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Life is full of opportunities; you can’t be afraid of change; you are never too old to try something new. This is the mantra of Hugh Blanding, a successful and respected bronze sculptor from Phoenix, Arizona.
At age 40, Blanding, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, made the monumental decision to switch careers, moving out of his comfort zone, to take advantage of a lucrative opportunity in the computer industry. A few years later, he made another life-shaking change when he and his wife Flo decided to move to Arizona, to fulfill a dream that had been put on hold for too long. In Arizona he accepted the challenge of telecommunicating from his home to his old employer back in Milwaukee. This was long before telecommunications became a way of life, and he did it successfully for 12 years until he opted to retire at the age of 57.
Retirement brought more change, more opportunity. A self-taught artist, Blanding had been painting since his early teens but upon retirement he tried his hand at sculpting. Immediately he found his forte in the 3-dimension. He loved the additional challenge presented in sculpting; the challenge to create a work of art that must be aesthetically pleasing when viewed from all angles - the top, the bottom, the back, the front, and both sides.
Fascinated by Arizona’s history, Blanding decided to create limited edition bronze sculptures that would embrace and celebrate America’s western heritage.
His traditional cowboy bronzes pay tribute to the spirit and freedom of the west, while his Native American sculptures blend the authentic west with a contemporary sophistication and mystique. .
Complementing these collections are his Arabian horses, as well as a classic figure of Lady Godiva riding her horse down a cobblestone street.
Action, detail, and anatomical correctness are the hallmarks of Blanding’s sculptures.
He has spent hours and hours over the past few years pouring over anatomy books, studying the bone and muscle structure of his animals and people. He takes photos of pertinent subject matter and carries out extensive research before starting each piece so as to ensure realism, authenticity, and quality.
His passion to capture the energy, and the tremendous muscular stress exhibited by his subjects lends to excitement in his pieces and his unprecedented attention to detail makes them come to life. Individual hairs on horses’ bodies, the identifiable bulge of the can of snuff in the cowboys’ back pockets, flowing fringe on buckskin jackets, intricate tooling on leather saddles, and tiny veins on cowboys’ hands are only a few of the minute details that epitomize his sculptures.
Blanding sculpts 7 days a week, about 5-6 hours per day and spends about 500 hours or 3-4 months on each sculpture. His work can be found in private and corporate collections across the U.S.