Monkey Business – drawing from sketches done at the zoo

May 31, 2011

Lamy Safari fountain pen. A4-sized double-page spread on 110gsm cartridge paper.

30 May 2011. Sketches made from reference photos taken at the weekend’s trip to Taronga Park Zoo. I’m keen to keep improving the contours, masses and volumes as well as moving into some of the tonal contrast. I doubt very much whether this degree of detail would ever be possible from sketching on location. I regret not taking more photos and not deploying a telephoto lens. Sketching from the highly enlarged photos does help in getting the general aspects right; referring to sketches on-site helps with things like facial detail.

Winsor & Newton field watercolour washes; Staedtler 0.5 fineliner pen; Reeves gouache highlights. Less than A4-sized double-paged spread of 110gsm cartridge paper.

Some graphite pencil foundation work, but not much, and less with each drawing till the point of doing none at all. Again the small size of the photos allow for concentrating just on mass, proportions and spatial considerations.  There are areas of “pure white” which I’ve tried to leave clear here or reinforced with gouache highlights. There are at least two or three photos of Kibabu, the silverback gorilla, which can be done as even larger painted sketches. The single chimp here shows how the chimpanzees have no colour in their fur; they are simply tones going from white to black. I’ve tried to capture here some of the dominant blues and browns in the gorilla’s fur. Time now to push these even further in terms of accuracy of planes and local colour, where the photo allows.


Roz Stendhal’s large portraits of dogs, puffins and other animals –


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