Saturday, 15 December 2012

Kind of just a mixed media mess...

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is snow.

I hate snow.

No, really hate it.

I grew up with snow, I still live with (I was going to say in rather than with, but then you'd wonder if I lived in an igloo) snow, and I hate snow. I hate cleaning off my car after it's been snowing, I hate driving in snow, and the only reason I don't hate shovelling snow is that I live in an apartment building so I rarely have to worry about taking care of walkways. And as for white Christmases? I think that they lose their charm once you're past childhood. One of the best Christmases I've ever had, personally, was one we spent in Hawaii.

With no snow.

Not a fan of snow, did I mention?

So naturally a prompt like snow wasn't going to bring out warm fuzzy feelings in Yours Doodlingly. What it did bring out was my mess of a mixed media journal (I so want to put journal in quotes. This book is nothing like a journal. More like a disaster). What you're seeing, then, done in front of the television last night, is cut-paper snowflakes covered in gesso and a blue watercolour wash, traced in watercolour brush pen, and... um, I guess you could say accented with silver and purple spider writer ink.


I guess snow gives me the blues...

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Darwin's Finches in soluble graphite

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is explore. What you're seeing here is three quick sketches of what are popularly known as Darwin's Finches: "finches" from the Galapagos Islands that Darwin described after his trip around South America and Australia aboard the survey ship Beagle. The beak on my warbler-finch (the one on the left) is a bit too short because it was hard to judge from the reference photo I was using, and of course I didn't bother to do any further searching until I'd already finished the drawing. The other two finches are currently considered to be the same species, but the one on the right has developed a heavier body and beak and may one day become a new species.

That's the short and simplified version of that story, by the way. If you're interested in learning more, it should be easy enough to find if you google Geospiza fortis 5110. This post really isn't going to have much to do with Darwin's Finches and their importance to the development of the theory of evolution, believe it or not. It's more about the voyage.

And before I continue, I should note that as usual my scanner wasn't fond of the soluble graphite wash, so I've had to darken this a fair bit to show any detail.

I recently finished reading The Voyage of the Beagle, which is Darwin's account of his five years on the ship. He was serving as naturalist on a surveying trip, and in those days that meant you had to know a little bit about just about everything about the natural world (enough abouts in this sentence for everyone yet?), from geology to entomology. It was quite something to read this diary of a fairly young man (which, granted, since I was reading the second edition, was heavily influenced by the thoughts of the later, older man. Hmm. That makes it sound like Darwin invented time travel. Who knew?) exploring a world completely different from the England he'd grown up in. At times he's incredibly full of wonder and awe, at times he's dismissive, at times he goes on far too long about geology (I'm sorry. I just find it hard to get that interested in geology), and at times... well, he climbs an awful lot of hills and mountains. He must have driven his guides and servants nuts.

One thing that struck me very forcefully was the giant ball of contradiction that was Victorian science. There is this absolute admiration of the wonders of nature coupled with incredibly callous destruction. The standard operating procedure seemed to be see, admire, describe, shoot, describe dead thing.

There's a lot of dead things in The Voyage of the Beagle.

Now, before any of the more science-minded amongst you starts in on the importance of study specimens to the advancement of understanding, let me just say that I know. I have a zoology degree. I've handled many a dead thing. I know that it's almost impossible to fully understand anatomy without dissecting things, and I know the importance of study skins in the description and comparison of new species. It's not the death that bothered me so much; it's the scale. Where nowadays we might go out and collect one or two animals (or, increasingly and even better, their DNA), the Victorians were shooting braces at a time. As my officemate reminded me when I was describing all of this, there was a time where every field scientist's lab or office contained a well-used gun cabinet.

Considering what's since happened to some of the species that they were shooting in dozens, I'm glad that's not the way we explore the natural world anymore. The early science was important to take science to where it is now, but I hope we've learned that we can't continue to be so cavalier when dealing with the animals that we're studying.

Backing off from death for a moment, it's interesting to me that at first it wasn't the finches of the Galapagos that attracted Darwin's attention. That didn't happen until he got back to England and his collections were studied by other people. He was far more interested in a couple of species of... mockingbird, I think it was. A good lesson there, really. Sometimes you need others' eyes to help point you to the ideas that are truly important.

There are other things I could say about The Voyage of the Beagle -- the uncomfortable feeling a modern-day reader gets while hearing his very Victorian dismissal of many of the natives he meets comes to mind -- but I've already blathered long enough and blather's supposed to be for my other blog anyway. I'll just say, then, that if you have any sort of interest in early(ish) scientific exploration and the associated attitudes, the book's worth a flip-though.

Is it weird that I just gave a review for a nearly 170-old book? Probably. Welcome to my weird life, then.

Saturday, 24 November 2012


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is whiskers.

Harry thought that handlebar moustaches were for sissies...

Happy End of Movember, boys. Congrats on whatever sort of 'stache you ended up with to support the cause.

And congrats to the many women in your lives who are no doubt waiting impatiently for December to start...


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Fun with art supplies? Or whatever.

This weird thing actually started out as thoughts about leaf structures on a magnified level.

No, really, it did.

Then my brain got into the construction paper. And glue. And acrylic paint. And a canvas board. And then... this.

Now the scary thing about this (it's called Leaf, very originally) is that it's currently on the wall of our art gallery at work. Yes, it's showing in public, and that's the reason I'm using it for this week's Illustration Friday prompt, which is shy.

I've said it before: I'm not an artist. I dabble. I doodle. And when I experiment like this, it doesn't ever get seen by the public. Except this year, for some reason. Not only did I bring in this... masterwork? for the staff show, but I also did a three-canvas painting. Yes, painting (it's on the other blog that's linked on the sidebar, but it's no great shakes so don't worry about checking it out). For anyone new to my world, I don't paint.

The staff show was hung mid last week. The thought that people were seeing these things nearly caused shyness overload.

Yep, seriously. To the point where I didn't show up for the opening.  Couldn't handle the thought of hearing an opinion about what until now has been a very private part of my life.

You artists out there are by now thinking that I'm at best neurotic and at worst slightly insane over something that's not a big deal, but for me it is a big deal. I'm a shy person to begin with; to put myself out there is never easy. To put this kind of thing out there? Well, I've used the word terrifying before, and it's pretty close to that.

Ah well. They're on the wall now. They've been seen by people. I haven't died.

