Friday, October 27, 2006

A Day at the Zoo and Other Musings

A trip to the National Zoo in DC earlier this week with artist friend, Paula Waterman, turned out to be a very rewarding day of reference work. We headed into DC basically to gather material on the recently born trio of tiger cubs but found many other interesting subjects as well. The cubs were having a great time, romping around their enclosure, playing, rough-housing and doing the usual tiger cub things. Mom was quite attentive and when called for, very patient with the hyper active trio. Though the enclosure was quite shaded and the cubs often managed to situate themselves in the darkest corners, we did manage to snag a few good shots.

I believe that there are two female cubs and one male. It was obvious to me that one of the cubs seemed definitely larger and bulkier in body shape than the other two, so I would surmise he was the little male. But all three were very active and playful throughout the morning of shooting.

We also spent some time walking the new Asia Trail that opened to the public earlier this month. The enlarged panda exhibition was very well designed and we got a few glimpses of little, well not so little any more, Tai and his mom. The layout of the 'trail' was quite nice and several of the new areas were very appealing. Unfortunately, the clouded leopard, another of the subjects that we were specifically interested in, was not out in its enclosure as there was work being done to it. But the sloth bear area was very nice, as was the new red panda area complete with waterfall and nice rock formations.

We meandered over to the bird area and got some interesting images of several species that I have seen in Africa on my several trips to that continent, but had never really been able to get good close shots of, including the beautiful and colorful lilac breasted roller.

The marabou stork, with its appearance that 'only a mother could love' was another of the species that caught my eye. Another tough subject matter to make use of in a drawing, I can't help but be 'drawn' to their unique appearance. My good friend, Matthew Hillier, recently painted a magnificent oil painting of a marabou in bold strokes of paint and with a wonderful touch that brought such emotion to the subject that each time I see his painting, I wonder if I might ever be able to capture that same feeling of unique beauty of this motley bird, as Matthew did.

And, as a final note to today's entry, I read with great pleasure an entry to my friend, Carel's blog page this morning. He wrote quite wonderfully, on Monday of this week about photography and the artist. This was his third entry on the subject and I thought, by far, the most informative. I am often asked what I think of the use of photography in gathering reference material for future works of art and if I make use of photography in my work. Of course I use photo images for reference material when pulling together an idea for a new work. Sketch books play a major roll as well, with notations of light sources and movement and gesture and such, but I do make use of photography as well. But, as Carel so correctly put it, photos are just another of the tools in the 'tool box' that an artist carries with him or her, and act as reminders or points of departure. Take a look at Carel's page (linked to the right here) and read his explanation of how he makes use of photos and the examples he has used to flesh out his words. His words do best to define how I too, make use of photography in my work. Thanks, Carel, for your great description of this very controversial method of reference gathering for the artist.

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