Saturday, February 8, 2014

How to really look at a Lizard

I photographed this lizard (an anole, actually.  Here in SC, they're called green anoles or Carolina anoles) through a lace curtain a long time ago.  That flap under their necks (not visible in this image) is called a dewlap and they extend it when defending their territory, or when they're in courtship!  These green anoles are the only ones that are native to North America, and are found primarily in the Southeast.  
Fun fact:  there are 256 species of known anole!

Photo I took of the anole through a lace curtain.
When my 5 year old granddaughter came over to my studio a couple of weeks ago, I decided I was going to help her "see" things in a new way so that she could learn to draw her surroundings with fresh eyes.  I chose this anole as her subject.  We talked about the various shapes that make up the anole: ovals, triangles, and so on.  I printed out this picture onto typing paper and then I outlined the shapes with a Sharpie marker (below), letting her watch me as I did it...and all the while, talking about the shapes including the fact that the hind legs had 3 toes while the front legs had 4.  
Fun fact:  Their toes are expanded at the tips to allow adhesive toe pads under them, helping them to grip the sides of buildings, trees, etc.

I outlined the anole with a Sharpie marker, so that my young student could "see" the shapes involved.
Then I told her to start her drawing near the head and follow the contour around the body and tail (with her eyes) and then to translate it into the drawing on the paper.  Then she added the legs, toes and eyes.  I was so proud of her result!  And, more importantly, she was so proud of herself!

Drawing by my 5 yr old granddaughter
Other fun facts:  
- Females can lay 1 egg per week during the 4 month mating season.
- Green anoles live 4-8 years (if my cats don't get them first...I've had two brought to me as gifts).
- Anoles make wonderful subjects for paintings!  Here are two versions that I created from a photo I took at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens.  One is an acrylic and one is a watercolor.  Both are sold.

"Creatures, Great and Small" (acrylic by Helen K. Beacham Fine Art)
In a private collection.
"Creatures, Great and Small II" (watercolor by Helen K. Beacham Fine Art)
In a private collection.

Come paint Venice, Montreal, Maine, Charleston, and Magnolia Plantation with me!  Find details HERE.