Above: Quick sketch of two ostriches on the verso page, then a more detailed head study on the recto page. One of the birds had wandered off to the edge of the paddock and we followed it. It was standing right at the fence peering over at the crowds so I was about 6 feet away from it when I did the head study. We did have to stand in the sun there, so I din't do a full paint version! Schmincke pan watercolors in a Shinola book that is about 8.25 x 9.5 inches Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Sunday things weren't going well for me. My shoulder was acting up and I was having difficulty holding a pen, however I really wanted to go to the zoo. It was sunny but not too hot. Of course it was Memorial Day Weekend and the place would be packed, but I needed to sketch some live subjects. Dick offered to drive me. (I don't drive when my shoulder is doing this as I don't want my attention distracted.)
I told him I only wanted to go for a hour. Since we are 12 minutes away we'd be back in no time and could both get back to work on other projects.
We got there in 12 minutes, but it took us an hour to work our way through the crush to find a DISTANT parking place!
I got busy, sketching warm ups of people and then the ostriches. My had was feeling OK after the ostriches because I was being careful of pressure (both on the paper and in how I was gripping the pen). We moved on to see the bison. I did several pages of loose gesture sketches using the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Then did the final color sketch below. I was pleased that I could have some fine control with the light fur lines, but I knew I was pushing the limits of my hand. We made our departure.
Below: Pentel Pocket Brush Sketches of the American Bison at Como Zoo. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Later that night, I sketched Dick in the Moleskine I was testing. I really wanted to finish that book—but I didn't want to finish it enough to take it to the zoo! I wanted to have fun at the zoo. The Shinola book allowed me to do that. I'll have a review about the Shinola book in the next few weeks.
It might seem impossible to get any sketching done when your energy level is low, or your pain level is high, or your attitude is in need of an adjustment. I'd like to remind you that THAT IS EXACTLY the time you want to go out and draw something.
You want to be out in the world and see people around you. You want to be near animal energy (because animals are so great to be around and remind us of all sorts of things we didn't even know we had forgotten). You want to move your pencil or pen or brush across the paper.
And yes, I was fortunate that Dick was home and willing to drive me to the zoo—but before he got home I was about to walk out the door and go find some neighborhood pigeons. You can get out, even if getting out means just getting to your window.
So breathe and get out and sketch. Because when you come back with sketches, they don't have to be the greatest sketches in the world, they just have to be your response to what you saw. And when you look at them you'll have that attitude adjustment!
Above: Dick with hat hair from after the zoo outing. This sketch is in the Moleskine I reviewed on Monday. I used an Indanthrone Blue Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer watercolor pencil (dry) to sketch him, and filled in the background with a Montana Marker. Click on the image to view an enlargement.