Sunday, July 29, 2012

Animal and Plant Paintings, Part Two

  Here are more of the acrylic animal paintings I've finished.

    I use to surf in high school when I lived in Humboldt. Great White sharks were always a concern because there were often shark spottings. I never saw a shark, Great White or otherwise. One thing that makes Great White Sharks particularly scary is that they can sense just a drop of blood in 25 gallons of water. They can also detect tiny amounts of blood in water three miles away! (A)
 The scariest animals I saw were eels and jellyfish. One time I saw a gigantic dead sting ray being tossed around in the waves. It must have been five feet wide! A couple of days later when I went back to teh beach it had been washed up on shore.

    The spice Saffron is derived from Saffron Crocus. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world! Saffron has long been used for medicinal and healing purposes. Modern research is slowly conforming the long held beliefs about saffron. Studies have shown the saffron may protect against cancer, mutations, and may help retina damage.  (B)

   The Turks Cap Cactus is a mysterious little succulent because even experts don't know what species it belongs to. The 'cap' portion of this cactus is the plants fruit and is even edible, although it does not have much of a taste. (C)

   The Stoat is an adorable little weasel living in North America, Europe and Asia. They have a brown coloring except during the Winter when then transform into all white animals. The Stoat is also known as an Ermine.  (D)

    The Vermilion flycatcher is a bird that lives in the sun soaked landscape of the American Southwest. The male of the species often attempts to impress potential mates by bringing them a butterfly or other fancy and beautiful insect.   (E)

      As the name suggests, this bat has especially long ears. Grey Long-Eared Bats live up to 14.5 years. (F)

    The Portuguese Man of War appears to be a jellyfish, but it is acutally a jelly-like creature, but not a true jellyfish. However, just like many a jellyfish, it has a painful sting! Sometimes these creatures will float in groups of a thousand or more. (G)  

      The meadow Cranesbill is a lovely little flower that often grows in grasslands and along roadsides. Lately, from the car I've seen lots of pretty purple flowers. I haven't been close enough to get a good look at the details of the flower, but maybe they are the meadow cranesbill!  (H)

    The Pietrain Pig is a very popular pig in both Germany and Spain, although the pig was named after a place in Belgium. There are few pure born Pietrain Pigs, at least in England, because the breed is known to have the gene for Porcine Strees Syndrome. (I)

   I see the Flame Skimmer dragon fly a lot during the summer months. Dragonflies date back before the age of dinosaurs! Imagine what the Flame Skimmers ancestors saw. (J)

Where I found my plant and animal facts:
A. National Geographic- Great White Sharks
B. Wikipedia- Saffron
C. Arubaplaza- Turks Cap Cactus
D. The Animal Files- Stoat
E. All About Birds- Vermillion Flycatcher
F. School of Biological Sciences- Grey Long Eared Bat
G. Kid Zone- Portuguese Man Of War
H. Really Wildflowers- Meadow Cransbill
I. British Pigs- Pietrain Pig
J. Bug Squad

Friday, July 27, 2012

Seashell Dioramas

    Here is an art project I finished fairly recently. I made dioramas inside clam shells. I love dioramas and want to make more diorama art projects in the future. The diorama components are made out of colorful card stock. I collected the shells while at the beach. The beach was full of these white clam shells. I knew I wanted to use them in an art project but I didn't decide how until I got home. I still have a lot more shells and will probably use them in different ways but maybe I'll make a couple more dioramas too. I got the piece of wood that the shells are attached to at the beach too.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Views from the Window, Part Two

  Here are some pictures of San Jose (and the area around San Jose) as seen from the window of the car. The color scheme of San Jose during the summer is tan and blue and a bit of green. There are rolling hills surrounding San Jose and during the summer the grass turns tan and crunchy. These hills are beautiful in the spring when the grass is green. It is wonderful to take hikes through the hills to see the wildflowers and oak trees.

   Today when I went outside to get the mail, a huge and fluffy husky dog came bounding toward me. When he got to me he did a little doggy dance ( jumping around and wiggling back and forth) and then he let me pet his big head. He very gently jumped up on me so his paws were almost to my shoulders. I've heard that when dogs do this it is because they are trying to assert their dominance, but I still take it has a dog hug. His person called for him to come back and he went running off. He was very sweet and I was not having the best of days. It is amazing how a random encounter with a friendly animal can really cheer a person up.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Flappers and Philosophers

   I got the title for this post from a F. Scott Fitzgerald book of short stories. My favorite story in the collection is 'Ice Palace.'  Here are some flapper inspired illustrations.

   Bonnie is an amateur naturalist who has a special love for insects. Despite her parents demands that she stays at home where she must learn to become a proper lady, she is leaving the country. She is going to the jungles of South America to search underneath rocks and in the crevices of tree bark to find a yet undiscovered type of insect.

