A few years ago, I think it was when I was working on a book about elephants, I realized that I actually didn’t really know how to draw animals. Sure, I can copy from photos, but I didn’ t understand the underlying anatomy of what I was drawing. Imagine my surprise when I found out quadrupeds don’t have clavicles, it’s only brachiating animals, like monkeys, that have that particular bone. But I digress…. Since then I’ve been studying the art of animal drawing, and buying as many books on the subject as I could. So I picked up this book by
Joe Weatherly, a California-based artist who specializes in drawing animals. He has published three books so far, two of which I own. I’m reviewing Animal Essence which is part artbook – part instructional book. The bulk of the content in this 160 page book are sketches he’s done on location in zoos. There’s a lot of pen sketches, and some watercolor sketches. Included in the book are some finished oil paintings. Interspersed amidst all the drawings are some written insights into drawing animals and the particular aspects of the certain species of animals. For instance I found this insight in drawing giraffes interesting ” If I’m working the entire body in a sketch, I will try to draw the length of the neck and legs first to make sure I don’t run out of room” (I don’t think I’ve ever successfully fit an entire giraffe in my sketchesbook). Having said that, I wouldn’t use this book to learn how to draw animals, because there’s not enough instructions or in-depth insight into animal anatomy. You buy this book mostly if you want to see animal sketches and paintings, the insights provided are just the cherry on top.

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