Ottawa’s Museum Of Nature

When my daughter was home for Easter I offered to take her back to Ottawa so she wouldn’t have to take the bus.  This would save her the long bus ride, garner dad some brownie points, and give me several hours worth of discussion with said daughter as we drove to Ottawa.

A not-so-well-hidden reason behind this gesture on my part was my desire to get back to Ottawa so I could sketch at the Museum of Nature.   It never really makes much sense to spend ten hours driving (round trip) so that I could spend four hours sketching, but then we sketchers are a sorry lot when it comes to logic.  I got to DRAW!

We left at 5AM and I got to the museum by about 10:30AM.  I walked around a bit, and ended up in the mammal exhibition.  I generally draw bones in the dinosaur exhibits and so I’ve neglected the mammals.  Time to make up for that.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10)

I started with a grizzly bear.  It was a disaster and I include it here only as an example of sketching gone wrong.  I got the bright idea to try wet-in-wet while sitting on a tripod stool in a museum and with my extensive background of never having tried it before.  Eeeeeekkkk!  I wet the entire bear.  I can’t say whether I wet it too much or too little as I had a hard time seeing just how much water was on the paper in the subdued lighting.  What I do know is that when I started dropping in browns, I created something more akin to the big bang than a painting.  There was brown exploding everywhere and in an instant I had a bear-shaped outline that looked like something that came from the south end of a cow.  I quickly started dabbing at it.  I’m sure the other patrons thought I was under attack by some invisible creature as I flailed around.  As I said, it was/is a disaster.

With that mess behind me I decided it was snack time so I could regroup.  Then I returned to the mammal exhibit, determined to redeem myself.  I targeted the head of a thinned-horn sheep and, leaving wet-in-wet techniques for another day, achieved what I felt was reasonable redemption.

Stillman & BIrn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

Across the corridor was an antelope scene and since I only had a short time remaining, I decided to give it a try rather than doing my typical walkabout to find a subject.  I worked fairly quickly and, I suppose, there are some errors but nevertheless, it was a fitting end to a great day.  When I was finished I realized that I was about 10 minutes late for my rendevous with my daughter.   Sketching and time just don’t mix well.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), Pilot Falcon, DeAtramentis Document Black

4 Responses to “Ottawa’s Museum Of Nature”

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  1. Tina M Koyama says:

    I’m not so sure the bear was as disastrous as you make it out to be — looks pretty good from here! I’m surprised that you were able to use paints in there — that would have been verboten in most of the museums I go to. Will put the Ottawa Museum of Nature on my to-do-someday list. 😉

    • I feel that when one starts “painting” with kleenex, the result is a disaster 🙂 Looked more like a bear before color. As for paint in museums, there seems to be a difference in view between art museums and others. Don’t you guys paint in the aviation museum? Gurney has done videos while painting in his natural history museum. In any case, I’ve been able to use watercolors (discreetly – not sure what they’d do if I set up an easel) in all of the non-art museums in Ontario and Quebec. The art museum in Ottawa provides chairs to sketchers but I’m not sure of their rules regarding wet media. Here in Quebec City, they didn’t get the memo about artists learning by drawing/painting/copying the masters and won’t allow any form of sketching.

  2. ‘Painting with kleenex’. LOL. I get your point, but think your tissue-save was successful and that bear is pretty good. Too bad about the no-sketching rule in the Quebec City museum.

    • Maybe you’re right, Robin, but I think it would have been better without the paint and kleenex. I agree about the QC museum. It’s bad enough when such policies are claimed to be to ‘protect the art’ but in this case we’ve been told that allowing sketching in the museum would “compete” with the art classes they teach. Very sad indeed.

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