Sketch Night at the Bell in March

March 5, 2012

120301BellLeft: Notes and a sketch from the Bell in an 8 x 8 inch (approx.) handmade journal containing Saunders Waterford 90 lb. High White Hot Press watercolor paper. Staedtler Pigment Liner and Daniel Smith watercolors applied with a Niji waterbrush.

I wasn't very productive at the last sketch night at the Bell. I chatted when I first arrived to friends and  to new folks I hadn't met before. Then I listened to Don Luce's brief but entertaining talk about how he teaches nature drawing and why he follows the approach he does. (Don is the director of curations at the Bell, and you really should watch for his extension course through the University of Minnesota, he knows his stuff.)

After his brief talk Don shared some of his own work in pencil, pen, and also scratchboard. It was great fun.

And then I had time to sketch this pouncing mountain lion (I actually started sketching him during Don's talk because he was right behind Don's head). Too soon it was time to go home.

This is the first time I've sketched this mountain lion (on the wall in the Touch and See Room). I was intent on capturing him on this day because, like many other denizens of the Touch and See Room he was sporting a party hat in celebration of the Bell Museum's 140th birthday. (Cake and refreshments!) (Actually I didn't check if he was a he, so that's something to do on another day.)

Focus on his head meant that I missed out on getting his lovely balancing rudder of a tail on to the page. But you'll see that if you visit. Also interesting to me were the wonderful shadows on and off him.

April 5, 2012, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. is the next sketch night. At 7 p.m. I'll be the presenter. The topic is "sketching moving animals," but right now it's reptiles, because that's what they have at the Bell that's moving. Regardless of your actual life model, I'll have some tips, suggestions, and stategies for capturing them in your journal pages. (One great way to capture live animals is of course to practice sketching from the Bell dioramas, so you might want to get over there before my talk as well!)

  1. Reply

    I really enjoy your sketches and watercolors. I would love to take that nature drawing course, but I’m a little too far away for that!

  2. Reply

    Elizabeth, I’m sorry you live far away and will miss both Don’s classes and my presentation. But I do hope that you can find some fun sketching opportunities in your own community.

    Since you can’t come to the Bell you might enjoy seeing Tom’s gigapans of the dioramas. You might even enjoy sitting back and sketching.

    • Leslie Schramm
    • March 5, 2012

    Love the hat. Glasgow Museum Of Modern Art in the centre of Glasgow is in what was a posh Victorian Tobacco Baron’s Town House. (Think six floors and basement, and the size of a small cathedral) Outside there’s a statue on a plinth of some other Victorian gent on a horse. Occasionally the horse, and invariably the gent are wearing orange and white striped traffic cones as hats. It’s a huge plinth, and a good twenty foot climb to the top of his head,but that cone gets replaced everytime to gets removed. The GMOMA also has in it’s basement a public library, free to all, which has the added civilisation of a posh coffee bar and comfy seats; and stacked to the gunnels with art books from all over the world. And like all Glasgow museums, free to enter; I love a good book and a big coffee on a dull day

  3. Reply

    Leslie that sounds like a wonderful museum. Though I think it’s very funny about the traffic cones.

    The hats in the Bell were all positioned by the staff for effect and I’m sure they have been taken down since. But they made for a festive atmosphere.

    • Carol
    • March 5, 2012

    Roz, do you know how, exactly, I’d track Don’s class down – so far I’m not able to find it online and it’s definitely something I’d be interested in … perhaps it only runs occasionally?
    And I hope to make it (finally) to the April sketch night!

  4. Reply

    Carol, I’ve written to Don asking for info on where it will be listed. I suspect you can go to the University of Minnesota website and look for extension classes and then find it through that, but if it isn’t being offered you won’t see it. So I’ll let you know what he says.

    • Carol
    • March 6, 2012

    Thanks so much, Roz!

  5. Reply

    Carol, to find out when Don Luce will be teaching is extension class in Nature Drawing you can email Margy Ligon of the Continuing Education department at the University of MN. Her email is

    I know you will find Don’s approach fun, inspiring, and a great way to build your skills.

    • Carol
    • March 7, 2012

    I’m excited to check this out – thanks for tracking this info down … cg

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