On a recent Monday morning, Dr. Paul Brand found inspiration in the wise eyes of Louie, an elephant that was at the time housed at the Toledo Zoo.
“I belong to an informal group of artists, the Monday Morning Painters. We meet every Monday for breakfast and then sketch or paint in different venues around northwest Ohio,” explained the associate professor emeritus of physiology and pharmacology.Though Brand was able to expertly capture Louie in his sketch, he pointed out that wild animals don’t always make the easiest subject matter: “Sketching at the zoo is fun, but challenging. Subject matter is mostly the interesting architecture; the animals would make great pictures if they would hold still. Happily, Louie held still for about 30 minutes while eating an enormous amount of hay.”
While Louie ate his breakfast, Brand studied the elephant’s features.
He described his artistic process: “I set up opposite him and laid out a sketch as usual, using a 2B drawing pencil, first noting the length and height of his body, the relative sizes of his head, ears and trunk, and the length of his legs compared to his height at his shoulder. Then I carefully outlined his body shape and used shading to give volume and character. I paid special attention to his face as that is where character is. Last, I made fine lines to show the creases around his eyes that give him the appearance of wisdom.”
Louie, born in 2003 at a whopping 275 pounds, recently was transferred to Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, Neb. He resides with a herd of six other elephants rescued from Africa amid a severe drought. Zoo staff are hopeful that transfers such as these will serve a large role in saving the endangered species.
Though visitors aren’t able to visit Louie at the Toledo Zoo, they can still pick up greeting cards made from Brand’s sketch, and the original sketch, at Art on the Mall. The juried art fair will be held Sunday, July 30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Centennial Mall. Brand will be at booth No. 98, located near the Health and Human Services Building.
“I enjoy showing my work at art fairs; Art on the Mall is one of the best: well-organized; friendly, competent volunteers; and an excellent location on campus,” he said. “This is my fourth year at Art on the Mall.”