To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

To Skull or Not To Skull

I'd like to ask you a question, because I need an unbiased opinion.

For the last two weeks I've been putting together the first e-workbook for my workshop series, Nature Sketching Basics, and I pretty much finished it yesterday, in PDF form. I'm letting it rest for a few days before I put it up online, so that I can check it again with slightly fresher eyes.

My question isn't about that one, though. It's about the second ebook in the series, Nature Sketching Details, which I'm now working on.

Here's my dilemma. When I give my workshops, I provide all the goodies: paper to work on, pencils, erasers, tortillons (stumps for blending/shading), watercolor pencils, waterbrushes, etc. And I also provide things to sketch: seashells, leaves, acorns, pine cones, gnarly sticks, turkey feathers, bones, etc.

But if I'm not teaching the workshop, but just putting forth the workbooks, I can't supply these things. I can take it on faith that people who download the e-workbooks will manage to cobble together adequate tools to work with, but some of them may not have seashells or feathers and such to draw.

So I've been photographing shells and leaves and other goodies to give them something to draw if they don't have the suggested items on hand. I had plenty of stuff to photograph for the first e-workbook, but now that I'm working on the second, there's something I'd like to add.

I have never provided skulls to draw because I mostly have only one of each kind (I have LOTS), and I prefer that my students all draw the same thing so that when I make suggestions or give advice it is applicable to everyone in the room. But I can supply photos of some really great skulls IF, and here's the kicker, IF I can be fairly sure they won't freak too many people out.

What do you think? I have here a striped skunk skull and a gull (California gull, I think) skull, and I'd like your opinion as to whether or not you'd be freaked out by being asked to sketch a skull to complete your assignment.

Maybe I'm being too cautious, but I don't want to put anyone off, and I don't know if animal skulls are in that category. I personally think they're great drawing subjects. Could I get your opinion?

You don't have to say much, just whether or not you'd be caught off guard and seriously "put off" if you opened your newly downloaded e-workbook and discovered that you would be expected to draw and shade a skull in order to get through the assignment. Help???????

Please leave me a comment with your opinion. I'll wait.


Unknown said...

NO problem, I consider this a practice in really "seeing" something. Learning the bone structure under a critter is very helpful. There is no rotting flesh or ghoulish essence present! I am looking forward to ordering your ebook.


Anonymous said...

No problem at all. Kathy

Sarah M said...

It certainly wouldn't bother me. Seems very appropriate for a lesson on sketching the details of nature.

Renie said...

Thanks, so much for the feedback!

It's good to hear the positive opinions -- anyone have a negative reaction?

I heard one time that some people who hate reptiles will reflexively fling a magazine across the room if they open to a page with a snake photo. Does anyone react to skulls that way?

Gillian McMurray said...

I think if someone is interested in nature and wants to draw it they expect to see a skull or two. I centainly woulnd't be grossed out by finding a photo of one :o)

Unknown said...

Yes to the skull! Anyone serious about nature journaling needs the practice. I learned a long time ago that once you start really drawing your object is just shapes and shadows and lights and darks anyway. (I learned this in my nude figure drawing class...that was waaaay out of my comfort zone.) I would most definitely include the skulls.

Lynne said...

I've always thought that the skulls of animals are really beautiful, and wonderful to draw. I wish I had some myself.

Renie said...

Okay, folks -- skulls win the day!

I've incorporated them into a page in the 2nd book of the series.

I'm using the gull and skunk skulls, plus a shaded drawing of a skunk skull I did for a book one time, plus a number of interesting bones and a pony tooth from which to select for drawing models. And, of course, I've added my advice and pointers on how to go about getting results.

Thanks again for your good advice. I personally love skulls ~ by the time I was seventeen I had collected skulls of 62 species, and could spot a skull beside the road at 55mph. My mom was a good sport -- she'd usually stop to let me collect one if it wasn't TOO awful. One time I had to tie a really terrible one to the back bumper to get it home. No WAY was that thing coming in the car!

Elizabeth said...

Well, I'm on the side of the skulls, too! They are not gross or offensive to me; I think of them like shells or driftwood, they are the remnants of underlying structures, and a part of what makes a thing "something."

Way back when in my high school art class, we drew from the biology skeleton. It's another way to look at things and to learn about and experience your subject.

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