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Pack your bags, we're going to the Zoo!

I’m sketching at the Zoo Zoo Zoo

How About You You You

You Can come Too Too Too

Im sketching at the Zoo Zoo Zoo.

We’ll I did it! I went past my comfort zone once again. About a month ago I had the idea that perhaps I should start sketching at the zoo – this made me excited, nervous, and to be honest a little fearful – and my goodness it’s been a while since I felt that combination of emotions, so naturally I decided I had to go for it! After about a week of thinking I purchased my first Toronto Zoo membership, set a date and got prepared. My boyfriend agreed to dog sit so that I did not have to worry about how long I left my pooch, I googled what to bring to when visiting the zoo in winter, borrowed a backpack and foot warmers and set off to the Zoo.

I was nervous! It takes me a long time to be comfortable to do art in front of people - ask my friends and family! And here I was preparing to sketch in front of complete strangers!! I just seem to love to push my comfort boundaries, (shakes head) but when you get an excited nervous feeling – you can’t just ignore that.

So after I pulled into a quite frankly WAY busier parking lot then I imagined, I sanely whilst sitting in my car self-talked my courage up, grabbed the backpack and set off.

I walked around the first hour taking pictures with my camera.

Hour two hit and I was starting to really negative talk myself while looking at the animals. Could I sketch this one? How many people were around? If it was really busy my courage disappeared under the snow about 50 ft away.

“Decide on an animal!” I said to myself and walked past some Otters swimming. Love!! How I would love to do a piece of art with an otter in the water!! Okay decision made! I entered the indoor pavilion and walked to the window and sat down….

Have you ever notice how frigging fast Otters move and swim?! What in the world was I thinking! I couldn’t even take a photograph without it turning out blurred and my plan was to sketch this A.D.D animal on Speed? Yah, wasn’t going to happen. Shaking my head and saying goodbye to the sleek swimming beasts I walked back out into the winter cold.

Luckily for us all I’m more stubborn then my bulldog Tater tot and I was not about to admit defeat. Outside was where I would sketch I decided (as there would be less people) and I came upon the wonderful polar bears.

Waiting my turn up to the window in a far corner I found my spot. First I stood taking photos…. After a few deep breaths I pulled out the chair I brought and sat down.

“Did you bring a chair mom?” a young girl beside me asks.

“No, I didn’t” I hear the reply.

“But you brought a chair?” the girl says to me.

Smiling and nodding I reply “Yes, I did”

After a few more minutes I opened up the backpack and placed the sketchbook on my knee.

“Are you going to draw?!” the same little girl asks, pulling me once again from my mind games.

“Yes” smiling nervously, “I am”

“Mom, I want to draw!” she quickly exclaimed.

After several minutes of more courage mustering with this little audience amegio firmly in place to watch the action I pull out the pencils and slowly begin to work.

It doesn’t take long to realize sketching animals in life is nothing like from photos. They do not really stay still for long. If you wait long enough though there usually emerges a pattern. A certain circuit they seem to walk repeatedly, certain locations or times where they move their head the same way, extend their limbs in the same pose, look in the direction you started sketching. I started light, using only a 2B pencil and continued working quickly until I discovered a pose the bear seems to continue to hold and that’s the one I decided would be the main sketch that I would concentrate on.

“You’re really good at drawing” says another little one that came up beside me at one point.

“Thank you” I say smiling warmly “it’s a little difficult as he doesn’t stop moving”

“Why, don’t you just remember what he looks like then sketch it all down, that’s what I do when I draw at home” her brother lets me know wisely.

“Thank you for the tip” I reply, feeling abashed.

Even though I brought headphones to help me become more in the art zone I found unable to pull them out as the interaction with these little ones always helps form fond memories. Adults usually did the same action- look over or tap someone beside them and point at me sketching. It’s harder with adults as you’re not sure the thoughts they are thinking, if they are making fun of you or saying a praise - with little ones there’s not much that will stop them from letting you know exactly what they think making any nervous or negative thoughts about what the drawing looks like stop fast in its tracks.

One of my pages filled with very light sketches and proud of conquering my fears I stopped for lunch and to activate the mitt warmers that I brought to place them in my shoes. Inside tip – if your feet are warm, you are warm, so if you only have two heating pads put those puppies in your feet!

Full of food and a little more confidence I made two more sketching stops, the gorillas – I think this will be a go to every time – and the pandas. I laugh when I think about it now as pandas should have been my first go to. Those little piggies stay so still when eating. Way easier than the pacing polar bear or the family gathering gorillas! This will be my next trips first stop as they will only remain in Canada for a couple more weeks and I do implore anyone who has not yet seen them to please go, they are beyond adorable!

I never ended up using any other pencil, or working for an extremely long time and therefore did not develop any very detailed sketches but I made the first steps to improving my art lifestyle and spend a day in a way I love, outside with animals working on art. That’s a pretty damn good way to start the year.

If you see me this year at the zoo please stop to say hello and chat! Don’t mind my flushed blushing face when we first start to chat, that just means I like ya!



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