I’ve been working on a dummy book involving tigers, lately and it’s been hard to arrive at a style of illustration for this on that I’m happy with. It’s a story with a slightly more dramatic turn and so my usual stylized look didn’t quite fit the bill. Still, I didn’t want to lean fully realistic, so I’ve been doing a little experimenting.
Zoo sketches, lots of reference studies, lots of false starts. This has led me to the conclusion: tigers are very complicated.
On the one hand they’re lean and mean predators, but on the other they’ve all got that baggy tummy pooch, and those fuzzy wuzzy mutton chops. It’s a subtle balance of rough and fluff.
I also gave a lot more thought to color in this one than I usually do – I wanted the changes in color to match the changes in tone and mood. I may have overdone it in the orange department, but hey, a tiger’s gotta tiger.
It’s discount season at the zoo, and I’m taking advantage of the lower prices. Fortunately in Texas we have a few spring days tossed into the middle of winter to enjoy. This was the first time I tried gouache while out sketching – I like it a little better than watercolor because you can get some semi-opaque colors, especially lighter ones (and since I’m rubbish at preserving my whites, I need that).
The gibbons were particularly active this trip. Their forearms are disturbingly long. I mean it – google gibbons and tell me the length of their arms doesn’t creep you out just a bit.
Another fun fact I learned is that the black gibbons are the males and the golden ones are the females – I can’t think of another mammal that has that significant a color difference between sexes. That’s usually the birds’ modus operandi.
It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I’ve been working a lot more on illustration lately and less outdoors – that gives me a lot fewer exciting stories of bugs and toxic plants to blog about, so I apologize for being scarce.
Christmas somehow managed to come again and I somehow managed to get behind schedule again on my Christmassy doings – these cards need to go out pretty soon and as you can see they’re somewhat in the less-than-finished state.
In case the cards weren’t indication enough, I’ve still got Yellowstone on the brain. Although, I’ve got to say,what I’ve learned about winter in the park sort of takes the warm and fuzzy out of painting animals in the snow. Once you see a video of coyotes and wolves fighting over a frozen buffalo carcass in an ice river, there’s no going back – that’ll be my next Christmas card set. The carcass series.
I had a chance to visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone while on our trip through the park and get some concentrated sketching time in. It was a lot more challenging than I’d anticipated – both the bears and the wolves were constantly on the move, interacting with each other and their enclosures, changing poses every minute. It really pushed me to focus on the basic shapes and outlines and forgo the details.
It was hard, but it really upped my game. Having only ever drawn these animals from google searches prior, I noticed afterward that my ability to sketch them from imagination was noticeably improved. I have heard that being able to sketch an accurate silhouette is key to realistic work, and I think this particular trip really drilled those tell-tale shapes of bears and wolves into my subconscious.
I was organizing my old sketchbooks recently when I ran across some early sketches of this little baby crocodile I’ve been drawing for awhile -you may have seen him on the blog before, here.
The funny thing is that in my head, I’ve been drawing him the same all these years. But looking at my first sketches, the intermediate scribbles, and what I’ve been sketching recently – they’re all totally different. I can see my art evolving in front of me.
I thought it’d be fun to post a through-the-years look at my little croc.
These are the oldest sketches I’ve got – and the subsequent paintings that came out of them. I was super proud of the detail and rendering in these – now, looking at them, I can see I was overdoing it on the details to make up for wobbly anatomy. Whoops.
This marks the second round of sketches and illustrations – he’s getting a little more pulled together, a little more consistent.
And here he is at the present – and aren’t I a proud mama? I hope he keeps growing – who knows what he’ll look like next?
It’s Easter, therefore – bunnies.
And I know what some of you are thinking – “Jaimie, also…Jesus.”
And you’re absolutely right, but consider this: God made bunnies AND I am better at drawing them than Jesus.
Happy Easter, everyone!
Another page from Rosalie’s book. I mean from the dummy book – although “thieving from the cutting board while I’m trying to make dinner” is certainly a page in Rosalie’s book of tricks.
This month I’ve been working on getting together a new dummy book to send out – and at the risk of playing favorites and being a bad cat-mother, this one features my cat, Rosalie. The hard part about painting a subject that exists in real life is that occasionally, just when you think you’ve completed your painting, the subject herself will jump in your lap, curl onto her belly and reveal to you that you’ve recorded her tummy markings incorrectly. You’ll fix them, of course (for the sake of accuracy) only to be reminded on a separate occasion that you also misapplied the markings on her toes. Of course, it’s unreasonable to expect a cat to sit still long enough to actually model for her own picture, so you’ll have add those details in by memory.
I’ve tried and failed many times before, but think I finally got a sketch that captures the luminous shadows of these white-barked trees. I’ve always loved the way they look at sunset – being white they make a perfect catch for the colors – bright gold on the light side and almost lavender on the shadow side.