Sketch Therapy: What I Drew at the Zoo

Drawn from life at Oklahoma City Zoo's new "Oklahoma Trails" feature.
Grizzly Bears, drawn from life at The Oklahoma City Zoo

It’s been busy and a little stressful and, well, do I need to draw you a picture? Okay, what the heck. I got up to the OKC Zoo the other day, doing some research for a new Bird Watcher’s Digest ID plate of North American Swans I’m working on. The OKC zoo is one of my very favorite sketch spots and has a surprising variety of interesting animals. Need to see a Bush Dog? Or a meandering Okapi? How about Andean Condors and Harpy Eagles? Would you enjoy viewing Tragopans and black crappie, although not together? Would a pair of Tundra swans get your heart pounding, especially in the company of White-faced whistling ducks and red pochards?

An American Bison at the OKC Zoo's new Oklahoma Trails.
American Bison at the OKC Zoo's "Oklahoma Trails" feature

I’m delighted with the zoo’s new “Oklahoma Trails” section. It’s a wooden raised boardwalk taking you through all the biomes of this diverse state, from the dry arroyos of Black Mesa (northwestern) to the gator swamps of Little Dixie (southeastern) to tallgrass prairie of the central zones. It even has wonderful signage. Having a few hours to spare, sketching at the zoo was my afternoon head-clearer. Better than shopping.

Tundra swan at OKC Zoo.
Tundra swan at OKC Zoo, drawn through my new Nikon 15-30 angled-eye fieldscope.

11 thoughts on “Sketch Therapy: What I Drew at the Zoo

  1. lifecreativitycoach says:

    It looks like you had fun and did a great job.

    Creativity Coach for artists and writers

  2. Ken Januski says:

    Hi Motmot,

    This reminds me of the days I used to spend sketching at the San Francisco Zoo. There was always something rewarding and enjoyable in that process. As much as I love abstract art I do think that artists who don’t sketch miss one of arts most enjoyable aspects. As you say it is a good head-clearer.

    Many years ago when I used to work at the book section of a newspaper a book came through about how drawing was at one time part of a normal grammar school education, not that the students would turn out to be artists but just that it gave them another way to investigate and understand the world around them. I regret that I never actually read the book because the thesis has always been interesting to me and I’d like to know more about it. Imagine a generation of Americans who were adept at drawing……..

    I know many people won’t be interested in this but I wonder how you like your new scope. One of these days I need to spring for a new one and start drawing from life again rather than from photos that I’ve taken. Are you using the Fieldscope III? Thanks for any information on the scope and how you like it, especially in regard to drawing while using it.

  3. zeladoniac says:

    Ken-I’ve sketched at the SF zoo, too- such a pleasant place to draw, and right across the street from the beach, too. About the falling away of art education in public schools: not enough of a priority, I guess, and you can’t really test for it, right? It’s certainly a great way to investigate the world, and there are scientists who draw in order to understand what they study, E.O.Wilson being one of them (he draws ants, of course).

    The scope is wonderful- it’s a Nikon ED50 Fieldscope with a 15-30 zoom eyepiece. It’s very reasonably priced, and comes with the eyepiece. It’s also teeny- no more than 8″ long, weighs about 1lb. It fits in my purse, it’s waterproof, works with my lightweight pochade-box tripod. If you’re going to draw with it, be sure you get the angled eyepiece.

    Really like your drawings and paintings, by the way. Your dowicher would make a swell woodcut.

  4. Ken Januski says:

    Hi Motmot,

    Thanks for your kind comments on my own art and for your information on your scope. I must say that I think it’s your site more than any other that has reminded me of just how much I used to enjoy sketching from nature (often at San Francisco Zoo) and has spurred me on to return to sketching after a hiatus of many years.

    I’m going to have to try to find a local or somewhat local store that carries the scope to take a look at it. The fact that it is waterproof is a real bonus. If I actually do get it I’ll be sure to post some of my first sketches from it on my site.

    Thanks again!

  5. Pica says:

    I love drawing at the zoo, but I’ve never taken my scope! (I have the same one; it’s perfect for sketching)

    Next time I will. After all it basically fits in your pocket.

    Great bison…

  6. Josefina says:

    It’s actually a great and helpful piece of information. I’m
    glad that you shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

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