The Bone Drawings: Beautiful Labyrinth, Something of the Rabbit, Lucy’s Skull and a Tiny Corset.

I have spent a very happy week drawing bones for Beautiful Beasts. After sketching and printmaking it’s great to sit down for some concentrated observation. I started off with sketches and then looked for some particular aspect of the bone that appealed to me. Here are the drawings. For more explanations and photos etc click on the titles to go to the Beautiful Beasts blog posts.

Under the Skin 2: The Beautiful Labyrinth….

A long bone I found near the reservoir. At one end there is glimpse of the interior structure. That’s what I liked


A4 Sketchbook: pencil.


The whole bone: pencil


Detail of above… the part I liked


Pencil study of the beautiful labyrinthine structure. I could have gone on for days …

Under the Skin 3 : Something of the Rabbit about it

A curious thing, I now know to be a rabbit’s jawbone.


Pencil with a stray piece of dry grass.


Watercolour study


Drybrush  watercolour study


Under the Skin 4 : Lucy’s Skull and the Tiny Corset

The lovely muntjac skull that my friend Lucy gave me.


A4 Sketchbook


Watercolour Study


Gouache study

The Tiny Corset

The last bone. It’s a small upturned skull which was casting a long eloquent shadow, or it’s a tiny corset for a fairy, whichever you prefer.


Pencil:  4 x 2 inches.

Footbone note : The reproduction of pencil work has always been problematic. It still is. Scanning tends to reflect the shiny dark pencil and lightens the image. It  becomes a poor thing in relation to its original, with many mid and light tones missing. It’s fine as a record but when I see fine pencil work on the internet I can appreciate just how good the original must be.

Under The Skin: The Beauty of Bones

I am fascinated by bones. Over at Beautiful Beasts this coming week I shall be drawing some bones, bits of those fabulous structures which support most of the beasts that Sue and I will be drawing and painting.

A couple of weeks ago Chris and I went to the Hunterian Museum in London. Located in the Royal College of Surgeons building it is an awe inspiring collection of lots of things in jars, bits of bones of people and things.. good and bad. There are teeth, surgical instruments and accounts of the history of surgery and more, more, more. It is completely fascinating.

“The Hunterian Museum houses one of the oldest collections of anatomical, pathological and zoological specimens in the UK and is based on the items assembled by John Hunter, surgeon and anatomist (1728-1793). The collection comprises more than 3,500 anatomical and pathological preparations, fossils, paintings and drawings and also includes specimens donated by Edward Jenner and Sir Joseph Banks.”
from Time Out’s description


I am desperate to go back with my sketchbook and would love to just move in for a week or so. There are many things to wonder at but some things I particularly liked were the comparative skulls showing different teeth, the set of teeth bound together with gold, the surgical instruments and the dodo skeleton.

An Incomplete Dodo I was particularly interested in this because it is incomplete, bits of bones held together with wire. It is the incompleteness of it that appeals to me. You may not take photos in the museum and there was no time for drawing on this trip but it was on my mind all day, so made this quick memory sketch on the train on the way home.

There are a few views of it in the Hunterian archives… more sketches from those.

hunterian Dodo bg

“Raphus cucullatus
Object Type
Mounted dry bone An imperfect mounted skeleton of a dodo (Raphus cucullatus). The bones are from several individuals. This mounted skeleton of a dodo is a composite from several individuals. The bones were from a large collection excavated at La Mare aux Songes in Mauritius in 1865. The first hundred or so of these bones were shipped to Richard Owen and from these he published his monograph on the osteology of the dodo in 1869. Further collections of bones were sent to England and were sold by auction. The College Conservator, William Henry Flower, purchased a series of bones for £10 from which he was able to construct this partial articulated skeleton for display.” Description from the Hunterian Catalogue

dodo-2-bg                             dodo-3-bg

Pencil sketches: A5 Sketchbook

The whole story of the poor Dodo is fascinating. In the autumn we went to the Natural History Museum at Tring.
They have two, a bit plumper :).
Here is my photo.


There are lots of bones there too…another wonderful place for sketching.
I will be returning to the Hunterian and hopefully to Tring very soon.