Rhinocerus - Ceratotherum simum
Private Collection - © 1975 George L. Venable
Medium: Graphite on 4 ply Strathmore Bristol, Plate Finish
Size of the original is 23x29 inches.

The first of a series of pencil illustrations which I began in 1975 after being inspired by beautiful work in the book "The Pencil" by Paul Calle (1975). I have always admired his illustrative style, and had been collecting examples of his work gleaned from magazines over many years to put in my illustration morgue. The beginning of this series is very reminiscent of Paul Calle's style, although you will notice as the series progressed over the years that my style has changed, and has become my own.

Note: When I became an instructor and subsequently the Director of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Summer Workshop, I taught a course on using photographs as source material, emphasizing that you need to use as much information as you can acquire to make a good illustration from photographs. Using a single image with limited or no knowledge of the subject often looks flat, distorted, and out of proportion. Wildlife photos are often taken with telephoto lenses which tend to foreshorten an image, and just like people, animals can be in an awkward pose or out of focus if caught at a bad moment. Using multiple images gives you a better sense of what is normal, as well as the entire form of the animal. You cannot accurately determine this from a single image. I used these illustrations as demonstration pieces in my classes, not only in regard to illustrating wildlife, but to show that the pencil was a creative tool, and that young artists tend to forget this as they discover other media. The wonderful thing about the pencil, is that it can be very expressive, is found nearly anywhere in the world, is light and portable and inexpensive, and although the paper I used is not, there are less expensive papers that can work just as well.