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The Creation of Aeos

For you dear readers and collectors, a glimpse of what went into the creation of the Iberian stallion sculpture, “Aeos”.  It turned out to be a three-year journey!

The general process will look familiar to my sculpture students: first a wire armature that is essentially a scale model of a skeleton; the addition of a flat vertical plane of clay to define the torso; the addition to that of horizontal planes of clay to frame in the pelvis; add clay to round out the torso; the use of various hardness of wax to give sturdy structure to the legs; nifty wire mesh as the substructure for manes and tails.

If you’d like to experience the process yourself, I will be teaching the three-day “Wire to Whinny” workshop this coming September, 2017.  Please visit http://lynnafraley.com/workshops/ for more information.

~ click to enlarge and enjoy the detail ~

06.11.2016 Pilgrimage to Pryor

Ten hours away from Boise, a band of Pryor Mountain Mustangs relishes the new growth on a high ridge line.  At about 8,400 feet altitude, pockets of snow persist into late May along the summit of East Pryor Mountain.  The BLM managed Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range straddles the Montana/Wyoming border, encompassing more than 38,000 acres of desert, subalpine rangeland and pine forested mountain tops. To be technical, most of it is in Montana. Water is scarce; the BLM and area volunteers have built “guzzlers” to capture rain/snow run-off and provide a greater variety of water sources. The Range includes part of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area to the east and Custer National Forest to the northwest, as well as BLM land.  The closest town is on the Wyoming side of the border; Lovell Wyoming, population 2,300 and home to the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center.  That’s where I met up with Steve Cerroni of PryorWild Mustang Tours on a Wednesday morning in late May, and accompanied him in his go-anywhere Jeep on a rugged 5,000 foot climb to the top of East Pryor Mountain.

New Faces in a Historic Herd

It’s an exciting time of year as the next generation of Pryor Mountain Mustangs are born.  These youngsters are the legacy of not only sturdy free-roaming horses but of the determined people who are passionately protective of them.

The Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range was established in 1968, the first in the nation.  But long before that local ranchers and residents of Lovell, Wyoming recognized and prized the wild horses of the area. Homesteaders in the early 1900s noted the wild horses of the area, before them, the Crow people bred and traded horses in the area.  In fact, it is to the Crow that many historians attribute the beginnings of this herd some 200 years ago.

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(above) Feldspar, an 11 year old mare in Mescalero’s band, protectively moves her three-day-old filly away from visitors.  The buckskin yearling is also her son, Cloud’s Pride.

Roan, dun, black and bay are the historic colors of the Pryor Mustangs.  In the 1980s several horses with strong Spanish Colonial characteristics from mustang herds in Oregon (Kiger) and Wyoming (Rock Springs) were introduced to the Pryor Mountain range with the intent of providing more genetic diverisity.  As Christine Reed, explains in her book Saving the Pryor Mountain Mustang: a legacy of local and federal cooperation, among them was

“a young buckskin stallion from the Rock Springs, Wyoming, herd management area was on the (Pryor Mountain) range until his removal in 1992. … The appearance of a palomino filly on the range raised eyebrows among some Lovell advocates familiar with the more typical Pryor Mountain Mustang colors.  …BLM field staff decided to release the filly back to the range during the 1992 removal.  The filly was a cream colored horse named Phoenix, whose palomino roan son Cloud became the most well-known horse on the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range based on a series of PBS Nature films by Ginger Kathrens.”

As of yet in 2016 Cloud, now 21 years old, has not yet been seen.

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Midway up the mountain we saw a small family group, among them Washakie, (above) heavy with foal.

In 2011 the BLM Field Office in Billings, Montana, began implementing a fertility control plan for the Pryor Mountain herd they are responsible for.  The plan excludes mares aged 5 – 10, and emphasizes that the breeding population is representative of all bloodlines on the Range as well as Colonial Spanish in phenotype.

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(above) Sooty palomino stallion Bolder offers a glimpse of one of his sturdy hooves.

