What were the main challenges of drawing animals?
Obviously the fact that living animals move is a challenge. It took me a little time to realise that I had to focus on the animal, not what I was actually drawing, and just get the marks down. Finding the right time and place can be tricky… you can’t set animals up like a still life and work on them when you’re ready, as the exercise says you have to ‘grab the chance’. You also have to be prepared to brave the chill winter air (at time of writing) and work on the hoof. Drawing in the zoo I found I had to overcome some self-consciousness but this quickly disappeared because the task required 100% of my attention and I stopped worrying and started to enjoy the challenge of it.
Which media did you enjoy most and which did you feel were the best for the subject matter and why?
I’ve now become quite comfortable with using coloured pencils and these were just right for the detail required for the ‘Fish on a plate’ exercise.
For my giraffe initial sketches I used a drawing pen and was happy with this. Because I had to work quickly and turn pages and reposition myself frequently it was good not to have to worry about sharpening pencils. Also it removed any temptation to ‘improve’ my sketches later or erase those that I thought were no good. I’m beginning to understand that spontaneity and speed can sometimes produce interesting work, even if you don’t realise it immediately.
Later I did a giraffe drawing using Conte crayons on A2 paper and this was felt right for getting the sweeping lines of the giraffe (imperfectly I might add); also I was able to create appropriate colours by blending and smudging.
I also did pictures of the giraffes with drawing pen and Brusho inks and these came out a bit ‘Disneyfied’ rather than natural looking, in part due to the vibrant colour and nature of the inks and also because the baby giraffes are almost impossibly cute.
Where can you go to draw more animals?
I went to the zoo but animals are all around us. Dogs in parks, pigeons on pavements, cats in gardens. There are often goats, chickens and pigs at farm shops and here in the Suffolk countryside there are sheep in the meadow, horses in paddocks, pigs being fattened up in the fields and the neighbour’s chickens. We often see deer in Thetford Forest but only for fleeting moments, but there’s a deer park in Norfolk. There are fish in aquariums, seagulls on the beach – and at the landfill site. Pet shops have small birds and mammals and my nieces have a floppy eared rabbit.
Yes, I have drawn moving animals and I look forward to grabbing the opportunity again.