A Special Treat: Ladybug En Plein Aire

Today I found not one, but two, different ladybugs walking on my truck. One looked like the seven-spot ladybug I drew from a photo during Inktober. My lunch break was almost over, so I decided to concentrate on the spotless wonderbug that was toiling up the window frame.

This took maybe 10 minutes, much of which time was spent staring at the bug. I didn’t have a magnifying glass to see it any better. Fortunately for me, the face makes it easy to identify both the bug and its gender: it is a male Cycloneda sanguinea.  He stood still, cleaning his face for quite a while, and of course began walking away before I was quite done painting him. I watched him to the end of the door frame, where he spread wings and departed. A wonderful way to get back into plein aire sketching after spending time on some other projects!

Inktober 2016 – Oct 24: The Finished Bat

102416-inktober-fruit-bat-completeThis may be my favorite artwork of Inktober so far, if not the entire year! Now I understand why Flying Foxes are so called – fruit bats all seem to have very canine faces. Some do indeed look very fox-like; this one slightly less so. They are complex and interesting creatures I’d like to know a lot more about.      Read more

Inktober 2016: Oct 23 – Lesser Short-Nosed Fruit Bat Portrait

102316-inktober-fruit-bat-portraitThis is a Lesser Short-Nosed Fruit Bat. It’s a long name for a very appealing critter! I like bats in general, and didn’t know this one had such a lovely face. Their mammalian nature is very apparent in the doglike snout and (apparently) soft fur.

So far he’s been a joy to draw. Wings and a body to come!

Inktober 2016: Oct 22 – Azure Kingfisher Repair Job

101816-inktober-azure-kingfisher-fixedRemember the eye that was bugging me a few days ago? Well, I couldn’t stand it anymore!

After so many years of trying to be a watercolor purist, I finally realized that there’s no reason not to adapt a few things. There’s nothing wrong with opaque gouache, nor is there any reason why a given work has to be declared “done” at a given point and never ever touched again. This is a very freeing feeling, and I decided to exercise my new-found freedom on That Eye.

It took a little care, but ultimately wasn’t that hard to do. The Platinum Carbon ink did most of the work, as I knew it would. So, making the eye bigger and more oval was really not the problem. Recovering the lost catch light and the light rim that defines the lids, THAT was the problem. A few minutes with gouache and the problem was solved! It matched the watercolor perfectly and other than a slight difference in reflectance, looked as if it had been there all along.

So, Inktober Oct 22: One eye, a few blue highlights, and a big sigh of relief.

 

Inktober 2016: Oct 21 – Beach Rocks

102116-inktober-beach-rocksThis is one of my personal favorite drawings of the year, because it was done in the company of my bestest friend on the planet.

We only had a day together, a day that started far inland and needed to make up for all the years we’ve missed in just a few short hours. Thanks to the magic of an old truck and a tank of gas, we accomplished all that and so much more. Time has been hard on both of us, but this is an eternal friendship: it picks up where it left off, regardless of years or miles, never a beat missed.      Read more

Inktober 2016: Oct 18 – Azure Kingfisher

101816-inktober-azure-kingfisherHere’s a bird I’d never heard of before: an Azure Kingfisher. They have the best birds in Australia! Clearly my life is not going to be complete until I’ve been there. If all I did was spend a day out seeing wildlife it would be a plane ride well spent.

Kingfishers have giant beaks as a rule, so this is actually fairly proportionate to the source photo. The color was just crying out for a strong dose of PB29 Ultramarine (in gouache) and some Burnt Sienna did a nice job on the bird’s warm breast. What I am not happy with is the eye – it’s not a bad eye on its own and would be fine on a songbird. This is an Azure Kingfisher though, and they have enormous beady eyes. A disappointing lesson in minding proportions! Letting it go for today, though with gritted teeth.

About 3″ x 4″ on the Strathmore paper, with the Kuretake #40 ink brush.

Inktober: Oct 10 – Fiddler Crab

101016-inktober-fiddler-crabThis is a female Fiddler Crab. They’re not hard to find at aquarium stores, and I’ve had more than one as pets. Interesting creatures! The males have one very large claw that is waved about (to attract the females of course.) All of them are busy, curious, and entertaining as they prowl around their tank looking for food. Unfortunately, they’re usually sold as freshwater creatures. Read more

Inktober: Oct 9 – Tibia Fusus

100916-inktober-tibia-fususHere’s a Tibia fusus shell. These are one of my favorite shells! I placed one on the drafting table and drew it.

The background color is one of my favorite blues ever, which I rarely use because the paint fades so badly. No clue what pigment it is, was some very old Grumbacher Academie tube that has long since been thrown away. Just one well in my palette remains, trotted out for special occasions that don’t require lightfastness. Other paints used are Raw Sienna/Burnt Sienna (PBr7), Ultramarine PB29 in the shadows on the shell, and PB60 for the ground shadow.

Switched tools and drew this with the Kuretake #40 brush pen, same Carbon ink as before. 8″ x 2.25″ approximately.

Inktober: Oct 6 – Kestrel Portrait

100616-inktober-kestrel-head-portraitLove these birds! Saw one as a teenager and thought it was pretty cool to have a genuine Bird of Prey living right in my boring neighborhood.

Learned a couple things with this drawing. One, watch proportions! The head shape and eye size is a little different than the reference. It’s fine for practice, but not entirely *right*. Second, never use paint to do what you should have done with ink. I tried to get lazy and beef up one of the black neck stripes with Sodalite, and it just looked weird. Better to have just scratched away at it a little longer.

Third, perhaps, plan ahead. I was going to draw the entire bird and could see after a while that maybe 60% of him would fit on the page by the time I got done. Oops. Head portrait it is! This was about all I had time to draw anyway. Might do a full-bird drawing and stretch it over two days.

Reference is this Wikipedia photo.

Inktober: Oct. 2 – Bob Tarte’s Sedge Wren

100216-inktober-sedge-wrenToday’s entry is a serenading Sedge Wren, drawn from Bob Tarte’s fabulous photo and used with his generous permission. Thanks Bob! Do check out his books and podcast at bobtarte.com.

Birdy at left drawn with the Platinum EF fountain pen on Strathmore 140lb Windpower CP.