Author Archives: Lynn Fraley

Above Us Only Sky

When I was asked if I’d like to donate a piece to the 2018 Nocturne Auction to benefit the World Center for Birds of Prey, I saw an opportunity to spread my creative wings.

“I’ve been privileged to see California Condors during several visits to the Navajo Bridge that crosses the Colorado River at Marble Canyon in Northern Arizona. The images of Condors in the mixed media triptych, titled “Above Us Only Sky” are based on photographs that I’ve taken there as well as here, in Boise, at the World Center for Birds of Prey.

“The narrow vertical format of the triptych references the feeling of being in the Canyon, various images honor the elements of earth, water, fire and air; and Edward Abbey fans will appreciate a photo of an inscription carved into the handrail of the bridge, ‘Hayduke Lives’. Condors now live again under open sky thanks to the efforts of dedicated people and organizations, like the World Center for Birds of Prey.

“Above Us Only Sky”
triptych, mixed media on wood panel
12 x 42 inches
Lynn A. Fraley ©2018

A member of the Society of Animal Artists and a Signature Member of the American Academy of Equine Art, Lynn normally focuses her creative energies on sculptures of horses.

On being a Leftie-in-Training — expanding horizons and skill sets


Just over three years ago I began training in the Japanese martial art of Aikido. Nearly three months ago I began taking the Sword class at our dojo.

Now I’m learning to do things left-handed.

Don’t worry — there is no injury based cause/effect relationship between starting sword class and beginning to need to use my left hand more! However the constant practice in learning new things has emboldened me to learn this new skill.

That, and my right hand really did need some time off due to chronic tendonitis from all these many years of creating small, yet highly and precisely detailed objects. The weekend after Thanksgiving made the situation worse. The IV needle that I had in my right arm for 36 hours (unpleasant episode in the hospital with a section of blocked bowel) was placed on top of the tendons to my right index finger, and then my entire right arm swelled up. My nursing friends use the term IV infiltration — my bodyworker said my elbow was dislocated and that I did the fascial system of my body no favors by essentially being frozen in a seated position for nearly two days (NG tube, no fun)

The relief of not needing surgery for the blocked bowel and being able to go home in a relatively short mite was rather balanced out by the fact that I could no longer bend my right thumb and index finger. I couldn’t hold a pencil, let alone write. I couldn’t pick things up with my right hand, especially small delicate objects. Frustrating. Inspired me to explore Plan B — left handedness.

What the heck, I’ve got two hands. Time for “Little Sister” left hand to get in the game 🙂 So while the tendonitis in my right arm subsides (and it is much, much better) I’ve been writing, drawing, and using utensils left handed. I’m convinced it’s a skill set that I can work to develop. It’s actually become kind of fun. I started a new journal to practice in, it will be part of the Sketchbook Project sponsored by the Brooklyn Art Library (


The moral of my story — never underestimate your own ability to be flexible and resilient. Never underestimate the power of learning new skills. At any age.


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 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.


(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.


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.


(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.



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.


You may visit 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.


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.

02.14.2014 Warm Valentine’s Wishes

I went out early this morning to our favorite coffee & pastry shop and brought home Barry’s favorite raspberry oatbar and a steaming cup of coffee for him.  He surprised me with a handmade card and a sampling of my favorite locally-made chocolates.  No big drama, just little gestures that sweeten an otherwise fairly ordinary winter day.

Noticing and appreciating the ordinary.  Because when you think about it, the “ordinary” is actually very extra-ordinary.  The chemistry of personalities that enriches our lives with love.  The serendipity of events that bring us both bitter challenges and sweet resolve.

My most recent sculpture, Winter’s Whimsy, is in many ways a meditation on the ordinary and about finding lightness, even in the heart of cold dark winter.  If it’s snowing where you are today, catch a snowflake on your tongue. It will make you smile.

 ~ click on any image above to enlarge and enjoy the detail ~

If you feel you’d like to add a bit of winter whimsy to you collection, Winter’s Whimsy is available to order until April 15, 2014.  Click for more photos, info and to order.

Sending you the warmest of Valentine’s wishes,

02.05.2014 A Winter’s Whimsy

As I type, dry powdery snow flutters down from the heavens. It’s been doing so since the pre-dawn hours.  By Saturday forecasters say we could have as much as nine inches on the ground.  That’s actually big news for Boise. Framed by mountains to the north and east our valley tends to be a “banana belt” of little snow and relatively mild winter temps.

But this is exactly the kind of day I imagined when I was working on Winter’s Whimsy, my new draft mare sculpture.  Stoic and grounded, Miss Whimsy is coated in a thick fluffy winter coat, so those chilly flakes are simply tongue tickling entertainment.

Whimsy started last winter as a demo during a private tutoring session, and then sat in the closet many long months; mere wire and a few loops of clay giving the outline of the torso, neck and head.  This past autumn I had the opportunity to work as an Artist in Residence in downtown Boise for four weeks.  It was blissful.  I focused on two pieces, Whimsy and a larger jumper. The dedicated time allowed me to get a great deal done in a short amount of time.  Here are some photos!

Barry has created a waste mold of the original and I have been cleaning and fine tuning the resin he poured for me from that first mold.  I will be done with the master resin in the next day or so, then it will go back out to Barry’s workshop for him to create the production mold for Whimsy.  On February 14, you will be able to order your own Winter’s Whimsy!


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

“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.


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.


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…