   Adella spends most of the day sleeping because in the evening she works as a jazz singer. She sings in smoke filled bars and lounges with the accompaniment of a piano player. The piano player is secretly in love with Adella and even though his skills could lead him to greater success, he chooses to stay in the club scene in order to remain near Adella. Now he just needs to muster up the courage to tell Adella.

  Greta works at a plant nursery where she tends to all the dying plants. She has a green thumb that seems to stem partially from instict and partially from magic. Limp and brown plants turn green again within hours of Greta's care.

   Minnie lives in the California Valley on a peach farm. She spends her evenings picking peaches and trading gossip with the other peach pickers. During her days she sells the peaches at a road side stand.Whenever she meets a particularly nice peach stand patron, she gives them her secret peach pie recipe. Minnie firmly believes that they pie has the power to create good luck.

    Ava is a librarian working at a country library. The library has ten feet all windows that let the sun pour, warming up the library. When Ava is not 'shhhing' overly talkative library patrons, she is reading another book. When the library closes, she stays inside for another hour or so. She writes anonymous love letters to people she's never met and leaves them in random books.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lottie Leaves the Desert Kingdom

  Here is a new illustration made with gouache paint, black tea and pen. It is 15 by 20 inches.

  Lottie lives in a well protected kingdom secluded in the middle of a hot and sandy desert. Hundreds of years ago the kingdom's rulers fortified themselves from the outside world in order to protect themselves from a sinister threat. Great monsters were lurking thorough the vast desert and devouring unprotected kingdoms and villages. Near by villages were destroyed by the monsters and the desert kingdom decided they must seclude themselves completely from the outside world in order to protect against these monster attacks. In order to fully protect the kingdoms inhabitants, a law was enacted making it illegal to leave the walls of the kingdom. Hundreds of years went by and monster attacks were a thing of the past, but the desert kingdom remained detached from the outside world. They were a successful self-sustaining society and most people felt no need to reconnect with the rest of the world. The kingdoms folks were concerned that reconnecting with other kingdoms and villages would leave them vulnerable. But certain people in the kingdom began growing restless of the secluded life. Lottie was one of these restless people. She joined an underground club of like minded individuals. It soon became apparent that the club members liked to complain about their imprisonment in the kingdom, but they had none of the bravery or gumption needed to make a move to escape the kingdom. Lottie decided she was no longer willing to remain in the desert village. Even without help from her club members, she was going to leave the kingdom and explore new places. In the dead of night, she slipped through a crumbled portion of wall and escaped into the open aired freedom of the empty desert. The desert was quiet and lonely, but there were not monsters or other obvious threats. After miles of walking she came across a petite mushroom village. She met a rabbit and a frog. To Lottie, rabbits and frogs were mystical creatures. They only animal living in the desert kingdom are cats, who long ago chased away any smaller animal. Lottie had heard stories of rabbits and frogs and a whole vast array of other animals. But to Lottie, these animals had the same status that unicorns do to most people. After meeting the rabbit and frog, Lottie realized the world may contain way more than she had ever imagined.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The T-Rex Seeks Redemption

Here is a comic I made a couple of months ago staring a t-rex. It is about the different ways we try to make amends for our past misdeeds but how our past is always a part of us... and its about a dinosaur!

Friday, July 20, 2012

San Jose and Winged Cats

  I was in San Jose (CA)  recently and I had the opportunity to explore downtown San Jose. I always thought of San Jose as bland, but the downtown area is actually quite charming. While there, I went to the art museum, an art gallery and a sushi restaurant. All were great especially the art museum. My favorite exhibit was Sandow Birk's 'Divine Comedy.' His art was a modern day take on Dantes Divine Comedy.

    When I was little I really liked a book called "Catwings" by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is about a mother cat and her kittens, but they are not ordinary cats, they have wings! It is a fanciful notion and I like imagining cats flying in the air. But recently I learned about something interesting- real life winged cats. Winged cats from this world are not quite as magical as their fictional counterparts. The winged cats of reality are more like penguins because they can not actually fly. Although witnesses of winged cats sometimes say the cats use their wings to gain leverage when they leap for prey. Their wings are not feathered like a bird, but rather strange wing shaped appendages covered with cat fur. There are three explanations for winged cats. The first, and most boring explanation is that the wings are just large tufts of matted fur. If a cat has a matt large enough to look like a wing, I feel very sorry for that poor cat. Another explanation is the cat has a strange skin condition that makes its fur extra elastic. When I looked on Wikipedias winged cat page, there was no explanation on how elastic skin leads to wings. My guess is that the skin stretched out until it is long like wings. The third explanation is that is that the wings are extra limbs shaped like wings.