Friday, January 25, 2013


" I have made a great mistake. I have wasted my life with mineralogy, 
which has led to nothing. Had I devoted myself to birds, their life and 
plumage, I might have produced something worth doing." 

 —John Ruskin

I was excited to read that this week's Illustration Friday topic is "wings", as I have just finished this drawing of  spotted owl and peregrine falcon feathers. It was a Christmas present for my son; I know, I know, it's January, but he has just returned from three months in New Zealand, so our celebration was postponed a bit.

As I've told you in a previous posts here and here, he's a field biologist currently working with the California Condor group at nearby Pinnacles National Monument. (Pinnacles was recently upgraded to national park status!) Before that, he worked with a spotted owl research project up in the Sierra. With a few months off between stints at Pinnacles, he took a working vacation to New Zealand—backpacking, photographing, and working on a local falcon project.

My son is one of those lucky adults who has a job that grew from a childhood fascination. As a little boy, he would count hawks to pass the time on our summer drives to Lake Tahoe, and requested that his 7th birthday cake be decorated with a peregrine falcon. I was able to unearth this photo (terribly out-of-focus, I'm afraid) to document my culinary creation. Twenty years later, I hope that he'll enjoy this drawing just as much.

Here are a few WIP shots...I always enjoy seeing them in posts; I hope you do, too!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Before we get too far into 2013, I want to share the little calendars that I made for this year. They started out as Christmas gifts for my book club, but I was pretty happy with how they turned out and made a few more for friends and family members as well.  Early in the year, I'd thought about doing more of my "botanical hearts" to make one for each month, but that just didn't happen. As it turned out, I had fun selecting from among my drawings to find one that suited each month (sorry, my photos are a tad askew):

I love packaging, so I placed the pages in a festive red box mailer from Paper Source. The little glassine envelope holds a stand and a hanging clip. The stand is a little place card holder that I found at Crate and Barrel. Because the paper that I used was a little too thin to stand upright on its own, I cut a piece of heavy white card stock slightly smaller than the 5 x 7 calendar pages; it can be placed in the stand behind the page.

As an option to the stand, I included a little bulldog clip so that the whole year can be tacked up on a bulletin board. And since the pages are 5 x 7, they could also be displayed in a simple photo frame.

I got a lot of  nice "You should sell these!" remarks, which gave me etsy-on-the-brain again, but honestly, I'm still not convinced that I could make any profit in that scenario. Maybe I'll stop blathering on about it and just try it someday. Then again, I ran across this great piece yesterday on  the fabulous website, Brain Pickings. In a letter to his teenage son back in 1927, writer Sherwood Anderson wrote this wonderful sentence:

“The object of art is not to make salable pictures. It is to save yourself.”


Friday, January 4, 2013

Nuts Once More

Prismacolor colored pencil on Strathmore charcoal paper, "Golden Brown"

I posted a work-in-progress shot of this piece back before Thanksgiving, and just got a chance to finish it.  (You can read that first post here.) Thankfully, nuts don't wilt or shrivel up like some botanical models, they just waited patiently stuck to a piece of foam core board until they got their call-back:

I was originally going to do at least one more row of nuts, but the square format of these three seemed finished to me. This was such fun—almost monochromatic, it was a great practice in seeing and drawing textures. And I love using toned paper, but it's a pain to scan, as it loses its texture. I'm going to take some camera shots and I'll let you know if it's an improvement.

On another topic, I'm thinking of re-doing my blog banner—all of the images in this one are at least two years old. I like really simple banners, and yet, I want a first-time visitor to quickly get a feel for what I do. Maybe I can come up with a few ideas and get some feedback from all of you! How about you...exactly what do you like a banner to convey?