Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Woolly Rhino for Conservation

 Another May, Another Bowling for Rhinos! After the success of last year, the kind folks at the Los Angeles Zoo asked me if I would do another painting for them to use in their silent auction. I was thrilled to do so. I wanted to come up with something thematically similar to what I did last year, with the idea that over time these rhino portraits might make a good series. Here's what I came up with:

Portrait of Poruchik Anatoli Volosatyy (click to enlarge)

'Portrait of Poruchik Anatoli Volosatyy'

Original Digital Painting, 2017.
Poruchik Volosatyy was one of the last of a long line of defenders of the Mammoth Steppe in western Siberia. He was a bit of a lone wolf, and disappeared some 10,000 years ago. It is unclear what happened to him, but it is thought he died in a skirmish - defending his grazing lands from the bipedal invaders often seen roaming around at that time.

As with last year's portrait of Mr. Eustace Simum, I wanted to do a piece that would look nice on the wall of whoever purchased it while also trying to highlight some conservation issues. I liked the idea of doing an extinct rhino species in order to subtly highlight that rhinos have gone extinct before, and it is likely to happen again. I also liked the idea of doing an extinct woolly rhino in the form of an old portrait, like you might find of a distant relative on a wall in your grandparent's house. I originally wanted to make it look like an old Civil War photograph, but I realized that Woolly Rhinos never made it across the Bering Strait to the US. So Instead of mixing the US Civil War with a species that never lived in the Americas, I decided to make him into an old Napoleonic-Era Russian soldier, since remains of woolly rhinos are often found in that region of the world.

After doing some research on the life appearance of the woolly rhino, and a bit into 18th-19th Century Russian Military equipment (I admit I probably didn't go far enough into this to get something that was truly accurate, but I did at least look at a bunch of things) I did some initial sketches to think this out: 


Just kind of thinking out loud here

 I took the first drawing and refined the shape language a bit to get a cleaner silhouette

I tried a few different compositions to see what I liked the best, but ultimately went back to the previous one.

...and here's a work in progress of the digital painting process
 
The painting was another success! It sold at the silent auction for a couple hundred dollars, all of which goes to benefit conservation of rhinos and the other animals in their habitat. It was a good time of bowling, drinking, and hanging out and catching up with people who care about conservation. If you are interested in this sort of work, but missed the event, I believe you can still donate to the cause here. And if that link is closed, some other reputable organizations I fully suggest you look into and consider helping are the International Rhino Foundation (who I support regularly through AmazonSmile) and the Global Conservation Force (who had an awesome presence at Bowling for Rhinos this year thanks in part to their partnership with Pacific Plate Brewing Co.) Thanks for tuning in, and I'm already thinking ahead to next year!

-Evan

Monday, April 17, 2017

Learn to Draw Dinosaurs: An Introduction to Paleoart - My first event with Pincelbox!

Hey gang!

Last time, I talked about a great website that my friends run, called Pincelbox. It's a site where people can find fun artistic workshops to do in the LA area, which are run by various local artists. I was lucky enough to host the second ever event for the site on Saturday, April 8, 2017- And if that wasn't exciting enough, it was all about Paleoart!


It was a great chance for me to take the research and experience I've gained over the past 7 or so years, and put together a workshop that hopefully inspired those who came. My main goal was to give people an appreciation for the mutualistic relationship between science and art, while also instructing an introductory course on drawing from life.


The workshop took place at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and involved a mix of interpretive talks, a drawing demo by me, and one-on-one instruction for everyone in the class. It was pretty cool to get to directly apply many of the techniques I learned at an intensive Certified Interpretive Guide training I did back in February.

Here I am giving a talk on the history of Paleoart.
Keen observers will see how I'm indirectly giving a shout out to Philadelphia during this portion.

Overall, It was a really  rewarding experience. All of my obsession over what prehistoric animals looked like, and trying to be true to those animals in art suddenly felt validated. A lot of people jokingly give me crap about caring too much about the accuracy of animals in movies. So it was nice to share why such things are important with people who were willing to listen. As a whole, everyone was actively engaged in my theory and history of paleoart presentation, and asking some very good questions. It was an absolute joy to see.

I took about 5 minutes to demo restoring Camarasaurus from a skull on display, before sending everyone off to draw what they wanted

When it came to the actual drawing instruction, it was so incredibly exciting to see people apply techniques discussed in my demonstrations successfully. Seeing light bulbs go off when giving various tips and tricks was very cool.

