Pat Roberts is a celebrated artist and has received many awards for her works of art. Pat is an accomplished horsewoman and has traveled the world with her husband, the award-winning trainer of championship horses and best-selling author Monty Roberts. Additionally, Pat has been instrumental to
Join-Up® International a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting gentle, more effective
alternatives to violence and force in both equine and human relationships. We visited with Pat
at the Robert’s ranch “Flag Is Up Farms”.
TELL US WHEN YOU DECIDED TO ADD “ARTIST” TO YOUR RESUME OF TALENT?
In 1966, Monty and I moved into our new home on Flag Is Up Farms. I looked at all the lovely white walls and thought to myself we need color. Our collection of art at that time was mostly Edward Borein etchings and original pen and inks, all black and white. I decided to buy ‘how to’ books, canvas and oil paints and
do something to rectify that lack of color. I had no idea how to start, but I was adventuresome and painted my first canvas. It was a study of our cat, Simon the Siamese. He turned out rather well, but I knew I really wasn’t ready to hang what I painted in the living room.
HOW DID YOU TEACH YOURSELF SUCH A COMPLICATED FORM OF ART?
I found a wonderful local instructor, Mavis Coffing, who brought out the best in me. After studying for around two years, I began to have people asking about purchasing my paintings. It was most gratifying and I became enthusiastic about continuing my education in the arts. Monty is totally color blind and consequently has always appreciated sculpture. I decided to enroll in a six week sculpture course at
Santa Barbara City College, one night a week. At the end of the course, I had completed my first bronze study. It was a very stylized nude, rather Degas like.
YOU ARE KNOWN FOR YOUR SCULPTURES OF HORSES AND WILDLIFE, BUT YOU ALSO HAVE MADE OTHER SCULPTURES. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SUBJECT?
I recently did a study of a long horn steer that I’m quite proud of. He was the mascot of the National Heritage and Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I obtained archival photographs from the museum in order to create his image. He died in 1970, but was very well known throughout the West because of his appearances at fundraisers and other such events. He had a lovely soft look to his face and it was quite a challenge to sculpt Abilene. I’ve done other cattle, a cheetah, a mountain lion, a wolf, a wild Javelena, but time and time again I go back to what I love doing the best, the horse.
HAS KNOWING A HORSES ANATOMY BEEN BENEFICIAL?
I have a great advantage over most equine sculptors. First, I’ve been around horses all my life and after marriage, showed Quarter Horses successfully for many years. Some of my best education for sculpting occurred during the years Monty and I invested in Thoroughbred yearlings, where I accompanied Monty to the
Kentucky sales to choose young stock we felt would make successful race horses. Critiquing the conformation of yearlings was instrumental in training my eye to recognize the musculature and bone structure that shapes a horse capable of galloping effortless with fluid motion. As a team from 1972 through the early 1990’s, we were the leading consigners in the premier Hollywood Park Two–Year-Olds-in-Training Sale. It was absolutely critical to be able to look at a horse at this stage of their development to choose and purchase only the most correct individuals. For me, it was a university course in conformation whereby if you did your job well, you profited.
WAS YOUR FIRST SCULPTURE OF MONTY OR ONE OF HIS HORSES?
My first sculpture was a nude, but my second was a study of a horse and I appropriately named it, “Horse In Motion”. Horses and sculpture are all about movement. As an artist I strive to capture a moment in time by turning bronze into a seemingly living, breathing being in the eye of the beholder. All of my sculptures have been created in my studio which is in reality a large, airy kitchen with skylights overhead and a large counter which gives me a great place to sit and work. The skylights provide proper
light to study shape, texture, shadow and allow me to continually revisit the sculpture, catching
glimpses from all angles while going about my daily activities.
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT IS INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING A SCULPTURE?
I begin by building an armature. An armature usually consists of flanges, pipes, t’s and aluminum wire screwed into a wooden block. If I am to create a horse, I begin by forming a skeleton bending the wires that will allow me to later add the clay. Once the clay model is completed to my satisfaction, I then take it to a foundry where a “mother” mold is made of latex rubber and plaster. After this step is completed, the original clay model is removed from the mold and then a wax, which will become the exact duplicate of the original, is poured into the cavity. I look closely at the wax model to see that it is ready for the next step. There may be some adjusting or chasing done prior to the final molding with the ceramic-coating. During this procedure, the wax is dipped into silicone slurry and sand is sprinkled on the form in between dipping. After the ceramic-filled mold is set up or cured, it is placed into a burn-out oven. This is the stage of the “lost wax” procedure where the wax is actually melted out, to
leave the hollow mold to be clean, dried and cured. The final process is to have the hot metal poured into the ceramic mold. After cooling, this mold is chipped away from the metal and the sculpture is then checked once more for anything that might require adjustments. After sand blasting, the sculpture is ready for the patina. The patina is applied with sufficient heat to open the pores of the metal with a blow torch and various types of acids or chemicals is applied to acquire color. I have a tendency
to lean toward more classical colors in patinas such as warm browns and blacks.
DO YOU TAKE COMMISSIONS?
Yes. The Viscountess Escania Cobian commissioned me to create two magnificent rearing horses for placement on a large coffee table in her beautifully restored 1850’s mansion in Santa Barbara. Recently I completed a bronze study of Charlotte Bredahl-Baker on her Olympic bronze medal winning dressage
horse, Monsieur. This one I named Olympic Bound. I usually choose to sculpt horses that I
have great admiration for because of their spirit, personality or accomplishment. I find that in
doing horses that I love, I am more inspired and the projects come easier to me such as Lomitas, the German Champion Race Horse, Shy Boy, the little American Mustang and other notable subjects. It has been my good fortune to know and love many great horses. In 1996, I created a sculpture I called Moment of Join-Up. This is one that depicts that special time when the horse decides to trust a human and bond with
him. My subjects were my husband, Monty and the horse was the Thoroughbred champion Alleged. My favorite horse of all time was a mare named Julia’s Doll and Monty’s favorite was Johnny Tivio. I’ve done two studies of these two, one is called Heart & Soul and the other is a set of bookends.
YOU HAVE COLLECTORS ALL OVER THE WORLD, INCLUDING ROYALTY. HOW HAVE PEOPLE DISCOVERED YOUR WORK?
My collectors are from 12 different countries and can be found in corporate headquarters, professional offices or Royal residences such as Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace. I’ve had two Best of Show awards and numerous other awards. Although I do exhibit at some art shows, most of my collectors have
visited our home where they have viewed the sculptures.
WHERE CAN WE LEARN MORE ABOUT PAT ROBERTS SCULPTURES?
It has been a challenge throughout my life as an artist to keep the prices down on my pieces so more people can collect them, so they are priced from $400 to $10,000. Most of my editions are limited to 35 although several were higher such as the bookends of Johnny Tivio and Julia’s Doll. Over the years I have
discovered that one of the hardest things on earth to photograph is sculpture. They are so much more when you can see them in person. But since not everyone can travel to our ranch in Solvang, California, I invite you to visit my website www.patroberssculpture.com