Friday, October 3, 2014

New Zoo Sketches

Click image to enlarge 

 Lately, it seems that I just can't get enough of sketching animals. This is the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, CT
Click image to enlarge
Birds are also something that I keep coming back to over and over through the years. It's not that I ever felt I had any particular interest in birds, never really wanted to own one as a pet, but I've always been fascinated with bird watching and with birds of prey in particular.  Yet, I'm certainly no expert when it comes to birds and I only joined the Audubon Society this year!  But over an over again I keep coming back to birds as a subject.

Click image to enlarge

It's taken me a few years to get comfortable sketching live, moving animals. I think I've finally expanded and strengthened my visual memory enough to get at least a reasonable likeness on paper.  The great 19th C artist and teacher Robert Henri, author of The Art Spirit, used to make his students look at a figure model in one room and then run up a flight or two of stairs to the studio to work on their drawing.  That was to develop their visual memory. Can you look at something with enough concentration and focus that when the object is no longer in front of you you can draw what you saw with reasonable accuracy? 

Click the image to enlarge
I've heard some artists describe the process as taking a snap shot with your mind.  Look intently with awareness and then quickly shut your eyes tight as if they were the shutter of a camera and then visualize what you just saw. The next step is to be able to put what you hold in your mind's eye down on paper.

Click image to enlarge
I started years ago drawing our pets. Back then we had two dogs, two rabbits, a guinea pig and a turtle, so plenty of variety. LOL.  After a while I could draw them with ease. New types of animals though continued to remain a challenge.

Click image to enlarge
I've read some good books about sketching animals, and working from specimens at the natural history museum and nature centers certainly helps also. These are far better exercises that using a photo, always better to work from a three dimensional model. Though a photo will do if that's all you have at the time.

I have some sketches from the Beardsley Zoo from several years ago, in particular of the tiger above, and honestly the sketches are pretty bad. But that's one of the great things about keeping a sketchbook, you can see how you've improved.  There's no magic and no short cut. Just draw, as often as you can, and over time you improve. Sometimes a good book, workshop or class can really help introduce you to information or techniques that make things easier, but in the end it just amounts to practice. The most important thing is to enjoy the process and trust the process .

31 Days 31 Drawings

#INKtober click the image to enlarge

1 comment:

  1. Jan, I'm a fairly new subscriber, and I'm enjoying your sketches. I love this idea of developing a visual memory. Thank you so much for sharing that.


Please leave a comment! It makes me Happy!