Priyes checking the proportions on his Majungasaurus


Asking questions and sharing experiences after the first of two class working sessions

I was pleasantly surprised at how many people were brave enough to tackle entire skeletons!

Kirsten's fantastic Edmontosaurus

The T. rex trio was a popular subject




The workshop seemed to get a really great response, with most of the class staying afterwards to continue to chat about various related topics! It was a very inquisitive group of people. I really couldn't have asked for a better first group! Congrats on your first steps into a larger world, everyone!


I will definitely be setting up more instances of this class, so if you missed out, there will be plenty of chances in the nearish future! Just make sure to follow Pincelbox on facebook, twitter, and instagram to stay up to date on upcoming events!

-Evan

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I Draw at Museums, and So Should You!

Hello, All!

I'm glad to see you're all still here. Clearly I need to start posting much more often....

For those who don't know, for almost two years now, I've been spending my Sunday mornings Volunteering at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. I'm a Docent, where I do interpretive work in various halls, answering questions, showing people around, and more importantly encouraging people to make their own discoveries and connections from their own observations. It's great fun, very rewarding, and (I think) extremely important work considering the seemingly growing amount of people these days who don't understand how the scientific method works. So I figure if I can help show people how science works, and let them lead their own understanding of it, it will be a more lasting impression than someone simply saying 'you're wrong, this is what it is!'

Anyway, you may be wondering, what the butt does this have to do with Evan's art blog??

Einiosaurus skull sketch by me

Sometimes on Sunday mornings at 9am, the Museum can be pretty empty before people start to trickle in. I'm still stationed in various halls during that time, so what do I do to pass the time?

Sometimes I just really take time with specimens to observe. You'll be surprised that if you spend enough time really looking at something, you'll start to come up with ALL sorts of great questions to look up, even if you're a very knowledgeable person (and if you can't find the answer, then THAT, my friends is how scientific research starts!)

Other times, I take the time to sketch. Often wondering about various things as I do it. Here are just a few of the drawings I've done over the years (as always, click images to enlarge):


Triceratops in the main Foyer, trying not to be attacked by Tyrannosaurus

Sauropods like this Mamenchisaurus have REALLY interesting feet! They are definitely NOT like the over-simplified elephantine feet you often see people depict them as

Often I will try to use mounted skeletons as a starting point and sketch life restorations on top of them. 

Young Tyrannosaurus based one one of the mounts. I added a little tortoise to give it a bit of a story.

Sometimes I'll draw the bones themselves though. Not only does it help to understand the underlying structure of these animals better, but they are filled with all kinds of amazing aesthetically pleasing shapes:

This is the same young Tyrannosaurus the above sketch was made form, just a different angle

Ceratopsians like this Einiosaurus have such cool shapes!

I don't exclusively draw dinosaurs though:


Waterbuck (and the top of a cropped Great Blue Heron's face)

Sometimes I'll even take things I'm looking at and caricature them or just use them as inspiration for my own mind's creations:

Like this Maniraptoran!

I'll try to post more museum sketches as I do them. Museum Drawing is a fun way to work on life drawing skills while also opening your mind to wondering about the natural world. There are infinite questions to ask, and through that combined observation and tactile experience of recording what you see, you never know where you may end up!

Shameless plug time! My activities have been noticed, and I was contacted by my friend and fellow museum volunteer, who runs a website called Pincelbox, a cool new site that helps you find interesting artistic learning events in the area! They asked me if I would be up for developing a class, and so I've reached back to my roots to come up with an event to draw dinosaurs and learn about the very rich (but often overlooked) world of Paleoart in the process! 

Click the image for more information!

The class is being developed to be mindful of people with no artistic or science background, so everyone is welcome! It will be part drawing demonstration, part lecture on history, paleoart theory, and dinosaur anatomy, and mostly hands on drawing time with me giving pointers here and there. It should be fun!


 If it goes well enough I'm hoping to do a series, because there is SO much information on this topic that just can't get crammed into a casual 2 hour class. So don't be shy! This should be a good primer for anyone interested in learning more about how scientists and artists work together to come to the conclusions they do about Dinosaurs and their appearance. You can find all the information you need here.


Until the next time!

  -Evan