Equine color expert Dr.Philip Sponenberg has studied the Pryor Mountain Mustangs for many years and was instrumental helping to develop guidelines for the BLM to use in deciding which horses to retain on the Range. In his 1993 Evaluation of Pryor Mountain Herd Area BLM Horses, Dr. Sponenberg noted

“The Pryor Mountain wild horse herd is the single most Spanish of the feral horse herds in the USA at this time. The history, phenotype, and blood types of the herd all point to an origin from Spanish horses. This horse herd should be managed to maintain its uniqueness. This should include management to increase the excellent Spanish type already present and should also maintain the color variation present in the herds.”

Stallions Tecumseh/Chance (above left) and Gringo (above right) and their respective mares were the first horses my guide, Steve Cerroni, and I saw.   Below, stallion Irial/Indigo Kid gallops towards an interloper.  I asked about the use of “double” names for some horses on the range and was told that there was a time when names were assigned by two different not-for-profit entities.  Thus in order to prevent confusion for today’s visitors the horses are identified by both names in the Field Guide published by Steve and Nancy Cerroni of PryorWild.

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Dark clouds had been billowing through the Range all day, chill winds brought showers of small hail.  In mid-afternoon the clouds became even denser, warning us that our time on the mountain needed to end.  Even with a brief stop on the way back down the mountain to visit Galaxy (below) and his band, we managed to stay ahead of the storm.  When we reached the valley floor, some 5,000 feet below, we looked back up to the uppermost meadow where the photo above had been shot.  The ridgeline meadow was transformed, glistening white.

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You may visit http://www.pryormustangs.org/ to keep up with news of the herd there (especially the 2016 foals), or follow the Pryor Mountain Mustang Center on Facebook.
The Center also maintains a lovely blog.

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When I returned to the studio, I realized there had been a beautiful sort of synchronicity between these wild ones and a sculpture which I have working on for several years, only recently finished — Torran.

This sturdy little stallion will be available for order in mid-June, 2016.

9.18.2013 Ain’t Misbehavin’ — Just Havin’ Fun!

Full of life and “rarin’ to go” (literally!), exuberant Vata resins are ready to order and early purchasers will be receiving theirs in just a matter of days.

A lively companion piece to Ruah, Vata stands 11.5 inches tall, packed with fine detail from his expressive lips to the tip of his flowing tail.

If Ruah is somewhat querulous, and ChaCha pivoting with change, then Vata is pure energy reaching towards his full potential.

I first heard the word “vata” in a yoga class two years ago. My teacher mentioned that among the ideas associated with the word are “movement, wind/breath, life force”.  At the time I thought this would be a lovely word/thought to accompany Ruah, this sculpture’s companion piece whose title is also an ancient word for “breath”.

Since then I’ve learned more about the principles of ayurveda in which “Vata” is one of three primary doshas. Yes, I know, we’re starting to get fairly esoteric here.  The best description of doshas that I’ve found comes from Deepak Chopra at http://www.chopra.com/community/online-library/terms/dosha

“Dosha is a Sanskrit word that translates as ‘mind-body constitution’ or ‘mind-body personality.’ According to ayurveda – the 5,000-year-old ‘science of life’ – there are five master elements or mahabhutas that make up everything within our bodies and everything outside of our bodies: space, air, fire, water, and earth. Space carries all the aspects of pure potentiality – infinite possibilities; air has the qualities of movement and change; fire is hot, direct, and transformational; water is cohesive and protective; and earth is solid, grounded, and stable. Biological systems weave these five master elements into three primary patterns known as doshas. They are most easily thought of as mind-body principles that govern our style of thinking and behaving. Vata dosha, woven from the elements of space and air, regulates movement and change in our minds and bodies. Pitta dosha, comprised of fire and water, governs digestion and metabolism. Kapha dosha, made from earth and water, maintains and protects the integrity and structure of our mind and body. All three doshas are present in every cell, tissue, and organ – for movement, metabolism, and protection are essential components of life. What makes life interesting is that although everyone has all three doshas, each of us mixes them together in a unique way, which determines the distinctive qualities of our mind and body. Typically, each person has one primary dosha.” The ayurvedic practitioner whom I consulted identified Pitta (fire) and Vata (air) as my predominate doshas (Pitta slightly outweighed Vata, Kapha was a distant third). So the concept of “Vata” has become even more relevant to me.

