An Eclectic Menagerie

The Zooly Art Challenge continues, and I’ve almost managed to keep up by adapting my work methods. I was finding the little cartoons that I had intended to do all month too stressful on my eyes, so I’ve tried doing some looser, more spontaneous drawings, with mixed results, some of which I really like, some of which… well they are experiments after all!

I’ve had my second cataract surgery, with good results, and now my new eyes have to learn to work together (one of them is set to nearer vision than the other). In the meantime I’m not going to fatigue my eyes and yours with a bunch of writing — I’ll just post these pictures I’ve been doing!

Zooly 8 colour.jpg

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to draw for a few days prior to the surgery, because I wouldn’t be allowed to wear a contact lens in the still-blurry eye, and painting with one eye didn’t appeal much. So the last day I was able to wear one, I whipped off three 9 x 12 paintings in the time it usually takes me to do one little cartoon. Hmmmm…

Zooly 9 colour.jpg

… and OK, they’re not all masterpieces, but I did like the rocks in this one, if not the ibex so much. I had decided not to use any pencil sketching, just see how well I could draw with just a brush. Amazing how focusing it is to know you can’t erase…

Zooly 10 colour

OK, now I was really on a roll. So I decided to paint (no sketch) a landscape first around a polar bear shaped hole, then add the polar bear afterwards. I really like this one. (9 x 12 inches, watercolour)

A couple of days later, walking around with a sort of blurry double vision, and surgery coming up, I was itching to get into the paints. I thought, why not give the one-eye thing a try? It’s only paper! It was Raccoon day:

zooly 11.jpg

This was my first effort at using a big brush at arm’s length, no pencil sketch, with the blurry eye closed. A bit rough but… it does capture the look on a raccoon’s face that I surprised in the tree outside our bedroom window when I opened the drapes to see why the crows were making so much noise! (watercolour, 9 x 12 inches)

zooly 11 1.jpg

Next, I tried just the big brush, a flat 1″ one, with a #6 to lift out some detail around the eyes. This was very quick, about 15 minutes. I felt like I had fussed with the previous one a bit too much.  Again, no sketch. (9 x 9 inches, watercolour.

After the surgery, I couldn’t see too well for a couple of days — my eyes stayed dilated for a loooong time! So I fell a bit behind on the prompts, and still need to catch up. Yesterday I started painting again, and this time I had the urge to draw with my brush pen. Mixed results ensued, but it was fun to be back in the saddle again.


The brush pen (at bottom with the yellow tape) proved to be running out of ink, so I got these really sketchy, dry-brush lines. I decided to go with that, rather than change the cartridge. I kind of like the effect. At the top is my model, a Safari Indian Elephant model. Again, no pencil sketch.

Okapi ink.jpg

Next I decided to tackle the Okapi, with another brush pen that wasn’t running out. I decided to try going straight to ink again, and try not to be so sketchy as the elephant had been. To my surprise, I actually managed to get the proportions fairly accurate the first time (mostly; you can see a few errant lines), if a bit stiff. I was working from two different photos and another Safari model.

Okapi WC.jpg

Then I decided to paint him and give him a jungle to live in. It was just supposed to be some quick washes, but got a bit overwrought. I’d like to have another go at this one; okapi faces are really quite delicate and beautiful, and there wasn’t any room for detail here.

So that’s the last week’s art roundup; I kind of surprised myself with my output. I think partly it’s because I’ve just been spontaneous and not stressing about the quality of the results, and that I’ve been doing a lot less computer-y stuff, as I’m finding that hard on the eyes. Speaking of which, I’ll close this off, and go do some more paintings!

6 responses to “An Eclectic Menagerie

    • Thanks! This is a good way to start — there’s one more week of the challenge, but you can jump in anywhere, and go back and fill in, too. We’re leaving the page up (hoping to do it again next year), and at the end we’re going to have an associated group with weekly challenges. It’s been really fun, and people wanted to continue, but at a more leisurely pace, and we thought a group might be a nice idea. So please feel free to join in, and continue with us if you like doing it!


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