Monday, January 26, 2009


Alaskan Brown Bear

More from the Smithsonian.  I found a place to sit in the Mammal Hall, a couple of hours into my visit yesterday.  In front of me, in a large glass case, was a stuffed Alaskan Brown Bear. I started drawing it, but wasn't really enjoying it for some reason.  The hall was crowded, I was feeling conspicuous, my feet hurt.  Whatever. 

It was funny - as I was drawing the stuffed bear, I could tell when people stopped and peeked over my shoulder to see what I was doing, and it made me immediately want to stop and shut the book and hide it.  Later, when I stopped in the Bones Hall and found a perch, I spotted a Brown Bear skeleton and tried again.  Apparently I like to draw things without their skin, because I really enjoyed this sketch. 

As I drew, a young girl, maybe 8 years old, came up and stood on my right side, unabashedly staring.  Maybe because she was a child, maybe because she was so blatant about watching, it didn't bother me like it had over in the Mammal Hall.  I glanced over at her and she smiled at me, gap-toothed.

"Hi."  I said.

"Hi.  You're a really good drawer."

"Thank you.  Do you like to draw?"


"Do you practice a lot?"

She smiled at me shyly and said yes.  On my left, her younger brother appeared.  He, too, watched as I shaded the skull.  Behind the girl, 3 others walked up - stair stepped in age - her brother and sisters.  They all spoke at once, "Cool, wow, awesome, are you drawing the bear?  How long have you been drawing?"  We talked for a few minutes and they went on their way.  A few minutes later, the scene was repeated, except without words as two young Asian kids stopped and watched for a while.  We smiled at each other and they watched the skull take shape.

It made me think about how differently we deal with new and unexpected situations - as children and then as adults.  Children are so curious and eager to ask questions and peer over shoulders to see what people are doing.  Adults are so covert about it.  Why is that?  Are we afraid of what people will think of us?  Are we scared to make someone else uncomfortable?  Are we just moving too fast to stop and pay attention to what is going on around us?



On a completely different note, I finished a new hat today and I think it's pretty special.  It's called a Butterfly Hat, and if you want to make one, the pattern is here.  I made mine out of a cotton yarn, so it isn't as stretchy as it might be in wool or an acrylic blend, but I like the way it looks and feels.  My personal in-house craft photographer helped me out with this photo.  (Thanks, Doodlebug.)

I hope you're all being creative and curious this week...