Sketching at Taronga Park Zoo – some “extras”: lions, elephants, White-bibbed Ground-dove

June 2, 2011

Derwent graphite pencil, A4-sized 110gsm cartridge paper sketchbook.

I think I can sketch or draw for about four hours before I start flagging. I’m developing stamina slowly. After four hours, I feel a need to change sketchbook format and media. After a 2.30pm ‘show-and-tell’ among the Sydney Sketch club members who attended Taronga Park Zoo recently, some of us went for a wander to see other animals not already studied.

A4-size, 110gsm cartridge paper; Derwent graphite pencils.

Indian elephants (smaller ears than African elephants). Though eating, these elephants kept moving around too much for me to capture anything but mere gesture. I am inspired to come back again because the elephants are reasonably close, sketching conditions are excellent and because there’s an elephant skeleton at the Australian Museum in order to grasp something of the structure.

The lion enclosure is unusual because humans are at ground level. The lion (complete with black tail) was sitting looking straight at the glass; the lioness was wandering and so I only got the merest of gestures suggesting her! The lion would have been glorious in colour, which is where the camera comes into play.

Derwent graphite pencils, A4-sized 11ogsm cartridge paper sketchbook.

The tiger was again at ground level, but manic in his walking back and forth. There was no way I could have sketched him; the striped coat was magnificent. On to the Snow Leopard, but s/he was busy climbing all over the rock faces. The meerkats were on hind legs huddling in front of a heat lamp – already about 3pm, the sunset shadows of Autumn were starting to spread. What did capture our undivided attention was a White-bibbed Ground Dove – a bird with magnificent colouring, worthy of a Roz Stendhal bird portrait! Behind an almost impenetrable wire grill, three of us sketched like mad taking colour notes. This bird stood stock still for the best part of the ten minutes we were there. Just to show you how near-useless on-site reference photos can be sometimes, note the following. When I come to work up the sketch into a watercolour/gouache ‘drawing’, what I’ll probably do is check Google Images of the bird for supplementary visual information!



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