Sunday, January 26, 2014

RAWRRR: Creative Field Trippin'

     Okay, bear with me here... one more ursine post.
     Usually I'm afforded a pretty decent range of options in the community when it comes to taking drawing classes on field trips. This comes in handy especially around the time of teaching pen & ink, when we gather reference sketches of objects that lend themselves to interesting textures, such as mounts at the Museum of the North, Fish & Game and Morris Thompson Visitor Center, to name a few. However, having a late evening session this past semester had posed some challenges, since most everything in this town shuts down early. But fortunately there are some creative resources when it comes to dead, hairy animals to draw.
More below the fold...

     So the sketch-posse saddled up and rode off to the friendly neighborhood branch of Sportsman's Warehouse, for one of the more unusual field trips of the semester. One of the neat things was interacting with the accommodating staff and some curious customers: most folks don't normally get to see people drawing, not to mention students leaving the familiar comfort zone of the studio and venturing forth in public. For example take the surreal experience of being sandwiched in between people handling very large and serious looking assault weapons at the gun counter while sketching some mounts on display. Needless to say yelling out "DRAW!" didn't go over all that well, even if I was holding a really big Sharpie.
     Rumor has it that the corporate headquarters for this particular chain somewhere off in the Midwest maintain a massive warehouse full of dead animals, which they ship out to adorn the walls of outlets that have just opened, at least until the locals step up and donate their own. That would make for an interesting series of sketch outings.
     My usual baseline personal repugnance at the American impulse to preserve "hunting" trophies was kicked up a few notches at the disconcerting usage of them as essentially nothing more than sales props. Reminded me of how I used to love zoos as a kid, and then after one nostalgia visit after living in Alaska for many years changed my perspective: nothing sadder than seeing species like bears, wolves, eagles etc. behind bars when one has witnessed them in their natural habitat. Seeing some magnificent examples juxtaposed against endless aisles of sale items had a similar effect. Not a little disrespectful to the noble spirit of the animal, but then again, my cartoons and drawings probably aren't doing their spirits any favors either. Chalk me up as another opportunistic scavenger in the big picture, a creative raven at the cultural dumpsters recycling raw material.
     After sketching some preliminary roughs in pencil I working up some demo spots with Sharpie + ballpoint pen. Aside from the quick digital background patch, I got a really nice, warm tone using a wash from the bottom-of-the-cup sludge in my mocha for the final version:

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