Above: one of an on-going, recurring, series of sketches I've made from my "life model" Gert—a large rubber chicken puppet. You can see a video about Gert here, she's surrounded by some of the journals in which she appears. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
People who have visited my blog or my website have seen countless images of my current, resident life model, Gert. The above image is one of the journal selections from my website in which Gert appears. If you would like to see more, click through the journal selection galleries on RozWorks.com. You'll find some if you start with the "Early 2008" gallery and scroll down. I didn't always post all the Gert sketches, but I have to say she is probably in every one of my journals since 2000 when I first found her in a novelty store. At that time I still had Dottie as the resident life model, so my relationship with Gert as artistic muse didn't reach a full boil until 2003.
You'll also find images of Gert all over my blog. And if you attend a painting demo of mine you're likely to meet Gert in person. (She has a lovely beaded "Life Model" name tag to wear on such occasions!)
Left: The B-Team, well part of it anyway. A crew of life-like toys that I have purchased over the years, and used as drawing subjects. (That's Lewis on the far left, Shirl at the back, Clark [ha, ha] on the right and new hire Abigail in the center.) Click on the image to view an enlargement.
I have quite a menagerie of friends for Gert. All useful drawing models. Why toys? These aren't just any toys, they are accurate reproductions of the individual animals. Various manufacturers make these and animals from the exotic to the farm can be found at most toy stores.
The polar bears were a great find when I was at a Paris department store. On the return flight from Paris my movie station was broken and my digestion had shut down. I used that time to draw the polar bears the entire way, page after page of polar bear.
And you're still asking, "Why Toys?" It's simple, I never get to crawl under a polar bear at the zoo, but with a little bit of ingenuity and product placement I can get any angle I want on these guys. It's all practice for those odd moments at zoos, farms, the State Fair, when an animal turns in an odd way and your mind can't quite work out what is happening. If you've been practicing sketching your animal toys at odd angles you have a better chance to capture the details in your actual life sketch.
OK, and I just find animals (even animal toys) more interesting to sketch than sketching flowers and an endless supply of pears and peppers (which believe me I sketch a lot of), when it's raining out and I can't go to the zoo.
Start looking around for toys like this for your sketching sessions. I recommend that you avoid the really small toys and stick with animals that are at least in the 4 inch range of height and length. It's easier to see detail on this size toy and they tend to be fashioned with greater care. If you discover the mother lode of large toys (in the 18 to 20 inch size) let me know details immediately: location, links, costs, etc.!
Remember there's no upkeep for this menagerie, except a little dusting—nothing when compared with mucking out stalls. Your small dollar investment will be repaid with a lifetime of sketching fun.
Below: Abigail was recently found in a bin at the local Michaels. She was on sale for about $2.00! The following sketch is her inaugural sketch—she didn't even have a name yet. The first sketch is the important one—to determine if we have a rapport. If not, the unnamed toy gets passed along to a child. In this drawing I was using the Stabilo All (blue) and working on Nostalgie paper. I was still trying to decide what pencils and paper I'd use at Paws on Grand. I ruled out the Nostalgie immediately. It's an inexpensive padded paper that frankly I find to stiff and slick for what I want to do. I just don't like to hold the paper. Click on the image to view an enlargement.