Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Resplendent Quetzl

This crazy looking creature is the Quetzl bird - the official bird of Guatemala.
I come from a winter country where there is not a lot of foliage cover in the winter.  The birds here tend to be a bit more drab and neutral to provide natural camouflage.  I have to wonder, though, what purpose or advantage this bright plumage provides the Quetzl bird. They are quite large and don't seem to have a lot of predators so maybe they don't need camouflage or the need to be hidden.  Sightings are rare, and we were not fortunate enough to see one on our trip there.  Perhaps the rain forest foliage is dense enough that they can't be seen even with the bright colors.
They war sacred birds to the Maya, symbolizing the progress of Creation and the will of the Creator come to Earth The marriage of the quetzal with the snake resulted in Quetzlcoatl or The Plumed Serpent which represents the movement of creation and all things produced by that movement.  Including you and me. We are all part of creation and a part of each other.  Maybe if more people today believed that the world would be kinder place.
Inktense pencils in HandBook sketchbook

Monday, February 18, 2013

Longwing Zebra Butterfly

This beautiful butterfly is found in Mexico and Central America, as well as the Caribbean.  It's common in many of the countries we visited on our Panama Canal cruise.
The cruise had a lot of days at sea, and the cruise line did a fabulous job of offering a wide variety of activities for passengers.  I was delighted to discover they were offering watercolor painting classes. I was too late for the first class. They ran out of supplies by the time I got there, so I didn't actually do this butterfly on the ship.  The second day, I got there earlier and got supplies and the drawing from the day before.  The supplies included brushes, papers, and a set of 6 water color paints in tubes.  They were student grade paints and were disappointingly chalky.  But I enjoyed the classes, especially as the instructor had chosen to do things that we would actually see on the cruise. As an introvert, I try to attend group classes where I have to share and meet and talk with others.  I met lots of interesting people, many of whom were trying watercolor for the first time. It was fun seeing their impressions of trying something new.  Some people hated it and didn't come back after  the first class, but others said they would continue on after getting home.  I hope they do.  I wanted to redo some of these drawings with better quality paints.  For this one, I used my Inktense pencils because I wanted to get a really strong black. I hope to do some of the others in the near future.
By the way, there are two kinds of zebra butterflies - the longwing, and the swallowtail.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bird of Paradise

Last December, we were in San Diego.  We visited Balboa Park which has beautiful architecture and landscaping.  In my country in December there is nothing blooming, so I was delighted to see these densely booming patches of Birds of Paradise.  They look odd and alien to me, in Canada we don't have anything that looks remotely like this flower. I wanted to try to capture the brilliant colours, strange shapes and thick, dense foliage.
I almost didn't post this - I've been holding off for several weeks as I am unsure whether I like it.  It looks very abstract and unreal to me. But I am less interested in critical acclaim and whether "my piece resonates with the critics" than I am in whether I had fun doing this and whether I learned anything from the process. And the answer to that is yes.  Those colors made me smile and I loved layering on those blues and reds and adding the touches of white gel pen. And it reminds me of a fabulous start to the vacation of a lifetime. So I think, in the end, that I do like it.
Watercolor and gel pen in the Handbook sketch book.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Red breasted nuthatches

This energetic and excitable little fellow comes regularly to our back yard.  And he invited all his friends, too.  Thee are about 6 of them now.  They are a lot of fun to watch as they are quick and agile and move up and down the tree and hang upside down from branches.  They eat the spruce seeds and take the sunflower seeds from the feeder and jam them into cracks in the tree trunk.  They always remember where they have stashed the seeds and are quite acrobatic in their attempts to dislodge the seeds.
My cat can watch them for hours (as can I, to be honest).  We call this Reality TV for cats - there are 3 channels, the bird channel, the squirrel channel, and the rabbit channel. The bird channel is by far the most fun.
Watercolor in the Handbook sketch book.