“Let’s Play”: Sketching a young Okavango Cheetah
Seeing small leopard or cheetah cubs at play reminds us of children in many ways, but adolescent cats may seem deceivingly mature… until their behaviour betrays their age. In the 2013 edition of “Drawing the Big Cats” we came across what seemed to be 4 adult cheetahs. Could this be a powerful coalition of males patrolling their patch of the Okavango? As a matter of fact, as soon as we came close enough to appreciate details, we noticed the longish hairs on the napes of three of the cheetahs, a clear sign of their immature status. And once you start looking at their demenour you soon notice subtle and not so subtle signs of youth. Mother cheetah, resting on a nearby shade, looked patiently at her children, which had full bellies that clearly called for a catnap. But even as they laid down to digest their recent meal, their eyes showed a longing for play. I was especially captivated by the playful attitude and mischievous look of one adolescent cat, which became the subject of this afternoon’s sketching session!
I especially enjoy the challenge of drawing three-quarter views of cats, which create a sense of depth and solidity. It is best to capture those three-dimensional shapes in the first couple of minutes, so that afterwards you need not worry about proportions…
It is a bit as if by sketching the cheetah all those months afterwards, I am responding to the invitation implicit in the look of its youthful eyes: “Let’s play!”