Art Making | Drawing from the Collections: Creating a Composite Animal in Pastel

The Art Museum is partnering with the Arts Council of Princeton to provide free online pastel drawing classes. Weekly classes are taught by artist-instructor Barbara DiLorenzo over Zoom. With an emphasis on using soft pastels to blend and create rich colors, each week’s lesson will be inspired by works in the Museum’s collections.

This live art-making class is inspired by a pair of painted tomb guardians from the Tang Dynasty. These spirit tomb guardians (zhenmushou) clutch snakes in their hands while subduing animal demons atop rock plinths. The human-faced beast has one taloned foot on the back of a screaming deer-demon; the lion-faced guardian is seen pouncing on a squealing, green-spotted, winged boar-demon. This pair of beast guardians represents the final stage of the long sculptural evolution of tomb guardians, when their function as demon-quellers became visually represented. Similar examples date to around the mid-eighth century and have been recovered primarily from the area near the Tang-dynasty capital of Chang’an (present-day Xi’an). In this class, we will combine different animal features to invent a creature all our own.