are natural to most horses: The walk, trot, and cantor.  
The five-gaited horse must learn two more: The rack and the amble [also called the broken trot].   
Whether bred for show or pleasure riding, the Saddler's conformation is stylish and proud. 

The foremost quality that a Five-gaited Saddler must have when ridden in the ring is presence and flashy animation.  
The judge looks for high action and high carriage of the head and tail.  I never fail to get a lump in my throat when the show ring announcer shouts, "rack on!". . .  the horse accelerates and goes faster and faster as the crowd goes wild!
The rack is a fast, smooth gait whereby the horse travels with each foot touching the ground separately to make four distinct beats.  The horse must be trained to do the rack . . it's demanding and tiring for the horse but comfortable
for the rider.  The Five-gaited is shown with long, flowing mane, while the mane of the Three-gaited is roached.

Big draft breeds like the Clydesdale were useful on farms and pulling wagons with heavy loads and have been replaced with tractors.  In towns, the nostalgic clopping of the Clydesdale can be imagined pulling carts piled high with beer kegs. 
The Clydesdale's history dates from the 18th century and originated in Scotland.  The breed evolved from the English draft horse and heavy Flemish stock and is not as heavy as other draft breeds such as the Shire, Belgian, or Percheron.

The Clydesdale has a distinctive style that is characterized by a brisk walk and stride.  The neck is well arched with long shoulders and high withers.  The back is short with well-sprung ribs and the strongly muscled hind quarters and legs convey an impression of strength and pulling power.  The long, sloping pasterns are feathered at the rear of the legs below the knees, wrist, and hocks . . .  most Clydesdales are either black, brown, or bay with white on the face and legs.

Below, is a recent bronze sculpture of a Clydesdale with tack entitled, "Horse Power".

Horse Power

There are many books about equine breeds and conformation . . . a good one is
"Storey's Illustrated Guide to 95 Horse Breeds" by Judith Harris Dutson;
Storey Publishing; 2005.  Also available on Kindle.

Go to the BLOG INDEX  and Reference Page for more information.  See posts #616 and 655

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish


Sunday, 22 March 2015

#619 In the studio . . . horse anatomy and bony landmarks

Please start this series of posts about horse anatomy with blog #616.

The artist must understand the location of bony landmarks when drawing, painting, and sculpting a figure such as the horse.   A painter creates the illusion of form by showing shadow, middle-tone, and highlights while the sculptor models a form in space that creates its own.  It may sound simplistic, but when asked what my main concern is in sculpture . . .
my reply is to make sure all of the shadows fall in the right place!

But how does a sculptor make sure all of the shadows fall in the right place?
The answer:  Bony landmarks.

The best way to analyze bony landmarks involve the following considerations:

1.  How does the skeleton influence the surface appearance?
2.  The artist must understand the animal's skeleton and the location of bony landmarks in the figure.
3.  Where does the skeletal structure rise to the surface?    
4.  Bony landmarks are typically hard edges while muscle structure is not.  Their relationship to each   
     other, where muscles attach to the main bones, must be understood.
5.  Observe the horse:  Where there are dips, curves, bumps, and knobs, projection and indentations -
     there is an anatomical explanation that the sculptor must understand.
6.  A bony landmark is a "waypoint" for the sculptor and is any identifiable point on the figure that     
     can be referred to such as where the femur joins the pelvis, where the humerus joins the scapula,
     or the tibia joins the metatarsus [cannonbone], etc.

                 Shown below is a clay model of a horse with body landmarks identified with dots.

