Back in 2012, the UWI Zoology Museum was the venue for the TTFNC Art Group’s first ever outing. At the time, it was agreed by all that the museum contained sufficient inspiration in its hundreds of fascinating specimens to sustain many, many more trips. On Sunday 20th November, eleven members finally returned for another morning of drawing and painting. Once again Mike Rutherford was extremely accommodating in allowing us access to the museum and helping us each select our desired specimens.
This time the process was complicated somewhat by a power cut, which left the entire University in the dark for the day, and meant that Mike had to guide us around his Aladdin’s cave of treasures by torchlight. It also forced us to set up on the desks in the open-air undercroft outside the museum, which turned out to be very pleasant and in the end was probably an improvement to being inside the crowded display room, with its artificial lighting.
Perhaps the darkness caused by the power cut had put ghoulish thoughts in our minds, as our chosen specimens were decidedly spooky! They included a taxidermied vampire bat, a pickled frog, a giant longhorn beetle and a snake skeleton. Skulls also proved a popular choice; lion, howler monkey, deer and turtle skulls were all selected for sketching by different artists, with some very pleasing, if eerie, results.
The shape and form of skulls provides excellent drawing practice, as one can attempt to capture the three-dimensional, sculptural nature of the object, using shading to indicate depth and adjusting and readjusting lines on the paper until one is happy that the proportions are just right. This approach was exemplified by Ayodhya Ouditt who produced several pages of very successful skull sketches, from multiple angles, and using a combination of pencil and pen and ink to experiment with different techniques.
Less macabre subjects included a case of Trinidadian butterflies, which first-time members Annelise Randall and Sharon Vanderhyden portrayed using pastels and coloured pencil, respectively.
Time disappeared quickly, with everyone completely absorbed in their drawings from start to finish. Once again, the museum proved an extremely popular venue. Even after two trips I still feel that we have only capitalised on a tiny part of the great potential that the museum holds for our enthusiastic members; we will definitely be returning in the near future!