Monday, September 20, 2010
I've only begun sketching wildlife this past year. After several years of drawing fungi and plants, I found that I had no clue how to draw something that wasn't sitting still and posing for me or rooted to the ground. Birds were what drew me to wildlife but sketching the ground squirrels of Howarth Park has given me the best practice so far. Beginning with those that are well accustomed to humans invading their area, I've been able to learn a great deal about sketching small animals that are in nearly constant motion. On days when it was just too hard for me to follow them with my pen or pencil, I could usually find some basking in the sun for long stretches of time, giving me the chance to do some figure drawing the way I learned it long ago, with a stationary model.
In the process of observing, I've found myself fascinated by creatures that I once took very little notice of. They, in turn, seem to be fascinated with the woman and dog who sit quietly and watch them. The first-year squirrels greatly enjoy tormenting Chloe by creeping closer and closer, causing the poor dog to lose control and lunge at the last minute, only to be brought up short by the leash as the devilish squirrel easily escapes. In one spot we like to sit there's a burrow opening about 2 feet in front of my feet where at least one of the young squirrels likes to poke her face out and watch us intently, with her nose going the whole time.
If you're looking for help sketching any kind of creature that moves you might find Drawing Birds by John Busby to be a great place to begin. Although the focus is on birds, the techniques he discusses are as much help with ground squirrels as birds and the artwork by several different wildlife artists is truly inspiring.