Studies From An Exhibition

Siberian ibex, Annigoni toned paper, Sakura Micron pen and white gouache
Siberian ibex, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu- Annigoni toned paper, Sakura Micron pen and white gouache

During my week-long solo exhibition at the National Museum of Mongolia in August, I was there every afternoon except one. While there was a constant stream of people, over 100 each afternoon (I kept a tally), I was still “stuck” sitting there. So I took my MacBook Air, which is my primary image storage when I’m traveling, a sketchbook, a Sakura Micron pen and some pencils and, working from some of the photos, sketched and drew when I wasn’t chatting with visitors. It also gave them a chance to see an artist at work and many were quite interested.

So here’s a selection from that week, some of which, like the one of the baby marmots below, are intended as preliminary explorations for future paintings. Some are from previous trips, but the images haven’t yet been deleted from iPhoto.

Baby Siberian marmot,s Hustai National Park, August 2013
Baby Siberian marmots, Hustai National Park, 2013
Siberian ibex and lesser kestrels
Siberian ibex and lesser kestrels, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, 2012
Takhi, Hustai National Park
Takhi, Hustai National Park, 2013
Argali ram, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve
Argali ram, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve,2010- graphite
Ox and Mongol horse, Jalman Meadows, Han Hentii Mountains
Ox and Mongol horse, Jalman Meadows, Han Hentii Mountains, 2012- graphite

Mongolia Monday – Argali Studies

With the New Year come new painting projects. We try to take time off between Solstice and New Year’s Day because that’s when things slow down for my husband, who is the executive director of an information technology consortium, but I can’t stay out of the studio completely. I have a bunch of ideas for paintings with Mongolia subjects and this morning I thought I’d do a few drawings of argali and try different drawing media. All of these are done on 2-ply vellum bristol. None of the four took more than 15-20 minutes. The idea was to limber up after a break without worrying about doing a pretty, finished drawing. I wanted to catch the character of the animal and the rhythm of their body and movement. Please DO try this at home.

Argali Ram, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, Sept. 2008
Argali Ram, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, Sept. 2008

This is a try-out to see how he “draws” since I have a painting idea in mind. He’s a big, old ram with battered horns that will be an interesting challenge to paint.  I also like the shadow pattern on his head. Drawn with a 6B Wolff’s Carbon pencil.

Argali Ram Running, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, Sept. 2008
Argali Ram Running, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, Sept. 2008

The gold standard in fieldwork for wildlife artists is the animal Doing Something. Prey animals like argali tend to be running away, so lots of butt shots. But this one took off from stage right to stage left, giving me a perfect chance to record a variety of leg positions. Also drawn with a 6B Wolff’s Carbon pencil.

Argali ewe climbing, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, Sept. 2008
Young Argali Ram Climbing, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, Sept. 2008

Another jackpot. He’s going up the rocks parallel to me. Drawn with a Cumberland Derwent Drawing pencil, Venetian Red. These have a fair amount of wax in them, so are more like a fancy crayon. They feel soft on the paper. I don’t think I got  very interesting line quality, but did feel that I caught the tension in the hindquarters as he is about to push off.

Argali Ewe Standing, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, April 2005
Argali Ewe Standing, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu, April 2005

This one is from pictures I shot on my first trip to Mongolia in April/May of 2005. The animals still had their winter coats. This ewe was part of a small herd which had come down to a stream for water one morning. I find 3/4 head views challenging, partly because I know that I have to compensate for the flattening effect of the photograph. Drawn with a 2454 Conte crayon. I hadn’t used these in awhile and found I liked the line quality and the way the Conte felt on the paper. This sketch took maybe ten minutes.

So you can see that what you draw with can really change the appearance of your drawing. The only way to know what will work best for you is to experiment with different combinations.