Sketching Animals That Don’t Move

What could be better for a sketcher than a place where there are hundreds of animals that don’t move.  Daniel Chagnon, an organizer for the Le Collectif des ateliers libres en arts visuels de Québec (CALAVQ) organized an event at la Fédération québécoise
​des chasseurs et pêcheurs.  This is a bit outside the domain of CALAVQ, which is primarily a portraiture group, but Daniel has been organizing more and more of these events and it’s very exciting to see.

I didn’t know that the Quebec hunters and fishermen had a museum/training center but this place is incredible for those of us scrambling to find winter sketching places.  It’s a bit of a drive but access is free, though they appreciate donations.  There is a lunch room with microwaves, vending machines, etc. AND several hundred taxidermy specimens just waiting to be drawn.  The hard part was deciding what to draw and being satisfied even though you didn’t get to draw everything.

There were a dozen of us sketching in the building and a lot of sketches were produced.  I found myself drawing too quickly and I was a bit disappointed in that.  I sometimes get ahead of my skis and it shows up in the results.  My attempt at drawing a wolf is a case in point.  I blocked it in quickly (ie too quickly and I got one foot in the wrong place.  I drew the eye incorrectly, tried to correct it, only making it worse.  Still, it looked like a wolf, sort of.  You might notice that it’s not displayed here 🙂

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10), PLatinum 3776, Platinum Carbon Black

I moved onto the wildfowl area and drew this elegant bufflehead.  Here I bumped into my watercolor ineptitude and had trouble obtaining a really dark black, but I was generally happy with the result.  Robert Bateman I am not.

After lunch I decided that since I’d drawn fur and feathers that it was time to draw a fish.  I like the small vignette surrounding this one.   Striped bass used to be common to the stretch of the St. Lawrence River around Quebec but they had nearly disappeared until the fishing and hunting organization started a program to build up their populations.  They are being grown and planted along the river and fishing regulations prohibit the taking of this fish.  From what I could read, the program is making good progress towards their reintroduction.

I slowed down just a bit, partly because of my early morning lesson and partly because I was just getting tired.  I think the result was more in tune with my norm…only a few mistakes (grin).  Thanks to CALAVQ and particularly Daniel for organizing this event and introducing us to the museum.  We’re heading back here on Tuesday.

 

Leaf-tailed Geckos In Quebec

In the nanotechnology exhibit of our museum rests a glass box and inside is a stick and a small plant – a terrarium of sorts.  It’s raison d’etre is to house two of the oddest creatures – leaf-tailed geckos.

They’re only six inches long.  They have none of the flair of the whiptail lizards I used to chase when I lived in Arizona and none of the venom of the gila monsters I avoided.  No, if you walked by these guys in a forest you wouldn’t even see them and quite often that’s the situation in our museum as well.  I’d been waiting for today.

You see, the reason they’re in our nanotechnology exhibit is that they have nano-hairs on their feet.  These are hairs so fine that they can cling to glass, those hairs ‘sticking’ to glass molecules using Vanderwaal forces, the forces that hold molecules together.  And finally, today, one of these lizards was sticking to the glass out where I could see and draw him.

The view I had was a top view and I wanted to capture both its shape and the fact that when they do this they are squashed down flat to the glass.  They remind me of how Wile E. Coyote looks after the Roadrunner dropped an anvil on him.  They are really flat.  In the end it doesn’t make much of a sketch but I walked away quite satisfied that I’d accomplished the task.

The Fun Of Being Stumped

stumpMy friend, Hubert Langevin, is on vacation but he took the time to send me this photo.  He knows I don’t sketch from photos but he thought I might make an exception in the case of this big, beautiful stump.  I suspect that he might also have been smiling with the thought of me trying to draw it (grin).

It did seem to be a worthy challenge so I dove in with pointy device flying and more confidence than was reasonable.  It’s a subject where you could easily get lost so I started very slowly, placing marks at major intersections.  Speed picked up as the overall shape was established and I started drawing the internal shapes. More than once I thought of the Cathy Johnson mantra – “they’re only shapes” as I tried to ‘see’ how everything fit together.  Once it was drawn I switched to a brush pen (Kuretake #13) to lay in some of the darks.

It was a really fun drawing to do and it was nice to sit at a desk, with no wind, no tripod stool, and the ability to have good light on both photo (actually my computer monitor) and sketchbook.

Thanks, Hubert.  This was lots of fun.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5x8.5), Esterbrook J9550, diluted DeAtramentis Document Black

Stillman & Birn Alpha (5.5×8.5), Esterbrook J9550, diluted DeAtramentis Document Black