Learning Horse Expression In Sculpture

April 25, 2018



Sketching The Living Horse

Animal modeling puts the artist in a real life situation. This causes the artist to use his or her brain capacity entirely. It requires both practical and imaginative application. This is becasue an animal does not remain in a posed position as may be accomplished by a human model. However, an animal does often move through a series of comfortable patterns or routines, often returning to a “pose” that can be captured by the artist. This constant motion of the figure will translate movement to the modeled clay, so long as the artist sculpts with relaxation and leaving detail aside for another day.  Learn how to sketch in clay in our introduction course.








Quick Sketch Technique


The end goal here is to improve the sculptor's eye to deduct the cause and effect of a horses reaction to its environment. Every time you approach a quick sketch session, the artist must come with the mind of a student. Without a learn it all mind set, the important observations that make the session valuable will be lost.







What Is Quick Sketching? 


The method of quick sketching dates back to the great masters. It's the practice of sketching a moving figure to capture a gesture lost in time for lack of intentional posing. This "pose" by the living model is captured in clay or on paper by the artist and tells an intimate story about the subject's personality. An artist is able to learn relaxation through quick sketching which in turn allows for greater accuracy and ease that show through the final artwork. Pieces are not to be finished with any level if detail and should give an impressionistic feel of pushed clay and dramatic motion.




Gestures Explained 


The action of a figure is often referred to as a gesture in the arts. It is the body language and minute differences that make up an individuals characteristics. It is the movement, attitude and emotion of the chosen figure.  The study of gesture allows the learner to appropriately and honestly observe and capture the truth of the chosen figure. 






The Most Important Skill


Gesture, is the most important skill to be attained after the understanding of anatomy. It is the moment where the artist begins to understand true expression and empowers him or her to begin story telling through their art. A sculpture, even a highly detailed and anatomically correct piece of work, created without personal expression may be considered a dead work of art. It expresses no emotion and speaks nothing to its viewer. 





The Power of Observation

At this stage in development, the artist becomes aware of the small actions taken by the individual model. The student learns how to put these actions together properly to form an expressive story shared through the three dimensional form of sculpting. Much like riding, it’s important to understand the animal with which you wish to work. This is achieved through intentional and quiet observation. By noting a series of environmental triggers and responses, the observer becomes aware of the actions the individual animal takes and why. What naturally triggers an expression of contentment, anger, tension or relaxation? In what areas of the body does the animal express these responses, how and when? Download the observation worksheet to get started.





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