And it seems an even more fitting title for this sculpture, especially considering:

“If Vata dosha predominates, movement and change are characteristic of your nature. You will tend to always be on the go, with an energetic and creative mind. As long as Vata is in balance, you will be lively and enthusiastic, with a lean body.”

Wishing you, as always, all the best,

06.21.2013 Crossing Paths

You see several projects crossing paths in this photos — on the right is a box containing the last cutting horse resin to be shipped from the batch of nearly 100 that were ordered in December and January. And to the left is the master resin copy of Vata, the companion piece to Ruah.

Yes, finally!! Vata is nearly ready for his master production mold, just a little bit more fine tuning.  But I’m really happy with him so far —

Orders will be taken for Vata, July 1 through August 15, 2013

UPDATE — as of July 9, I’m still not happy with the master resin and will not be taking orders until he’s done and his production mold is completed.  I do apologize for the delay.

05.17.2013 De-thatching of the Soul

Just because I haven’t been writing doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking of you.  I have.  But since January I’ve been caught up in a big new project and I hadn’t quite figured out how to tell you about it.

The right metaphor occurred to me this afternoon as I was playing in the yard de-thatching.  (Some would call it work, but I love to de-thatch.)

And that’s exactly it — I’ve been de-thatching my psyche.

What a nice noun: psyche  |ˈsīkē| the human soul, mind, or spirit; from Greek psukhē ‘breath, life, soul.’   Sigh.  And what a complicated, messy place it can become after 50 years or so.

My father’s death just before Christmas fractured the mask of forced cheeriness that I’ve sheltered behind for years.

If you’ve stopped by the blog before you’ll recall that 2011 was a year of treatments and surgeries for rectal cancer. 2012 was a year of physical recuperation. 2013 thus far has been devoted to psychic recuperation.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Depression. Insomnia. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Yuk.

Re-claiming my life from the above has become a fulltime job.  Physical therapy with an emphasis on myofascial release/unwinding; psychotherapy with an emphasis on the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) modality;  exercise — pilates, yoga, gyrokenisis and I’m riding and running again; meditation; dietary changes based on ayurvedic principles (just starting this).

And — visual journaling.  It ties all of the above together. And more.

I started in late January and have created nearly twenty mixed media spreads, filling one book and then making and starting another. Each spread is a combination of writing, painting and collage.  Some spreads are based on prompts from a mentor or a therapist, some are based on dreams. Others, well, they just demand to be done.

This is the first spread I started on January 21 (it’s still not finished, and that’s the beauty of the process, time is as important a tool as pen or paint).

And this is a spread I started earlier this week.

This form of expression and exploration is raw. Messy. Not for the faint of heart be you artist or viewer.

Will I be sharing more images?  Perhaps.  This is a deeply personal and powerful process.  But I’ve discovered that sharing the images in a safe, respectful environment and receiving feedback helps rake out yet more of that tightly knotted psychic matter.

And that’s what made me think of de-thatching.  The heavy rake with those knife-like tine/blades is actually a finesse tool.  It’s most effective when used gently on the lawn, small little strokes, repeated time and again, bringing up masses of dead grass that you just don’t see at a glance.

At a glance my front lawn looked just fine. Normal. Green, pretty even. But an accumulation of grass clippings becomes detrimental — a barrier to light, water and air. The lawn barely gets by, slowly dying off.  But when I invest the time and energy to de-thatch… air, light, water and nutrients reach the roots of the grasses. They thrive.

Is this too much of a stretch as a metaphor?  No.  Unprocessed memories and  emotions form dense layers of decaying material which deny a soul the nourishment it needs to grow and thrive.  I’ll be raking for quite a while…  So when it is quiet around here, you know that hard work is being done.  Slowly, steadily starting to thrive again.

Namaste

PS — work on new sculpture also continues, and I’ve just begun fine tuning the master resin for Vata — he’ll soon be available to order 🙂

03.15.2013 Idus

March 15, the Ides of March, 2013 

Looking past its association with Julius Caesar, this can also be thought of as a day for celebrating a New Year — March was the first month of the year in ancient Roman times. We’re now moving from a New Moon to the Vernal Equinox; spring, is only days away.

