Life Drawing, a little vacation from science illustration.

A 10 minute sketch in conte pencil.

Life drawing is a great break from science illustration. It’s all about observation, you draw only what’s right in front of you, nothing microscopic, nothing long gone in the past. You exercise the connection between your hand and your eyes. There’s no background research involved, long discussion about content. There’s a time limit, usually from 1 minute up to 50, so you’ve got to work fast and let go of agonizing over every line. It puts me in a sort of trance state and the time flies by. I’ve been trying to do more life drawing, both to improve my ability to draw people (lots of those in archaeological reconstructions), and also to keep up my observational skills. I’m currently taking a class at the Dundas Valley School of the Art. Today, besides the usual short gesture drawings, we worked on reduction drawings.

A 40-ish minute reduction drawing with vine charcoal.

This technique consists of coating your paper with charcoal and then picking out the lighter tones with a kneaded eraser. You can then go back in with charcoal to adjust things a bit and add more darks. I really like this technique as it very forgiving, much more so than working with pure lines. You can go back and forth between adding and subtracting values forever (or until the model’s foot goes to sleep).   So I’ve had a lovely morning sketching. And now back to painstakingly cleaning up and laying out chipped stone illustrations for a Çatalhöyük publication.


The first proposed mural at Mt. Williamson Motel in Independence, CA.

Jane Kim is a science illustrator and creator of the Migrating Mural. The Migrating Mural is “a series of murals that showcases — along roads, towns, and cities — endangered migratory species and the need to protect them” (Jane on Kickstarter). Jane was in my CSUMB Science Illustration cohort and I remember her talking about ideas for these murals in class.  Now, through an incredible organizational and creative effort, she is making it happen.  The first chapter in her mural series features the life of the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.  There are currently only 400 sheep left and these murals will bring attention to their conservation.

Another view of the proposed mural in Independence, CA.

Jane is currently funding her murals through Kickstarter.  She’s already raised enough to paint the first mural and any additional funds are going towards three more.  You can learn more about her project and donate here (the project is up for 6 more days).  She also currently has a solo show of her science illustration and her work with the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep at the Bone Room in Berkeley, CA (on through Oct. 30).

Jane at the opening of her show “The Art of Conservation” at the Bone Room. She’s standing in her installation of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep skulls, “Disappearance Reappearance”.