Sunday, December 14, 2008

drawing rabbits at RabbitEars

Judy Hardin, the kind owner of RabbitEars, a fabulous pet supply store and rabbit rescue center in Kensington, CA asked me to do a booksigning event for my book Rabbit Language. I was thrilled to do it and cockily volunteered to sketch rabbits live on site from 2 to 5pm. Judy said we could throw in the drawing and add a few bucks onto the price of the book.

I arrived a bit early and set to warming up by sketching the resident bunnies....boarders, bunnies available for adoption and some of the rabbits who live there.

Right on schedule someone brought in a box of two bunnies for me to get to work on. We put them on a well-lit table and I proceeded to draw them. However, they wouldn't stop moving at all.

I was totally panic-stricken and was doing page after page of drawings: each of which having just a couple of lines on it. I tried doing several drawings at once, each having one pose and flipping back and forth between them. I turned around to see a college grad 'volunteer' also drawing, and he was doing a better job than me. I looked from my drawing of one or two bad lines to his page with two complete bunnies on it. He didn't seem to be having as much trouble with the movement as I was. Hmmm. I asked him if he would be also giving his drawings to the people but he never answered me. He didn't as it turned out.

Anyhow, no time to worry about that. I was getting box after box of bunnies to draw, all adorable cute and all moving around like, well, rabbits. They were exploring, they were trying to jump up or down, they were thumping and washing their faces. They would form the most adorable poses only to hold them for about 30 seconds.

I am used to drawing people on the spot and love to do so but I had forgotten how hard it is to draw anything that is moving around. I remembered spending 4 hours on a painting of some horses in a coral -- a painting that I destroyed later. I tried and tried and it was no good.

Everyone at RabbitEars was totally supportive and encouraging or honestly I don't know if I could have kept at it. As I was sitting there I also became aware that compared to these people I know nothing about rabbits and was beginning to feel that I also knew nothing about drawing. And making art that is already paid for has always been incredibly difficult for me due to my self esteem problem. And there were bunnies lined up in boxes waiting.

I was not in a position to give up so I soldiered on making drawing after drawing and was able to give most people a decent portrait of each bunny. They were wild messy portraits but they captured a feeling. And maybe one or two really got the personality. One bunny was so frightened that the fear came right into the drawing. (It was probably even scarier for the animals than for me.)

It became evident that after 20 minutes or more each pair of rabbits would settle down a bit and become a lot easier to draw. But this was a long time to wait when people where waiting. I wish we had more tables and could stage them but this was not possible.

At one point I got two guinea pigs. One of them stood right in front of me, looking at me, as still as a statue and as if he was waiting for some kind of stage direction. His companion was also a good model but I couldn't take my eyes off this pig. It seemed so strange that he was so attentive and still. He seemed so intelligent. I didn't find him as adorable as all the bunnies but I was very impressed.

I am sorry that I gave away all the drawings...I would like to remember each of those adorable animals. It was an incredible opportunity to draw all those different but sweet rabbits and hopefully the drawings will get framed and saved.

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