Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Robert Burns Day and his poem "To a Mouse"

I hesitated to put this study up, it's nothing gross to a naturalist, a dead mouse. Some people would say "oh, gross!" but all through time, man (scientists and artists in particular) has learned by studying from dead creatures. I love animals and things of our natural world and have a great respect for them even when dead. This mouse was very beautiful and being the curious naturalist that I am, I studied it, sketched it and painted it. It's fur was soft and shiny, and it's tiny paws amazing. Someday I'm going to have some pet mice again, (had them when a teenager) then I can study and paint them all I want.
The top painting was done first with a light pencil gesture sketch then I used watercolors, his whiskers being added with a Chinese white watercolor and tiny brush. The bottom left study was done with a brown micron permanent marker and the right one was done with non permanent brown ink, that I touched with a waterbrush to create value washes.

And now about Robert Burns, he was a poet from Scotland and they commemorate his life by having a Burn's Supper on January 25th, there are formalities of speeches, whiskey toasts and haggis. Here's a link to Wikipedia to learn more about it.

And why I mention Robert Burns...Scottish poet? I heard a poem on Robert Burns day (Jan. 25th) and it was about a mouse and it went with my mouse study; here's a link to UTube to listen to a reading of his poem "To a Mouse".

I like that he calls the mouse lucky, because he doesn't look back at his past or worry about his future, he lives in the here and now unlike man. Sometimes when I'm feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, I'll look at my dog rolling in the grass, trotting freely around the yard and lucky you are! To be as simple as an animal and live for just this moment.


Doda said...

fabulous mouse pics

We'll be eating our vegetarian haggis soon!!!!

Mary McAndrew said...

Thanks Doda!
So tell me, what is in Vegetarian Haggis? I've had the 'real' stuff and I wasn't crazy about it, but then I don't usually eat red meat.
Keep in touch,

Chris said...

Mary, I love all of your sketches! This mouse is outstanding and he looks so soft, love the detail. I agree with you, the best way to study something is to draw it!

Carol Creech said...

Hi Mary,

I just love this study! You did an amazing job. Like Chris said, love the detail and the softness. Looks like something out of a Beatrix Potter book.

Anonymous said...

Amazing sketches. I'm glad to see your interest in Robert Burns.

Mary McAndrew said...

thanks Chris!
I wasn't sure about the reaction I'd get to putting a dead mouse study up but artists and nature interested people understand I gotta study what's around you.
I like your blog too! I'll have to check it out more, I like working in pastels also but haven't concentrated on it in awhile...gotta focus on a few mediums, not all of them!
take care,

Mary McAndrew said...

Hi Carol,
well I'm blushing be compared with Beatrix Potter no less!!! oh wow! My heroine! I think I was her in another life, I had animals just like her, growing up, and a pet rabbit on a lead. She also loved being out on the land studying and painting, taking nature notes and don't forget the love of Fungus's and mushrooms (just like me!!) hahaha....

Mary McAndrew said...

Hi Emma-Louise,
Thanks for the comment! I love poetry and sometimes spurt some out myself! I have some stories I want to illustrate along with some poetry. I am so inspired when I read poetry, it just gets my creative mind going. It was funny how the Robert Burns day and my mouse study happened at the same time, so I put the two together. Why not?
Take care, come visit often!

Carol Creech said...

Hi Mary - well, the first thing I thought of when I saw the mouse in watercolor like you have it is a children's book illustration. And Beatrix Potter (that soft style...) popped into mind. I have a toddler at home, so I'm kinda immersed in kids books...I think I enjoy them as much as she does!!

Mary McAndrew said...

Hey Carol,
If you keep encouraging me I just might start illustrating all those fun poems I wrote and the two childrens stories! I love childrens stories and when I get started love to make up silly fun rhymes. I have one story in particular that was inspired by all my friends encouraging me to go to England for my big adventure...the main character is really me! I guess I should save it as a surprise. Hey, if I start to work on it, perhaps you could be my critic and I'll send you pics?? I do respect your talented eye!

Kate (Cathy Johnson) said...

Beautifully done! I've learned more from a respectful drawing of some small dead thing than from all the photos in all the field guides I own...

Mary McAndrew said...

Hi Kate,
well next time I find a creature that 'didn't make it' near my front road, I'll be taking time to study it. Of course that's if it's not gross...sometimes small birds get hit by cars, people drive very fast on my road.
You feel sad when you find something that died, but also can wonder in amazement at the beauty of something you don't usually get a chance to see so close or touch.

Doda said...

Hi, sorry hadn't noticed your follow up comment-
Veggie haggis is made with oatmeal and lentils and various other pulses. I think it's the spices that give it the flavour. Ours was yummy this year!

Oh and the watercolours you can buy here...

Mary McAndrew said...

thanks for the link Doda! I couldn't remember where I had seen them. And maybe someday I'll ask you for that recipe...I think I'd have to try it first!

Elia said...

Me and my family used to own gerbils, and most of them had mouse attitudes, but mine was special to me. He was really active and was addicted to his spinning wheel. and used to jump over a meter from my shoulder to his cage. I just love to feel the electricity under the skin of small animals to id let him run in my shoulders and arms for a really long while. Once he got real sick, and fell on his side, unable to stand up. I gave my best to get him better, and managed to have him up on his feet the very same day. he lived over a year after that. I dont consider any life as gross or worthless, and as I held his lifeless body the day he died, I couldnt help but to be amazed at as how little that body meant to me. It may sound stupid to say that, but i just saw a useless wrapper. The neat part of him was in my memories and around me in his tiny soul. He was a good gerbil. I hope to get some more in the future, but Zack was special.