Giant Ground Sloth

Taking my own advice

I took my motivational advice from a recent writing.  Giving my artistic muse a kick in the pants, I left my studio for an outing with pad and pencil in hand and met up with some artist friends at the Texas Memorial Museum to relax and draw.  Saturday morning a half-dozen members of the Austin Urban Sketchers and I met at what should be called the Texas Natural History Museum instead of the Texas Memorial Museum.  Built in 1936 as the first Texas state museum, it contains wonderful collections of fossils, animals, fish, bugs, and meteorites from Texas; lots of natural history and drawing opportunities out of the rain and gray weather.

Texas Memorial Museum

Texas Memorial Museum

Anytime I’m out and about sketching, finding a place to sit usually dictates the subject of my drawing.  I found a nice bench in the Paleontology section right in front of a collection of bones.  It just so happened the skull of a Giant Ground Sloth was right in front of me.   At first glance it was difficult to tell which end was the front or even that it was a skull, but it looked interesting and had some nice shadows…and was in front of the bench.

Giant Ground SlothGiant Ground Sloth

Giant Ground Sloth

Comfortably seated on the bench I broke out my drawing pad and 2H graphite pencil.  I prefer the harder pencils for the majority of my sketches because it doesn’t smear as much as a softer lead when I drag my hand across the drawing.  I will use a softer lead pencil, such as a 2B. to fill in the darker areas and soften the shadows, as well as going harder than the 2H for very light shading or lines, but the 2H is preferred as my primary graphite drawing tool.

Comfortably drawing (Photo by my friend Rene Wojcik)

Comfortably drawing
(Photo by my friend Rene Wojcik)

When I sketch I typically first draw a light outline if the subject; hundreds of blind-contour drawings have helped enhance my ability to do this with some accuracy.  Blind-contour drawing is a eye-hand coordination practice where you look only at the subject you are drawing and not your paper.  Most of what you draw this way will look pretty strange at first, but will eventually look like what you are looking at.

Beginning of sloth skull

Beginning of sloth skull

Ignoring the crowds and running children, I get lost in my drawing.  There is only my pencil, my drawing and the shapes and shadows of the sloth.  It’s a good state of mind in which to be.

Giant Ground Sloth

Drawing of Giant Ground Sloth

After an hour or so I finished my drawing and became tired of sitting, so I spent the remaining time wandering the museum, enjoying the exhibits and pondering new works in my head.   By the end of the morning, I accomplished everything I subconsciously needed to accomplish.  I felt a little more inspired and a little more motivated than I had just two hours prior.    Now to work.


Me and a very distant relative

Me and a very distant relative

One thought on “Taking my own advice

  1. Reblogged this on Tainted Ink Press and commented:
    Sometimes we need to kick ourselves in the artistic pants. Buckle down and do the work.

    I’ve been attending a bi monthly art shop started by some long time friends. Professionals in the art and media field come together to work on projects and just relax in an art atmosphere promoting growth and exchange.

    Last week we had a cos-play model and that was fantastic, the outcome? I had some rough work, and some scratchy awkward outlines. I clearly need to practice.

    This gentleman took the words right out of my mouth.
    He took to his muses call and headed back to the Source.


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