Hare carrying a drink can

Jackrabbiting about

As part of an online course with University of Newcastle (Australia), you’re encouraged to get out the pencils and start observing.

The aim of the Natural History Illustration course teaches you how to see and draw nature like an illustrator. It helps you build observational and visual interpretation skills.

Denise always likes learning new things, the instructors seemed to know their stuff, it was free (free is good), and it only went for six weeks. What’s to lose?

A requirement was to draw a North American animal, so a bouncy white-tailed jackrabbit did the trick. It had to be drawn absolutely to scale without tracing. This was a great lesson because normally Denise tends to draw totally by eye – there’s no measuring involved if she can help it.

With the help of an Andrew Zuckerman photo, the preliminary drawing was carefully done. Then you had to provide a progress report …

Progress report submission

Denise was expecting the instructors to check and mark the work, and was rather thrown when it was actually other participants. Each person had to mark three other people’s work, which was rather bizarre. The learners teaching the learners. However, it was interesting seeing other people’s work, and these courses are terrific for getting you moving.

The next sessions involved putting detail into the animal (pencil only) …

… and incorporating a background in which you’d normally see it lounging about. Here’s the final figure.

White-tailed jackrabbit

And because life needs some enhancement, the jackrabbit ended up in a watercolour. He’s reading a book about cheating at high jumping, holding a can of performance enhancing drugs and imagining himself winning first prize.

Jackrabbit in watercolour
Illustrated jackrabbit!