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Animal Drawing Entices Artists of All Stripes

Education posts

For over 30 years, Museum naturalist and diorama master Stephen Quinn has shown students the art of drawing animals—from their skeletal composition, to their musculature, to the nuanced patterns of their coats and gaits. The course always draws students with a range of backgrounds, including expert medical illustrators and comic book artists as well as enthusiastic beginners. And every year, Quinn sees a few familiar faces.

One belongs to George Corbin, who has taken the course five times and has already signed up for Animal Drawing’s spring session, which will run for eight weeks beginning on Thursday, March 15. An art history professor and research associate in the Museum’s Department of Ornithology, Corbin began taking the course while pursuing a certificate in natural science illustration from the New York Botanical Garden. Working full-time, he was unable to attend many daytime courses at the garden, and the Museum’s nighttime option allowed him to hone his drawing skills.

“I can’t easily get to Asia, Africa, or other exotic places,” says Corbin. “But sketching the dioramas allows me to work with real specimens, with accurate fauna as well as flora. Steve is a master craftsman, and he’s great at reinforcement and offering positive suggestions to students.”

http://www.flickr.com//photos/amnh/sets/72157629362128873/show/

Taking the course repeatedly allows Corbin to draw many of the same animals in different media. He began with graphite and charcoal, moved to colored pencils, and now hopes to try watercolor in the next session. “I can get a good sketch in the two-hour class now,” he says. “When I started, it took me two sessions.”

For the final project to obtain his certificate, Corbin will be sketching a Tlingit shaman’s oystercatcher rattle from the Museum’s collections. The artifact depicts a variety of animals, including an oystercatcher, owl, bear, and mountain goats’ horns. Fortunately for Corbin, the Museum’s habitat dioramas are allowing him to fit in a little extra practice.

To sign up for this spring’s Animal Drawing course, click here.

All drawings courtesy of George Corbin.

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