Dream Horses 3D

Sometimes ideas come and are quickly brought to fruition.  Sometimes an idea gestates before it takes material form.  The idea for my Dream Horses began last summer.  Before I could express them three dimensionally, I developed them in drawings and paintings.

3D Dream Horses $125 copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
3D Dream Horses $125 copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015

See          https://cheriisgreenfineart.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/dream-horses/

Dream Horse #2
Dream Horse #2 “Walk Like an Egyptian” 14″x10″ $350

But actually I saw the three dimensional horses first.  Like the 2D versions, my new sculptural Dream Horses are stylized and leggy with strong geometric references and derivations from ancient cultures.  The techniques for these new horses evolved from my work with the clay fish.

See          https://cheriisgreenfineart.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/one-fish-two-fish-red-fish-blue-fish/

“Two Fish” copyright C Isgreen $65 (stoneware bas-relief sculpture, roughly 11″ x 10″)

Each horse begins with a set of four legs in two pairs.  I search my home landscaping for branches that suggest front legs and back legs.  The branches are sun-cured for several days before they are stable for use in the sculpture.

Mare & Foal view 1 copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
Mare & Foal view 1
copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
Mare & Foal, view 2 copyright Cheri Isgreen
Mare & Foal, view 2 copyright Cheri Isgreen

Next, a gestural drawing from heavy gauge copper wire is created.  This wire work serves as both a guide to the finished horse, as well as an armature to strengthen the sculpture.  Because the wooden legs are integral to the finished horse sculpture, I needed to find a medium that hardened without firing.  I began my prototypes by sculpting with air-dry clay.  This clay proved unsatisfactory, as it was too fragile to withstand the demands of sculpture. Through lots of experimenting, I’ve developed my own compound, (my secret recipe), that improves the durability of the sculpture.  The compound I use behaves much like fired stoneware.  When the form has evolved to my satisfaction, I finish my horses with carved geometric designs.  At this point, the horses must rest to cure.  After many days, the sculptures have hardened and are ready for the finishes.

“Abracadabra” carved geometric designs; copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015

I begin by applying a matt black paint to the entire surface of the sculpture.  Next I burnish with a metallic medium, carefully blending the colors to the effect I envision.  When the colors are balanced and desirable, I put several coats of clear acrylic glaze to enhance the colors and further protect the sculpture.

Capriceaux metallic burnished finish; copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
Capriceaux metallic burnished finish; copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015

I finish with copper wire, in colors carefully selected to complement the surface design of each sculpture.  The wire is shaped and modeled, refining the personification of each horse’s spirit.

The Wind Horses, wire treatment to complement each horse; copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
The Wind Horses, wire treatment to complement each horse; copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
Zephyr and Sirocco, view 2; copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
Zephyr and Sirocco, view 2;
copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015

The Dream Horses will be showing August 21st through September 14th at Commonwheel, 102 Cañon Avenue, Manitou Springs, CO.  To purchase, visit the gallery or contact Juanita   719-685-1008.


Save the Date: High Point Aug 21st opening at Commonwheel in Manitou Springs

HIGH POINT, THE HORSES, WILDLIFE, AND LANDSCAPES OF COLORADO opens August 21st, 2015 at the Commonwheel Artist Coop in Manitou Springs with new paintings and sculptures by Cheri Isgreen and Barbara Haynie.  The show runs through September 14, 2015.

"High Point 2015"
“High Point 2015”

For more information, contact Juanita at the Commonwheel:


102 Cañon Avenue, Manitou Springs, CO 80829 

Dream Horse #4, “Carousel” part 2

When the mask dried, I was able to do the final overglaze in manganese blue.  Manganese blue is a beautiful color, but tricky because it is an opaque pigment.  Overglazing in the wrong area will either make mud or kill a lively, transparent surface.  In overgrazing this painting, I only painted over the warm, light value areas.  As you can see, the overglaze was influenced by the hue underneath.  Conversely, in the dark areas, the paint would have just sat on the surface, killing the paint quality underneath.  I had to paint very carefully around the dark shapes.

When all was dry, it was safe to remove the mask and discover the final result.  I was very pleased with the strong movement in the pattern, the luminosity of the paint quality, the integration of the dark, hard-line geometric shapes with the organic flow of the masked pattern, and the overall composition.

"Dream Horse #4, Carousel"  copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
“Dream Horse #4, Carousel” copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015

See all the Dream Horses at my new show, “Legacy,” showing Jan 10 through March 13 at the Ridgway Public Library, Ridgway, CO.  Ridgway is part of Colorado’s Creative Arts Districts.  Opening Reception is Saturday, Jan 10 from 4-7 pm.  Refreshments will be served.

