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Who loves horses? Artist Deborah Butterfield also raises and trains them. Gallop along with her and draw these beautiful beasts on the run!
Deborah Butterfield was born on May 7, 1949, in San Diego, California. As a young woman, Butterfield was drawn between the pursuit of a career in art, or a career in the veterinary sciences. She had a great love of horses all of her life, and, although she ultimately chose to pursue art, she continued to work with horses.
Butterfield lives on a ranch in Montana, where she raises and rides thoroughbreds and trains them in dressage, a highly formal, precise method of showing them. Butterfield is fascinated with the horses’ movement and physiology, which is apparent in her sculpture.
Although she began her sculpting career with realistic, plaster mares, Butterfield’s horses have evolved over the years. She now constructs her horses from recycled and natural objects, building them over an armature of wire. The horses each have a natural, realistic pose, although the materials she uses are unusual. She eliminates most of the detail of her subjects, focusing on the horse’s posture and form (see Palomino, 1981, or Riot).
Students create a realistic horse drawing of their own. Find pictures of Butterfield’s sculpture, as well as photographs of horses in motion. Edward Muybridge photographs highlight animals in motion, and would be a wonderful resource for this study.
Use Crayola® Crayons to draw a picture of one or more running or galloping horses. Include the horse’s main parts and eliminate unnecessary details, much as Butterfield does. Color the horse realistically, focusing on the horse rather than its environment.
Students compare their horse drawing to the horses constructed by Butterfield and Muybridge’s photographs. How are they similar? How are they different?
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