I guess it's all ok.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Final Moult in pen & ink

Hey, look who's actually drawing again! For those who haven't seen my whinging and generally feeling sorry for my self on my other blog, I've been trying to get something ready for a show that's being hung next week, and in my world that's the signal to become completely blocked. Doodling for myself is fine, but the thought of putting something on a wall purposely for others to see it scares the bejeebers out of me enough to ensure that all arty things come to a complete, screeching halt (that "I'm not an artist" bit on the About Me tab? Not false modesty. I'm not an artist. The thought of putting my "art" on show is terrifying). Add that to the fact that this non-painter decided to work in acrylics this year, and... yeah. No art at all until the time crunch forced me to get something done. Pressure's off now, though, because the completed piece is all I've got and I can't do anything more about it.


This week's Illustration Friday prompt is haunted, and I promise that there's a reason why my brain went to dragonflies.

Entomophobes (of which I am a somewhat-reformed one) would be forgiven if they were creeped out by being around during the moulting time of some species of dragonfly. It doesn't happen with all of them, but for some species they exit the pond en masse looking for good, sturdy places to grip during the time it takes them to finally exit their nymphal skins. I don't want to bore you with the biology of the whole thing (for a change), but there's a good write-up here for those who are interested in the process. For me, the most incredible part of the whole thing is that it can take hours. Just imagine the vulnerability during that time, when your legs aren't yet solid enough to hold your weight and your wings haven't even inflated (and yes, I do mean to say inflated). If that happened to humans, I don't think humans would even exist.

Geez, all these words and I haven't even got to haunt. Get on with it, Dee.

I've been around local ponds in the late spring (doing school pond studies at work, mostly) in years where we've had masses of dragonfly nymphs climb out of the pond at once to metamorphose, and it really is a sight to see. All these rather large insects crawling along the ground and up any strong vertical surface, then splitting open their skins and starting the struggle to emerge. It truly looks exhausting, especially when you see it in real time as opposed to the sped-up versions you see on the internet. It's always a good learning moment for kids, to see metamorphosis up close.

What's left afterwards, though, is exuvia. Skins, that is. In peak years, hundreds and hundreds of skins all over the deck and picnic tables of the area where we pond dip. That's where haunt comes in for me. You can walk around the place and it looks like it's haunted by the ghosts of those hundreds of animals who have all shed their water-dwelling existence for an entirely new life. If I was feeling more poetic I could get absolutely purple here, but it is kind of a neat metaphor when you think of it. Shedding your skin, leaving the things that were haunting you behind, flying away... a lot could be done with that, I think.

Not by me today, though. It's enough of a triumph for me that I got the sketchbook out. It should happen more often now that the other piece is finished, I expect. Wish me luck with the staff show.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Symmetry in graphite

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is mirror. I have a bad habit of saying "this is a quick doodle...", but this one really is. Not at all obvious, I know. The fact is, I wasn't really in the mood for drawing this evening. I did, however, have something I wanted to say in regards to mirror.

When I was a kid, I drew. Just about every kid does. You draw, you explain to people what you drew, and you're happy. There came a point as I grew older, though, when that wasn't good enough. I started to hate drawing faces.

I never seemed to get them to come out right, you see. I'd start out great, but then they'd go all lopsided and uneven and my (even back then) slightly OCD self would get frustrated. In desperation, and since I hadn't yet been introduced to tracing paper, I used to draw half a face, fold the paper, do my best to trace what I could see of what I'd already drawn, and then unfold the paper and try to follow those traced lines to get my "perfect" face.

Is this sounding familiar to anyone else out there? If so, you know that faces done that way generally turn out worse than anything. The proportions usually aren't right. Eyes are too far apart. Chins are too wide. And for me, for whatever reason, mouths were often too small. Frustration on frustration, so I stopped drawing faces.

I've since learned through taking Early Childhood Development courses that pretty much every child goes through the perfectionist stage. Just drawing isn't good enough; the drawings have to be right. In the same vein (and I notice this at work particularly), children in that same stage will be very bothered if something they've written is written wrong and there's no way to erase it. Trust me, "just cross it out" doesn't work for kids who need everything to be perfect.

It's the stage, by the way, where a lot of people stop drawing all together. I can't draw this good enough becomes I can't draw, and there's the end of it.

For me, I didn't stop drawing. I wasn't as enthusiastic about it, maybe, but the drawing didn't stop. I didn't draw faces, however. Come to it, I still don't. Nowadays it's because I really don't have any interest in drawing people, but I'm sure that the disinterest started with my failed mirrored faces.

Now, the irony in all of this is that faces aren't mirrored. One of my little biological fascinations is symmetry. It's come up here before, so for anyone who actually reads this stuff I'll skip the diatribe and say that, for the most part (and we're talking about the so-called higher animals here), symmetry is bollocks. It's "apparent". Superficial. Our apparently symmetrical bodies are only apparently symmetrical on the outside. Cut us open, and things are shifted all over the place. You couldn't sew the left side of a body together with a created mirror image and expect it to function. And even on the outside the whole symmetry thing breaks down. Noses are crooked. One eye may be slightly higher than the other. One breast is very likely bigger than the other. And testes?

Well, ok, you get my point. The sad thing, though, from the kids' art side of view, is that telling a child that a lopsided face drawing is ok because faces really are lopsided probably isn't going to stop most children from getting bad face frustration.

So what to do? Well, I'm no expert and there's plenty of expert (or sometimes "expert") sources out there, so I think I'll let you look them up if you're interested in the subject. One suggestion, though. If you have a child who's hit the frustration stage there is NOTHING WRONG with letting them trace and copy things. Sure, it's not creative. Yes, we've been brought up to believe that stifling childhood creativity by telling kids the right way to do things is wrong. It would be wonderful if every child out there could make it through the perfectionist stage by figuring things out on their own, but most of us don't. If a musical kid gets frustrated by plinking away at the piano without being able to figure out how to make his or her fingers work right, we send the kid to piano lessons. Why do we seem to expect that a kid who likes to draw but is getting frustrated for lack of technique will eventually just blunder some way to success?

Um, yeah. Obviously it's something that matters to me, and I've blathered away too long about it. For anyone still reading, well, thanks.

Maybe I'll draw a face for you someday.

A happily lopsided face.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Cattails in art stix

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is burst. Autumn's nearly here, and with it comes the bursting of the cattails into seed balls. And as anyone who's ever used cattails decoratively knows, if you bring them in the house without spraying them with lacquer or something like that, in a little while you'll find yourself with a heck of a fluffy mess.

