I dreamed about sketching at the zoo for ages but never was brave enough. An exercise for using Word Art in a journal in an online workshop (Laure Ferlita, Artful Journaling: Exploration) resulted in the following image:
In the comments on how I came to choose this image I admited my thoughts about creating a zoo journal. That thought was met with so much encouragement that I decided to visit the zoo during my recent vacation and try drawing in public.
The above sketch is one of many I started with. When leaving the orangutan enclosure I noticed one of them interacting with people at a huge glass wall. I sat down by the glass and started to sketch. Once "Sol" as I was later introduced to her, noticed me, she came over and sat down beside me and gestured at my sketchbook. I showed her, asking if I could draw her. She just looked at me. It was such a magical moment. I forgot that people might see what I was doing and started drawing as quickly as I could, not knowing how long she might stay. Once I had finished the sketch I showed her - she lifted her hand and coverd her eyes peaking through her fingers at me!! That was such a tension breaker! I just had to laugh and all the people standing around did too.
I then asked if I could try again and the above sketch is the result. I added the watercolor at home. People then started to ask to be shown the sketch and got too close for comfort. I felt too presured and after thanking Sol for sitting model for me I left. Hours later when resting on a bench an older lady sat down beside me after asking permission and started to tell me about Sol, how she is the youngest and lowest in the group. She does not like her photo being taken but loves attention. That lady told me that she tries to spend time with Sol whenever she gets to the zoo and that Sol recognizes her, when she comes. As I did she also hates when other people don't just look on but want to get in on the interaction. She had watched the whole scene from the back and I just had to offer to show her my sketches. She too laughed about the first one. :-)
After lunch I did some quick sketches of other animals as well, the one above of one of the two indian rhinoceros in the zoo is one I enjoyed doing very much. I'll have to take the time do do more sketches of them one of these days.Yesterday I went to the zoo again to meet my godchild. While waiting for her and my friend I just had to go visit the orangutans again. When I sat down by the glasswindow Sol came right up again. I showed her the sketches with the added watercolor and started another sketch. She did not keep still this time, checking the rest of the enclosure all the time. After a few minutes I noticed why: Vladimir, the male of the group came to see what was happening and took Sol's place. So I started a sketch of him. Here he looks much more friendly than in reality.
After my friend and her daughter joined me I had little chance to do more sketching but saw another lady painting a watercolor of the minitiatur ponies.
I'll definitely go back to the zoo to sketch and to maybe meet Sol again.
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