Animal Painting and Anatomy by Frank Calderon was perhaps my first experience with critique. As a child, I drew with enormous enthusiasm. Eventually, my parents gathered up some of those drawings and proudly sent them to my grandmother.
Her response? To send me back this book, along with a letter kindly pointing out where my weak areas were as an artist and how I might go about improving them. As a painter and concept artist herself, she knew her stuff. But I, as a clueless kid, opened this book and was shaken to my core with how much there was to know about an animal when trying to draw it. There was so much that I was overwhelmed and briefly discouraged from trying to draw again.
Now, as an adult, I still have the book that she sent me, and every time I open it I remember how right she was to try and give me a window into the incredible wealth of information that exists to make our animal drawings more expressive and realistic. This book contains incredibly detailed descriptions and illustrations of some of the most complicated and most iconic parts of animals, from skeleton to muscles to skin folds, from cats to horses.
So brace yourself: Knowledge ahead!