Sunday, May 12, 2013

Animal Drawing Class at the Norton Simon Museum of Art

On Friday I attended an animal drawing class taught by artist Jamie Sweetman.  The title of the class was "Drawing the Horses of Degas," but in actuality it was geared towards animals in general.  In addition to the Edgar Degas horse sculptures that were at the museum, she brought in a lot of animal figurines.

Sculpture of a Horse by Edgar Degas

The first one I went for was a Degas horse.  She recommended starting with a loose rendering of the entire form and then breaking it up into simple shapes, like spheres and cylinders.  After that she suggested going into general details, followed by shading and putting in the core shadow.  The core shadow is the darkest part of the object and helps to define the subject.

My Sketch of the Degas Horse

She compared the finishing details to the desert, with the prior steps being the main course.  I didn't really get to finishing details with the horse.  Degas didn't consider his sculptures to be finished, they were a way to see them better.  

My First Sketch of the Polar Bear

The next animal I chose was a polar bear.  This was my first sketch.

Jamie Sweetman Polar Bear Sketch One

The instructor decided to sketch the polar bear.  She said it's important to stay loose for as long as you can.  She decided the proportions in her sketch weren't quite were she wanted them, so she flipped the page and put the bear to the paper and did a loose sketch.

Jamie Sweetman Polar Bear Sketch Two

She refined it further.  She said when she doesn't understand something, she draws it again and again.  I love the bulk of her sketch, it really has the feel of a polar bear.

My Polar Bear Sketch Two

She said if you get too into it, stop and draw another one and that each time you draw you learn.  I gave it another go, putting it down first for the proportions.

My Scorpion Sketch

After that, I decided to go for something a bit different.  I decided to sketch a scorpion.  She told the class that when laying it in, it's good to be always adjusting, also she said that you can chart the angles.  She also said it was good to jump all over the place while sketching.

This is my second class with her and I'm looking forward to the third.  To read about the first class, visit here.

Happy Mother's Day!

To view more Sunday Sketches, please visit:

I am also linking this post with Inspire Me Monday


Anonymous said...

Excellent post. Thank you for sharing your learning experience. I find I get too into something too soon and, yeah, the shape or proportion are off and I don't realize it until after I have over invested in the drawing (time wise). I don't know why I resist this push to do quick gesture drawings, but you (and your instructor) are so right, that each time you do one, you understand your subject better and better--your uploading data :) This was a great reminder for me to use these exercises--perhaps I'll try a stop watch to remind me to stop and move on.

I like your polar bear too--the form looks realistic. Love the scorpion too--sort of took me by surprise as scrolled down. Was it real?

Sounds like you're enrolled in a great class. :) Great teachers are one of life's gems!

Abby / Linda said...

Wonderful to see your process and the process of the instructor. I loved that she taught you to adjust as you go and to do it over and over until you are satisfied. Good advice.

Patrice said...

Well done, Lisa - love the horse!

Magic Love Crow said...

Wonderful instructor! I think these classes are excellent! Loved the sketches ;o)

Lisa Isabella Russo said...

Thanks Auroran, Abby / Linda, Patrice, and Stacy. I'm really enjoying the classes. Since I usually prefer to sketch in private, I was afraid it wouldn't be enjoyable, but it really is!

Auroran, the scorpion is plastic, I'm not sure about touching a real one...