7.  Bony landmarks occur at places where different parts of a form meet or come together.  This is  
     also called  "points of articulation".
8.  Understanding anatomy takes the mystery out of drawing, painting, and sculpting.   Start with the
      largest bones and compare them with your own.  All mammals have the same basic design.
9.  Bony landmarks can assist the artist in establishing proportion and a point of reference which is      
     discussed and illustrated in the next blog post.
10. Beyond bony landmarks and waypoints, the sculptor must keep the large masses simple. clarified,          
      and unified . . . more is said with large shapes, planes, and masses.
11. Indicate the simple, underlying masses of the skeletal system:  Skull, rib cage, pelvis, lumbar,
      abdomen, neck, shoulder, upper and lower leg, etc.
12. Bony landmarks are generally the joining of limbs and the points of articulation . . . be aware of
      your own body and movement when modeling the horse.   See drawing below.

13. Don't give premature attention to detail . . . there will typically be problems with proportion.
14. It's really true:  Sculptors sculpt what they know and painters paint what they see.

Three-dimintional form creates shadows . . .  when the sculptor understands anatomy,  
the shadows fall in the right place.

26"H 25"W 9"D


Go to the BLOG INDEX and Reference Page for more information.  See posts #616 and 655

Blog, text, photos, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

#618 In the studio: Bone structure and musculature of the horse

There are approximately 205 bones in the horse's skeleton and the artist must understand the skeletal structure. 

The artist must also know the major muscle groups.  Some of the muscles are deep and are hidden by outer muscles that lie over them.  The outer muscles - called superficial muscles - are those that lie just beneath the skin and are of major importance to the horse artist.  Some animals, such as bears are covered with thick fur but a horse's musculature, like humans, is revealed.  Please see blog #448, posted July 31, 2013; and blog #450, posted August 7, 2013 
for more information about this subject.



Shown below, is a drawing of the horse's superficial muscles with some of the main muscles identified.

Neck and shoulder:    1.  Deltoid                               Back and trunk:    10.  Latissimus Dorsi
                                   2.  Triceps                                                             11.  Longissimus
                                   3.  Brachiocephalus                                              12.  Fascia of Back and Loins
                                   4.  Splenius                                                           13.  Ventral part of Serratus
                                   5.  Trapezius                                                         14.  Intercostals
                                   6.  Cervical Part of Serratus                                 15.  External Abdominal 
                                   7.  Sternocephalicus                                                    Obliques
                                   8.  Trapezius                                                         16.  Ascending Pectoral
                                   9.  Pectoral

Hindquarters:             17.  Tensor Fascia Latae
                                   18.  Gluteals
                                   19.  Biceps 
                                   20.  Hamstrings
                                   21.  Hamstrings

    Although tissue, skin, and hair cover these muscles, they influence form.
The very nature of the horse's coat breaks reflections so that muscle masses become soft 
and fused into one another.  The artist must know what lies underneath. . .
In other words:  What causes the bumps, bulges, and hollows that I see on the animal?    

I have sketchbooks full of bone structure and musculature drawings of many animals including the horse.
I have found that drawing the skeleton and superficial muscles is an extraordinary way to analyze physical 
construction while a sculpture is in progress. . . much better than looking at pictures.

Keep in mind, drawing the animal from life allows the artist to portray the true character of the animal.
 I constantly refer to the authors, illustrators, and publications 
that are posted in the previous two blogs for anatomical information.

    Below, are drawings from my sketchbooks after A. Szunyoghy; credit resource.


Below, are images of a great source of information . . . a plastic horse that I use in my studio for reference.
Contact Breyer Animal Creations - copyright, Susan L. Harris  2005

Go to the BLOG INDEX  and Reference Page for more information.

Blog, text, photos, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish

Sunday, 15 March 2015

#617 Reference for the horse artist . . . Sam Savitt

When I left art school in Kansas City in the early 1960s, I entered the realm of commercial art and animation.
My heroes then remain my heroes now . . . one of them was the outstanding illustrator of horses:  Sam Savitt.
 Born in 1917, he passed away in the year 2000.  He illustrated for outdoor magazines but horse stories
was always his specialty . . . be it racing, polo, western, rodeo, dressage, or fox hunting and I remember him
as a youngster when my Father would give me his magazines to tear the pictures for my scrapbooks.

