An opportunity to paint freely. So enjoyable. Must do more of these. Pity I have to make the horse first!
|A beautifully simple and elegant ancient horse.
I use a grid to transfer the profile of the horse. That way I ensure the shape will be as authentic as I can get it. The legs are stuck onto clumps of cardboard (greyboard) which give the right distance from the centre line. The neck is built up in the same way with scraps of card. The papier-mache is applied and dried layer by layer and sanded where bumps protrude. For the painting, gouache silver is applied to a bluey grey to give a bronze effect and varnish is brushed on top of that.
This is an 8th Century horse of the Tang Dynasty, I believe! This model was one of my early ones so I was a bit OTT with the ribs – too many of them – although they fitted quite well onto the central frame. The legs had to be extended at the top so that they could attach to the ribs.
Wire is shaped to each leg, bent with pliers, then firmly stuck down with 5 minute epoxy resin. It extends about 2cm below the foot so that it can be inserted into the holes in the base.
The first layer of papier-mache (wet paper dipped in wallpaper paste) shows exactly where the faults lie, in this case, ribs bulging in the wrong places. Some drastic power cutting and sanding were needed at this point, then more covering, drying & sanding until a more natural shape emerges. The saddle is made of pieces of cardboard, close-covered with papier-mache so that the detail remains visible. Finally, salt is stuck on all over the body to give it texture.
OK, so they’re not all horses! I’ve widened my scope to include any animal painted in the caves.
I got an urge to see the animals which cavemen painted on their cave walls, thousands of years ago, in 3D form. They are exquisite paintings as they stand and I appreciate them for that, but I wanted to see them in the round, as solid figures. These are my first two efforts.
I made the horse a little more dumpy than intended!
Technically, the problem for me was to include the outline drawing, as seen on the cave wall, onto the 3D figure. With the bull, in particular, that wasn’t entirely possible. On the horse I used balsa wood for the ribs and very thin balsa for the skin. It looks a bit rough in the making stage!
Anyway, here they are. There will be more to come.
|I came across an actual sculpture of a Chinese Tang Dynasty Horse in the Durham University Library (Palace Green). I then went online and sketched other variations of similar horses.|
|The legs have to be re-drawn and arbitrarily extended so that they can be re-attached to the torso. Greyboard ribs give body to the horse.|
|Wire gives the horse its strength. I used pliers to shape the wire and glued it on with epoxy resin. Layers of papier-mache covering the frame form a skin but also show up the faults which then need to be sanded down. Pischaccio shells were used as moulds for the hanging tassels. Finally, salt was stuck on the whole thing to give a stony texture, then painted.|
My horses are not bronze or marble or even stone. They’re made of card (greyboard), wire and papier-mache. I draw out the horse first, then transfer it to greyboard, removing the legs so I can attach them later to the frame. Papie-mache is added in layers then it’s a case of cut and sand, cut and sand until I’ve got the shape I want.