Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Rhinos and Dragons and Bears – Oh, My!


5/4/22 Malayan tapir and rhinos at Woodland Park Zoo

Some sketchers I know visit their favorite gardens or parks over and over, year-round, and never tire of sketching the same trees or plantings. I feel that way about Woodland Park Zoo. If I had to choose a single favorite sketching subject, it would be animals from life. I could probably sketch at the zoo every week and never tire of it. Although in recent years I haven’t visited as often as I did during my first few years of sketching (it was where I first learned to become comfortable sketching in public), I still get my money’s worth from our zoo membership.

Last Wednesday afternoon warmed up to the mid-60s and partly sunny – ideal zoo weather, at least for humans. We had hoped it would be warm enough for the other animals, too. Many were still sleeping in their shelters, but I found plenty that were active enough to see and sketch.

My favorites on this trip were the rhinos (above), whom we don’t see often. After the Woodland Park’s long-time resident elephants were transferred to a different zoo several years ago, the endangered one-horned rhinos moved into the elephants’ former home, so they are now much easier to see close-up. They wear a fascinating hide of what looks like plate armour.

A bat eating from a hanging bowl. I had a hard time figuring out what part of it was what!

Although I’ve sketched the Komodo dragons several times, usually they are so still that I wonder if they are even awake. I had never seen one so active as last week. The one I sketched was exploring its territory thoroughly, flicking its long, peach-colored, forked tongue rapidly and continuously. It was a bit unnerving when it suddenly stared me down through the glass, tongue still flicking, but I took advantage of the close-up view to capture it.

Komodo dragon and Chilean flamingo

It was wonderful to get a brief glimpse of the two adorable sloth bear cubs, who were born on Jan. 1 this year. I didn’t get much of one before mama led it away.

Sloth bear cub and Asian brown tortoise

Technical notes: I usually bring my full sketch bag when I visit the zoo, since I never know what might catch my attention. This time we were using the opportunity of our visit through the large park for our fitness walk as well as seeing animals, so I felt like traveling light. Thinking about all the animals I have sketched there, I realized that I could capture probably 95 percent of them with either brown or black or both. So I brought only those two colors plus pink (in case I sketched flamingoes), a rainbow pencil (which I didn’t use) and a waterbrush – that’s it. The sketchbook was my square Hahnemühle. The more I use it, the more I appreciate its compact, 5 ½-inch square format, which fits so nicely in my small fitness-walking bag and is also easy to hold for quick gesture sketches.

Brown, black, pink -- all I need at the zoo!

1 comment:

  1. How great that you have a zoo to sketch animals. We have a small animal park but it isn't set up well and it is hard to see the animals. Any real zoo is quite a ride and then you have to deal with NY traffic coming home. I should head over to the Suffolk County Farm...maybe there are some babies to sketch. I love your sketch of the rhino, but the hanging bat has to be my favorite!!! You really caught him/her in the act.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...