I took myself to Chester Zoo to attempt some animal sketching. It was very entertaining to discover how unco-operative most of the animals were. It was afternoon, and a warm day, so most of the animals were sleepy, even the more active ones were standing or strolling around. Perfect, you would think.
Well, no. The sleepy ones were sunk into indeterminate woolly heaps, with no visible arms, legs or head. I think they had been taking lessons from the hedgehogs. The lions didn’t, of course. I came upon the pride stretched out on a sandy patch quite near the fence blinking in the sun, or in his case stretched out on his side. I set to, but the minute I put pen to paper, he opened one eye, yawned, stood up and flopped down again. Whether he was irritated by all the people watching him, or genuinely had an itch, I don’t know but he never settled after that and his ladies were no better.
One of the giraffes was steadily patrolling the side of his house, but I had barely drawn the head and neck, when he went indoors, and all his family with him. The elephants were shy too. The onagers were more co-operative, and I managed one or two sketches of them. There is a theory that you can use other members of a herd to complete a sketch, but these fellows had no knowledge of that. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the afternoon battle.
The upshot of all this is that I will be taking my watercolours next time – yes, there is going to be a next time – as one brushstroke can say more than half a dozen lines, so I may be more successful.