Drawing & Painting Wild Animals || Vic Bearcroft

Whether you like this book is going to depend on whether or not you want to paint the zoo’s stock-in-trade (the analogy is Vic’s – he suggests zoos as the most practical way of seeing animals in real life).

Assuming you do, this is a thoughtfully arranged book that groups its subjects into Big Cats, Bears, Pachyderms, etc. This makes a varied topic manageable and also means that creatures with broadly similar characteristics – body shapes, hair/fur and so on – are kept together. You could, I suppose, argue for geographic groupings, but this would suit the naturalist better than the artist. In each section, Vic deals with basic shapes and distinctive features, moving on to demonstrations that will show you how to paint a specific animal. Treatments and backgrounds vary, which gives you the chance both to highlight your subject and put it in its natural context. It’s in the former that Vic is at his best as his landscapes have a habit of looking rather flat. I can’t decide whether this is deliberate, though. It’s possible that he is playing the backgrounds down so as to concentrate on the main subject, but it also has the effect of making the animals disappear into them, which is unfortunate.

This is a bit of a quibble, as this is otherwise an excellent book and Vic is superb on both the modelling and the detail work that give his subjects life – the most important aspect of animal painting.

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