By the way, cattails can be an important survival food if you're ever lost in the woods (or near a marsh, in this case). They're easily recognisable, and pretty much all of the plant is edible. Tubers can be roasted, leaves can be split for the pith (but that's more work than I'd bother with), and the young flowers -- the "hot dogs" when they're still green -- can be cooked and eaten like corn on the cob. They're actually pretty tasty. The pollen can be used to stretch flour, and later in the season the fluff can be a good source of tinder.

And, erm, now you know.

This was done loosely and quickly on purpose. I'm still ruining things with too many details (that's why none of them have been posted) and I've got to get out of that rut somehow. The scanner's taken a bit of the colour again, so if you'd like to imagine a little orange rather than brown in the sky and on the tips of the leaves, that'll help somewhat.

I'm going to try to paint something now. Either that or fold the towels.

What do you want to bet that the towels win?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Um... something or other in inktense and art stix

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is imagination. And in the spirit of that, I kind of just let my hand do whatever it felt like.

I know -- that's pretty much exactly what it looks like. Ah well.

Incidentally, whatever it felt like apparently included not using brushes on the watercolour ink. I was going to do a proper wash (well, as proper as it ever gets for me, anyway), but found myself holding  the brush with a very distinct feeling of meh. Ok, then, hand. You get your way. Wet paper towel and streaky finish it is.

The colours, as usual, have been fairly mutilated by the scanner. I'm just going to let it stand (ok, then, scanner...), but I will mention that there's a bit of apple green in the centre thingy that isn't showing up at all.

And why apple green? No idea. The hand wanted it.

If I had to try to describe what's going on here, I suppose I could say that my imagination seems to work in a couple of different ways. Sometimes it just seems to whirl around in circles that don't really go anywhere, and sometimes it's more of a branching thing. One thought leads to another leads to another... you know how it goes. Some branches are obviously dead ends, some branches lead to other branches, and some branches just go straight back into the whirl.

But that's really more explanation than I was planning. Let's go another direction, then and say that my imagination apparently looks a bit like the inside of a veiny eyeball.

You can't not see it now, can you? Sorry about that.

Let's end on an even sillier note, then. Sometimes when I'm cropping the scans of these things I'll put them through the photoeditor's filters just to find out what happens and see if I can see another aspect that I didn't notice. This is what the current scan looks like as a negative.

I kind of like it better, to be honest.

Maybe hand knew what it was doing...

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Quick plants

 Well, in the continuing mission to get out of my rut, this morning I did some (very) quick plant sketches. Quick, as in they each had to be done before my father's screen saver came on. 10 minutes, if I remember right. What you see here didn't take nearly that amount of time.

Pretty obvious, yes, but that's sort of what I was aiming for.

Like I said below, I've been too detail oriented lately so I'm trying to make myself not be. Sticking with broad stroke media (Prismacolor Art Stix, in this case), and trying my best to give enough detail to suggest the plant to someone who may not know it but at the same time to keep things simple and quick. And notice that I'm trying to use media that don't let me erase and second-guess myself.

Anyway, here's the first couple. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) up top and Common Plantain (Plantago major) below. Weeds both, yes, but distinctive shapes and -- as an added bonus -- both very useful plants.

I should probably explain that I led my last edible plant walk of the season on Sunday.

I should probably further explain that amongst other things I do at work, I lead edible plant walks...

Um, yeah. Briefly, dandelion leaves are good steamed or in salads. Choose the younger leaves to avoid bitterness, or put a box over a plant and let it grow in the dark for a while. Dried and ground roots make a coffee substitute, flowers make wine, and dried flowers and leaves together can make a tea. Don't use too much though -- the plant gets its French nickname (pissenlit, or pee-the-bed) because it's a diuretic.

Plantain is also good steamed or raw when it's young. It gets stringy as it gets older, though. What makes it more important for you outdoorsy types, though, is that it's very effective at calming the itching and swelling form mosquito bites. Chew on a leaf until it's mushy (and the chewing is important. Saliva contains a mild protease that makes this work better), and then just slap it on the bite. It works, I promise. Plantain tea can also be soothing for itchy skin.

Well, there it is, then. Your useful weed moment of the day. Will I do more of these? Maybe. It seems to help to have a topic. I just can't run away from the teacher in me, I guess.

And to anyone wondering why I keep using the paper with the (fake) laid lines (Strathmore 300 Series Charcoal, for anyone curious. It has the advantage of being inexpensive, if nothing else) for things like this, I really have no answer. I suppose I like the bit of added texture.

Or something.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Acorn and Oak Leaves in chalk pastel

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is tall.

Before anyone thinks that I've just pulled some random drawing and am going to stretch to make it work, I promise I did this specifically for the topic last night. No, really. I was thinking Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Tall has to start somewhere, right?

I've been too much hung up on details lately, which is one reason why I haven't been posting on this blog. When I'm dealing with detail work I'm that much more likely to be unhappy with it, so I've been throwing out an awful lot of stuff. It's a habit I thought I'd worked myself up out of, but apparently not. Time to try to fix that. Sooo...

Yesterday, armed with the whole mighty oak thing in mind, I clipped a piece from one of the two oak trees at work (oaks don't grow in my part of the world, by the way. Not naturally, anyway. So of course they included two oak trees in the landscaping around the NATURE CENTRE where I work. Sigh) and took it home with me. And last night I spent a couple of hours making a mess. Multiple doodles of the leaves and acorn you see above. All broad stroke media. No pens allowed.

Ok, well, I did use a sharpie at one point, but it wasn't one of those fine ones.

This is the only part of the exercise you're going to see, by the way. For the most part it's crap. That's all right, though. The whole idea was to get myself out of a self-created box, after all.

And did it work?

Oh, I guess we'll see. Watch this space, as they say.


Just as an aside -- I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm finding that the Illustration Friday redesign makes me less interested in participating. It's not because my blog visits have gone down; that's to be expected when a person doesn't have to visit the blog to see the picture. It's more because I'm finding that I don't visit the blogs anymore. It's faster just to look at the one page. Of course it is. But that, I think, is where the whole thing starts to lose something for me. By seeing all the works on one page, I'm missing the thoughts behind them. I'm missing the processes. Oh, I know it's still easy enough to click through and see the original page, but I'm much less likely to do so now.

Yeah, I'm basically lazy.

But still. It's a bit sad to think that my laziness is causing me to miss some good art blogs that I might be following now if I'd actually had to look at them to see the art.

