Now that I have got over the initial flurry of work at the zoo, I can now start up my 'training' sessions again. The zoo is keen on staff developement, but it is quite tricky for me to train at art specific to my job at the zoo... I can think of quite a few workshops etc that I could do to improve my art, but that is not related strictly with my zoo job... alas! So my boss and I came up with the notion of my training being free sketching mornings once a fortnight. This is so that I can go sketch what ever I want, rather than what I need to do for an upcoming job. The freedom of this is wonderful.
This week I decided.. as my primate drawing skills have always been a little rough.. that I'd go sit in the Lemur Walk-through enclosure and try and get something done in there.. it helped that it was a lovely warm day. So I sat for just under 3 hours in the delightful setting of the enclosure watching mongoose lemurs and ring-tailed lemurs... and, of course, sketching. I was pleased that despite a long gap on my sketching mornings, I did a lot better than I had expected.
When I know I have a few hours for sketching.. I pick on one animal subject and concentrate my focus there. Flitting between several species rarely makes me feel like I've achieved what I want from the process of a sketch. I want to try and learn/understand how they move, sit etc and it takes a good few hours of observation and sketching for me to feel as though I've given myself that chance to achieve my goal.
Once I've got myself settled in front of my subject I start with some time spent purely observing.. taking in mental notes of their form, behaviour and where they like to be doing certain activities. Then I usually start with quick thumbnails of just a few lines to get the feel of body shape and how limbs, head and tail relate to it. Then I start adding more - I rarely go into great detail 'til much later in the session, if at all. Then I might pick on a feature (such as hands and feet) and concentrate on trying to understand the form of that.
Here's a couple of pages from that morning's session with the lemurs.