Depicting a caged animal in a zoo is a fairly obvious way to interpret this week's 'Illustration Friday,' word, which is "caged," but it is the first thing that came into my mind. I love animals and even though my feelings about zoos are a bit ambivalent, I love going to them for the opportunity it gives me to see animals from around the world. It breaks my heart to see a caged animal, but on the other hand I know that zoos now play an important part in conservation and preserving species that might otherwise go extinct in the wild. For the most part, zoos have come a long way in creating more stimulating and naturalistic enclosures for their animals. I doubt that zoos even use the word cage today to describe where their animals live. Still, even at the best zoos you will see enclosures that seem to small for the animals that they house. This seems especially true for the big cats like leopards, tigers, cheetahs, ocelots, panthers and lions. Who hasn't gone to a zoo and seen one of these majestic animals pacing back and forth in front of their bars, or just sitting staring into space?
I have been to a great number of zoos here in the USA - the Los Angeles Zoo, the San Diego Zoo, Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, the Cincinnati Zoo, the Indianapolis Zoo and Chicago's Lincoln Park zoo. It was last year while visiting the Lincoln Park zoo where I was saddened to see some of the big cats on display in very old, very cramped enclosures. All of the cats who were awake at the time, sure enough, were pacing back and forth. So, when I thought about the word "Caged," a big cat in a small, concrete cage is what came to my mind.
I had a certain vision in my head of what I wanted the people to look like, but I had a difficult time achieving what was in my mind's eye. The character that gave me the most trouble was that of the overweight woman. As you can see in the first sketch, I had her as a mother, being dragged by her little boy to see the lion.
As I mentioned earlier, I had a certain vision in my mind's eye of how I wanted this image to look. My original vision was much more stylized, but I just couldn't get the stylization to look the way that I imagined it. The finished result is closer to the look of a Little Golden Book illustration, which seems to be a style that I'm working in more and more.
Anyway, thanks for reading all of this. Comments are always welcome!