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American Paint Horse Association releasing limited-edition bronzes

FORT WORTH, Texas—The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) has unveiled a one-eighth life-size version of its bronze masterpiece “Legacy of Color,” a sculpture which will serve as a representation of the breed standard that was established nearly 40 years ago.

The one-eighth life-size bronze, now on display at the American Paint Horse Association in Fort Worth, Texas, was the first of several such pieces to leave the foundry recently. Both one-eighth and one-third life-size pieces, called maquettes, will be produced in the months leading to spring 2002. At that time, a life-and-a-quarter size bronze of four Paint Horses, measuring 36 feet long, will be completed and displayed at the APHA headquarters building during the association’s 40th anniversary celebration.

Created by renowned sculptor Marrita McMillian, “Legacy of Color” is the result of an exhaustive search for an artist who could capture the living beauty of the Paint Horse and cast it in bronze. McMillian was among 19 outstanding artists who submitted proposals and models earlier this year as part of APHA’s “Cast in Color” project. To meet the goals of that project, APHA expected nothing less than a work of art that would serve as an icon of the breed, symbolizing the beauty and character of the American Paint Horse.

Ultimately, the association decided that McMillian’s work best represented the Paint Horse and captured the ideal breed standards for the world to see at its headquarters. The details she created in coat color patterns, muscling and conformation of the bronze reflected the ideal look of the Paint Horse. By depicting the horses loping through a field, McMillian also instilled life into the creation.

The sculptor’s skill in bringing bronze horses to life is built on a deep understanding and keen perspective she has developed over the years. With more than two decades experience showing and training horses, McMillian knows her subjects well.

“I think everything that I have learned from showing horses the last 25 years has helped the way my horses look when I sculpt,” said McMillian. “There’s just no substitute for a live model.

“Understanding how a horse moves and acts is very important in my work. When you’ve been around horses so much, you develop an understanding for their body language and certain nuances.”

For the past eight years, the talented sculptor has been translating her love for the form, character and movement of horses into treasured bronze works of art. With clay as her modeling medium, the artist has developed a special talent for crafting the splendor and beauty of contemporary horses in exacting detail. In all, she has created 30 edition pieces, which include multiple copies for interested buyers. She has also been commissioned to do 20 other bronze horse sculptures.

The four larger-than-life Paint Horses in “Legacy of Color,” will be her largest work to date. The stallion in the bronze group will stand 20 hands, or 80 inches, to the withers. To create the models of the horses, McMillian will use about 200 pounds of clay on every horse. Each will be cast in bronze that will be three-eighths of an inch thick and will weigh more than 1,500 pounds. The loping horses will be displayed on a base measuring about 5 feet wide and 36 feet long, already in place at the APHA headquarters.

The smaller depictions of the Paint Horses will be sold by APHA to raise money for its Heritage Foundation, the group charged with preserving and promoting the colorful history of the American Paint Horse. One of the APHA Heritage Foundation’s first goals is to establish a local education center about Paint Horses and a display of historic memorabilia. An art gallery and photography collection of beautiful Paint Horses will also be prominent in the display.

To reserve a limited-edition Paint Horse bronze, or for more information, call (817) 834-2742, extension 265. The pieces will be offered in one-eighth and one-third life-size depictions. One edition will depict the stallion, another will feature the lead mare, a third will include the mare and her foal, and the complete bronze will contain all four Paint Horses.

· For more information on the sculptor, visit

· To read more about Maritta McMillian and her bronze sculpting project for APHA, read the on-line story from the Paint Horse Journal at:


To bring out details of color patterns, the distinguishing characteristic of Paint Horses, Marrita McMillian uses a special coloring process called “patina,” on the bronze horses. The chemical process is used to create a tobiano coat pattern for the lead mare and overo patterns for the others. The sculpture, depicted above in one-eighth scale, will also be crafted in one-third life-size. A larger-than-life size piece will be placed in front of APHA headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2002.

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