So we have a really neat resource on campus, called the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History. It’s right here on campus at the College of Idaho, under the math and science building, Boone. It has a lot of fine specimens available to study. I’ve visited this museum a few times with art classes, and used the museum’s displays for sketching practice and inspiration.
On my most recent visit I was charged with creating a portrait composition, inspired by things on display. I ended up settling on a sketch of our model sitting in front of a stuffed and mounted zebra bust. Later, when I went to pursue the project further, I ended up blocking out the values of the stripes and the shadows on the model’s face, comic style. As I was doing so, I was inspired to combine the stripes of the zebra with the hair of the model. I flushed out the idea with water-soluble pencils. It took me about three days to finish the very tedious piece, but I very much like it. The most difficult part for me, aside from the stripes, was deciding how to capture the value of the model’s face. I felt like the face needed three values – white, gray, and dark gray – but I was limiting myself to only two. It was challenging for me to ignore the mid-tones. I don’t think it’s my usual style, though the illusionistic morphing of the model and the zebra reminded me of my figure drawing final project.