Tag Archives: Museum of Natural History

Horses, Battles, and a Couple of Moose

Yesterday I spent a few hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, surrounded by kids and tourists as I drifted from room to air-conditioned room. My goal was to do studies from battle scenes, to draw horses, peasants, and armor as illustration reference for my Mesoamerican BURIED BENEATH US book with Macmillan. But of course I love just being at the Met too; each and every object feels full of life and presence. Thousand year old jade combs and 18th century portraits of children. Someone wore this. Someone made this. This is what someone left behind.

The Aztec and Incan empires fell at the hands of Cortez and Pizarro, respectively, so before I left my apartment I looked through my roughs of page spreads that demand drawings of Spanish conquistadors to see what I needed. The museum’s European political paintings and various on-location works by the Impressionists were especially helpful in giving me ideas for poses, composition, and general stylistic approach. I’m not sure quite how this book will hang together yet–right now I’m trying to take each section at a time–but going to the Met gave me a much fuller sense of what is possible. I hope to pay many more visits over the rest of the summer.

Also I completely forgot to post this last month but I did this moose sketch while at the Museum of Natural History, too. I love the pose within this scene! So much emotion between the two animals. They’re fierce and majestic, fragile but strong… can’t wait to get back there again soon, too. I love living in New York!!

Museum of Natural History

This Sunday found me at the Museum of Natural History in NYC drawing Mayan sculptures and pottery. After many days spent indoors working on my BURIED BENEATH US book I thought it would be fun and helpful to go get a look at some source material. At first glance the Central American wing is a little disappointing: it lacks the dioramas, reproduction clothing, educational videos and drawings curated for many of the other civilizations. But at closer look there’s much to see, and the time that I spent there gave me some new ideas for the book.

From the towering reproduction stelae (above) to the tiny figurines, the museum’s collection of Mayan figures wear a dizzying alphabet of marks and lines to describe their clothing, hair, and ornamentation. While this stylized short-hand doesn’t quite compute for modern viewers, it’s a terrific jumping off point for an illustrator. With my walnut ink washes and black line work I focused trying to draw “from the inside” of the figures, looking for gesture and anatomy within the different clay portraits:



My giant Moleskin gave me ample room to play, and I’m already looking forward to my return. In the meantime I may take a trip down to China Town to draw in the markets, the closest stand-in for village life that I can think of in New York City (but I’m open to suggestions!) In other news today I signed the gigantic beast that is my contract for SHARK. I’m a real author!! Huzzah for Macmillan!