- White Cheek Gibbon, "Caruso": Hand & Feet Study -
I went to the zoo today to participate in a Wildlife Sketching Seminar that I had previously signed up for. Once I arrived at the zoo, I quickly made my way to the auditorium and met the other participants as well as the instructor. A quick overview of the agenda let me know that we'd be walking through the different monkey and ape houses to sketch, beginning with gestural drawings. Gesture drawings are quick, linear sketches that capture the over all movement and outline of your subjects with little to no details included. Gestural drawings are done, usually in under 60 seconds. Because I am an anal retentive, detail oriented illustrator, I think gesture is my least favorite type of drawing as it doesn't allow for perfection. Despite my immediate reservations and fear of imperfect work, I agreed internally to make the best of my drawing time.
After our introduction and agenda overview, we were led around the zoo by the artist/instructor, as well as a zoo employee. The nice thing about this was that the instructor offered drawing critiques and instruction along the way while the employee, Christina, offered animal details and background information about each group of primates we visited. While most of my drawings look like scribbles, barely capturing the movement of swinging animals, at one point a subject sat still long enough to do a bit more of an in depth drawing. That subject was Caruso.
Caruso as I learned, was a White Cheeked Gibbon that was once abused as a pet. Once acquired by the zoo, he was returned to health and was found to be quite a little attention hog. This was apparent by his need to press himself up against the glass so he could surely be seen by all. Additionally, he would get quite upset and bang on the glass any time someone walked away from him. In between outbursts, Caruso would suck his thumb (which we found to be a Caruso habit, and not one typical of Gibbons) and press his feet against the glass. This gave me a few minutes to draw and sketch some of the details of his wrinkly hands and feet. It was my favorite drawing, and Caruso was the animal I connected with the most.
We eventually moved on to snoozing Chimpanzees, Gorillas who were oddly enough chasing rabbits that had somehow gotten into their outdoor enclosure, and then the big cats. After three hours of being on my feet, I was a bit tuckered out and not motivated to draw many of the felines. Winding down, the group shared our best works and critiqued each other's drawings before walking back to the auditorium for our wrap up and disbanding. As I headed home I reminisced about the animals I had met, and giggled thinking about Caruso sucking his thumb.