Friday, May 27, 2011

The Next Piece

My partner and I took a vacation - my first real vacation other than trips to LA and Denver in 3 or 4 years! We went to London to see a special exhibit of Watteau drawings at the Royal Academy of Art. Our art trek also included other major museums: The National Gallery, the British Museum, The Tate Britain, a quick visit to the Tate Modern, The Victoria and Albert, The Natural History Museum, and two less known museums: The Wallace Collection and the Grant Museum of Zoology. I did a ton of sketching, especially at the Natural History Museum and the Grant Museum. I've uploaded some of them to Flickr, and you can view them at this link.

The real challenge was drawing at the Natural History Museum - though it was a weekday, you would not believe how many children were in the exhibit halls. I would try to keep to the side, so that they could easily see the displays. While drawing the wildebeest, I was suddenly surrounded by a whole classroom of kids who were anxious to get a look at what I was drawing. They were even ducking down to look at the drawing on the reverse side of the book facing the floor! I relented and showed them the work I had done over several hours, and they loved it. The stress of drawing in a fairly busy museum was worth it though - several of the drawings of animals will be helpful for the next few paintings I will be working on.

Upon returning to SF, I took a day to recover a bit from jet lag, and got back to the studio to start the next piece. It depicts a skeleton in a meadow, in front of a bush or tree, and surrounded by birds - passenger pigeons, which were driven to extinction early in the 20th century. The bird on the skeleton's left shoulder (to the viewer it is the right shoulder) was based on a Victorian type mounting of a flycatcher that I sketched at the Natural History Museum.