Things to Do at the Memphis Zoo: Painting Tutorial
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Things to Do at the Memphis Zoo: Painting Tutorial

This summer, we asked some of our favorite artists to some to the Memphis Zoo and create something. After their visits, we asked them to share their creations, as well as how they did it.

Hillary and David Butler
We love any excuse to go on Memphis field trips and we were elated to spend some time at the Zoo! We headed out on the most perfect Wednesday afternoon, cameras and sketch pads in hand, ready to capture the animals at play. And they didn't disappoint! Every animal, it seemed, was ready to show off, which made this all the more exciting. Since we only had 2 hours, we decided to capture images of our favorite scenes and draw them out at home. Here's some tips and some images of our process on drawing animals.

A tip on photographing animals: since they are often in motion, we like to just keep snapping photos once they start doing something cute or cool to hopefully grab one great shot and delete all the unwanted shots. No fancy cameras needed, we just used our iphones and drew from these images. 

Hillary: I pieced together a composition using my favorite flamingo poses. I cut up the above photos and laid them out beside each other until I found an arrangement of birds that I liked. I absolutely loved the bottom left flamingo (I'm calling her Mary Katherine Gallagher in her Superstar pose) and she was the first bird to be drawn and the others had to fit around her. It's so liberating when you find the complete freedom in creating your piece- you are the art director and have complete creative license- go crazy! 



Finished product:

David: When you start sketching, the first thing to do is find the most interesting shapes or composition. Begin with a quick gesture, loosely laying in the dominant shapes to make sure the proportions are correction or pleasing. After the main shapes are placed, refine the work by focusing on the negative space, or the space between the animal and it background. Add in a background that loosely defines the space that the animal is in without competing for show with your animal.

David: I use color to add vibrancy to the composition. an elephant covered in dirt may be what your looking for, but interjecting bold yellows, reds and purples or visible brushwork, can add a dimension of movement and energy that creates enthusiasm for your work. If all you want is a rendering, take a photo- but if your looking for a work of art there needs to be an interpretation that can only come from an artist's voice. it will be the hand made-ness of the work that will capture your audience.

If they weren't already awesome enough, they both created computer desktop wallpaper for you to enjoy as well! Click on the images below to download the artwork. 

Posted by Zoo Info at 10:00 AM