The BFG and me went to the zoo yesterday - the first time (since we've had them) that we've been sans children. There was a birding exhibition on that my friend Wendy had a stall on (see her stunning wildlife cross stitch kits here). On a chilly autumn day, it was relaxing to wander around not worrying if the kids were trying to pet the rhinocerous or feed ice cream to the orang-atangs. And of course to sketch, while B took photos and chatted to fellow animal-gazers. I began with the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra in the rondavel in the middle of the exhibition. I put on a little watercolour later at home, determined not to do my usual 'colouring-in' thing and use it to subtley indicate the season - even so, after planning to put just a splash of colour in the middle branches, couldn't resist doing almost all the leaves, and the little plain(plein?)tree seed balls too.
Then I tried the elephants, but before I'd realised I was using totally the wrong medium to draw their massive bulks quickly before they moved, they lumbered off to a group of people behaving like a bunch of bananas on the other side of the enclosure.
On through the crocodile ponds - I enjoyed sketching this very co-operative model - only it's eyes blinked, so slowly that I caught them in mid-blink I think - they're neither open nor closed. I'd like to go back on a quiet day to draw them. There were a whole necklace of them splayed around the water's edge. The guineafowl feathers were lying around - aren't they beautifully graphic? I can never resist collecting them for some (so far) mysterious purpose.
Up to the lions - there are a few different groups of them cordoned off from each other. This big handsome boy was besotted with the sleeping lioness, licking and nuzzling and resting his head on her. The other poor girl tried to get his attention, getting up eventually and offering him her head for a cuddle, but he snarled and growled at her and she sadly resumed her position. Has she no pride? (sorry!:-)
Lastly the giraffes - as this was my Urban Sketchers date too for the week, I included the very posh Westcliff Hotel up on the hillside. I meant to paint it pink, as it famously is, but this is in water-soluble graphite, so the pink would be dirty puce if I tried.
While I was sketching the giraffes, some little girls came to have a look, and were flatteringly impressed, and wanted to see all my sketches. When they saw the orchestra one they were very excited, as one of them was the girl playing the violin on the left. She was overjoyed to recognise herself. If I'd had my wits about me I would have got their email address and sent them copies of all the sketches - darn it - next time! If you see this, girls, tell me and I will...