He authored numerous books, illustrated over 150 books, and among many other publications,  illustrated a line of comics for Gene Autry's horse, Champion for Dell Comics in 1951 which I eagerly collected. . . and wish I had saved. 
 Not only was he a great illustrator, he was a horseman with a great knowledge of horses.  

Below, is the cover of one of his best know books, "Draw Horses With Sam Savitt", originally published in 1981
by Half Halt Press, Middletown, Maryland.  Also shown are images of pages from the book.
This is a very informative book and he shows you how to draw and understand the horse in motion, 
conformation and markings, anatomy, and breeds of horses, and much more.

In 1995, while teaching a bird sculpture workshop at Scottsdale Artists' School,  Mr. Savitt was also an instructor there. 
 I had the great pleasure of meeting him and was truly star-struck!  Trish and I had just picked up our new West Highland Terrier puppy and he was totally charmed by the little dog and would play with it every day when we took our breaks. 

 A few years later, after he had died I found the book, published 1969, shown below in a flea market and rescued it.  
To my delight, when I opened the book, it had been signed to someone and had a sketch of a horse 
which is also shown below.  His elegant style and presentation of the horse is my ideal.


Go to the BLOG INDEX and Reference Page for more information.  See posts # 616 and 655

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

#616 In the studio: Quadruped anatomy reference for the artist

Several days ago I received an email from a student who had taken one of my bird sculpture and anatomy workshops asking where to find quadruped anatomy reference for the artist.  I only teach workshops about bird sculpture but a large portion of my portfolio depicts a wide range of  quadruped species and over the years, 
I've collected many books about the subject which I use in conjunction with online data. 

Quadrupeds - animals with four legs - as well as humans all have the same general skeleton design. 
All mammals, including horses, dogs, cats, deer, humans, etc. evolved from the same prehistoric source and it's logical that their skeletons are fundamentally the same.  Keep in mind, mammals, like human, have two arms and two legs . . . their two front limbs are arms and their two back limbs are legs. 
 Humans have evolved in such a way as to not walk on all fours like quadrupeds.

The spine is the main support or armature for the body, the skull houses the brain, and the ribs form a protective cage around the heart and lungs.  Quadrupeds come in different sizes and shapes depending on how they evolved and were designed by nature according  to their surroundings and way of life.  Despite the diversity of design, the same main bones such as humerus, femur, etc. are in each creature.  The artist who understands this can easily interpolate known functional data about specific species such as a horse, dog, or cat to other species in the wild which are difficult to study from life.
It's easier to pick up your dog and note how the joints articulate than to attempt handling a wolf or grizzly! 

I have posted two previous blogs about this subject which gives much more information:

Blog #448,  Nature's one pattern  -  posted July 31, 2013   www.Blog #448
 Blog #450,  Comparative anatomy  -  posted August 7, 2013   www.Blog #450

Below, are eight anatomy books that are directed toward the artist.  I continue to use them all and they are the source,
along with "Zoobooks" for some of the instructional imagery and information in this blog. . . credit is given when used.  
I've included the publisher's name and to my knowledge, they are still available and in print.

Author: Gottfried Bammes                               Chartwell Books

Oxford University Press

Dover Publications

Dover Publications

Dover Publications

Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers

Dover Publications

Dover Publications

Go to the BLOG INDEX on the right for more information.

The books above have been used as a source of information and imagery for some of the instructional posts
 in this blog and are individually noted.  This material is meant for learning and to be used
as a reference source for artists and students in the studio.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish

Sunday, 8 March 2015

#615 In the Studio: Clay sketch of a foal

This morning, I started a clay sketch of a foal.  After several hours work, I'm confident that I like it,  will complete it,
and use it in an upcoming show.  Quick clay sketches can have honesty and vitality, but spontaneity is not possible
without planning and structuring.  Having a good plan and design enable the sculptor to make the sculpture intuitive
and spontaneous . . .  a thorough knowledge of the animal's structure and anatomy is a must when working quickly.

