Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Watercolor Sketching Coyotes

During my July focus on watercolor, I travelled to Gaylord, Michigan and got to sketch in one of my favorite places, The Call of the Wild.  If you are ever heading north in Michigan on I-75 and want to draw taxidermied animals, this is the place to go!

Also, and I mention this because you won't really see it in the photos below, this is an old-fashioned 1960s style attraction.  Small and friendly.  A terrific gift shop with something for everyone.  Kind of cheesy, super fun.  And bonus:  all of the backdrops to the taxidermy exhibits were hand-painted decades ago by members of the family.  Truly a cool place to visit.

Anyhow, for this particular scribbling session I wanted to focus on coyotes because I want to get better at drawing my dogs, and they are only still enough for me to draw when they sleep!  I thought this could help me learn basic canine shapes in some different positions.

The first coyote I chose was positioned in a snarl.  That seemed like a fun challenge.  I began sketching and though I was using watercolor paints, on auto pilot, I went in as if with a pen, drawing lines.

I struggled to capture the snarl, the curve of the flesh around the nose, the twist of the tongue.  So I decided to focus on negative space and bigger shapes and see if that could help.

Here you see my start with the big negative shapes.

I wish I could say I was doing this blind, but I wasn't.  For whatever reason, my hand/eye coordination was off this day!   But I kept going, trying to use color to mark out the spaces around the lips and eyes.

It led to an interesting and lively--if not entirely accurate--result. 

But actually, I kind of like this sketch.  There's a fierce energy to it.

I decided to try a different coyote model for my next sketches.  Still using watercolors, I picked one I could draw straight on.  Below you see the sketch in front of the model, and then a clearer scan of just the sketch.  As you can see, I continue to struggle to capture the perspective of a nose pointed toward me!

I very much enjoyed feeling my way around the subject with my brush and colors.

For my final sketch of the day, I kept the same model, but took a giant step to the right, just changing the angle that much.  And I switched up my media.  I wanted to keep with watercolor tools,  so I used just one watercolor pencil, and did a monochrome scribble.

Because by this time (a good forty-five minutes into my session) I was well and truly warmed up and familiar with my subject, this sketch happened very quickly.  I felt confident and loose.  When I went back over the sketch with a waterbrush for shading, I felt like I knew exactly what to do.

This reminds me a bit of my earlier work with the skeleton model.  It took me several drawings of the same subject (two different models of coyote) to get enough familiarity with the animal to begin to think more about what I might do with it.

If you can find taxidermy in your area, I recommend scribbling sessions!  No matter the media, you can have a lot of fun and learn a lot by drawing the same animal model.  All you need to do is change your angle slightly and you have a new drawing challenge!

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