April 14, 2022 1:57 PM
Last year, a unique edition was published – a coloring book “The Kaluga Red Book for Kids”. We decided to stop at the biological drawing workshop and talk to Natalya PROKHOROVA, chief specialist of the Parks Department’s Biodiversity Monitoring Department and one of the authors of the coloring book.
– Natalya Yegorovna, let me start with the most challenging question. Why draw plants and animals if you can now show everything in photos and videos, create 3D models in computer programs?
– It depends on what goal we are pursuing. You can take beautiful and high quality photos. But for the depiction of decisive factors and the study of living objects, only photographs are not always appropriate. Every self-respecting artist should know what he draws from life, how a living object works, in what environment it exists. For example, when depicting a squirrel, it is not enough to copy it from a photograph, although it is very difficult to do so from nature.
Before proceeding with the design, we study the appearance on the horizons. Then we observe a live squirrel in the cage, we make sketches with poses. You can also use images for correction, especially for moving animals. An artist who claims to be an animal painter must “see enough” of the object vividly, remembering its smallest details: what kind of tail, length, shape, how the fur grows, what kind of nails it has. Or transfer how many scales to a fish or feathers – literally and accurately.
A photograph may not always show details and to identify a species, the image must be as accurate as possible. Therefore, in all the scientific determinants of plants, lichens, fungi, animals, first of all, drawings, clear shapes are used.
In addition, the photo does not always accurately render the color of the object. Take mushrooms, for example: any mycologist, even without knowing how to design professionally, should make sketches of fresh mushrooms in the field, describe the color of the lid, the pulp on a color scale. And do this before the plucked mushroom changes color and shape when dry.
Now there is an acute issue not only in the insufficient number of circles and sections where they would design nature, but also teach science photography. For children, a design is especially important and simpler than a photo. In the process of painting, they study and memorize plants and animals. What will the child forget faster: the lizard that appears on the poster or the one that he painted and painted for forty minutes? Drawing is the most important way for children to develop their cognition.
– Do I have to create my own designs now or can I get coloring pages ready to print?
– Indeed, many botanists and zoologists were good at drawing, and all of them were excellent scientists and artists (Vassily Vatagin, Alexei Komarov, Vladimir and Yuri Smirins, Alexander Formozov and others). There are good illustrations in old children’s books.
Sometimes there are good modern designs, but there are not enough painters yet. Obviously, it is fashionable to design living objects. We regularly encounter a lack of visual and accurate drawings of animals and plants, I find many mistakes in textbooks, in school posters. There are more than a few fairies and mermaids, and I know little about true designs.
Young artists often honestly say that they do not care what they paint – a Christmas tree in front of them or a pine tree. How can it be? They do not want to know and expand their horizons. It scares me.
We have to be very honest with children’s drawings. The hedgehog must be a hedgehog, the fox must be a fox. And then teachers and parents are surprised that children do not know and have not seen anything, they are afraid to go to the wild. Realistic designs do not scare children and animals and plants that are simplified beyond recognition are introduced into ignorance from childhood.
In our body, Victoria Teleganova, a specialist in moss, creates wonderful botanical illustrations and began to design on her own. Our collection of drawings is still thematic, it is dedicated to the wildlife of the Kaluga area, especially to the Red Book species of our area.
– Your coloring book includes 33 species of plants, mushrooms and animals. Is it constantly planned?
– I am currently working on the second edition of the Kaluga District Red Data Book for Children. First of all, it will include representatives of those groups that did not fall into the first: for example, dragonflies, wasps and bees, snakes, fish, birds of prey.
The approach is slightly different: I try to place different groups in one image – a plant and an animal, a mushroom that lives in similar places (for example, in dry meadows, in water, deciduous forests), I increased the details in the background to become more interesting in color. Drag with a brush – and the image came to life.
Older children can also draw small details with pencils or a brush – so they want. Items in the second part – more than forty. But for children to learn about our Red Book, they need a lot more.
– How do you create designs in terms of technology? In a computer program?
– I draw, like everyone, with my hands. I do not like computer graphics and tablets. I have always liked that artists create masterpieces with simple materials. I use a pencil and then sketch with lining. I scan black and white images and bring them to my mind in graphic editors and clean them.
Then I paint my own designs and attach color swatches to them so the kids can navigate through them. I also planned instructions in the book on how to best color each design. So it turns out, this is already a small design guide. I take risks and try to keep the good old traditions of artists for our children.
The main thing I urge all parents: Never force children to paint and generally to paint by force! This will kill the last interest in creativity and nature.
How long do you make a biological plan? What’s most important to you – biodiversity planning or monitoring?
– I have been drawing since my childhood and from my youth I became a portrait painter. I was also interested in biology from the very first elementary school. Fifty fifty percent. I did not decide, so it turned out that these two interests were closely intertwined. I started to plan wildlife seriously and study it with scientific means, probably when, at school age, I came to the biological circle at the regional ecological and biological center.
While studying at university, he studied the variability of beetle soils.
I am a professor of biology and chemistry by profession, but that did not stop me from developing the “Biological Drawing” writing program more than 15 years ago and creating the “Green Planet” art school for children, which has been active since 2006. until 2020.
Now, on the weekends, I give design lessons to all the kids who want it, but, of course, that’s not enough to prepare young talent professionals. The dream of a workshop with complete courses and master classes remains unfulfilled, as well as oil painting landscapes.
This is my second year in the Parks Department. My responsibilities include the study of fungi and lichens in specially protected natural areas. Necessary and interesting work. But I can not afford not to deal with the upbringing of the younger generation. I have many ideas for creative activities and excursions, plein airs.
Photo by Sergey Alekseev.