Over the Christmas break, I spent a lot of time at the Miami Metrozoo sketching animals. All the books about animal drawing I’ve read say it’s very important to go to the zoos and draw from life, but the more I thought about it the more it didn’t make sense to me.
Animals, unlike humans, generally don’t stay still for the sake of artists. I am able to draw people quickly because, through drawing longer poses, I’ve memorized what a human body looks like. With animals, I don’t have their bodies memorized well enough to draw them quickly. Not to mention that sometimes the animal is very far away so I can’t draw any details. While drawing at the zoo, I felt I was doing caveman drawings, the best I could do were silhouettes.
So I decided that I should drop live animals, and draw dead ones instead. Dead animals know how to hold a pose and they don’t hide behind rocks. The American Museum of Natural History has a lot of stuffed animals, spread across three floors. So far, I’ve focused on the African animals. I actually get sad drawing them, especially because these animals are endangered. I mean the museum has a herd of stuffed african elephants. Was that really necessary? Couldn’t they just have one elephant for their exhibit? But I digress. On another topic, I also get annoyed from overhearing what other visitors say when looking at the animals. Like the fact that everybody mentions “The Lion King” whenever they see lions, hyenas, warthogs, meerkats and mandrils. And then if they see lemurs they mention “Madagascar”. It’s like people only know nature through animated movies. It’s kind of disturbing to me.