Billy Bob's Portrait Page
Billy Bob is a very nice, almost horsey type mule owned by Al and Melinda Birt of Southside Longears located in Nampa, ID.  They breed mules and donkey's with the goal of having an athletic, well built, tracable animal.  I've gotten to ride Billy while training for them and he's great.  He won Champion Model Pack Mule at the World Mule Show in Bishop, CA 2001 and placed 6th in Quarter Horse Type John Mules 3-5 yrs.  Mules under the American Mule Association rules get 2 green years (using a snaffle) regardless of age so the Birt's are waiting to get a little more saddle miles on him before starting his green years.  He's really coming along and is very athletic.

I started Billy's portrait through Lynn Fraley's "Wire to Whinny" workshop held at the Boise Art Museum Feb 15-17 2002.  I'm definitely hoping to cast Billy when he's done if he turns out well.  Already I'm taking names of people interested if he does get cast. 

Here's the real Billy Bob. You'll have to excuse the fuzziness, it's early Feb.

Wire To Whinny Workshop

Day 1 - about 2 hours sculpting time
On the first day Lynn gave us a wonderful folder of resources that we studied to learn where the horse actually bends in the skeleton, not just appears to have a joint, we also did some studying of muscles.  We spent most of the day on that, then did armatures and added some basic body shape.  The sculptures we are doing were 1:10 scale for simplicity in calculating lengths and proportions, so a little smaller than Breyer Traditional which normally are 1:8 to 1:9 scale.  I love performance showing, and since that is what Billy is good at, I decided to make him in a nice relaxed lope.  It's possible that he could be made to look like he's running faster with the use of a base.  He'll need either pins in his feet or a base to stand.

Billy's Wire Armature.                  End of day 1 left side.               End of day 1 right side.

Day 2 - about 4 hours sculpting time.
On day 2 we spent a good portion of the day going over the muscles of the horse and proper horse movement.  We studied the way all the muscles interact and the how certain ways of going would affect the look of the horse, its frame and its movement.  We used the stakes you see sticking out of Billy to make sure that the model was remaining centered on his frame and to mark our joints that we were covering up with the clay.  The body is basically blocked in at this point, but still needs width looking from the top and front.  No facial detail.

End of day 2, right and left side views.

Day 3 - probably 6 hours sculpting
On day 3 we studied the details of the skeletal structure of the face and legs, as well as the muscles and tendons that go over or articulate those parts.  Then we worked on putting them into our sculptures.  We spent most of the day working with the clay.  By then end I was exhausted.  Doing artwork really takes a lot out of me, maybe just because I haven't done tons of pieces, and I'm a little bit of a perfectionist.  Ok, maybe a lot.  Yes, he only has 1 ear.  I'm not looking forward to trying to get the other to match!

End of day 3.  Here's various views.  As you can see, he's coming along, but still has a ways to go.  Lynn said she spends about 100 hours on her sculptures, and I only have around 12 on Billy!

Continued work after the workshop.
Well, it's been a while since my last update, but here are some pictures of Billy from Jan 2004.  He's really starting to come along, and while he needs a lot more fine-tuning, I'm definitely liking where it is going!  I can just seem him carrying a saddle!  Click on the photo for a larger view, but be warned, it is a much LARGER view.