Drawing at the Royal Winter Fair 2012

Ice Pigeon sketch at the Royal Fair by Shannon Reynolds 2012
Ice Pigeon: just one of the gorgeous impractical creatures in the poultry show--a pigeon with feathered feet. I saw this one being judged and having #1 marked on her tag.
Last week I packed up a lean sketching kit: sketchbook, watercolour and graphite pencils, and a brush pen, and spent the day sketching at the Royal.  I planned my visit for one of the two days featuring the poultry show which is my favourite event at the fair.  All those lovely birds, captive and at eye level, make perfect drawing subjects!  Of course, the rest of the fair is great too and one day isn't nearly enough time to see and draw it all. Once again there were many fellow sketchers (even the high school kids are now taking advantage of this opportunity). 

Dairy Cow sketch Royal Winter Fair Shannon Reynolds 2012
Brown Swiss dairy cow
This sweet-faced calf was bellowing for her stable mates who were off being groomed somewhere.
Her complacent expression belies her agitation. I drew anyway.

Piglets, sketchbook at the Royal Fair 2012 by Shannon Reynolds

Turkey sketch Royal Winter Fair by Shannon Reynolds 2012
Beltsville Small White male turkey
This grotesque, but magnificent turkey was strutting constantly and "gobble, gobbling" to the screaming delight of the taunting hoardes of school children.

Pigeons sketchbook Royal Winter Fair 2012 by Shannon Reynolds
Nestling pigeons

"African Brown Goose" Royal Winter Fair 2012 by Shannon Reynolds
African Brown Goose "old male" category

Call Ducks

The call ducks are unflappable despite the cacophony all around them.

Toulouse Grey geese
The bonus: this year there were many Ontario cheese makers at the fair selling their goods at less than retail price.  I came home with an armful of cheeses from Monforte, the Upper Canada Cheese Company, and Woolwich dairy--partly offsetting the price of my admission.


Drawn from life

life drawing by Shannon Reynolds charcoal on gessoed paper
Zak, seated pose, vine charcoal on gessoed paper
I've made a return to life drawing in recent weeks.  We have a chatty group, which is great for refining my ability to concentrate, and we've had a number of excellent models (including some horses!, but more on that in a future post). 

life drawing gesture, charcoal on paper, Shannon Reynolds 2012
Rachel, vine charcoal on paper

Life drawing, charcoal on paper, by Shannon Reynolds, 2012
Rachel, vine charcoal on paper
Life drawing, charcoal on paper, Shannon Reynolds, 2012
Rachel reclining, vine charcoal on paper

Rachel reclining, take 2, charcoal on gessoed paper

Giancarlo, gestures, vine charcoal on paper

Giancarlo, reclining, vine charcoal on paper

life drawing, chalk and charcoal on BFK Rives, Shannon Reynolds, 2012
Giancarlo, vine charcoal and chalk on paper

life drawing standing gesture, charcoal on paper, Shannon Reynolds
Robyn, standing gesture, vine charcoal

Robyn, standing gesture, vine charcoal

Zak, quick head studies, vine charcoal on paper
life drawing, charcoal on paper, Shannon Reynolds, 2012
Zak, slouch, vine charcoal on paper
Horse, quick study, vine charcoal on paper

Some quick head studies, vine charcoal


The cat came back

two paper mache masks cats by artist Shannon Reynolds
Paper Mache masks of our dear departed
I guess I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to my cat (who departed this world after twenty years only weeks ago--see his true likeness here).  A friend's Hallowe'en party provided a perfect excuse to re-incarnate him, twice, while trying my hand at paper mache.

two paper mache cat masks by artist Shannon Reynolds
This one is the better likeness
I made these masks, which are lightweight, flexible, and easy-to wear, over a form I sculpted from SuperSculpey (a first for me) and aluminum foil using multiple reference photos.  The likenesses are far from exact, but I think the masks conjure him well nonetheless.

two paper mache cat masks by artist Shannon Reynolds

For the mask-making, I followed the ingenious techniques explained so comprehensively by Jonni Good on her amazingly informative blog: Ultimate Paper Mache.  Jonni, if you find this post, I've ordered your book, but haven't yet received it and so made use of your excellent YouTube videos.

And, since the carnavalesque masks seemed to represent only one aspect of his personality, I also sculpted a more dignified bust, using a paper mache clay also developed by Jonni Good over a wire and foil armature.  I haven't decided whether to paint him, as the ancient Greeks surely would've, or leave him to yellow slightly (there's some linseed oil in the mix).  I think I like the gravitas of the unpainted version for now.

paper mache cat sculpture by artist Shannon Reynolds
Cosimo, profile
paper mache cat sculpture artist Shannon Reynolds
About face
paper mache cat sculpture Shannon Reynolds
paper mache cat sculpture artist Shannon Reynolds

Hot Ticket IFOA

Junot Diaz, Michael Chabon, and Siri Agrell at the IFOA

Last Friday night I was in an enthusiastic audience along with literary stars Michael Ondaatje and Linda Spalding to hear Junot Diaz and Michael Chabon in conversation with Siri Agrell about their new books (ostensibly, although the conversation veered all around them rather than delving into them):  This is How you Lose Her (Diaz), and Telegraph Avenue (Chabon), at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. It was a sold out event.  Junot Diaz is compelling on stage--never still, always gesticulating.  He must be a riveting professor at MIT.   I sketched while I listened, but never really caught Chabon's likeness. Diaz and Agrell are better.

Junot Diaz not keeping still
In my defense, the lighting was pretty low.  Good practice for losing my inhibitions about drawing in public, though.

Siri Agrell at the podium


Cosimo 1992-2012

My best animal friend for over 20 years.  This portrait is of him as he was in his final month--a still regal centenarian whose personality was, as always, a hundred times bigger than his size. 

Cosimo, oil on panel, 20" x 16"

Cosimo, detail

Cosimo, detail


At the Bath

At the Bath (two grackles), oil on panel, 12" x 12"

Blue Jay

Young Blue Jay, charcoal and chalk in sketchbook


The Backyard Menagerie

I've been slightly hobbled by a kneecap injury and the studio is a long climb, so I've been staging my own Rear Window scenario and drawing the characters that appear in my view.  So many birds.  Such beautiful plumage.  Such antics.  No murders yet, but suspects abound.

Mourning Dove
Cardinals on the feeder

White-throated Sparrow and puffed-up Mourning Dove
White-throated Sparrow on clay pot

More soon.