Below, is an image taken this morning after two hours work on the model.  
Note:  The gesture had previously been determined and the armature was built last night.

Typically, when working on a clay sketch,  I establish the design and dynamics of the sculpture in morning light
 as quickly as possible.  Being energized with coffee helps!  I will usually leave the work after the block-in and
 go to other projects and return to the work in the low light of dusk.  

No lighting is as important to me as dusk and evening light.  This time is magic in the studio and I tweak the design
 under a single source, low natural north light with all artificial lighting off . . . careful to retain spontaneity.
 A single light source enables me to see form.  I deplore flooded light when modeling and do not use it in the studio unless I'm building armatures, etc.  If I work at night or if it's a dark overcast day, I work from a single-source, low wattage bulb. . . there's no fluorescent lighting in my design studio. 

Below, I check the silhouette against back lighting and note the arrangement of positive and negative shapes.
I'll live with it awhile and continue making adjustments with closer modeling of the head before going to mold.   

Go to the BLOG INDEX on the right for more information.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

#614 Snow Moon

Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, Native American and Canadian tribes of the north call
February's full moon the Full Snow Moon.  Some tribes referred to this moon as the Full Hunger Moon 
since harsh and frigid weather made hunting food difficult.  

Shown below, a Mule Deer doe slowly passes under last night's Full Snow Moon in the sub-zero cold.

The night before last, a snowstorm dumped over ten more inches on our studio headquarters at the foot of the Wind River Range in Wyoming.  We woke up this morning to -16 degrees temperatures and as usual, the first thing one thinks about are the animals . . . both domestic and wild.  We have horses, goats, poultry, and feral barn cats that share the property with a resident herd of mule deer and wintering pheasants.  At the base of heated buildings such as the studio, animals congregate because the temperature is actually a few degrees warmer.  We keep a water heater in a big rubber tub and put out hay and corn for the geese.  The chickens have a heat lamp in their coop and we enjoy fresh eggs in the winter because the light induces laying eggs.  While all of this is a necessity for the domestic animals, we are careful not to tame the deer which would inhibit their wildness and ability to survive . . . after all, in the big scheme of things, we are predators.

Below, are images taken at our place along the frozen Popo Agie River in Wyoming.  
Although the surface is frozen, the big river flows underneath to join the Wind River downstream.
This photo was taken from the studio deck this morning . . . below zero but sunny!


The barn protects horses, goats, and barn cats but on this sunny day, the warm sun will feel good on their backs.

Geese are amazingly adaptable to frigid weather and like all creatures, require an open source of water.  Water, in this climate, can freeze in less than an hour!
Below and at right, the big domestic geese are fed corn and hay is given to the deer when snow covers the ground.  Trish cries,"goose-goose-goose" and the geese come running!

Below, Trish and Penny enjoy a warm fire after chores are done.

Below, no sun yesterday but the deer, with their long winter's coat, nestled in the snow
and bedded down for warmth and the pheasant found morsels by scratching through the snow.

In the bleak midwinter, Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

                                                                                     - Christina G. Rossetti

Deer have always been a favorite subject.  Below is an early etching (1979) entitled, "First Snow".

Go to the BLOG INDEX on the right for more information.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish

Sunday, 1 March 2015

#613 Throw on another log . . . Assyrian and Babylonian art

Throughout history, sculpture has been the silent expression of civilization.  It is the language of humanity that
has survived the millenniums.  It is through sculpture and architecture that we learned the history of mankind.

As an artist, I've come to know the value of getting the "big picture" . . . knowing what came before and knowing
what led to the art that is being created today.  The important movements in Western art history are as follows:  
                                         1.  Prehistoric Art - Caveman, Lascaux
                                         2.  Mesopotamia -  Includes Persia, Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon
                                         3.  Ancient Egypt
                                         4.  The Greeks
                                         5.  The Romans
                                         6.  Byzantium
                                         7.  Early Middle Ages
                                         8.  Late Middle Ages - Gothic
                                         9.  The Renaissance
                                         10. The Baroque
                                         11. The Rococo
                                         12. Neoclassicism
                                         13. Romanticism and Realism
                                         14. Impressionism and Post-Impressionism
                                         15. The Moderns - Expressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Dadaism, Surrealism,
                                                                        Abstract Expressionism, Pop, Minimalism, and more.

