Benson the Bunny’s Life Drawing Modeling Gig at the March Meeting of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective

March 18, 2010

Benson the bunny came to the MCBA Visual Journal Collective’s March meeting as a life drawing model! Video and sketches of the model.

Above: A short video of Benson settling in at MCBA. If the embedded video doesn’t work see Benson the Life Drawing Model on Youtube.

Monday’s meeting of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective was very special. We were joined by Rachel Nusbaum, a young, talented Twin Cities artist who spoke to us about how she uses animal imagery in her work and showed us several recent pieces of her animal art. She also brought along Benson, her two-year-old bunny as a life drawing model.

Rachel9458 Left: Rachel explains how she used pressure printing and letter press in her handbound book about her interactions with animals at her family’s lake cabin.  

After Rachel talked the artists gathered around the rug “enclosure” we had created for Benson to explore. You can see the set up in the video. Some of us sat on chairs, some stood, others sat on the floor. We sketched for a hour, allowed the model a 15 minute break and finished the evening with another 35 minutes of sketching. Below are images that were created on Monday night. I didn’t get photos from all 13 people in attendance, but you will see that Benson definitely inspired and challenged us!

Above: I (Roz) spent some time trying to figure out the shape of our guest. As he moved about on his carpets I worked on several sketches at one time. I’m particularly happy with the gesture drawing at the bottom of the right-hand page. He was twisting his body to clean his right side but I had a great view of that left paw. I was working in a journal I made with Velin Arches (Arches Text Wove) paper, that is about 6.5 x 8 inches. I was using a .3 Staedtler Pigment Liner. Click on the image to view an

Above: On my (Roz’s) final spread of the evening I began to get a sense of the shapes. Too many years of Warner Brothers’ cartoons has left me with a tendency to make Benson’s ears too long, but I enjoyed finding the lines of bunched fur in the bottom sketch. (Staedtler Pigment Liner and gouache; edges of the spread were pre-painted with rubberstamp ink.) Click on the image to view an

Above: Anita White, working with Liquitex acrylic ink and a brush managed to create a series of panels of the sketchers and many of Benson’s poses. Additional color with dry media. (And yes, I did spend most of the evening with my mouth open in amazement!)

Above: Carol Malkinson filled several pages with delightful views of Benson’s constant movement. She used several colors of ink. She was working in a journal she bound herself. The orange page is deliberately trimmed shorter. It contains more of Benson on the flip side.

Above: Ken Avidor captured Benson on tan paper with ink and colored pencil.  

Above: Jean Shannon worked with colored pencil on rough textured Holbein paper to capture Benson’s shapes and details.

Above: Karen Wallach used a black Stabilo All (which is watersoluble) and watercolor to capture this portrait of Benson in her Hand•book journal.

If I had been less enthralled by the model I would have been able to take more photos of the work accomplished Monday. It was an amazing evening. I haven’t smiled so much in ages!

If you think you missed out—well you did (if you live in town). So stop thinking about visual journaling and actually come and join us to get some pages filled.

Start by marking down our April Meeting! Monday, April 19, 7 to 9 p.m.
Graphic designer, artist, and letterpress printer Karen Engelbretson
will help us usher in the spring with a talk on botanical drawing.
Karen will help you look at plants with a new eye and understanding, and
then inspire you with ideas for transforming your sketches into printed
pieces. Following Karen’s presentation the Collective will sketch pods
and plants to put Karen’s tips into action. Mark your calendars now.

    • Christina Trevino.
    • March 18, 2010

    I’d love to see all your sketches if someone brought a chicken with her multiple chickies! It would be possible if you rig a corral with doggies’ fences.
    And I’d love to bring 3 or 4 of my papillons!

  1. Reply

    Hi Roz-

    I had a thought today that I wanted to share with you.

    I was sketching at Como today, and someone asked me, “Did you draw that by yourself?”

    At first I thought that was the funniest thing anyone had ever said to me while I was sketching, but after I thought about it I am intrigued by the idea of a drawing stunt double…

    Laura Schmieg

  2. Reply

    Wow! Loved seeing all the interpretations…. bunnies are so wonderful. What a fun life drawing model!!

  3. Reply

    So, bummed out I was sick and unable to come sketch Benson! Looks like it was fun.

  4. Reply

    This is awesome, I wish I’d been there! – Barbara in northern California

    • Roz
    • March 19, 2010

    Christina, the chickens—that’s called the STATE FAIR. We will be having a sketch-out there in August/September. Those sketches will probably be on the Urban Sketchers—Twin Cities blog.

    • Roz
    • March 19, 2010

    Laura, idea of a stunt double for sketching is hilarious! The Como visitor’s comment to you is fabulous and I am sure you wrote it down. Thank you for sharing it with me. It is as fun as my favorite, asked of me at the Bell most recently (but countless other places as well), “Did you just draw that?” When it is obvious to us both that the page was blank a moment ago.

    Now I can say, no my drawing stunt double did it!

    • Roz
    • March 19, 2010

    Carla, yes, he was a delightful model. And really comfortable with having 13 people gawking at him!!! I was amazed.

    Suzanne, I’m so sorry to hear you were sick. Well I hope you will be well before the botanical meeting. And you can always join us at the Shepherd’s Festival in May—there will be some bunnies there (though of course I am going for the sheep and llamas). Get well.

    And Barbara, I’m sorry you are so far away. It was a very fun night. I hope you can find some bunnies in norther CA to sketch! Or other animals. We’ll all be there in spirit.

    • sara
    • March 29, 2010

    As ‘sister’ to two house rabbits, I’m taking loads of inspiration from this! Methinks that the buns need a play date on the porch soon…

    • Roz
    • March 29, 2010

    Sara, you definitely need to get those house rabbits involved in life-modeling! Good luck.

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