Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Sketching the Dodo at the Natural History Museum

The Dodo at the Natural History Museum
pen and sepia ink in Moleskine Sketchbook, 8" x 10"
all images copyright Katherine Tyrrell

On Friday, the Drawing London Group which I belong to visited the Natural History Museum for our monthly outing.

I was on a mission to produce a sketch for one of the Sketchercise members participating in "A Postcard from my Walk".

Like I said in my last post, museums and art galleries provide lots of opportunities for walking out of the nasty winter weather .  They are particularly valuable for me with my dodgy feet which don't like the cold, wet or icy underfoot!  So I figured the outing would give me lots of opportunities to find a subject for my postcard.

I was rather worried as I was going to be sketching at a completely new size for me 7" x 5" (having abandoned the idea of even trying 6" x 4".  The problem is I'm used to sketching big and this new size proved to be a bit of a problem.

I decided to have a go at sketching the Dodo.  I reckoned that had to be a bit unique as subject matter goes!  There are several types of images in the Natural History Museum (of which more in another post on Making A Mark). I started by trying to sketch the engavings and paintings of a dodo in the Images Gallery.

Engravings of the Dodo - Thomas Herbert

Well - I don't whether it's because it's a very odd looking bird or I just don't like sketching small but the first sketches came out looking rather odd.

Tiny Dodo sketch #1 - during which I learned they should not have a bulbous crop
Dodo #2
7" x 5" pen and sepia ink in Moleskine sketchbook
Having managed to get the second dodo sketch to actually fit a 7" x 5" space, I decided that maybe this wasn't the ideal subject as I felt I was cramming him in.  Obviously my eye was not used to having to sketch so small.

Also what I really didn't like either of the sketches as the dodo in both looked.....stuffed - if not wooden!

I finally came across "the real stuffed dodo" in the birds gallery and was able to produce the sketch at the top after I abandoned the constraint of the 7" x 5" format and went back to 8" x 10" which is the format I've used for a long while.  I'm much happier with that one!

The Cocoon at the Natural History Museum - floor to ceiling
Those tiny marks at the bottom are people walking up stairs!
At the end of the day I found completely different subject matter to sketch for my Postcard from my Walk (to Orange County California).  The subject in question was right at the entry to the Cocoon and next to this floor to ceiling window  - which left me feeling very wobbly and rather queasy!

It's ages since I've felt myself impelled to fall off a vertical drop!  Thank goodness there was a window inbetween!


  1. ooh I don't like that drop. I do like your Dodo sketches though.

  2. I really like your dodos, especially the top one! Am I right in remembering that that particular stuffed specimen is covered in swan feathers...?!

  3. I looked at them and couldn't remember what they reminded me of - but yes I think you're right. They are most probably swan feathers.

  4. Great sketches of the Dodo...funny how he didn't want to fit on your smaller paper. lol The museum is a great place to do a postcard for the sketchercise project.

  5. Went to the Picasso exhibit. Really wish I could have sat with my sketch book. There were so many people it was impossible. Love sketching at places like this.


I always check identities and ALL links in comments for spam.

Due to excessive attempts to introduce spam via comments on this blog, I've introduced a regime where all comments with links in the ID or text to the websites of hotels/resorts/tourist destinations will NOT be approved and are deleted. The websites of repeat spammers are also reported to Google.

Nice, sensible people who are not new to blogging probably don't need to read my Comments Policy