Spectrus (link to home) Drawing on Africa: wildlife sketches

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'Academic' and 'Live' drawing

'academic' drawing of statue of Ahmed

Ahmed

Drawn at Nairobi Museum


The bull elephant Ahmed was given his own personal bodyguard by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, to protect his enormous tusks from poachers. This was successful, and after he had died of natural causes, a cast was made of his body, which now stands in a quadrangle of the Nairobi Museum.

A static subject such as this allows for the patience and careful observation by 'academic' drawing method.

When animals are active with the zest of life, there is no time for studio portraiture. A different method is demanded. The technique of 'live' or 'direct' drawing is the more dynamic alternative. The eye is kept on the subject, not on the paper, while the hand holding the pencil moves as the eye quickly targets lines and moving patterns, as in the zebra (below)

Zebra in motion

at dawn on the Masai Mara


As yet out of my sight over a hill, the tell-tale roar of a hot-air balloon has spooked the zebra into a dance, flickering in the dawn glow of the African sky.

This is one Zebra!
Drawing as fast as I do, its multiple movement produced quite extraordinary patterns.

Zebra sketch - 26Kb

This is op-art defensive camouflage. One zebra appears as several.
Drawing at speed, I capture a few of them. A less hyperactive individual may fall prey to a lion.


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