Morgen Kilbourn grew up surrounded by a family of supportive artists. She began sculpting at an early age, and like many young girls, horses were her obsession. By 10 years of age, she was working off riding lessons, and by 15, she had saved enough money to buy her own horse. She was also very much involved in the model horse hobby. She distinctly remembers an article in Just About Horses magazine on Rich Rudish, the sculptor of Breyer's Sham model. There was a photograph of Rich and Sham, still in clay, which made an incredible impact on Morgen, and was the foundation of her dream to combine horses and art for a living. Her desire to sculpt and cast her own works arose when she a teenager. Though her father was a commercial artist with experience in mold making, at that time, those materials were prohibitively expensive. It wasn’t until 15 years later, when she discovered new, easier and more affordable materials, that she was able to make her dream a reality.
Morgen’s sculptures include many different breeds, ranging from mustangs and warmbloods, to ponies. While she has a penchant for sport horses, she says her sculptures are more about “capturing a particular expression or aspect of character; not a particular breed.” Morgen paints her horses in oils, with an airbrushed acrylic basecoat. She especially enjoys the intricacy of recreating the roan ticking on sabino patterns. Her attention to detail is truly remarkable. Her sculptures and paint jobs usually take months, and sometimes even years to complete. “It’s really about the feeling and technical details, and not rushing them,” she says. “I feel the same about painting. It’s about exploring what new technique you can use to make something more interesting to look at."
Morgen's first sculpture for Breyer was Wyatt, the first release in the 2016 Premier Collection.
Photographic references are critical to her work. She finds that photographs show the shapes of the muscles as they are functioning more than anatomical books can. She says real life observations are also a must, but “not to despair about needing to witness exactly what you want to show.” Seeing the real thing gives a global picture of what’s really happening and how powerful horses are, but one of her favorite resources is watching and pausing videos. By doing that, she is able to study how particular muscles twitch and change shape, and find horses in the exact positions she wants to replicate.
As she completes each piece, she feels it’s her finest effort, but it doesn’t take long before she is eager to start something new and push her skill and talent even farther. She considers herself lucky to have a full time career sculpting and painting the horses she loves. She advises beginners wanting to try either sculpting or painting to just dive in and have fun! “Don’t be afraid!”
Another sculpture by Morgen, Bristol the jumping horse, debuted as the first release
in the 2018 Premier Collection and is a fan favorite!