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Taos Art School

...Equine sculpture of a different kind.
June 26-30 & September 25-29, 2023
$850 Includes Instructional 20 page booklet with photos and measurements
Materials fee:
$50 Includes 25# of low fire high grog clay and use of armature stand
$50 Optional kiln Firing
Model fee:
Carrots, Pats, & Scratches
This sculpture experience is fortunate to have a rare heritage breed of donkey as our full time model. Called Andalusion Mammoths, they were first imported by George Washington from Spain thru the diplomatic permission of the King of Spain, and have been treasured ever since.

These gentle giants are the size of large horses and are a unique subject for any artist :
  • Very large heads,
  • Clear bone structure,
  • Impossible Ears
  • and Lots of Personality.
Image: Donkey SculptureSee more student work
Image: Milagro and Friend

Image: Milagro and Friend Learn more about donkeys
Our model is a very personable mammoth donkey, named Milagro, who was born right on the Art School office grounds. He is full time in class, which is held in a barn, sauntering around and sidling up to individual students as they work on their clay sculptures of his likeness. And, we DO need him there - he is so unusual - first of all with those impressive ears, which are proportionally longer than other donkey breeds and can swivel in intriguing directions. Then there are the expressive eyes, and soft very agile mouth. Students gaze, take photographs, draw sketches, fondle ears and make measurements with a caliper. Some offer carrots. He can be tied to a hitching post for more motionless observations.

Each student starts with an individual sculpture stand equipped with a swivel top. 25 lbs of low-fire clay is at the ready. First we make the armature out of newspaper and cardboard tubes which is designed to burn out once the completed sculpture is fired in a kiln. The soft clay goes on top in slabs until the general shape is formed. Then detail is carefully added along with muscle refinement, to allow some of the more expressive elements to shine thru. Students can strive for a real likeness, abstract images, or anything in between. Either way, this donkey's personality is an inspiration to all artists. Some experience with clay will be a help for those desiring to capture more realistic detail, but beginners who want to work with smaller, simpler shapes are also welcome. It's about the donkey. He is fun, and all attempts can express this. Many expressions will be assisted by the teacher, from photo correct, to abstract, small 'toys', and some even can attempt a part man/equine we call a 'donkey shaman'

*Painters are also welcome, and easels will be provided.

Image: Donkey Sculpture Class
Image: Swivel Stand
Image: Newspaper and Cardboard
Image: Basic Donkey Shape
We start with a nice 'swivel' stand with a sturdy center to work on.
Then we start working up the basic shape with more cardboard, eventually adding newspaper and small branches - anything that will burn out in the firing.
Building up this basic shape is actually very important and we focus here especially on getting the proportions right, often using caliper angles and measurements.
Image: Basic Shape with Clay
Image: Sculpture in Progress
Image: Sculpture in Progress
Adding clay is when it starts to get exciting! Your fingers are now actually in the clay. Sculpture is about Touch.
Here you are adding ear supports with sticks and cardboard.
. . . and now adding clay to the ear supports (looks like Milagro approves!)
We will work for 5 full days to complete one small to medium size piece. The finished sculptures will require about a month's drying time before firing. The school will store them, and arrange for the firing. Students have the option to return home with their leather-hard piece to fire on their own. Either way, each student will end up with an original work of art unlike any other.
Image: Ursula kids and milagro
Image: Milagro garden
Image: Feeding Milagro, donkey

Artist and teacher, Liz McCombs feeding Milagro

Image: Milagro friend mountain

Students have ample time to freely interact with the donkey

Horseback riding on well trained mustangs in our nearby mountains can be arranged. Taos is known for great food and our evenings will be full of good camaraderie or just quiet rest in our peaceful little town.

PO Box 2245, Ranchos De Taos, NM, 87557
(575) 758-0350