Renew. Rejuvenate. Reawaken. Revivify.

At age 51, after a year of treatments for cancer followed by a year of recovery which was as much about psychology as physiology, I am physically leaner than ever and nearly as strong again as that day, now two years and one day past, when I began a series of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments to reduce the size of my tumor before surgery.

My spirit is in flux between strength and fragility. I’m learning to achieve balance there just as I have learned to balance for minutes at a time on my sitz bones. In truth, not meditating so much as mulling. 

Practice. Patience. Persistence.

Isn’t this what I tell students to apply to their sculpting skills?  Yes.
And also Passion.

It has been quiet here on the blog for many weeks as I explore a renewed life through my body (physical therapy and movement) my mind/spirit (psychological therapy and meditation) and my art/expression with sculpting, visual journaling and writing about the dreams and feelings that surface in quiet darkness, when the chatter of my “keep busy” monkey brain no longer demands my full attention.

Of course I will continue to sculpt horses.  That is not “what I do”, but *who* I am.

Literally.

The introspection and exploration of the late has shown me that just about every sculpture I have created in the past dozen years is a self portrait.  Not of physical features of course, but of emotional states and processes.

Vata is finished.  Today I’ll take him out to Barry to have a waste mold made of him.

Vata, back in January, not quite as finished as he is today, but you get the idea…

01.06.13 Sharing 3,681 miles and 37 photos

Barry drives, I take photos. What can I say, it works for us.

Dec. 26, 2012 Sweetzer Pass, Idaho

Dec. 26, 2012, the aptly named Snowville, Utah

Dec. 26, 2012, northern Utah

Dec. 27, 2012, east of Evanston, Wyoming

Dec. 27, 2012, shepard in central Wyoming

Dec 27, 2012, west of Laramie, Wyoming

Dec. 27, snow fences west of Laramie, Wyoming

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Dec. 27, just west of Laramie, finally sunshine!

Dec. 27, 2012, east of Laramie, Wyoming, blowing hard still

Dec. 27, 2012 sundog in western Nebraska

Dec. 27, 2012 late afternoon sun in western Nebraska

Dec. 27, 2012 late afternoon in western Nebraska

Dec. 27, 2012 full moon rising east of Sidney, Nebraska

Dec 28, 2012, just west of Lincoln, Nebraska

Dec. 28 2012 morning light on drifts in Nebraska

Dec. 28, 2012 Snowy land dissolving into snowy sky, eastern Iowa

Dec. 28, 2012, eastern Iowa

January 1, 2013, Peoria, Illinois, a beautiful day to start our drive home to Idaho

Louis Sullivan’s 1914 masterpiece known as the “Jewel Box”. Only three miles north of I-80 in Grinnell, Iowa. Always meant to stop before but was in too much of a rush.

January 1, 2013, Grinnell, Iowa

January 1, 2013, detail of sculpture that greets visitors to the “Jewel Box”

Jan. 2, 2013, Red Oak, Iowa, visiting my maternal great grandparents. Always meant to stop, seemed like the perfect trip to do so.

Jan. 2 2013, north of Red Oak, Iowa

Jan. 2, 2013, sunset, central Nebraska

Jan. 2, 2013, sunset, central Nebraska

Jan. 3, 2013, sunrise, just west of North Platte, Nebraska

Jan. 3, 2013, sunrise, just west of North Platte, Nebraska

Jan. 3, 2013, first glimpse of Rocky mountains from near the Nebraska/Wyoming border. Such a welcome sight — we’ve never seen them from this far away before, the air was crystal clear.

Coal Creek Coffee in Laramie, Wyoming. We always stop, best coffee west Iowa City, that we’ve found.

Jan. 3, 2013, vastness west of Laramie, Wyoming

Jan. 3, 2013, icy sage land between Rawlings and Rock Springs, Wyoming

Jan. 3, 2013, northern Utah, just south of Idaho border.

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Jan. 3, 2013   Home. 200 miles to go, but home relatively speaking.

