Sketching Murphy and Leo at the MCBA Visual Journal Collective in July

July 31, 2012

Above: Artist Juile Fakler talks to us about her sketching process when working with live animals.

At the July MCBA Visual Journal Collective meeting we had a triple treat. Artist Julie Fakler spoke to us about her process of drawing animals from life, and we then got to sketch two lovely dog models—Murphy (who was celebrating his sixth birthday) and Leo.

FIrst I have to say it was really hot that day, and very hot inside the building so I didn't get many photos of anyone or anything. But 20 some people showed up, despite the heat, to carry on!

Julie explained that she liked to work on gessoed boards, making a graphite sketch while observing the animal. Later she added washes of acrylic paint. She emphasized working quickly, but being flexible. With a moving animal there's no guarantee as to how long they will hold a pose so you're going to have to dive in and work fast.

JulieBookLeft: Julie holding a journal she made to contain her Humane Society portrait project.

Julie also shared some of her journals with us. She makes her own books and fills them with sketches of her cats and other visual observations. She also created a large journal for a Humane Society Painting project. She painted portraits of animals who were up for adoption. For that project she worked from photographs, keeping her reference materials in the journal.

Next we were basically filing to either side of the flexi-space to one of the two dogs—and sketching for about 45 minutes. Below you will see sketches that I made of Murphy (I didn't get to sketch Leo and have a raincheck I hope to cash in), then some sketches from Jean Shannon. If you sketched Murphy or Leo and would like to share your work please send me some jpegs to add to this post, or a link to your blog where you have posted your images.

I want to thank everyone for working hard, laughing hard, and making some great sketches! Thanks for dealing with the heat. 

And a very special thanks to Julie Fakler for sharing her work, and Molly Anthony who brought Murphy, and Suzanne Hughes who brought Leo, for making this such a fantastic evening.

120716_1MurphyGestureLeft: I (Roz Stendahl) started the sketching session by warming up with gesture sketches on 8.5 x 11.5 inch sheets of Hahnemühle Nostalgie using a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Click on any of the images to view an enlargement. Murphy is a Golden Retriever with a lovely red-brown coat.


120716_1MurphyLeft: My first sketch after I warmed up. I used a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist's Calligraphy pen for the dog, and applied light washes of gouache. (All of my sketches [Roz Stendahl] were on the same paper as listed in the previous image.)


120716_2MurphyLeft: A profile sketch as he sat on the floor. This and all my remaining sketches were made with a Staedtler Pigment Liner. (Roz Stendahl)




120716_3MurphyLeft: Murphy from the rear looking towards the head. I was seated on the floor with him. (Roz Stendahl)





120716_4MurphyLeft: another view as we sat on the floor, also from the rear with his head twisted up and back. (Roz Stendahl)





120716_5MurphyLeft: Murphy with his head down on the floor. My final sketch for the evening. (Roz Stendahl)





JeanLeo1Left: Jean Shannon worked in a small square Hand•Book Journal with her brush pen. Here are sketches of Leo (a Great Pyrenees).


JeanLeoLeft: another sketch of Leo, this time as he rests his head on his owner Suzanne Hughes' foot. (Jean Shannon)







JeanMurphyLeft: Sketches of Murphy by Jean Shannon.

  1. Reply

    Sounds like a good time was had by all. I tried to sketch a mouse. Yeah. I think you have to train your brain to click like a camera so you can continue after your subject runs off. I’m starting a collection of pens. It seem that the pen choice really does make a difference. Who knew?

  2. Reply

    Molly, it’s called memory drawing and every time you practice from life you work the muscle and it gets easier and easier. Of course sometimes my memory shuts down completely!

    Pen choice does make a difference. I’ve been persnickety about pens since I was 4 years old. My day had an office at home with one of those fountain pen stands and I used to go in there and use one of his fountain pens—even then I realized you could ruin such a thing and I always used the one he didn’t use so I wouldn’t abuse my privilege.

    But there is a lot to be said for using what’s at hand too!

    Keep drawing those mice!

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