November 5, 2007
I’m often asked “Do you actually draw pets from life?” by pet lovers who wonder what my secret must be to keeping a dog or cat still for the hours it takes to finish a portrait. The only magic I employ for long sittings is the magic of photography. It’s hard enough to get a pet to stay still long enough to take a photo, much less to do a portrait!
I do draw from life, but the detailed drawings drawings I’m known for are not the result (they take 8-10 hours to do)! When I draw from life, I try to capture the lively movement that would drive me crazy if my goal were a detailed portrait. In these sketches (called “gesture drawings” by the artists, for obvious reasons) I quickly try to follow the movement of the animal with the movement of my hand without letting my brain interfere too much. No erasing — I just leave the lines be to record the action. I love looking back at these sketches, since they trigger vivid movie-memories of the live action.
These two drawings of my Standard Poodle Rosie record her chewing a raw knuckle bone with great gusto right beside my desk chair.
I don’t expect anyone else to appreciate them (that’s not the point) and they usually stay snug in my sketchbook. I’m surprised that occasionally someone does respond to them, which made me decide to post some of my favorites here from time to time. If you don’t “get” them, ignore — it’s like trying to read someone else’s notes. If you do “get” them, enjoy!