When deciding on a route to sketch, I considered the following:

– current weather in the Middle East – It is currently 50 C and very humid outside and thus too hot to stand/ sit and draw outside.

– so the following options will have to wait till it gets a little bit cooler: the park/ seaside/ beach/ outdoor coffee shops; fountains; Marina & boats; city buildings; markets; souqs; walking paths

– I considered the following indoor routes: my apartment building; the aquarium; restaurants; shopping malls

I decided to use the Aquarium as an indoor setting for my sketching route for this exercise.

Reasons: It is air conditioned; offers a variety of animals/ sea life; I love the ocean and sea animals; it is usually a quiet place in the mornings with not a lot of people around.


At the entrance, before getting to the animals, are large displayed ocean fossils. I tried to make rough sketches of some of the patterns.

Entering the Aquarium, there are several desert/ land/ nocturnal animals, for example: an owl; snakes; gerbils; a hedgehog; etc.

The area where some of these animals are kept, is very dark. Therefore it was more difficult to draw them, I did not include a lot of detail in these drawings.

As I moved onto the open and lighter area, there was a massive python in a tiny glass enclosure. I don’t like snakes and did not complete drawing it.

Luckily, I then moved onto the sea life… which I LOVE!

There were several large fish tanks. I sat down at the first one and observed the fish as I drew some of them. As I sat there, I could hear the refreshing sounds from the artificial waterfall feature and the sounds of birds chirping somewhere above my head. I sat there for quite a while and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere.

The only thing is, that I wish these fish and other land/ sea creatures had larger enclosures to move about in. It’s sad that they’re swimming in the same circles repeatedly. (I guess as humans we often put ourselves in the same position, circling/ repeating the same routines and decisions. Although not everyone has a choice or the freedom, some of us actually do have a choice, but we often put ourselves in a tiny fishbowl… never changing… just swimming in circles our whole lives. If only we could realise that the bowl doesn’t actually exist.)

Back to reality.. I moved onto the penguins. Again, I absolutely LOVE penguins and wish they had more space to swim and move about. They were very cute, but it would be nicer if they were outside and free in nature. I sat there for a while observing and attempting to draw them. As I am used to drawing penguins using more of a cartoon- style, it was challenging to try and sketch them as I really see them, instead of how I like to imagine them.

From there I walked back inside into another darker area with lots of sea life. I observed the eels and attempted to sketch one of them. They looked like they were stuck halfway inside the rocks. I don’t find them to be beautiful creatures, but I do think some of them have pretty cool patterns.

Next, I spent ages observing the tiny seahorses. They were so mesmerising to watch.. moving so slowly. I attempted to draw one, but don’t think I did it any justice. They really are magical creatures. Definitely a favourite from the day.

Moving onto the next ‘window’, I could hear children shouting, ‘NEMO?’ And I knew who was next.. Clownfish! How lovely and bright! I tried to draw it with some of the sea plants.

I loved the cylinder shaped fish tank. It’s very cool. I didn’t really focus on the detail of the fish, but rather drew a lot of little fish shapes in the tank.

I then tried to draw an angelfish. Such a beautiful fish. I enjoyed drawing this one.

Next, I moved onto another favourite… the jellyfish. Their tanks have neon lights which changes colours. I spent a long time watching them. I find them hypnotising. So peaceful and relaxing to watch them move.

From there, I moved onto large enclosed tanks which stretches over several ‘windows’/ viewing areas.

Out of all the sea animals in these tanks, I loved the stingrays the most. I loved the way they move. It looks like they’re ‘flapping’ their ‘wings’ as they swim along the ‘ocean floor’ of the tank and up against the window glass. I also like their patterns. It looks like leopard spots.


In general, I enjoyed my visit to the Aquarium. I love nature and wildlife, so would have enjoyed seeing these sea creatures in nature instead. Or at least in larger enclosed areas.

I enjoyed sitting in front of the variety of fish tanks and watching the different sea creatures swim by. It was relaxing listening to the sounds of the water features. At times it got a bit noisier, as families with children passed by.

I got a couple of strange looks from people who were trying to figure out what I was scribbling in my sketchbook.

Some of the areas were challenging to sketch in due to a lack of light.

Some areas had benches to sit down on or ledges to keep my sketchbook on while sketching, which were more comfortable than just drawing while standing.

I still need to get used to drawing in public, I am not completely comfortable with he process yet. Hopefully in time, I will gain more confidence.

NAME: Juanita du Toit


COURSE: Illustration 1: Illustration Sketchbooks

The Open College of the Arts (University for the Creative Arts)

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