Images of skeletons I found that appealed...
This one is cute and has some movement to it
|To webpage with this image|
This one has character
|Frog skeleton by hEyJudeStock|
Mallard duck and Pigeon
Mallard skeleton drawn by A.B Meyer 1879-97
This one looks dead
This one's posture is characteristic.
I can see it looking at something alertly.
This one looks a bit scared
I am interested in the feet.
Not sure what I could do with them though!
In the end I went for the duck skeleton, mostly because the posture of it seemed most duck-like, but also because it wasn't as clear as the others and knowing myself I thought that would make it easier for me to be inventive rather than just copying it.
I did some sketches to explore what was important and what direction I might go in for the drawing.
|I had made a mess of the feet, and in fact think that|
they need a more sticky look to them, so I used
children's wax crayon for this sketch.
I collected some relevant images:
This one from a website called Surrender Dorothy. The numbers relate to the list of latin names at the bottom of the page of illustrations.Surrender Dorothy etsy site
And another whole page of birds from F E Wright Edwardian birds 1914 Natural History lithograph copyright Petitpouaillier 2009 Source of image
The backgrounds of both are coloured on cream paper, surrounded by a border of dark blue ink.
The Audubon print below has more accurate colouring, again on cream background, with copperplate labelling. Anas platyrhynchos.
|Plate 221 of the Birds of America J J Audubon|
I loved this photo, but I wasn't sure how I could get the skeleton in there and make it work. So, after some thought, I decided that I would go for the sepia idea, using the 'cabinet of curiosities' sketch as a basis for the composition. Because I wanted a medium that would allow me to get a reasonable amount of darkness in there, and mellowed with age, but also the ability to get quite a lot of detail into the skeleton, I chose the chalky pastels.
For the paper I wanted to make it quite large (as my drawings go anyway) with a long tall rectangular shape, so I cut an A3 piece of paper in half and stuck the pieces end to end. I thought this was OK (see Jerwood prize 2013) and would in fact work to make it look a bit more ancient. I used white paper with a bit of bite to take the colour better, and because my intention was to cover the whole of the surface.
To go on the other shelves of the cabinet, I chose two images which are bird related but a bit odd in context, because a skeleton with a flash of blue is a bit odd too.
When I was drawing the skeleton I was thinking about the sweep and shape of it, and how to show that it wasn't flat (by using tone). I used yellow for the brightest parts, to make them 'glow in the dark'. That was interesting because it meant that the white paper was not in fact the brightest part of the drawing. When drawing the background it was more about a/ the triangular shape and b/ suggesting wood markings. The background was imaginary which made it a bit more difficult to work out where the shadows should go etc.
Initially I made the background too light in tone and the duck and its detail were lost. So I darkened it, and increased the contrast between the parts of the background to make it more obviously three dimensional. I had to touch up the darker parts of the duck to work with this.
|Cabinet of curiosities|
Pastels on white cartridge paper