My favorite place in Ottawa is the Museum of Nature. It’s four floors of sketching heaven. Museums seem to be turning into videos and photographs but not the Museum of Nature. It’s all about “stuff” and most of it is worthy of a sketcher’s time.
Right now, the Museum of Nature has a special dinosaur exhibit. While their permanent collection holds a large exhibit of North American dinosaurs, a new exhibit features dinosaurs from other parts of the world. The significant thing about this is that while those of us in the US and Canada know the dinosaurs of North America, the breakup of Pangea and resultant dinosaur species radiation on their respective continents produced a diversity we don’t normally get to see. And there I was, looking up at a whole bunch of them. All of these sketches were done in a landscape format (5.5×8.5) Stillman & Birn softcover sketchbook.
Drawing bones may not be for everyone but for me, there is no better exercise for the visual brain as there’s so many facets, so many overlapping parts, and so many contours that they really require keen observation and some relationship planning if you’re going to get sketches even a little bit correct. And so I did a bunch of them during my time in Ottawa. The fact that the museum is air-conditioned and Ottawa was quite toasty while I was there didn’t hurt my motivation either.
Another reason this sketching was fun was the kids. The museum was full of them everytime I went there and while this meant is was quite loud, there’s nothing better than kids when you’re sketching. They ask all the right questions and none of the wrong ones. They don’t ask you why you do it or give you excuses for why they ‘have no talent for drawing’ because all of them draw. Many fine discussions with the kids.
The newest acquisition to the museum is this skull. It’s called Xenoceratops foremostensis and it lived in Alberta. Similar to other ‘ceratops’ species in the permanent collection, but with two huge horns above its eyes. I thought it was gorgeous and had to draw it.
If you want to improve your drawing “eye”, give dinosaurs a try. They’re fun.