As I said, though, I doubt that it's a majority opinion.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Lily in pen & ink

Am I happy with this? No.

I started out intending to do some fine detail work because I haven't been doing that lately, but it wasn't long before my wrist informed me that we weren't going to do that at all.This became yet another scribble instead.


This is getting a little frustrating, you know? Ah well, what can I do but keep trying... or go back to wearing the *insert expletive here* brace...

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Thin-legged Wolf Spider in carbon pencil

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is carry. I usually make an effort to do a doodle specifically for the word (actually, that's really why I bother participating at all. I'm not an artist. I'm sometimes pretty uncomfortable putting my stuff anywhere near those of you who are. At least IF gives me a reason to keep practicing, though), but it's not going to happen this week from the looks of it. So, rather than miss another week, here's an oldie. It was done for a spider display at work.

Wolf Spiders and Nursery Web Spiders are unusual in the spider world in that, rather than make an egg case and guard it, or make an egg case and just plain die, they carry their egg sacs with them. For the Nursery Web Spiders it must be massively difficult -- they carry theirs on their jaws. Wolf Spiders, however, attach theirs to their spinnerets and drag them around with them while the spiderlings develop.

They're not done even when the eggs hatch, though. The dozens of tiny spiderlings climb up on their mother's back and hitch a ride until they're big enough to fend for themselves.

Pretty nifty parenting for an invertebrate.

This spider is a Pardosa sp (no idea of the sp. We have a few spp around here, and I couldn't begin to tell them apart. And incidentally, I've totally been saying sp as "spuh" in my head as I've been typing this) that I found on my father's pond liner conveniently just as I was starting to create the display. I'm not sure she was a willing model, but at least she stayed long enough for a reference photo.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Oriole Nest in soluble graphite

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is suspend. This is a preliminary sketch of an oriole (specifically, Baltimore Oriole. They had separated out our Northern Orioles as their own variety for a while, but last I heard it was all one big happy Baltimore family again) nest for a project that I may or may not take on at work this summer. I haven't quite decided yet.

For anyone who's never seen an oriole nest, you've missed something incredible. The birds actually weave a fabric pocket. They'll use whatever stringy material they can find: in the country it's horsehair scavenged from barbed wire fences; around here it's yarn, pieces of burlap, or whatever else they can find. And it is, really, a fabric. A strong one, too. The nest is suspended between a couple of branches, and usually hidden so successfully that you don't even notice it until the leaves fall from the trees.

Orioles are very territorial, and as a result are pretty easy to call down. If you hear an oriole whistle (the call is easy enough to find on the internet), whistle back. It doesn't matter if you don't get it right; the mere fact that someone's whistling in his territory will cause a male oriole to come and check it out. And they'll come fairly close if you keep whistling back.

I didn't believe that at first, to be honest. When I started here at the nature centre our resident birder always told me that I should whistle to the orioles, and I never tried. For whatever stupid reason, the first time I finally gave it a go was when I was leading a nature walk (why I wouldn't try it out alone first is beyond me to this day). The class's teacher had asked if she could videotape me (yes, video tape. This was a while ago) because it was an anniversary year in Canada -- doesn't matter which one -- and they'd been paired with a class in Quebec. She thought it'd be nice to send them a video of Alberta nature. Well, I heard an oriole and again, for whatever stupid reason, decided to give the whistling a go right then and there.

Damned if it didn't work.

We got the bird to come right down to us; less than a metre away. The kids were excited, the teacher was saying "This is sooo cool" right on tape, and I? Well, I was repeating to myself don't tell them it's the first time don't tell them it's the first time don't tell them it's the first time...

In the end I did, though.

It was still cool.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Headspace in Aquatone and pen & ink

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is space.

Have you ever felt so lost in the space of your own mind that you feel like no one could hear you scream, never mind whimper, through the chaos?

Um, yeah.

Me neither.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Hiding Place in... um, 3DS?

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is secret.

Have you ever stashed that secret name or photo in a locket to keep it close to your heart?


Haven't, actually. I never was good at the romance thing. I do, however, own the locket that this doodle is loosely based on. I'm wearing it right now, in fact. It's very, very empty.

I guess I'm a little lacking in secrets. Interesting ones, anyway.


Just wondering: does this still count as any sort of form of art at all when it was done on a toy while watching a House rerun?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Just for fun...

A quick digital version of last weekend's magpie. Done on my 3DS, so not exactly the most sophisticated software, but it didn't turn out all that badly for a first go, I figure.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Object of Affection in watercolour

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is shiny. And this...

Well, ordinarily I'd love to go all naturalist on you and mutter at length about magpies and their collecting habits (and I may come back and edit this tomorrow, if the urge is too strong), but right now we're under a severe thunderstorm warning (and, just to be fun, a tornado watch as well), so I think I'll choose to shut down the computer before shutting down is chosen for me.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Ornamental Kiwi in pen and ink

This is just a quick (and small -- it's an ATC) sketch of the leaves on my father's ornamental Kiwi plant.

Basically, I'm trying to get into the doodling groove again after my enforced lay-off.

As usual with the ATCs, if you're interested in a trade just drop me a note via the e-mail on the sidebar. Or leave a comment. Whichever suits you, as long as I can return the contact.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Drawing Day 2012

Yep, it's Drawing Day today, and this is a wild Purple Clematis (Clematis occidentalis, I think). Or at least a scribble of one. When I started it became obvious pretty quickly that my wrist is still a bit too shaky to handle too much detail, so I went looser than I might have liked. Still, it's the first drawing I've done since the sprain, so that's not a bad thing.

Appropriate day for it, too.

I hope that everyone out there is participating too. Or, hey. At least a few of you. I look forward to seeing what you've posted.

So, post...

Hurry up... in art stix

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is hurry! Exclamation point included, even.

I garden. I garden in a small way since I live in an apartment, but container gardens still count as gardens. I grew up in a gardening family. There was gardening on both sides, but I suppose that my biggest gardening influence was my maternal grandmother (although I think I probably owe my preference for slightly wild-looking cottage-style gardens to my English paternal grandmother). Grandma kept all her own seed, and started what seemed like hundreds of flats of bedding-out plants every year. They were all kept in a spare bedroom and a covered-in but unheated porch that provided almost perfect starting conditions for the seedlings.

I helped out, and I learned.

