Monday, June 30, 2008

Zoo drawings

Went to a zoo drawing workshop in May run by Joe Weatherly, an artist who specializes in drawing animals. This is not to be confused with another Joe Weatherly, who is apparently a famous race car driver, who looks like his name should be Howie, and whose picture reminds me a bit of John C. Reilly as "Dewey Cox".


The workshop was fun, although I was the only person who showed up who was not currently in school. This of course, conspired to make me feel ancient ("Hey, I've been working since you guys were in 5th grade! Awesome!") However, I try not to let these realizations bug me too much, as I realize not only is this situation unlikely to improve, but will also increase in frequency as time goes by.

For any of you reading this while in your youthful, unlined 20's: sunscreen people. It's about the sunscreen.

What was fun about dedicating an entire weekend to drawing is realizing how quickly you can loosen up by simply devoting enough time to the endeavor. The first few drawings are almost always awful and demoralizing. But if you manage to stick it through the next hour or two, it stops feeling like so much work, and just becomes this nice, loose, moment, from eye, to hand, to pen. It doesn't mean that every line becomes perfect, but you do stop focusing so much on technique, and more on play.

I've spent very, very little time drawing animals compared to people (yes, I know, people are animals...ANIMALS!) So I started off this workshop with some truly ugly giraffe drawings (notice that I did not post any giraffe drawings). But things steadily improved, so that by Sunday, I was in a much happier place with my work.

A note about zoos in the Bay Area: we went to both the SF Zoo and the Oakland Zoo. The Oakland Zoo is much nicer. Also, as far as I know, no one have been mauled by tigers in the SF Zoo. Although, the surviving victims are not terribly sympathetic figures.

I'm ambivalent about zoos in general. As an artist, I recognize them as an extremely valuable resource. Also, one might reasonably argue that there's definitely an educational benefit to the population to learn about how other animals live. However, it's really hard to go to a zoo and convince yourself that these animals are happy. Danger of anthropomorphizing aside...I don't think I'd be particularly happy, stuffed into a pen with a bunch of people I don't know, and having people stare at me, taking pictures or drawing. In fact, it's a bit unnerving while drawing the animals to realize that they are aware of you staring at them. How else to explain their almost unanimous decision to always show our drawing group their backsides within 15 minutes of our arrival to draw them?

And for those of you who believe that I'm over thinking this, and animals do not get self-conscious or upset about being watched, I present to you this.