Dream Horse #4 Carousel

The Dream Horse series express my impressions of equine beauty, power, and grace.  This post will describe the artistic process of creating my newest Dream Horse, “Carousel.”  This horse is named after the royal carousel horses of European Baroque courts.  He embodies the round muscular body of a classical horse from that era.  In drawing his head, I created very stylized shapes that flow into the jaw area from the eye and the ear.

As with many of my horses, I start with a detailed pencil study.  In this horse, I wanted to use pattern to describe the musculature, skeleton, and hidden anatomy under the horse’s coat.  Ever since my husband and I decorated a pair of boots for an art auction in the African Mbuti style, I have been fascinated by African pattern motifs and style.  As this horse unfolded, I found myself referencing the free flowing, organic pattern development of the Mbuti to express equine anatomy.  Choosing Mbuti pattern was an appropriate option rather than using strict geometric pattern as one might find on a mosaic tile.  Strict geometry would have resulted in a flat , static image, with the pattern not integrated with the horse’s form.

pencil study "Carousel" copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
pencil study “Carousel” copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015

After transferring the drawing to watercolor paper, I painted a light value wash with warm colors,  planning a manganese blue overglaze.  I, then, painted the darkest shapes to establish the value range.  To ground the horse, I added geometric shapes under the hooves, but the composition needed more interest in the corners, so I added graded washes at the top and bottom of the painting.  Next I added the pattern mask only in the warm light wash areas where I planned the blue overglaze.  The mask allows negative pattern development in the form of resist, complementing the dark positive pattern shapes in the mane and tail area.  As I was painting the tail, the dripping diamonds suggested the free flow of a swinging tail.  I added a few diamonds to the forelock to add unity to the hair treatment.  As I was drawing patterns with the mask pen, I strove for a sense of volume through pattern movement and direction.  At that point, I decided adding organic pattern to the background washes at the top and bottom of the painting would further unify the painting.

I liked how the painting was developing and was anxious for the mask to dry, so I could apply the final glaze.  Stay tuned to see the final result.

Carousel, stage 2, copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
Carousel, stage 2, copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015

Spanish Walk inspires Dream Horse #3

There is debate among classical riders about the origin of Spanish Walk. Some historians state it originated with Xenophon.  Others believe it  emerged in Naples with the development of Neapolitan horses, bred for greater collection and maneuverability, while others profess the Spanish Walk arose from the classical French School.  Though seen today as a “circus trick,” Spanish Walk remains important to the education of Iberian horses, who show great aptitude for the movement.  For dressage horses, Spanish Walk is an effective exercise for stretching, strengthening, and improving collection.  In Spanish walk, the horse shifts balance toward the haunches to free its shoulders, resulting in a free, high step with the front legs. Spanish Walk becomes a tool to teach the horse expressive passage and extensions.

I find the balance, strength, and grace expressed in Spanish Walk very beautiful.  It inspired my next set of paintings in the Dream Horse series.

"Pas de Noir" copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
“Pas de Noir” copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015                                                                                                                    ( To purchase this painting, please visit the Web Gallery in the menu bar.)

With a white Lipizzan, I have spent much of last year painting grey horses.  In these two painting, I wanted to explore black horses.  To create a lively paint surface, I used several blue pigments, including an interference paint.  I learned that the interference paint was quite opaque and didn’t mix well with the transparent pigments.  For the painting “Pas de Noir,” I decided to use it only in the highlight areas of the horse’s body.

In the second version, I wanted to continue my exploration with pattern. The horse’s highlights were first masked, then an underglazed in a light value was applied.  Over the first glaze, a pattern was masked and a deep violet wash was poured.  With the pour dried and the mask removed, a lively surface was revealed.

"Spanish Walk" copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015
“Spanish Walk” copyright Cheri Isgreen 2015                                                                                                            To purchase this painting, please visit the Web Gallery in the menu bar.

To complement the busy surface design in the figure, the background called for a lively treatment of interference paint applied with dry-brush and splatter.

For my new show “Legacy,” I will show four Dream Horses, “Queen Bee,” “Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Spanish Walk,” and “Carousel.”  “Legacy” is a retrospective art show of the work of Sabrena Soong and myself.  It includes Sabrena’s mixed media abstract compositions, including pieces from her “Meditation” series.  Along with my “Dream Horse” series, I will show some landscapes in watercolor and pastel, some still life compositions, and newer equine watercolors.  The opening reception for “Legacy,” is scheduled for Saturday, Jan 10th, 4-7 pm.  The show runs through March 13, 2015.