Funny thing, but what I remember most about Grandma's bedding flats were the thousands of French Marigolds (as opposed to the Pot Marigolds that I know better as Calendula), and the tomatoes. The marigolds because there were always so many of them and in so many different shapes, and the tomatoes... well, to this day I really dislike the smell of tomato plants. I'm not all that fond of raw tomatoes either, come to it.

These days I don't save seed, and I don't start flats. I've tried to in the past (late winter brings on a pretty strong I've-got-to-plant-something-soon urge with me. I think it's hereditary), but the conditions in the apartment just aren't right and I'm not willing to invest in grow lights and the rest. Erm, especially since it'd be in a one-room apartment that already has too many houseplants in it, but that's another story. Anyway. I don't start flats, but I did seed my planters this year instead of buying bedding plants. I'll be doing that for the next few years, probably, since I came into a lot of free seed that'll be usable for a long time as long as I've stored it right. No point in it going to waste.


Seeding a planter is sooo frustrating when all you want is to have nice, green, growing things that will hopefully be nice, green, flowering things all season (or nice, green, vegetable-making things. They're there, too). Our season is short enough as it is without waiting for seeds to sprout. I seeded fairly early since my balcony's sheltered, but still. Grow, dammit. I want my plants...

Yeah, I can be a bit on the impatient side sometimes. Maybe not enough to get the magnifying glass out to check the progress of the latest thing to break through the soil, but it's close.

Hurry up, already, you plants.


Sorry for the lack of posting lately. The wrist is starting to behave again as long as I don't overdo it, so things might get a little more regular here again. It may even end up to be a two-post day today, since I'm going to try to make time to doodle for Drawing Day. I encourage everyone else to, too.

Watch this space... we'll see what I can manage.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Leap in conte crayon

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is sight. And it might seem a bit of a stretch for even an arachnophile (hey, if there are 'phobes it stands to reason that there are 'philes as well, right?) like me to be able to use a spider for the word sight, but it'll make sense if you bear with me.

It's true that most spiders don't have very good vision. For your average orb weaver sitting and waiting in a web for the tell-tale vibrations of a trapped bug, there's really not much need for sight. Not all spiders are web hunters, though.

As their name suggests, the Jumping Spiders (Salticidae) hunt by jumping at their prey. They'll sneak up as close as they can without disturbing an insect, attach a safety-line of silk in case they miss, and then literally take a flying leap onto their dinner.

It's not a blind leap, either. Jumping spiders have some of the best sight of any invertebrate group. You have to, if you're going to be accurate enough in your jumping to survive. It leads to some interesting interactions with their environment, as well. Jumping spiders tend to act as though they're interested in what's going on around them (they probably are...) and will often inconveniently turn around to face the camera lens when a nerd like me is trying to get a good shot of them. It can be fun, though, too. I've been known to tease the tiny Zebra Jumpers that occasionally show up in the office with the tip of my pen. Who says you can't play with spiders?

For anyone who's not phobic, there's some pretty neat footage of a hunting jumping spider here. Get a load of those eyes.


This sketch is pretty loose and scribbly, but it's not bad considering that I'm still getting over a wrist sprain. Do you have any idea how often we use our wrists in a day? I certainly do after these past few weeks. I might have liked to have added a bit more detail in the picture, but things started getting a little wobbly so I thought I'd better put the brace back on. Things are coming along, though. Maybe next week I'll even get brave enough to pick up a pen instead of a crayon.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Lichen in art stix

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is hitched, and there are few more things in the world more "hitched" than the components of your average lichen.

Lichens are associations between algae (or cyanobacteria as well) and fungi. The blanket term for long-term close association and interaction between two species is symbiosis, and if I remember right it was originally coined specifically to describe how an alga and fungus work together as a lichen. This particular brand of symbiosis used to be taught as the prime example of what's called mutualism, where both organisms benefit from the association and sometimes can't even exist without it. If I was going to call a lichen a mutualistic association I'd explain it by saying that without the alga the fungus wouldn't survive because it can't make its own food, and without the fungus the alga wouldn't survive because it would desiccate.

You'll notice that I said if I was going to call this mutualistic. Thoughts on that changed a number of years ago in the scientific community. Now some scientists prefer to call it commensalism, where one partner benefits and the other isn't harmed. Sort of a marriage of indifference, I guess. Some scientists have even gone so far as to call the association a form of parasitism by the fungus, although I think that's a bit extreme.

Me? I just figure that the two organisms are pretty permanently hitched.

What you're seeing in today's scribble is a loose (very... see below) interpretation of some SEM views of lichens that I found on the web. The green blobs would be algae, and the brown... things are the fungal hyphae surrounding them. And the reason why it's so scribbly when I usually like working on details?

Yeah, I'm still splinted up. Turns out that the sprain was a little less minor than I thought it was.

Ah well.

Scribbles for the near future then, I guess. Probably good for me, in the end. It doesn't hurt to loosen up a bit now and then, even if it's not something you're exactly choosing.

I suppose.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Cliff in art stix

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is heights, and this week's scribble is courtesy of my sprained wrist and current inability to do much with it but scribble.

Oh, and the fact that I didn't bother to do anything for IF last week so I thought that a scribble was at least better than a blank.

No big story behind this one, except that I added a last-minute waterfall because I was reminded of camping in the Rockies when I was a kid. As we drove to whatever campground we'd be going to in Jasper or Banff National Parks, I'd alleviate the boredom by watching for the little trickles of water that would sometimes appear down the artificial cliffs that were made when the construction crews blasted through to make the roads. Those mini-falls were almost magical in the way they'd appear out of nowhere, head down the rock face, divide or spread (depending on how jagged the rocks were), and then somehow seem to disappear before they reached the highway.

I also used to find it fascinating how little clumps of trees seemed to grow in the oddest, most inhospitable places on those cliffs. You've got to give it to nature, really. Tenacity at its best.

I'm going to stop typing now, if that's ok with everyone. My backspace key is getting waaay too much of a workout today...

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Spring Return in watercolour and art stix

I meant this for last week's Illustration Friday prompt of return, but somehow I never got back to it in time...


Yeah, even I'll admit that it was a cheesy line.

Anyway, this is an ATC on vellum bristol. Interested? Leave a comment or drop me a note at the e-mail address on the sidebar.

Feel free to do either even if you're not interested, of course...

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Corvus in inktense

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is vocal, and this... oh man, did the scanner do a number on this. I'm posting it anyway, but it looks a heckuva lot different in person, I can promise you. Just imagine actual washes and a lot less vague scribbling, if you don't mind.

