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

Learning What Siberian Ibex Look Like

What? You say. She’s seen them and photographed them. Surely she knows what they look like. Well, in a manner of speaking, I do, of course. I’ve got quite of bit of reference of them from previous sightings and have done a couple of small paintngs. But until this past trip I didn’t really have sharp, close-up reference of ibex in good light and also doing interesting things. Now I do.

I spent three out of my first four mornings at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve in August taking around 1000 photos of 2-3 groups of nannies, kids and young billies. I’ve done an initial sorting and 5-star rated (in Aperture, my image management software) the ones that caught my eye for possible paintings.

But…I’ve learned when I decide to paint a new species that I’ll be sorry if I just dive in and hit the easel. I first need to “learn what the animal looks like” and to do that I simplify things by doing a number of monochrome sketches and drawings to familiarize myself with their structure, proportions and anatomy, along with looking for interesting behaviors. I pick reference photos that have a strong light and shadow pattern or some kind of interesting, perhaps, challenging, pose. Sometimes I throw in a quick indication of the ground so I can start to think about that, too.

I like doing small, fairly quick pen sketches. For those I use Sakura Micron .01. and .02 pens on whatever sketchbook I have on hand. They give me a basic idea of what I need to know. Then I’ll often do some finished larger graphite drawings on vellum bristol. I also did a couple of iPad drawings using ArtRage, which makes it easy to lay in some color.

Pen and ink sketches- I do these directly with the pen and spend about 10-30 minutes max on them depending on size
Pen and ink sketch
Pen and ink sketch
Pen and ink sketch
Pen and ink sketch
Graphite on vellum bristol
graphite on vellum bristol
graphite on vellum bristol
iPad using ArtRage app
iPad using ArtRage app