I was at the zoo, drawing the elephant family and they weren’t taking it lying down. In fact, once you try to pin down a pose you realise that these supposedly slow giants, move all the time, and not necessarily slowly. This was demonstrated recently when an elephant in the Kruger National Park objected to the proximity of a couple of cars. The first one was lucky to escape with only a hard nudge which lifted its back wheels. The second car was bowled over and gored. To see those photos click here.
I have massive respect for elephants, mainly because my family missed being run over by a very annoyed bull elephant on a guided game drive in a reserve some years back. The rule when viewing elephants in the wild is: Approach with caution, always try to view elephants out of a side or rear window of your vehicle with a clear road ahead of you. Do NOT turn off your engine and relax, because Jumbo can go from placid to annoyed to charging, faster than you can reverse your car. And for goodness sake, give them room! As Lawrence Anthony, the celebrated Elephant Whisperer, found out from long and patient observation of a herd with a reputation for being “rogue”, they aren’t stuffed museum pieces, but sentient beings with complex family relationships.
Back to sketching constantly moving subjects. With people you can gently remind them not to move. Elephants are another matter and one afternoon of observation is certainly not going to turn anyone into an Elephant Whisperer. I resorted to muttering. Even if it had no effect on the elephants, it helped me feel better about chasing poses with a pencil. And if you are muttering loudly enough, you develop a “slightly crazy” air about you which stops people from peering over your shoulder, breathing down your neck and making silly comments about what you are doing.