On assignment @ Hoot & Howl

You know you have a dream gig when it’s so much fun you think “I get paid to do this?“.

That was my Saturday evening: reportage sketching at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo‘s Hoot & Howl fundraiser. Hoot & Howl  is an evening for grownups to come to the park sans kids. Happy Hollow puts on quite the party for them, from live animals wandering around the zoo, to hot air balloon rides, live shows in the puppet theater, lots of food and drinks and much, much more. Here are some highlights from my evening.

Danny the Dragon, the zoo’s beloved mascot welcomes early arrivals who enjoy a drink while they wait for the gates to open. (Yes, the attendees were so excited, they arrived early!)

Once you enter the park, there’s no dearth of stuff you can do. This candy artist spins dragons, hummingbirds, dolphins and just about anything you can imagine out of candy, and hands them to you on a stick. No one seemed to have the heart to take a bite off those beautiful confections.

All the while that you wander around the zoo, there’s ambassador animals with their handlers. Many of the animals were once rescued and are very tame. They visit schools as part of an education program.
Here’s Morocco, an African porcupine, who tried taking a hearty bite out of my book. Good thing it was a solid, hardcover book, or he’d have gone right through it…

And here are the raven and baby kangaroo.


Spike the alligator was rescued about 25 years ago. He’s never needed to catch prey, never had to battle for a mate or fight another alligator, so he’s super-docile.

If you’ve looked at the progression of the photographs so far, you might notice the light fading and the park’s halogen lighting coming on…That’s the one bit of the evening I didn’t account for. Drawing under dim light outdoor light is hard enough, but painting under it means you have to know what color is where in your palette, because every color looks the same under that light… and you just have to hope that the sketches look halfway decent in daylight.

This camel was pretty vocal.  And I think she liked posing for pictures.

After I’d spent some time with the animals, I headed over to the Puppet Theater for a mime show.

And then back out to watch some acroyoga.

Finally, I ended the evening with a bunch of very jolly people getting their fortune told by Madam Fortuna Fischi.

All this fun and games is for a very good cause, and many party goers generously donated at the event and went home with some really fun swag.

I love reportage: it’s intense and exhilarating. You need to plan and be prepared, but also be able to improvise and react quickly, and capture what unfolds as it happens. And, you get to cover and experience a whole range of events, from fun parties like this one, to protests, performances and even symposiums.

Another lovely bit about drawing in public is that people will come watch, chat and more often than not, tell you that they loved making art at some point in their lives. I always hope that seeing me draw might make them consider getting back to what they loved: art doesn’t have to be big, intimidating and abstract. It is whatever you make it to be.


About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in Animals, california, Close to home, people, reportage, san jose, Silicon Valley and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to On assignment @ Hoot & Howl

  1. TheArtistOnTheRoad says:

    Fun, fun, fun! What a cool gig!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Annie says:

    Your joy in the place and the fun really shows and I think it is a great idea to have a fun event sans kids!


  3. littlecarrie says:

    What a wonderful assignment! Your sketches are exquisite! I so enjoyed your roundup of the event. Thank you for sharing!


  4. miatagrrl says:

    Awww. . . you get the best gigs (and deserve them)! Fantastic sketches!

    – Tina


  5. Liz Ackerley says:

    What a great Reportage assignment! So love the vibrancy and movement in all your sketches. Do you go back and forth with colour and line or do you do colour-first then line? I too have the problem with lighting. At a recent wedding I really hadn’t thought about how dark it would get!


    • When it’s very quick work, like all these were, I tend to do line first then color. But that doesn’t mean I won’t go back in and add more line after that color if I feel I need to. Re:the lighting- silly of me to not think of it, I should have had a little light: a headlamp or a clip on one.


  6. lepastelbleu says:

    Hi Suhita! very good work! I appreciate very much your line and light colors. all my best!

    Greta Margot


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