At the farm

Rough sketch of a sheep scratching it's neck
Rough sketch of a sheep scratching it’s neck

On as warm a day as London autumn could give us, Steve Roberts our senior lecturer invited us to Mudchute Farm for a day of sketching the animals. After getting lost about five times on the way I was able to meet up with everyone.

Rough sketches of llamas
Rough sketches of llamas

I started with attempting to draw the llamas, but it became evident quite quickly that the animals weren’t going to cooperate. The llamas sat huddled at the far end of the pen, not great for understanding their posture or movement.

Rough sketches of pigs and a llama
Rough sketches of pigs and a llama

Ambling around I found some curious sheep, hungry for a meal. It was interesting to see how they stretched over and squeezed through bar to get to handouts from the park’s visitors. Also how they laid down, front legs first, seemed incredibly awkward.

Rough sketches of sheep
Rough sketches of sheep
Rough sketches of sheep
Rough sketches of sheep

 

Rough sketches of sheep and a squirrel
Rough sketches of sheep and a squirrel
Rough sketches of sheep
Rough sketches of sheep

The chickens scurried about too quickly for me to be able to capture them.

Rough sketches of chickens
Rough sketches of chickens

The donkeys weren’t doing anything interesting either. Their movements though reminded me of Muybridge’s 19th century experiments with animal locomotion, although his subjects were primarily horses (Eadweard Muybridge and Lewis S. Brown, 1957).

Rough sketch of a donkey and a chicken
Rough sketch of a donkey and a chicken
Rough sketch of a donkey
Rough sketch of a donkey

I also found some goats bucking, which was a beautiful movement, but difficult to capture.

Rough sketches of goats
Rough sketches of goats

The drawing was punctuated by conversations about the animation industry. It  was a good day of practice but it was evident that I am a long way away from being able to understand and translate animal movement into drawings.

  • Muybridge, E. and Brown, L. (1957). Animals in motion. New York: Dover Publications.

Into the wild!

The facade of the Natural History Museum
The facade of the Natural History Museum

I have recently arrived in the wild lands of London and decided to begin getting acquainted with the city by being a tourist and seeing some museums (typical, fresh of the boat stuff). The Natural History Museum as always is first on the agenda.

Rough sketch of a raptor fossil
Rough sketch of a raptor fossil

To this I decided to invite my classmates to be, wholly expecting maybe one or two people to join. To my pleasant surprise about 10 people responded. Of which 5 people turned up in the end.

Rough sketch of a Velociraptor fossil
Rough sketch of a Velociraptor fossil, it almost looks like a bird’s neck
Neave Parker's Reconstruction of a Hypsilophodon from the 1960s
Neave Parker’s Amazing Reconstruction of a Hypsilophodon from the 1960s

The exhibits were meticulously planned and composed allowing clear view of many prehistoric and present day animals. With the dinosaur exhibits it was clear that great care has gone into thinking about posture and movement by scientists over the years, we have come a long way from the 1854 reconstructions at Crystal Palace Park (Darren Naish, 2016) or Neave Parker’s beautiful but now considered factually inaccurate works from the 1960s (Natural History Museum, 2017).

Rough sketch of a sauropod's neck
Looking at the complicated shapes of this sauropod’s vertebrae

Another exhibit of great interest to the group was the aquatic mammals hall. One person remarked “What is that?!” when looking at the whale skeletons that hung from the ceiling. It would definitely, in my opinion, be difficult for someone to discern what they were looking at if they had never seen a cetacean skeleton before. I suppose this is where rumors of see monsters begin.

Rough sketch of a whale skeleton
Cetacean skeletons are so bizarre and other worldly
Rough sketch of dolphin and whale models
I loved how this display was set up, these dolphin and whale models seemed to almost be swimming over our heads.
Rough sketches of small mammals
The posture, curves and textures of the back of these mammals was worth staring at

When looking at an elephant skull I was reminded of a National Geographic Article that talks about the possibility that Greeks and Romans invented the Cyclops Myth when looking at Elephant bones, and I can understand why (Hillary Mayell, 2003).

Rough sketch of elephant skull
Rough sketch of elephant skull

All in all it was a great day of drawing the exhibits, getting to know animal anatomy and meeting my classmates.