What Noise Annoys an Oyster? Part Two (Learning to Draw.)

I lied.

It’s not five or six years that I’ve been taking those drawing lessons.

Please accept my apology.

At the end of the first “What Noise Annoys an Oyster” post, you were promised photos of those first attempts. Here they are:


Oyster drawing number one, on which I labored for hours. Except the drawing task wasn’t labor, wasn’t a chore, it was a literal “eye-opener”.

Since the class met only twice a week, for a few hours each time, completion of the drawing spread out over more than a month. In retrospect, that may have been a good thing. The time spaces between drawing sessions allowed me a chance to process what I was trying to learn, and to think about what was happening. One big surprise came when I started to think the shell was done.

The shadow. I had no idea how much there was to see in a shadow, or how long it was going take to tease that graphite out into something that looked like a shadow.

But, the time finally came when Julie said, “I think you’re finished.”

Initials and date were carefully applied, and  fixative was applied.

Scent of aerosolized hydrocarbons filled the air, and then faded away.

What to draw next?

The other side of the shell.

The outside of the shell had been a landscape, primarily, of planes and curves, of folds and finally of details, created by drawing the shadows of what was in front of me.

The other side, the in-side, had other challenges to offer. More shadows, more “geography”, yes, but instead of a convex surface, it was a concave surface. There were those newly familiar rough textures, but now there were smooth surfaces to consider. There were hints of purple color in the shell’s muscle scar, and some iridescence shimmered near the edge.


The interior landscape of an oyster.

I hadn’t imagined how much there was to be learned from making an illustration. Now, from drawing the hinge area, I know know so much better how an oyster keeps its shell closed. And about how that shell opens.


Detail: oyster interior. The hinge.

The next detail shows some of my discovery of the oyster’s exterior landscape. I’d not thought of how unsmooth, how folded, how varied, the territory of a shell might be. I’d not thought of the presence of little black dots, or streaks, but there they were, and the drawing didn’t begin to approach believability until those little details were worked in.


Taking these photos made me discover that lie I mentioned earlier.

In the previous post, I said we’d been going to these classes for six years.

Make that seven.

3 responses to “What Noise Annoys an Oyster? Part Two (Learning to Draw.)

  1. I can see now how important close observation and attention to detail is to an artist. It would seem that an artist looks at the world differently than others because of that.

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