Monday, May 7, 2012

Drawing at the zoo

Drawing from life is something I know I need to do more often to improve my skills but with two little-ones it's not that easy to get out and about. So last week I decided, well, why not combine the two! Kim had time off and home improvements to do and because JJ, at seven months, still spends the better part of the day sleeping, and can't yet hold a pencil, I left her at home with Kim and took Miss P for a day of drawing at the zoo.

Our zoo pass allows us unlimited entry year-round which means there's no pressure to see the whole place in one visit, but we can concentrate on a different section each time, or go straight to our favourite animals of the moment. We did get a bit of drawing done but the three-year-old attention span meant that no sooner had I opened my sketchbook and she'd finished her own drawing and was on to making 'sandcastles' with gravel or darting around with other kids. So I had to sketch super fast. Which isn't a bad thing.

The first animals we attempted to draw were the elephants. I've always loved elephants and drew them a lot as a kid so I fell into their familiar contours and lines. The other great thing about the elephants is that they're so slow and you have some chance of them holding a position for the length of time it takes to make a sketch.


We saw lots of other animals that we didn't draw, either because there was nowhere comfortable to sit or because Miss P was on her relentless mission to move forever forward.

Later in the day we sat down at the outside kiosk where I bought her an ice-cream and tried to make a few little marks in my book. We were surprised by an inquisitive peacock who strutted around our table and then hopped onto an adjacent bench to get a better look at us. I quickly attempted a sketch, which I thought wasn't bad considering my lack of practice. I only had to look away for a moment to find it being coloured in. Oh, well. I'll take it as a compliment. At least she recognised it as a bird! I think.

It was fun to go to the zoo with the specific purpose of drawing and we'll definitely do it again. I'm following Yvonne's lead from Muddle on Through who is facing her fears of drawing in public. I too am trying to inure myself against the embarrassment I feel when onlookers wander over to take a sticky beak. At the zoo I don't think I was sitting and drawing long enough to invite curiosity. But when I did feel eyes upon me I bravely continued instead of shutting the book and moving on, as I might have done in the past. Thanks, Yvonne, you're inspiring me to get out there! And I did it again a few days ago too! This is definitely a personal record. I'll write about that outing tomorrow along with a fantastic book about drawing on location...