The mane attraction: Whittle the Wood Stump 9’s Robert Lyon doesn’t horse around while working
Capturing a classic image of the American West, Robert Lyon’s depiction of a free-spirited equine was somewhat of a departure from his past pieces, yet it’s a chance he’s glad he took.
Lyon, originally from Boulder and currently hailing from Payson, Arizona, carved up “Horse of Course,” the title animal rearing up on its hind legs for the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Lyon is no stranger to putting likenesses of the animal kingdom in his works, especially those he’s entered in WTW, now in his third year.
Stump 1 — Nate Hall — “Mountain Migraine”; Rams butting heads
Stump 2 — Matt Ounsworth — “20 for 20”; Animal totem (Second place)
Stump 3 — Jim Valentine — “Buckshot Bill”; Cowboy
Stump 4 — Damon Gorecki — “Wood Haven”; Bench
Stump 5 — Justine Park — “Home of the Brave”; Skull with feathered headdress
Stump 6 — Joe Srholez — “Xing Yun (Lucky)”; Dragon
Stump 7 — Chad Stratton — “Long Ago”; Wooly mammoth
Stump 8 — Bongo Love — “The Sweet Life”; Hummingbirds (Third place)
Stump 9 — Robert Lyon — “Horse of Course”; Horse
Stump 10 — Robert Waits — The Lorax”; The Lorax (Artist’s Choice)
Stump 11 — Fernando Dulnuan — “The Lion of Judah”; Angel with lion and lamb
Stump 12 — Ken Braun — “Blue”; Velociraptor (First place, People’s Choice, Artist’s Choice)
His previous entries showed multiple forest denizens together, including “In Wild Harmony” and “The Big Fish.”
Taking on a different subject this year was Lyon’s attempt to branch out more, he said.
“When you’re carving, you start with bears and other things like that before you move on to horses,” he said. “Everybody carves bears at first.”
The animal’s musculature and features was a different challenge than he’d ever experienced, however the particular stump he drew added some unexpected help.
“All these spots in the wood really made it look even better,” he said, noting though he had no particular horse breed in mind, the piece came to resemble an Appaloosa.
Lyon added that he unconsciously referenced the theme song to “Mr. Ed” in the title, which he liked mostly for the rhyme.
However, when he was varnishing, some extra residue bunched up on the body that he didn’t notice until it was too late.
“That probably hurt me in the judging, but it still came out great. I think this is my best so far,” he said. “I feel like I’ve really grown as an artist this year.”