Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fun with Taxidermy

Had a nice visit to the La Sierra University World Museum of Natural History. It has all kinds of taxidermied animals; reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. Many are very well done, not the weird shrivelly creatures you sometimes see (a lot were prepared by freeze-drying). But since the collection was still being worked on, a lot of animals didn't have labels.

We had some time alone inside to sketch. The guy manning the office came over to see what was going on after I made a bunch of noise ripping paper out of my sketchbook and rattling around my watercolor set. Later, a big bunch of people came in on some kind of campus tour. Since I was sitting on the floor, leaning on another display case, I was either in their way or they'd try to be sneaky about looking at what I was doing. On to the sketches!

The museum said it has the largest collection of Southeast Asian birds in the US. There were many colorful birds of unknown species. The ones I painted had labels: two hornbills (a man said about the Helmeted Hornbill "That's the ugliest thing I've ever seen") and a cuckoo. The coolest birds were up too high to see while sitting and I it's hard to stand and hold all my watercolor stuff. I was kind of lazy with my color mixing on these. It's fun to draw birds that are holding still!

There were strange groupings of mammals; armadillos, monkeys, civets, baby hoofed animals. The bushdog looked a little off, but I liked its curled tail and shocked expression. I think the little armadillo was a six-banded. The capybara looked kind of mad too.

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