Sunday, September 25, 2011
Sketching lions - 21 Sept
When work load allows, once every two weeks, I get to spend a free morning sketching - kinda like my "in-house" training. Recently I got back out in the zoo to sketch some animals. Which as the zoo's illustrator you might not think that was particularly special. However during the busy summer season it's quite impossible to sit in front of an animal enclosure to sketch without either getting in the way of the public or being jostled by the throngs. So during the summer I went out to the Hollywood Towers Estate, which the zoo owns. to sketch landscapes and buildings. Now that the colder weather is here and the crowds have gone, as the schools are in session again, I am back in the zoo for my sketching.
Having spent a wonderful half hour one evening the week before, after the zoo had closed, watching Shiva (Mum) play with the two cubs (Jay and Kaly) I decided the lions would be my first point of call. The two youngsters (they are a bit bigger than cubs now at 9 months old) were lying on one of the high-rise platforms for a bit of warm sunshine snoozing, with Shiva. Kamal was restless as he was due for a feed that day and so he wandered around quite a bit, getting impatient - calling and pacing.
Jay, the young male, was at the front of the platform and in view - sort of. I had to position myself so that I could get an unobstructed view through the trees and bushes to the platform that was right at the back of the enclosure. As I had neglected to bring my binoculars, I had to really concentrate to see his lines and form across the distance.
So, rather than work anything up and to get my hand and eye working together, I just did little thumbnails of him, as a warm up.
Kamal finally settled and good old lad that he is, he plonked himself down right in front of me. It might have helped that I was luckily at a place that was a good spot for him to keep an eye out for his keeper and most importantly - his food.
So as he had settled down, I did too and concentrated on two head positions - switching between the two sketches as he moved his head about - one looking for the keeper/food and the other resigned head on paws, eyes closed.
The third sketch was a very quick one (about one minute) done just prior to the keeper turning up where Kamal had relaxed a enough in his vigilance to lie on his side and attempt a snooze. Like they say.. a watched kettle never boils... but as soon as you turn your back. So it was with Kamal... as soon as he got settled to snooze - the keeper turned up!