I loved this exercise. Obviously the subject matter is interesting to me. Being a Veterinary Surgeon is entwined as a large part of my identity hence I am somewhat obsessed with animals. The advantage of my career in this case was that I had a lot of subject material to choose from amongst my own animals and some of my patients. I worked on this exercise over a long period of time alongside and between the other exercises.
I ended up with a large number of drawings and a selection are presented here but not in chronological order.
The ducks I came across when I went to a Veterinary conference in Rimini a few weeks ago. After lunch I went for a short walk around the lake outside the conference centre. I loved the shapes the ducks were making with their necks when they were preening. Unfortunately I didn't have time to stay and draw them so I pointed my ipad vaguely in their direction and took loads of photos in rapid succession. I know that drawing from photos wasn't part of the exercise so rather than doing detailed drawings from these photos I set a timer and did multiple two minute sketches from selected photos. I was trying to capture the essence and movement of each pose without getting too caught up in detail. I then looked at a further exercise in "experimental Drawing' which asked me to try to capture the gestures with ink on a brush and very few lines. This was extremely difficult. I enjoyed the freedom of trying to do bold and beautiful strokes with the big brush but didn't produce anything of note. The image below is my best effort at this.
The image below is one of my favourites featuring our dog Mac - although there is very little detail in the upper face of the two I quite like it as it captures his 'hang dog' miserable expression of the time with that sidelong glance from under his eyelids. He was tired and had been disturbed while sleeping. He was just about to lie back down with a groan and a sigh.
This series of cat pictures marked a major step forward for me as it was the first time I had the courage to draw outdoors with other people around. My neighbour pointed out to me the positions in which the cats were sleeping in the sunshine. I immediately grabbed my sketchbook and started to draw them before they woke up. The first drawing (the brown one) was hampered by self consciousness and ended up out of proportion. The biro drawings are better. I particularly like their smug expressions as they luxuriate lazily sunbathing on the patio.
The cats proved to be very fruitful in terms of drawing opportunities. I particularly like the exaggerated curves of their necks when they are grooming.
The tortoise wasn't as easy to draw as I had anticipated. Sheldon moves around a lot when eating lettuce. This might be a better subject for a nice textural drawing later on. Her body shape isn't as aesthetically pleasing to me as those of the cats and dogs though.
I decided that the thing that interests me the most about the animals are their facial expressions and the way that they move - I found some time lapse photos of animals moving by Edweard Muybridge and tried to get a sense of the weight and direction of motion of the photographed animals. I used to love making 'flicker book animations' when I was a kid. I'd really love to do some animation of animal movement. My son does a lot of animation as a hobby and I've now downloaded i-stop motion software onto my i-pad - it's just a case of finding some time ...
For my larger drawing I chose a particularly grumpy patient that we had in the hospital. He was a large and overweight pug and his temperament really matched his miserable -looking facial features. I Although I have captured the flatness of his features and the deeply grooved frown lines on his forehead which, coupled with his down-turned mouth telegraph his misery*, I do think it is obvious that these were drawn from photos. They aren't as lively as some of the other sketches from life.
(* note the blatant anthropomorphism here)
I think I missed an opportunity here. I would probably have done better if I'd gone back and developed one of the sketches of the smug sunbathing cats. That would have given me more opportunity to develop the texture of their coats. I intend to do that at some point but this will be after I submit assignment 2 as time is running out.