What is it about children and animals? For several years I have had the good fortune to accompany groups of children to places such as Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh Zoo, Chambers Stret Museum and Deep Sea World. There I have endeavoured to guide them in drawing the various creatures on display. This is of course much easier at the museum where the beasts are stuffed and therefore static; but actually not as difficult as you might think at the other locations where the animals are active and moving. Here the children quickly get into the habit of watching their subjects and will often begin several different versions of them and add more and more details as they see and understand what's needed to complete the drawing. The most recent course on 'Animal Masks' began with drawing at the museum and then continued with the building of papier mache masks in the studio over the next two days. The next children's art course will be the Summer Art School in July, entitled 'ZOOMANIA!'. This will involve 2 days drawing at the zoo, a morning at the museum and the rest of the time ion the studio in Dalry painting from sketches, printmaking, sculpting with recycled materials and book binding from the first days' sketches. See Summer Art School for more information
A day at the races, the sun shining on this amazing event which is a bit like a circus that appears from nowhere. An astonishing spectacle of beautiful horses and brightly coloured riders flashing by. A dream for every artist?...well there are challenges of course in this fantastic subject matter - the beasts move at such a speed when they race, that you can barely capture them with a camera, let alone a pencil, (even a pastel pencil). Any tips? Something to do with form? Well, happily there is an opportunity to view the horses and riders in the paddock prior to each race when they parade around for 10 minutes or so. First choose an angle to draw the horse from; side on, or approaching etc. Then draw some rapid flowing lines with a pastel pencil - or use the side of a chalk pastel to block in a basic shape or volume. Then as each horse passes at the same angle add some details to your drawing; make a composite horse built up from each new bit of information you discover. Also, don't overdo the legs...pinning them down in too fixed a way is counter productive, they look strange and the horse will lose it's dynamism. Then fit a rider to the horse - jockeys wear large colourful hats, making the task of drawing a head a lot easier, and wonderfully patterned tunics that can't be overdone. At Musselburgh today the sky was blue and the course a vivid green, so last of all it was easy to refine the drawing with colourful negative shapes.
Damian Callan is a practising figurative artist and tutor based in Edinburgh.