Life is full of opportunities; you can’t be afraid of change; you never are 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. He works in clay and takes his finished pieces to the foundry where the artisans there make a mold and use the “lost wax process” to create a casting of bronze.
As an Arizona transplant, he was intrigued by the history and traditions of the west. He visited historical sights. He attended local rodeos, shooting exhibitions, and calf-roping contests. He read books dealing with the legends of the west. He studied the artwork of Remington. He wanted to create traditional cowboy sculptures that would show the action, the energy, the spirit and the freedom of this west thus sharing with others some of the heritage he found so exciting.
When he began sculpting his Native American collection, he decided that instead of portraying the traditional, historical image, he wanted to concentrate on the spiritual, mystical aspect of the Native American. He did not depict a single tribe or individual but created generic images suggested by the folklore he had studied. He then blended these images with a sophisticated contemporary appearance.
Complementing his Western Bronze Sculptures are his Western Oil Paintings, a Collection of Ropers, Bull Riders, Barrel Racers, and Wild Horses.
Action, detail and anatomical correctness are the hallmarks of his sculptures and oil paintings. His passion to capture the energy, and the tremendous muscular stress exhibited by his subjects lends to excitement in his pieces, while his unprecedented attention to detail makes them come to life.
He has spent years studying the bone and muscle structure of his animals and people, and carries out extensive research before starting each piece, so as to ensure realism, authenticity, and quality. His work can be found in private and corporate collections across the U.S.
A few years ago, although he still loves sculpting and painting western scenes, he decided to try something new again. This resulted in his Collection of Boat and Marina oil paintings. A few years later found him working on a Collection of Old Locomotive oil paintings.
Blanding is now 76 years old and continues to follow his mantra.
American Plains Artists Juried Exhibit
(Great Plains Art Museum), Lincoln, NE
American Academy of Equine Art Juried Exhibit (Intn’l Museum of the Horse), Lexington, KY
Arizona Fine Art EXPO, Scottsdale, AZ
Loveland Sculpture Group Invitational, Loveland CO
Phippen Museum Western Art Show, Prescott, AZ
Sedona Sculpture Walk, Sedona, AZ
Thunderbird Artists Fine Art Festivals, ScottsdaleAZ