Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mouse lemur pencil commission

The problem with my eyes has meant I have had to hold off of doing any intense drawing/painting both at the zoo and at home. However, I was recently commissioned to do a small pencil drawing, which I really didn’t want to turn down, which I couldn’t say anything about until now….just in case the recipient had a look at this webpage. One of the senior keepers at the zoo has left for pastures new and I was asked to do a pencil drawing of his favourite animal, a mouse lemur, as his leaving present. He has now received his gift so I can now post a pic of it here.

The drawing was done on an A4 pastel board using HB, B, 2B, 7B and 9B pencils. It took me longer to do than normal (days instead of hours), due to the short amount of work I could do at any one time, but it was a lovely subject to do. The mouse lemur is a very small nocturnal primate (body and head length about 7”) and to get the reference I arranged with another keeper to go into the off-show area, where a pair were being housed, to get some quick photo reference when the recipient was not on duty. I couldn’t hang around long as the animals are shy and didn’t really like being disturbed by lights going on and two humans invading their space……… quite understandably. The male hid up in a nook at ceiling level so I couldn’t see much of him and the female retreated into one of their nestboxes. Unfortunately for her, she was the easiest to reach and see….. once she had been gently encouraged out onto a branch. There was no time for sketching, as my time in there was short; so it was a question of having a good look at them and taking numerous photo’s. To eliminate smudging I worked from the left hand side of the animal first with a separate sheet of paper under my drawing hand to protect the board’s surface. Each pencil stroke is done with regard to the direction in which the fur lies; starting with the hardest grade of pencil, and therefore palest, adding depth and darker tones with the softer grades. Not only do the softer grades give a blacker mark, they also have more of a grainy texture; I made use of this for the branch, using only the 9B, so that it looked rougher than the softer more delicate texture of the mouse lemur.

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