The reason for this response to the prompt? The story (well, one of the stories. Thought I'd leave out the cheating pregnant lover version on this one. I hope no one minds) of the constellations Corvus (the crow), Crater (the cup), and Hydra (the water snake. And not the same hydra as the one that Heracles fought, for those who know that story. At least, not the same one as far as I know). Bear in mind as I retell it that this is the somewhat cleaned-up version I tell to kids when I'm doing planetarium shows. I'm not usually too much in favour of censoring mythology, but there's a time and a place for everything. Ready? Ok, here goes...

Apollo was the god of many things to the ancient Greeks, and among those things were the sun and music. In his job as the sun god, he had to pull the sun across the sky every day, which was a lonely task. As the god of music, though, he was able to gather many musical friends around him.

Amongst those friends was Corvus the crow (and yes, I usually do explain that Corvus means crow. It's the scientific name for them even today). Corvus was a gorgeous bird with beautiful, shimmery white feathers. He was very clever, and had the best singing voice around. When Corvus sang, even the gods on Olympus stopped to listen. With all of those virtues you'd think that things were fine for Corvus, but he had one big fault. He was lazy, and to get out of work he'd tell the most incredible lies. Not the best idea when you're hanging around with the gods.

Eventually the lies started to wear on Apollo, but in fairness he decided to give the bird one more chance before he banned him from his presence. He handed Corvus his golden cup Crater and told him to go down to a sacred spring on earth to fill it with water for him. Corvus took the cup and winged his way to the fountain, fully intending to make a good job of things to please the god. Unfortunately for him, though, he spotted something on his way that sent things in a different direction.

A fig tree.

Figs were Corvus's favourite food, and the closer he got to the tree the more he kept thinking of figs. By the time he got there, figs were the only thing on his mind, and he put the cup down in the grass and flew up to the tree intending to have a feast.

The figs, however, weren't ripe yet.

Well, by this time Corvus was so intent on figs that he decided to wait for them to ripen instead of just doing his job and coming back later. He waited and waited -- some say for days -- and even sang to the figs with his beautiful voice to help them ripen sweeter. Finally, the figs were ready. So Corvus ate a fig. And another fig. And another. He kept eating figs until he was pretty much full to the top with figs. And just like one of us after Christmas dinner, after such a meal he didn't feel like doing anything but napping. So he flew down to the ground, snuggled into the grass, and started snoring.

Apollo, meanwhile, had been watching all of this as he drove the sun chariot across the sky, and to say that he wasn't happy is an understatement. He shone the sun down in just such a way that it reflected off of the golden cup and straight into Corvus's eyes. Corvus woke with a start, wondering why everything was so bright, and noticed Crater lying there in the grass. Remembering his mission, he grabbed the cup, flew off to the spring as quickly as he could, filled the cup with water, and headed off back to Apollo's palace.

Now, things might have been fine if he'd just told the truth when he got there, but Corvus wasn't used to thinking that way. By the time he'd got back to Apollo, he'd thought of what he figured must be the perfect story to keep himself out of trouble for his laziness. He handed the god his cup, saying, "here's your water, Apollo, and I sure hope it was worth the struggle to get it."

"Struggle?" said the god. "I should have thought that filling a cup with water would be an easy enough job for a clever bird like you."

"Well, it would have been," replied Corvus," but when I got there the water was all murky, and I had to do my best to clean things up. Then I had to wait for the water to run clear. And then, just as I was going to dip your cup in, Hydra the Water Snake leaped out of the fountain, stole the cup from my beak, and swam back under the water. He's been living in your sacred spring, and that's why things were so dirty. Well, I couldn't let the situation continue, so even though I'm not a water bird like Cygnus the swan I jumped in, swam to the bottom, and fought the snake. It was tough, because he's big and very strong, but finally I was able to get my claws around his neck and squeeze until he was dead. Then I found your cup, waited until the water was clear again, and came back here as quickly as I could. So I hope you enjoy your water..."

Corvus could see that Apollo wasn't happy. In fact, Apollo was angrier than Corvus had ever seen him. Apollo was so angry that he reached out and grabbed the frightened bird by the neck. He put his hand down Corvus's throat and pulled out that beautiful singing voice, throwing it away to the wind (who uses it to make the tree leaves sing even today).

But Apollo wasn't finished. He started pulling out shimmery white feathers by the handful, letting them fall to earth where they became the first snow.

When Apollo was done, poor naked Corvus hid himself away in shame for a long time. He hid, in fact, until all of his feathers could grow back. When everyone saw Corvus with his new feathers, though, they were shocked. No more fine, shimmery feathers for that bird. The feathers grew back deep, deep black to remind Corvus of the dangers of black lies. And when it was time for music and Corvus went to sing, everyone covered their ears because there was no more beautiful singing voice to be had. No, all that was left was the Caw! Caw! that Corvus and all of his children have had to carry with them ever since.

Apollo later put Corvus, Crater, and Hydra up in the sky as stars. You'll notice, however, that Corvus can never quite reach the cup for a drink to soothe his poor raw throat...


For anyone wanting a map to see the constellations for themselves, it's not hard for me to recommend Good, clear monthly PDFs with lots of added info. Don't go too closely by the plotting in my doodle -- I'll admit that I was mostly eyeballing it.

Incidentally, when I was trying in vain to fix the mess that the scanner made of the picture, I reversed it on a whim and I kind of like it that way. Gives you Corvus in his white form, if nothing else.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Kick the Bucket in art stix

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is swamp.

Just when you're swamped with work, the bucket gets swamped. And then, naturally, your floor's a swamp.

This... well, this was me last night doodling with nothing but the light of the television. I'll try to post something a little less... um, this... later in the week if I find the time.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Shades in pen & ink and soluble graphite

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is shades.

No big explanation this week. Those of you who know, already know. For those who don't, watch this if you like.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Stained Tulip in pen & ink and inktense

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is intention.

I intend to do a lot of things. Many of them don't seem to be got to, unfortunately.

I know I'm not alone there. We all have our intentions that never get fulfilled. I have a serious personal issue with art intentions, though.

You see, I'm very firmly a hobbyist when it comes to art. I don't want to ever take it seriously, because I'm the type of person who loses the fun in hobbies when I start to take things seriously. Just to give an example: I sing. I've sung since I was a kid. I used to compete, perform, sing in choirs... a big part of my life was singing.

Then I started to teach singing.

