Mittwoch, 30. April 2014

Locomotive breath

Recently I went to the Springfestival of the Dampflokfreunde Berlin e.V. (steam train friends Berlin) and took a trip back in time.

photo by Joachim Neu

I did two coloured sketches of these old engines and learned a bit about their past:

the52 series was originally developped during WWII by the army as a heavy war machine. After the abatement of the Nazi regime it was still in use and throughlived slight modifications. In the former GDR it was still in use till the late 1960's.

The small Diesel light rail tractor Kö 5734 was built in 1942/43 and was sorted out as recently as 1994 (!).

Here you can see me draw the 52-engine.
photography by Joachim Neu

It's possible to book extra tours with the 52 series in the outskirts of Berlin.
An overview of the tours can be viewed here.

Thanks to Johannes Neu for the photographs.

Samstag, 26. April 2014

sketching Dinos in the wild...

If it comes to sketching animals I rather prefer to sketch from life than anything else.
If you have the possibility to draw animals in their natural surrounding you should always give it a shot.
Luckily we do have a couple of dinosaurs in the outskirts of Berlin, it's not really hard to find them.

Although I really love the silhouettes of ceratopsians they are a quite delicate subject and can become easily aggressive, especially in the springtime when they are having their young...

giant crocodiles are better to be sketched from a distance...

And I told the kids not to get too close...

Next to that we learned that as a matter of fact Spinosaurus wasn't as dangerous as he is generally depicted...

Experts assume that there is a correlation between vegetarianism in spinosaurs and the growth...errmm...of trees.
Two years ago Spino was still carnivorous...;-P

Today we had a blast at the Tier- und Freizeitpark Germendorf.

Freitag, 25. April 2014

The laws of physics... cannot change....

Yesterday I finished a comission late at night (or better: early in the's that shocking moment when the birds start to sing outside and you realize what time it is already.)

Happily I turned around to clean the brushes and by doing so unintentionally knocked over the water glas...the least thing I needed. *Arrgh!*

But instead of spilling the water all over the room or to break the glass it just fell perfectly upside down, with just a few drops spilled around it.
I never saw something like this:

The water remained allmost completely inside the glass.

Today I left it like that; I'm just too curious to see how long the glass can hold the water this way...

Sonntag, 6. April 2014

anatomica draconis - part I

I guess this is going to become a series of blog posts since hence I feel not capable to sumarize a vast theme like this in one post.

One of my art students, Miriam Häusler, approached me with a most crucial question within Fantasy-Art and I am ever so happy and thankful about that question because it helps me to thoroughly think over a theme that seems to have become common sense within Fantasy and that is why, in my point of view, it is necessairy to have a closer and conscious look at it over and over again.

The question was of how to approach the anatomy of dragons.

I postponed our lesson and arranged an expedition to the natural history museum one week later to set out for our queste for Draco.
There are several reasons why I chose the natural history museum as a starting point to approach dragons:

1) the impression of size. 

Looking at pictures of reptiles, birds, other paintings of dragons etc might be helpful to get a first idea but to me only if one is confronted with the true sensual sensation of the size of  existing creatures we get a better notion of what inches, metres or cubits look like in "real bones".

2) anatomical diversity and possibilities within nature

If you look at the skeletons of real creatures it helps you a lot to gradually develop an eye for specializations of anatomical features and starting from there to begin to develop your own ideas of anatomical possibilities for a creature, we see in front of our inner eye.

Here are some examples:

Dicraeosaurus, a smaller sauropod, specialised in feeding on low growing plants.Notice the extended vertebral notches to keep his presumably rather stiff neck close to the ground unlike other sauropods, with which he shared the same environment.

Diplodocus, who's long neck and tail equal in it's functionality the construction of a modern suspension bridge.

Allosaurus' impressive skull, the chambers in the skull helped to keep it light weighted

skeleton of a sea eagle in comparison with Allosaurus' arms and claws

3) if we limit ourselves to the two points mentioned above in my point of view we reduce ourselves rather by practicing "Science Fiction" and will not touch the mythological/archetypical nature of the dragon sufficiently.

the mythological aspect of fossilised bones

I am always in awe when I approach the real skeletons of extinct creatures, the fossilised bones which represent the immense span of time which symbolically resembles to me as well the immortality of the dragon, emblem of the forces of nature in their unpredcitability.
To me they are in fact like sculptures in their sheer beauty and the purest inspiration.

recommended readings:

John Howe - Forging Dragons *

John Howe - the Fantasy Art Workshop*

Daniel Falconer - Smaug: Unleashing the dragon

Joseph Reichholf - Einhorn, Phönix, Drache

* Forging Dragons and the Fantasy Art Workshop in German language