The Two-toed Sloth
by Rita Goldner
One of my favorite activities is sketching animals, especially from life. While I have plenty of subjects among friends’ pets, I much prefer exotic animals, so you’ll find me frequently sitting on a folding camp chair, sketching at the zoo. My orangutan sketches morphed into a children’s picture book, Orangutan: a Day in the Rainforest Canopy, and since one of my current work-in-progress books is about a rhinoceros, I’ve been stalking that habitat lately, too.
I was thrilled to learn a few weeks ago that the Phoenix Zoo had added a two-toed sloth, named Fernando, to its collection. Sloths are classified into either two-toed or three-toed. Both have three toes on their hind legs, but the two-toed variety has two on each front leg. Any zoo resident sloths you’ll see are likely two-toed, as the three toed ones don’t do well in captivity. Sloths move so slowly that algae grow on their fur. Their birth rate is low anyway, usually one a year, sometimes hampered even further by the fact that the slow females may take longer than that to find a mate.
Although I’ve gotten used to quick gesture and character studies of his more fleet-footed neighbors, Fernando’s lethargic lifestyle will be more conducive to some detailed drawings. However, I can’t foresee writing an interesting picture book story about him, since he does nothing but sit in a tree branch all day long.
As I frequently do in these monthly blogs, I try to use the animal behavior of whatever muse I’m obsessed with at the moment in an analogy with some facet of writing, illustrating, marketing, story research, etc. Tough assignment this month, since as I may have mentioned, he’s sitting there doing absolutely nothing. Wait! There’s my segue after all!
After a holiday season of frazzled nerves, overeating, angst about what didn’t get done or done right, and running around with the grandkids, I’ve done some recent sitting around staring at a blank piece of paper with a pencil in my hand. I have dozens of New Years’ resolutions spiraling around in my mind, but actual movement, like Fernando, is limited to slowly scratching my head.
Perhaps I’ll learn something from my analogy. My usual tactic is coming up with a jumble of resolutions both for personal and professional growth. Then I dive in with equal enthusiasm for all, and within a few weeks they all fizzle out. How about if I come up with timetables, measureable increments, lists of resources and determined baby steps?
My first resolution is to polish my writing skills. I tend to focus more on illustration because it’s more fun, but in the coming months, I’m going to write a picture book in verse.
My second goal is to expand my marketing acumen, specifically to learn how to run a book launch and how to write good ads for Facebook.
My third is to get serious about consistency in my newsletter. Every two weeks, come hell or high water.
And that’s enough; slow and steady wins the race.
PS If you want to sign up for my consistent newsletter, Orangutans and More, and receive a free kids’ activity every two weeks, visit http://bit.ly/OrangutansAndMore.
Rita Goldner is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book, Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series.For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit OrangutanDay.com. Or by the Kindle version here. Rita’s newest book, Making Marks on the World: A Storybook for Left- and Right-Handed Coloring, is available for purchase here. Works in progress: H2O Rides the Water Cycle, The Flying Artist, and Rose Colored. To view additional illustrations and Rita’s books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook. Subscribe to Rita’s newsletter, Orangutans and More! and receive a free coloring page of today’s illustration.