Friday, May 31, 2013

Minimalism at the Zoo

5/31/13 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor
A week of dreary, wet weather and an unusually heavy work load kept me trapped indoors with my PC for five sketchless days (the longest I've gone without sketching in the past year and a half). You can imagine how grumpy that made me. But this afternoon was a respite, both in the weather and my tedious toil, so I escaped to one of my favorite nearby getaways – the Woodland Park Zoo.
In my ongoing quest to lighten my sketching load, today was an ideal opportunity to give my sketch vest another try. Something I first tried more than a year ago, it seemed like a good idea, but it’s not ideal in several ways. For one, the temperature has to be just right – if it’s cold out, it’s too bulky to wear under a jacket, and it won’t fit over a jacket; if it’s hot, the added layer makes me too warm. In addition, if I fill all of its many pockets with everything I’d like to carry, I look lumpy and bumpy like a squirrel with its jaws full of nuts.
5/31/13 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook
So as a test of true minimalism, I carried only the following: my watercolor kit, two waterbrushes, one Lamy pen with Platinum Carbon ink, and one Lamy pen with water-soluble Diamine Chocolate Brown ink. Plus an 8½” x 5½” Stillman & Birn sketchbook, of course, which doesn’t fit in any of the pockets, so I tucked it under my arm (another way in which the sketch vest isn’t ideal, but the temperature was just right for it).
After unsuccessfully trying to sketch a pair of rambunctious sloth bear cubs, I went into the Tropical House, where I could sketch a completely motionless emerald tree boa at my leisure. A preening Toco toucan was more of a challenge, especially when the paint wouldn’t dry in the tropical humidity. As soon as I tried another version of the toucan with ink only, I missed my black Zig marker (and missed it again as I sketched a black and white colobus and its impossibly long tail).
5/31/13 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink
Stopping for an iced Americano outside the Rain Forest Food Pavilion, I sketched the Homo Sapiens species – a male and its young.
(If I’d had my black Zig marker with me today, my minimalist kit would have been perfect. But if I’d had it, I’m sure I would have missed something else. Sigh. The quest continues.)

5/31/13 Platinum Carbon ink


  1. i was starting to get worried about you. Sorry you were trapped inside, but it looks like you made up for it at the zoo...super sketches. Sounds like your minimalist sketching tools were just enough!

  2. I like the boa best. How obliging he was to hold very still! The zoo is great but last time I was there, there were so many field trips!


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