Friday, October 10, 2008

Artistic interests

There are many things in the world that I am interested in drawing. The overarching theme for me is that I like to draw beautiful things. I feel that you sharpen your sense of observation and have a better sense of the way things work by looking at drawings and by the act of drawing. In my drawing, I try to focus on distinct areas of interest, bringing to light portions of the scene that may otherwise be lost to the surrounding detail.

Of the things that I am interested in drawing (animals and plants, fossils, architecture, and people, just to name a few), many of them fall into themes that I would like to explore as my drawings progress. For example, one of the crises facing our generation is that of the human-induced extinction of other species (with the potential for our own extinction along the way). Our potential failure as caretakers of this planet is of utmost importance in my mind. I was inspired to start exploring the topic of extinction when I was in Bermuda earlier this year.

At the Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo, there are about four or five Golden Lion Tamarins (
Leontopithecus rosalia) in a big outdoor exhibit that you can walk through. The animals are beautiful. They are also highly endangered. They are New World monkeys and we have degraded their natural habitat down to just a few spots in Brazil. There are about 500 to 1000 animals in the wild and another 500 or so in zoos around the world. (There is more info at this U. Wisconsin external website.)

I photographed several of the monkeys while I was at the aquarium and then drew one of them soon after I got back.

Image: Golden Lion Tamarin
I thought that the look in his face was one of great sadness (yes, I am anthropomorphizing). The first position of the monkey that I drew was lit in a way that the eye was highly reflective and you couldn't see the iris and pupil. I was also inspired to work on something much larger, so I thought I would try a slightly different view and would draw all of the body that was visible to me in a separate photograph that I had taken. This was the first relatively large drawing that I was attempting (well, I consider 19" x 24" quite large, given the time that it takes); I was very happy with the way it turned out. So happy, in fact, that I even had posters made of the drawing (and as a shameless commercial plug, you can buy them on the "purchase" page of my website). The second drawing of the tamarin I called "Contemplating extinction?". It would be sad if we let them go extinct.
Image: Contemplating extinction?
These images are also shown on my website: "Golden Lion Tamarin" and "Contemplating extinction?".

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