Monday, March 12, 2012

Sketching at the Zoo

Monday's weather was supposed to be fabulous--and it was! Over 60 degrees at home, and ten degrees warmer in the city, where my daughter and I spent the day at the zoo. She's been asking to go for a while, and here I was, with a beautiful weather day and no plans. The bathroom, in dire need of cleaning, was ignored. To the zoo! With sketchbooks!

Over the weekend, I received an Amazon order. (My husband and I were jointly given a $50 Amazon gift card for Christmas. He turned it over to me.) It included Drawing Lab: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun For Mixed-Media Artists. I don't know if I'm an artist, never mind a mixed-media artist, but I do want to get in the habit of drawing daily, and I wanted some fun prompts. I love this book already. One of the "labs" is to sketch at the zoo. Why had I never thought of that before? There are several tips on how to approach moving animals, including gesture drawings (of course) and starting drawings and going back to them when the animal returns to that pose, tips on how to do this with a three-year-old along... (this is only a sampling of the sketches, many of which were even less successful...clicking should make them a little bigger)

I brought her sketchbook too, and gave it to her while I tried to sketch chickens. Chickens move fast, and mostly they were showing us their back ends, pointed up to the sky while they pecked. While this was amusing, and rather characteristic, I think, of a chicken, it got old fast. Unfortunately, I used up my daughter's interest in her own drawing with the uncooperative chickens.

I did a little better with these fish, which were (a) inside a building and (b) really interesting to my daughter, who loves fish. I was only able to sketch a bit of that scale pattern, enough to remind me to see if I can find more photos of this type of fish online, and maybe mimic that pattern via stamping.

Super quick (maybe a minute, if that?) gesture drawing of my daughter watching the tortoises.

Three-year-old human
Three-year-olds move at least as fast as chickens. {And, you know, ignore that hand.}

I really wanted to sketch the camels, from the minute I thought of bringing my sketchbook along. Camels have such personality. When we got to that exhibit, one's back was to us and the other's face was hidden behind a tree. Eventually I found a decent vantage point, and then realized that these animals, which looked at first glance to be completely motionless and lying down, never stopped moving. Up, down, shift, move a leg, stretch the neck, every time I tried a quick line contour and came back to where I thought I'd begun, I was somewhere else. (Good Picasso-style camels, I suppose.) Finally I quickly managed this:

...and looked up, only to realize my daughter was several feet down the path, climbing the wall. (Look at that horrible mother, letting her child get away while she...what is she...drawing? What the hey?!)

I gave up on the sketchbook after that! But it was still fun, and something to perhaps try with my older kids, another day. I've already shared another "lab" from this book with them, turning watercolor blots into creatures. This was my result:

I explain how we did it and share the boys' work, too, here.

Like I said, I'm completely loving this book so far! It's so much fun, not stressful drawing at all, which is what I wanted. I have taken drawing classes, a very long time ago, and I enjoyed them very much (and was better at it than I thought I would be, at the start), but it's been years and you sort of lose confidence in the connection between your eye and your hand. So something fun is a good way to get back into a drawing habit.

ETA: Taking Karen's suggestion, I linked up with Paint Myself Pretty's do-it-together Drawing Lab link thing.


Jill said...

You had me at "chickens."

lamina @ do a bit said...

Sounds like you and your daughter had lots of fun! Drawing is hard work but it's like anything you have to start somewhere and just keep practicing to get to where you want to get.. and drawing is a fun thing to practice :)

Bells said...

that's exactly what chickens do! All the time! Butts in the air constantly! And then lots of flapping and running around. Hard to draw!

Great day out Amy. Love it.

Shell said...

I've seen this book on Amazon and wondered if it would be worth purchasing .. looks a good buy.
Love your sketches .. You did a good job there at keeping your eye on both your moving daughter and animal.

Donna Lee said...

I think that if a hobby becomes hard work, it ceases to be fun (although I do admit that some hobbies involve work). A book like that would make drawing fun and interesting. I've seen people drawing at the zoo but I haven't been there for years.

iamrushmore said...

I'm working my way through this book too! (but haven't made a trek to the zoo). I'd been putting off doing it, but my blogging friend Cameron from is doing it and hosting a weekly linkup of other folks who are willing to play along with her. you should link up! -Karen

Cameron said...

This is great, Amy! I'm so happy you took Karen's suggestion!

I love that camel! That lip is just perfect!!

Lisa Richards said...

LOL! I can see how sketching at the zoo might not work well with watching the little one! You got some good drawings, and your daughter had a great time! A day well spent!