Sunday, 12 October 2014

Octopus Garden in watercolour

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is octopus.

Octopus gardens are real things. Octopods have been known to carefully arrange rocks, shells, and debris around the entrances to their dens. It's probably for camouflage, but who knows? They've shown in lab that they're very intelligent. Maybe they like to decorate as well as protect.

I was going to ink this one after I was done painting, but I decided that I sort of liked it the way it is. Weird, for me and painting (for those new to the program, I have the brush skills of a five-year-old). I might ink it later. We'll see after I've let it sit for a while.

In other news, I opened my travel pan kit to find the top half of my water brush missing. No big deal since I hardly ever use it, but how would it just disappear? I'm guessing that I took it out at some point to clean it, and then...? Ah well, it'll turn up. Or not. Or I'll jsut buy another one at some point. There's lots of brushes out there.

Especially for someone who doesn't actually paint.

IF's prompt a while back was ocean, and I did a proper octopus for that one. It's right here. Oh, and of course we need to end with one thing. Everybody sing!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Mute Swan in pencil crayon

 This week's Illustration Friday prompt is silence. That was tough for me, since I don't think there really is such a thing as silence. On Earth, anyway. After all, in space no one can hear you scream...

On Earth, though, sound is everywhere. Just because our so-so hearing doesn't catch it all doesn't mean it isn't there. And even when we think we're going somewhere for the "silence", it isn't. Quiet, maybe. Muffled, even. But not silent.

I suppose I should say at this point for anyone who hasn't read the blog bio that I'm a professional naturalist. I'm paid to notice sounds out there that most people who don't listen everyday wouldn't hear. I've never in my life been for a silent walk, because there's always something out there making sounds. That's also why I never walk with an mp3 player, by the way. Artificial sound just gets in the way of the real thing.

Anyway, for the prompt I went with a bird (Cygnus olor, the Mute Swan) with a version of silence in its name. Ironically, and going a little way to prove my point, the Mute Swan isn't even mute.

This was done very scribbly and quickly, partly because I tend to get a little fussy about detail, and partly because I've been trying to train my injured wrist (yeah, still working on that blasted thing) not to tense up so much when I try to draw. The neck's a bit short, I think, but overall I guess it actually looks like a swan. Yay wrist.

Just for fun, here's Bob the kitten (he doesn't qualify as Bob Cat yet. And yes, the name was on purpose. His brother is Tom...) imploring me to stop taking his picture and get to the art stuff already instead of just leaving it on the bed.

You're right, Bob, but the camera's fun too.

Sorry, buddy.

Well, not really.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Creamsicle in pencil crayon

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is novelty. This is an extremely quick (like, 15 minute) creamsicle. Quick, because honestly I'd like to go have lunch, but I wanted to post something because I've been pretty lazy lately.

The wrapper's only suggested because I wasn't in the mood to come up with something that didn't break copyright.

Personally, I always preferred raspberry over orange, but I wasn't sure that people would get it if I made the thing red.

Um, ice cream novelties count, right?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Bufflehead in pencil crayon

I drew a duck last night.

No, not randomly. I needed it for work. Yep, I'm still my own illustrator, so to speak. Sometimes it's interesting working for a non-profit.

Anyway, this is just to show that I'm still doodling, even if you're not seeing much of it at the moment.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Fragile? in pencil crayon

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is fragile. This butterfly would be known to those of you in the UK as a Camberwell Beauty, but to most of the rest of us (in various languages) it's a Mourning Cloak. That's where scientific names come in handy, so let's call it Nymphalis antiopa. And this one's feeding on... I dunno. Cotton candy? To be honest, my wrist was completely done for by the time I got that far, so it's feeding on scribbles.

So, butterflies. The epitome of fragile, right? With those thin, scaly wings that are so easily broken, and the ephemeral life span and all.

Not so fast, Sam. Not only is this particular butterfly tough enough to be found all over North American and Eurasia in a variety of climates, it's also capable of going through (at least) two broods even where I live in Canada. And how does it manage that in such a short season?

The second brood of adults overwinters.

Yeah, seriously. Forget what you know about insects getting through cold, long winters as eggs or as buried chrysalids. These beauties and a few others find their way down under leaf litter, piles of sticks, or other sheltered places and go through the entire winter as adults. Then, they're out flying pretty much as soon as the air's warm enough to allow it. Even before there's food around for them. They're our first butterflies of spring, and always looked forward to for that reason. If you want to encourage them in your yard, leave a bit of a brush pile in a back corner and they'll have a place to shelter for the winter.

That whole thing astounds me, really, and I talk about this sort of thing for a living. I guess the lesson is to not be fooled by the appearance of fragile.

Or something.

Maybe there is no lesson except that the world is a very cool place and I wish that we'd take more time to look at it that way.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Canola in watercolour

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is summer. And this is, quite honestly, a little fifteen-minute sketch done in front of the television last night. Most of those fifteen minutes were spent watching the paint dry...

Yeah, I know. Such an artist, me.

Anyway, I live in a part of Alberta where a lot of canola is grown, so summer around here usually means bright yellow fields contrasted with a vivid blue sky (and no, I'm not being poetic. The sky on a hot day is strikingly blue) and the greens of poplars and spruce. It's about as pretty as agriculture can get (in a good way, I mean). Around here, anyway.

The one thing missing from my imaginary field is a pump jack. I wasn't in the mood for that particular reality of life in Alberta. Oh, and if you've never seen an actual canola field, this picture is a pretty good representation. Our area's a big more rolling-hilly than that, though.

On a medium note, I'm finding that Sakura's Koi watercolour pans read a bit better on my cheap scanner than my Cotmans. Do I like the paint itself better? Hey, I have the brush skills of a five-year-old. You could probably substitute in the Reeves school set I had in grade three and I wouldn't notice. Ok, I would... but I'm really not a very good judge when it comes to paint of any sort.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Behind the door...

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is contraption. And this is one of the neatest contraptions in nature, I think. The hiding place built by the trapdoor spiders.

Trapdoor spiders make a fairly sophisticated hole (considering that they're spiders and all) and cover it with a trapdoor that's sort of cork-like in texture. It consists of soil, silk, and whatever plants may be around, and is attached to the hole with a silk hinge. When closed, the door almost perfectly camouflages the spider's den.

The spider waits, gripping the door closed, until a prey animal crosses one of the trip lines radiating from the burrow. Then the door is swiftly opened and the prey is whisked into the den.

Pretty cool contraption for a spider, especially considering that some of its Mygalomorph cousins (think tarantula) don't construct much of anything at all. But then, anyone who's followed this blog at all knows that I think spiders are pretty cool regardless.

This is a really quick doodle -- literally doodle this time -- in my pocket sketchbook, so you can imagine the size. It's still all about what my stupid wrist (YES, still) will let me do before things get really shaky. Fine control and weakened wrist just aren't getting along. It's easier with pencils (meaning, despite the lack of posts I'm still arting. Just nothing I've felt like introducing to the internet), but man do I miss working in pen. Ah well, nothing to do but keep trying.
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