Jan. 3, 2013, southern Idaho

Jan. 3, 2013, Still some weather/road challenges over Sweetzer Pass

And then it cleared…

Jan. 3, 2013, sunset in southern Idaho, near Twin Falls. Sunrise in Nebraska to sunset/home in Idaho, 13.5 hours.

01.05.13 “The gloom of the world…”

“The gloom of the world is but a shadow;
behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.

— Fra Giovanni Giocondo

On January 1, 2013, I had the pleasure of of visiting my childhood home in Illinois. The new owner welcomed Barry and I warmly, sharing how she has updated the property to fit her needs; a great new kitchen, revived hardwood floors, lovely new colors for the walls, and lots of work in the yard.  But out back my family’s favorite tree, a stalwart old ash, still stands. My parents would be happy, pleased by the great love and care that has been lavished on the house they built in 1958.  My father loved landscaping the large yard, my mother loved the privacy the trees and sloped setting cocooned her with.

I speak of them both in the past tense now: my mother passed away four years ago; my father, just two weeks ago on the first day of winter.

His passing prompted a 3,681 mile winter road trip to to central Illinois and back again during the holidays. Trust me, we hadn’t planned to spend a snowy New Year’s Eve in Peoria. But 2013 dawned shiny and bright. The visit to the old house and meeting its vivacious new owner reassured me that all is well and as it should be.

Welcome 2013
Offering a belated toast to friends and family
and warm wishes for your health and happiness
~ Lynn and Barry

09.07.2012 A Tail of Trial and Error


Ahhh, the equine tail.  A thing of beauty, key to balance and essential to a design, without ever having to be “My Little Pony” about it.


You may recall that the new cutting horse I’ve been working on was first molded with a mere stub of a tail bone.  And no mane.  The reason was that I wanted to see how the resin would balance without it, and then design a tail (and mane) to further stabilize the base-less piece.

To start with I had a scrap of metal craft mesh left over from another project and the “obvious” place to start was to simply attach it to the resin stub with super glue, catalyzed by baking soda.  This is a magic combination to create instant structure.

Additional wisps of “tail” were added with more super glue and baking soda.
My intent was to recreate this cool curly que design I saw in a little photo in a working cow horse magazine.
The three-D design was sketched in by stabilizing the mesh edges with super glue and baking soda.  Then I started to fill in with epoxy putty (by the way, does anyone know where to buy “Gapoxio” putty these days?).
But it just wasn’t working — the balance was off and the poor lil’ dude tended to fall over on his nose.  That’s no good!  So….
 
Do over — off with his tail!
This time I added top-to-bottom support with sturdy aluminum armature wire.
A quick sanding gave the wire some “grip’ for the super glue/baking soda “cement”.
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That’s better! Now I can really test what position and angle best supports the hind end.  To me that’s the key engineering function of this tail design, it must provide a solid column of support for the hind end of the dynamically posed horse — in fact, I don’t want much weight at all on that left hind leg, I want the tail to do the work.
Here we go again, add strips of screen mesh…
Apply super glue and baking soda to set the edges on the mesh.
More mesh. More glue. More soda.  Repeat.
Then fill in between the “glue lines” with epoxy putty.
What’s so nice about the mesh is that a sloppy mix of putty will squish through and really lock things into place.
Inevitably, I over-do the putty and end up dremeling half of it off again. 
 That’s why it’s a tail of trial and error!
 
 

08.06.2012 Cutting It Up

 

CutterWstMold_CutApart_Aug6_2012_1_72Just a quick follow-up to the previous post; the new Cutting Horse sculpture has been cut out of his waste mold!  You can see that the soft clay original sculpture of ChaCha did not come out unscathed, he lost his ears and the front leg sure got pulled apart. 

But that’s not important at this point.  

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What’s important is that Barry got a really clean looking imprint coat, i.e. the first coat of rubber that captures all the detail of the sculpture.


Bubbles in subsequent layers are not a problem in a waste mold.  If this had been a mold designed to cast a smaller resin under pressure Barry would have placed the rubber in a vacuum chamber to extract air prior to pouring a sturdy block mold.  Another approach to mold making altogether actually.  And, good subject for a future post.  In the meantime I’m eagerly awaiting the first resin to be cast from this mold so that I can get to work finalizing a master copy of ChaCha.