Fun stopped.

In fact, the fun stopped to the point that even though I quit teaching years ago I hardly ever touch my piano anymore. And I like the piano. I just got so burned out that it stopped being something that I wanted to do.

I do still sing, though. It's too ingrained to go away. I sing just for myself now is all.

I don't want to take the chance of the same thing happening to doodling. And yes, I know that many of you don't like the term doodling, but using it is one of the things that keeps me in hobby mode.

Like I said above, however, that attitude can create problems when I actually intend to do something arty. As soon as I start making plans or (in the case of occasional illustration needs at work) have to do something, I get massively blocked. It's like my brain tries to remind me that there's not supposed to be pressure with the doodling, so the answer to the pressure is to not do a darned thing. It can be frustrating when there really is a have-to-be-done, as you can imagine. There've been times when I've literally had to lock myself in my apartment for a day to get work things finished. It's sad, I know.

How does any of this relate to the picture? 

Well, for a while now I've been intending to try my hand at ATCs. I have a package of pre-cut cards. Assorted papers, even, so that if I didn't feel like using one type I could work with another. That package? Has been sitting for months. I take it with me almost everywhere, in case I finally get around to acting on that particular intention.

Months, did I mention?

It was a plan. It was, possibly, starting to take things seriously.

It got totally blocked.

Until the intention prompt came up this week, gave me a good swift kick in the behind, and made me make good on a too-long-held intention.

Yep. What you see above is my very first ever ATC. Will I do more? Probably, now that the pack's been started and the pressure's off. That's the intention, anyway. I guess we'll see what happens with this particular intention.

Incidentally, I called the card an ATC rather than an ACEO for a reason. Interested? Just let me know.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Capable in conte crayon

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is capable. And this exercise in try making some broad strokes for a change, Dee, is a Northern Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea).

Plants capable of digesting animals? Pretty bizarre. And fascinating, although I have to admit that it's not one of my primary fascinations so I don't know a lot about them off-hand. I did a little research, though, and have found out that these particular plants are known as carnivorous rather than insectivorous because they'll capture lots of things besides insects. Small frogs, for example, but the success rate for those is apparently on the low side.

I also found out that while the plant is capable of producing its own digestive enzymes -- especially when the pitcher is young -- it depends heavily on the miniature world of bacteria and insect larvae that lives in the pool of water that collects in the pitcher. Yep, there's actually a species of mosquito larva that helps the plant digest its prey. In biology that type of relationship is known as commensalism, where one member of the partnership (if you can call it that) directly benefits and the other is neither benefited nor harmed.

It's also a good example of see? Mosquitoes can be good for something. Actually, they're important for a lot of things. It's just hard to convince people of that when they're scratching and worrying about West Nile Virus.

Um, anyway. My own personal connection with this very capable plant is that I've been lucky enough to see them in the wild. It was back in university, during my field botany course. We were out on a sedge fen somewhere north of Edmonton (I've forgotten exactly where, now), and we found them there, hidden in amongst the other vegetation as they generally are. Incidentally, if you've ever wanted to do a stupid thing in the world of field botany, send a bunch of undergrads onto a sedge fen when they've already been out in the field for a few days and are exhausted and giddy. Sedge fens are like gigantic waterbeds. Try telling a group like that not to jump up and down.

Our TA spent that whole day with a look on his face like he was trying to figure out what to tell our supervising prof when one of us inevitably broke through and was never seen again...

Come to think of it, that particular group of interesting but weird people probably would have been capable of that.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sea Water in soluble graphite

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is fluid.

It stumped me for a bit. Oh sure, a person could do waterfalls, or the wind in tree leaves. If she felt like it, which I obviously didn't. Not that there's anything wrong with either (there definitely isn't)... I wasn't feeling terribly poetic, really.

I thought about just throwing paint splotches.

Then I remembered sea water.

When I was in elementary school, we were shown a film (yes, film. Not video. The world has changed a lot in a fairly short amount of time. Read that as: don't you make me feel old, all right?) about blood. It was a cartoon featuring Captain Haemo or something like that. The details didn't stick. What did, though, was the fact that blood -- forgetting the immune system for just a moment -- is really just a fancy substitute for sea water.

It's true, you know. Small organisms bathed in fluid can get all of their oxygen needs (and many of their nutrient needs as well) directly from that fluid. As an organism gets bigger, though, its internal cells get farther and farther away from the sea water they need. Add that to the fact that bigger organisms develop more complicated external defences (from other bigger organisms) that prevent the sea water from getting in at all, and you have a big problem that needs to be overcome if that organism's going to continue to survive.

Our bodies -- and those of most other animals and plants -- have developed some incredible, complicated systems to ensure the constant supply of sea water. I won't go into full-on anatomical rapture since I'm by far not the first person to find the workings of the body fascinating, but let me just say that I think that the fluid lines of the systems built to deliver fluids are pretty darned amazing.

In other words, anatomy's cool.

Today's doodle (and it really is a doodle. I wouldn't have got many marks for this inaccurate mess back in my comparative anatomy classes) is based on the abdominal arteries of a cat. I know some of you would rather not have known that, but for those who are interested, some of the arteries represented (in purposely mixed-up order, just to be screwed up because I'm like that sometimes) are the:
  • aorta
  • hepatic
  • splenic
  • gastroduodenal
  • pyloric
  • left gastric
  • middle colic
  • celiac
  • superior mesenteric
And yes, I did have to look them up. It's been over twenty years since dissection labs (did I warn you about making me feel old?). Names like that don't ride around in my brain anymore. Surprising to think that they ever did, really. My life's a bit different now...

Anatomy's still cool, though.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Not So Sweet in art stix

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is popularity. As is so often the case with me, this'll take a bit of explaining.

In my high school (and, I'd expect, in many other high schools) they often used holidays or special events to do a little extra fundraising for the Students' Union. At Valentine's Day or Christmas or other days like that they'd pre-sell gifts that a person could have sent to a boy- or girlfriend's class on the day. At Christmas it would be chocolate or something like that, but at Valentine's Day it was generally roses. You'd order your rose the week before, and then on the big day the Students' Union executive would spend the first class period delivering flowers to the lucky recipients. Names would be called, and the blushing, giggling, or (in the usual case of the boys) embarrassed people would head up to the front of the room to get their gifts from their special someones.

I wasn't popular enough to get one. Ever.