The focus of this blog is Assyrian and Babylonian art.
For more info, go to:   http://Art_of_Mesopotamia
Time-Life Books, Great Ages of Man - Cradle of Civilization
Duncan Baird Publishers,  Ancient Civilizations

The ancient kingdoms of Assyria, Babylon, and Sumer (6500  B.C.) were located in the valley of the
Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now Iraq.   Some believe the Garden of Eden was located there.
A series of excavations in the early 19th century shed light on the great cultural center.
Western and Middle Eastern scholars widely agree that these were the earliest known non-nomadic agrarian societies.
Mesopotamia means, "the land between the rivers" and the area is regarded as the "cradle of civilization."

Map of ancient Mesopotamia and Persia . . . present day Iraq (Assyria) and Iran (Persia).
Saudi Arabia is to the South; Turkey to the north; Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east; and Syria to the west.

Farming got underway in the fertile area, the wheel was invented, writing (cuneiform} was invented,
the world's earliest codes of law were formed, the arts and sciences flourished, and civilization was created.
City status occurred in Uruk around 4000 B.C.  Art always advances during periods of prosperity.
More than a thousand years before the Iliad and the Odyssey, Mesopotamia was thriving culturally.

The Assyrians quarried limestone and alabaster in slabs, and therefore most of their work is relief but some
approaches sculpture in the round.  In true reliefs, there is as much drawing as there is modeling.    
Their winged beasts stood at entrances of palaces and temples and all through Assyrian sculpture, 
wings are used to differentiate gods from mortals.  Their imagery had human heads - typically with a beard of
 alternate rows of horizontal and vertical curls - and bodies of animals such as lions and bulls.
Since the dawn of history, lions had been a constant menace in the marshes of Mesopotamia.
It was the purpose of the sculptor to make an image of a protecting or guardian deity.

Stone relief from a palace at Nimrod - present day Mosul, Iraq - excavated in 1840.

Relief at Nimrod with descriptive material written across the surface.

There are fine examples of early and later Assyrian and Babylonian sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art 
in New York.  Later work of approximately the Eighth Century B.C. show a great advance in sculpture and reached
new heights in realism and sense of motion.  Some of the finest reliefs came from the palace of
Ashur-nasir-apal II in Nimrod (present day Mosul) and almost all of the scenes represent him hunting.

Seventh Century B.C. Assyrian relief from a palace in the present day Mosul area.

Assyrian relief showing Assyrian army routing the Arabians mounted on camels in 651 B.C.

The art of Mesopotamia (10th millennium B.C.) includes Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Sumer.  The Assyrian style is distinct from the Babylonia art and was dominant in contemporary Mesopotamia around 1500 B.C. and lasted until the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C.  Assyrian art influenced Ancient Greek art including the Pegasus motif.  The famous Ishtar Gate in the British Museum is an example of Neo-Babylonian period (575 B.C.) and was the main entrance to Babylon . . .
it was built when Nebuchadadnezzar came into power and the art center moved to Babylon

Glazed enameled  brick at Susa (modern Iran) made by Babylonian craftsmen.

A relief of Persian King Darius I found at Persepolis . . . present day Iran.

 Sadly, as this is being written antiquities are being sold and rare ancient masterpieces such as the
Assyrian winged bull in the Mosul Museum are being destroyed as the world watches.

Fortunately, great museums around the world like the Met in New York, the Louvre, and the British Museum
have examples of Mesopotamia Art:  Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian in their antiquities collections.
 These works will forever guide us and educate us as to the derivative and history of Western art, culture, and civilization.

Go to the BLOG INDEX on the right for more information.

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish