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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day At The Museum: Featuring Guest Blogger Lucas Durham

Gather round gentle readers. Kat's given me the opportunity to share a tale with The Land of Dust Bunnies, and I intend to use my time well. What's that you ask? Who am I? The name is Lucas Durham. I'm a friend of Kat's and fellow illustrator. We met during Kat's waning days at the American Academy...but that's a story for another day. I'm getting off track.....

So about a month ago, Kat had this great idea for a plein aire outting. Since only the most foolhardy go out to paint during Chicago's frigid winter months, she suggested that we spend the day drawing and painting at the Field Museum.

Lucas & Kat

One invitee, Aaron Miller, had recently been on a day trip to the museum. While he had been sketching in the taxidermy section , Aaron had noted a plaque about an artist-in-residence, Peggy Macnamara. He proposed that we try to contact her in the hopes of seeing her studio and possibly some of the back rooms not normally accessible to the general public.

I'm thankful Kat followed through on Aaron's idea! Mrs. Macnamara gave us an extremely generous tour of her studio, record rooms, and the upstairs laboratory.

Here are a few pictures of the lab:

Here's the 'Cleaning Room' a portion of the lab where they use native beetles to clean the rotting flesh off animal bones, which will later be processed and categorized...

After the tour we went back to Peggy's studio to ask her a few questions. She showed us some blown up images from her sketchbook and explained the importance of the drafting stage.

It was inspiring to meet a woman so passionate about capturing nature

We spent the rest of the afternoon sketching in the taxidermy wing. Although I've visited that section of the museum in the past, it never occurred to me how much effort goes into building those displays. They are really works of art in their own right. A taxidermist must build, stuff, and pose the animals in a believable stance, a muralist must paint a background that fits the creature's natural habitat, and a diorama artist must decorate the display case to match the mural. What a team effort!

Here's what I drew:

I think I see the the beginnings of a roaring dragon and a retold alien...

Overall, it was a great day and a great opportunity. I have to thank Kat for organizing it, and Peggy Macnamara for hosting and inspiring us. I hope we can do it again soon!

Catch what Kat thought about the Museum Trip here

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