One of my long term projects is to create illustrations for a book of animal poems, it is something I drop in and out of when time allows. In the book the animals are having a party and each party goer has to perform their party piece, so my task is to illustrate the animals doing recognisable human actions (or extreme human actions in some cases). Because the animals are doing things that they couldn’t really do I have to imagine their positions. To enable me to do this I have to get to know how the animal works physically, I do this by drawing them, a lot. Drawing them enough times in different positions helps me to imagine how they would look doing unusual things. Practising in this way is also useful when I want to change the composition of a painting, it helps me to move wings and limbs and heads into natural positions.
A few practice sketches of various characters.
Once I have the positions right I can transfer the outline to watercolour paper and create the final image. Below are just a few of the characters so far. We have a stunt diving duck, two beavers dancing a tango, an acrobatic tortoise and a sad clown buffalo about to receive a custard pie.