Friday, July 22, 2011

To Hell and Back

On the subject of Hell...this 3.75 x 4" fellow, aptly titled Dante, dragged me on a more-months-than-I-ever-expected tour of artistic Hell. He's a newly finished piece and I'm really happy with how he turned out, despite the arduous journey I slogged through to create him. Really pushing myself with this piece, I applied the lessons learned from Elsie and tinkered with some new ones. You can see more pix of him here.

He's a Murgese stallion, an Italian breed, one that I've admired for some time. They're a very diverse breed, with lots of phenotypes, which is good - that leaves room to revisit the breed in the future. I always value a breed that has a high degree of variation, not just for artistic reasons, but also for the safe-keeping of a breed. My friend, Lesli Kathman wrote of a similar issue with the Kladruber in a recent Equine Tapestry post.

Anyway, beyond mirroring Dante's escapade, his name is apropos in more ways than one. I read Dante's Inferno in junior high on a whim and it left quite an impression, to say the least. The thought of our bad deeds having a scoring system in Hell was interesting enough, but I was tickled to find that my good deeds (as in how hard I applied myself in the studio) definitely paid off - I learned lots of cool stuff! So it goes both ways, I suppose! 

I also wanted to create a rather spirited, swarthy, flamboyant piece (hey, he shares heritage with Fabio) and I knew his mane and tail would really amplify his movement and "feel."

But manes and tails are really hard to sculpt. They're a tricky concoction of passive physics, from the physical universe and from the horse himself. The texture also is immensely difficult to capture, adding insult to injury. This is why those hairy bits are the single most varied component in realistic equine sculpture because every sculptor tackles these features in their own way. So yeah - I struggled big time with that mane and tail! All said and done, they took as long to sculpt as the rest of him! Adjustments, do-overs and tweaks...oh my! I lost count. But it had to be just right. 

To my delight, they ended up echoing the flickering, blazing flames in Hell. Or in another interpretation (one I personally prefer), the dancing, glittering flames of love, even with a heart-shaped image suggested from a certain angle. 

Which brings me to another apropos bit of serendipity with Dante. If you've been following the blog, you know about the Hammies, and the kind of patient agony my hubby lives through every day just being married to me. His life is a blustery, smoldering alchemy of love and torment because of the chaos and disorder I introduce into our household. Yet as I finished this piece, he suggested we renew our wedding vows. Out of the blue. It caught me quite by surprise. Deeply touched, we agreed that come our 20th, we'll do just that!

"I love him to hell and back and heaven and back, and have and do and will." ~ Sylvia Plath

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