I did work on the nature journal a bit this past Winter/Spring. I love our birds and critters but this year we did not feed them. There was a scary disease going through this part of the country. Thankfully, I did not see it with our birds, but the DNR asked us to not feed them in case it was spreading.
I like to work on a tan sketchbook in January – although I was too busy with nieces and our weekly zoom coaching sessions to do the full Tanuary challenge on social media. We had a lot of fun, even so.
I challenged the kids to use different surfaces, including cardboard pieces and talked about charcoal, pencil, crayon, pen etc. It was good drawing practice for all involved.
At the end of 2020 one of my final projects of the year was to create the 2021 family calendar. This one absolutely annihilated me. It is a tribute to the first sibling we have lost in my family.
I printed off the normal 8 for siblings and Mom, but I also printed off 5 for my brother Aaron’s children. Then every month I write each of them about the stories that are held in the photos of their Daddy and his childhood. It has been a hard year, but I will not regret that I did this.
- Printed double-sided on 13×19 matte photo paper
- This is year 16 of creating these and it will probably be my final. At this point, we can start reusing some of those I made before.
I continued to do some art after the first of the year because my nieces were begging me to continue teaching and coaching them, but I lost my spark for a number of months and am just beginning to get it back. So expect some fun posts as I catch up on what I have been doing.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak’s have been plentiful this season. I have my own photos, but a friend, Steve Bradley, took one of a male that truly inspired me. I used his photo for my painting and one of my own for the female.
First I practiced drawing them since their big old beaks were a new shape for me.
Then I tried the male on my Mom’s Mother’s Day card/letter. I decided I liked that so well, I did the couple in my nature journal (the first image above.)
Inktober is in full swing and here I am forgetting to blog it! Feel free to look me up on Instagram, where I am quite active. Day 1 was “Ring” (the Nashville Warbler’s eye ring is quite distinct) and “Leaf”. So I hit all 3 lists on this one.
I had no plan going into this year. Come whatever comes. I am watching 3 different lists and am hit and miss with them. This was Mindless and Seedpod. I use to mindlessly whack these down. Now even the seedpod is prescious.
Day 3 was the Killdeer offering herself as Bait to predators to pull them away from her nest. Amazing birds. They nest across the street from me each summer, so I hear them daily.
Day 4 was some practice 60 second sketches.
This momma Robin was sitting near me on the trail. I was unwittingly standing directly under her nest build. I moved back and watched as she industriously went about her business.
It was a great start to Inktober.
This was a week of working on tones (no details) and looking at how the eyes are made, reflections, cast shadows etc.
I chose one of our local squirrels to be the subject – a little hazelnut thief. I am a sucker for them every time, though. They run around trying to bury huge walnuts in our lawn. So funny!
I find that I need more practice finding the structure and geometric shapes – then examining all the shading and light source. This has been more of a cerebral exercise than I am used to.
I need to do more of this. Nothing wrong with picking up the pen or paints and having at it, but stopping to think about the details and remembering why things look the way they do is a good practice. This has been an excellent course.
NewcastleX: NHI101xDrawing Nature, Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101 – EDX Link
A commission for a graphite drawing of an office building as a gift for the owner turned into a watercolor, which they chose.
First I figured out which vantage point to take with this long, low building. Then I mocked up the basic lines to make sure I was good with that decision. Next, the pencil drawing. I am not a fan of my pencil work. So on to ink and watercolor, urban sketch style. I was happy and so were they.
Thanks, Moser team, for pushing me into doing some urban work in the middle of my oil and Christmas season. Fun!
Day 16 – Angular – I was just starting to draw a Great Egret I photographed at Eagle Creak this month. As I was playing with the lines (in nature they so often replicate, lending a beautiful symmetry to the animal or bird), ta da – Angular happened by accident. I think it has the most likes of any on my Instagram.
Day 15 – Weak – I could not get the image to work, so I started doing my quick 10 second drills to loosen up my hand. I was flipping through Google images and when I was done, these made me laugh so hard that I shared them.
This was a hard work week, so I went off script in order to keep inking. Other than these first two, I did not follow the prompts and just had fun and used the time to loosen up.
Hispid Corbis Rat / Red-Breasted Nuthatch study (saw my first one on our feeder this past week! Had to commemorate a “lifer”. The rat was from Google images.)
Below is my first ever fan art. Then the ravens took 2 days with the first being for the initial sketch.
I love James and Margaret, who have made a backyard habitat in CA their home. The “caretakers” of that space give this loving pair of ravens food puzzles on their deck and interact with them in very fun ways. I have been wanting to sketch these guys for some time and took this opportunity. I think they would look very great in paint! Next project!
Corvids are extremely smart birds and I have learned so much from James and his only love, Margaret. It is amazing to watch their story unfold. You can follow them and their fellow inhabitants of that backyard on Instagram or Facebook.
In Week 2 I began to feel glimmers of my inner artist really showing up for the party. Above was my interpretation of Star, which was a breakthrough concept piece for me, since I was illustrating a Native American legend.
If you break a cottonwood tree small branch at the circular growth line, and it is not too green or not too dry, you will find a star.
Image from: My Wishing Rock blog
The Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes believe this is where stars are born and the wind sends them up into the sky. I love this and that is where my concept piece was born.
Another legend says this is where stars hide during the day. The Lakota use the cottonwood in their Sundance ceremony as the tree of life because of this. — reference: Mom off Track blog
The idea of the three trees is taken from three of the cottonwoods I grew up with along the drive to our barn (and I used a reference photo to capture some of the branch placement.) I have a strong affinity for these trees because the sound of their leaves in the wind winds through every childhood memory of outdoor play like a ribbon through my hair. The sound transports me every time, and now I have another reason to love these trees.