Not a surprise, really. I was a misfit in a small town. Well, I'm still a misfit (in a city now), but the difference is that I've since found out that there are plenty of other misfits out there and we generally -- or eventually -- find each other out. If you'd told high-school-me that, though, I wouldn't have believed you. I just kind of gave up on popularity.

Here comes the ironic part.

I went from my small town to a university whose population was literally six times the size. Shock to the system, for sure. Gradually, though, I discovered that a bigger group of people means a much bigger chance that you're going to find people who share your interests. Suddenly I had more friends than I'd ever thought I'd have in my life. I was happy. I even dated, which I hadn't done since junior high. And when the Students' Union Valentine's rose sale came up?...

I completely ignored it. It was, honestly, barely in the periphery of my mind. Things like that didn't matter away from high school measurements of popularity. Thank goodness.

You can imagine, then, that as I sat waiting for my computing class to begin, I wasn't even listening to the roll of names being called. They had to call me twice before the friend I was sitting with gave me a nudge. I, of all people, had been sent a rose.

Happy ending, right?


It turned out to be from a probably nice but completely not my type fellow who'd been chatting me up outside that classroom for a few weeks. It led to absolutely nothing, but I definitely give him credit for the effort.

And didn't someone say that a rose is a rose is a rose?


On another note, this is my first go with Prismacolor Art Stix, so obviously I need more practice. They're kind of fun, though. I think they'll get some use.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Risks in pen & ink

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is suspense. Mating can be a pretty suspenseful thing if you're a male orb weaver spider. For one thing, she's going to be a lot bigger than you. For another, she's probably hungry. And if you need a third... well, depending on what species you are you might find that you have a few less body parts after you're done...

It's amazing, really, the things a male spider has to go through just to make sure he passes on his genes. Some species have elaborate mating dances where the rhythm of the male's vibrations on the web tell the female that he's not supposed to be food (at least, not right away). Some have to be able to sneak up from behind (and it's not easy to sneak on a spiderweb) in order to get the job finished. Some have detachable copulatory organs that continue to function even if the female eats the male a bit too quickly, believe it or not.

And you thought the human dating scene was tricky?


I often say that these are quick doodles, but it's pretty obvious that this week's effort was the quickest of the quick. It's the only chance I have to get something in before Monday, though, and if I wait until after the weekend I rarely bother to get anything done. Better to keep the rhythm going, so to speak, since a skipped week too easily becomes a skipped month.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Spring Forward in pen & ink and inktense

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is forward.

It just occurred to me... is "spring forward, fall back" only a North American thing for remembering what to do with the clocks in regards to daylight savings? If so, this won't make sense to a few people. Sorry about that.

My flowers and leaves are pretty much out of fiction today and the scanner has (as usual) decided that things are supposed to be yellower than I meant them to be, but that's ok with me.

Back in my lettering days I would have taken far more time setting things out (shame on me -- not even a ruler at hand this time). Considering that I was mostly just doodling this afternoon, though, I don't think it turned out too badly overall.

Friday, 27 January 2012

And still more... well, you probably know at this point.

Today we're (me 'n' alllll the voices) featuring Red-osier Dogwood, which I learned as Cornus stolonifera but which is now C. sericea because plant taxonomy is apparently no fun if you're not confusing someone.

Or maybe that's just me.

Yeah, that's right. You heard me. I'm no fun if I'm not confusing someone.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

And more work stuff...

Today? Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis). Tomorrow? Well, I suppose you'll see.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Hey, look. It's work stuff

Finally getting some more work done on a much-delayed berry bush display. This particular specimen is Buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis).

Slightly dangerous of me to post link photos of the actual plant that I was attempting, maybe, but what the heck. You may as well have at least some reference, right?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Silly things to do when you're shut in

Shut-in by the weather, in my case. Last week? Nasty cold. So what does a person do with a week where it's not a great idea to be outside? Well, in my case some sketching and other things for work (I'll post a couple of the sketches after this, but I'm going to schedule them. No sense in having everything appear at once, after all).

Oh, and playing around with masking fluid.

You know what? Masking fluid's kind of fun.

I'm not going to bother posting any of my other "creations" since they're so obviously just me playing, but still. Masking fluid's kind of fun all right.

I'm so easily amused...


On a totally different note, I have a brand new, still-blank pack of ATCs in my possession at the moment. Suggestions on what to do with them? They're kind of hard to make paper airplanes out of...

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Pear Flower in graphite

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is prepare. And this, done very quickly out of necessity because I'm just on a break here at work, is a pear flower and buds.

It's pre-pear.

Yeah... I know. Sorry about that. I couldn't think of anything else off the top of my head.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Flown in carbon pencil

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is grounded. And here? An assortment of things that used to fly, but won't be flying anymore as far as I can tell.

The feather I hope was moulted rather than leftover from some animal's meal, although... circle of life and all of that, right? Actually, as a zoologist I have to admit that I'm not at all squicked out by food chains. They're more than a little bit necessary, after all.

The plant fruits are both wind-dispersed, and have a couple of different strategies for staying in the air as long as possible. Everyone's familiar with the parachute-bearing fruits of the dandelion, I know, although I didn't know that the fruits themselves are called cypselae rather than achenes (kind of a nerd point there, but without us nerds the world would be a much duller place. No, really. It would. Nerd power!). The other fruit is an achene, and it's the samara or key of the Manitoba Maple or Box Elder. We always called them helicopters when I was a kid, because they stay in the air by spinning as they fall. I have kind of a weird little fascination with these things, I guess, judging from how many of them I've drawn over the years.

Last but not least, I like to think that my little spiderling has just finished the one and only flight of its life. In order to spread out -- and keep from eating each other -- the spiderlings of many species will send out a long filament of silk once they're hatched, and "balloon" to another place when the wind catches the silk.

Everything here was built to be aloft (well, maybe not the spider) but has hit the dirt for the last time. Sounds pretty grounded to me.


Incidentally, as an almost-fanatical sharpener -- to the point where I hardly used to be able to start any sort of drawing project until ALL of the pencils in the kit were sharpened even if I wasn't going to use them -- I'm stupidly proud to say that I didn't sharpen my pencil one single time while I was doing this. Not even when I got to the dandelion seed. Small steps count, you know.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Yep. More work stuff.

I have nothing to say about this one except that I now loathe circles.

At lest temporarily.

Yet more work stuff

I bet you're all just dying to know what I'll be drawing next, aren't you?

Hint: it's something to do with Wood Frogs.

Um, yeah.
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