Monday, August 6, 2018

Animal Body Silhouettes

Let's start with basics. An art instruction book from 1862 says "a horse should not be mistaken for a cow, or a pig for a sheep."
Simplified outlines for a horse, cow, sheep, dog, and goat, Charles Weigall, 1862
He presents basic outline shapes for each type of familiar domesticated animal. They are constructed from the same three body parts: the shoulder, the rib mass, and the pelvic area. The cow holds its head lower than the horse, and it's much more bony and angular in the pelvis area.

The dog is the only meat-eater in this group, and his rib cage is consequently smaller and the waist thinner. He needs less gut to digest his food, so his frame is much lighter and faster than the goat or the sheep.

Weigall recommended sketching at the Zoological Gardens, where he said "every liberality is shewn to artists." I also like to sketch at county fairs, dog shows, and farms, warming up by drawing those simple silhouettes.

For my upcoming video on painting animals from life, which releases this coming Wednesday, I decided to heed a request that many of you have made: to follow a painting all the way from start to finish, so that you can see every step. In this video, I do this with both a dog and a horse.

Jeff Hein, who paints only from life, says: “James Gurney never ceases to amaze me. I’ve painted animals from life and it is hard. James is not only a master of life sketching but he’s an excellent teacher. In this video he breaks down his process into manageable parts while clearly expressing his approach to problem solving. I finished the video feeling like I might be able to channel James in my next painting attempt. Ok, that’s not likely, but I’m confident I learned a lot nonetheless. I highly recommend this video to any artist of any skill level.”
A Guide to Animal Drawing for the Use of Landscape Painters by Charles Weigall, 1862

"Painting Animals from Life" 69 minutes Widescreen, MP4 video. 
Digital download from:


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