Saturday, 26 February 2011

Crow Swarm in watercolour pencil

Hmmm. Maybe I should change that post title. Sounds way too much like snow storm.

Ah well.

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is swarm, and this is... well, I suppose it's technically more of a murder than a swarm. I really think that conference would be a better collective noun for crows anyway, since they always seem to have some sort of agenda.

I was going to do a ladybird swarm for the prompt like those we sometimes have in late summer here, but I guess I just wasn't feeling the bugginess today.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Strata in watercolour pencil

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is layer. Nerd that I am, my mind went to the fact that at work (when I'm teaching forest studies or basic geology) I'll often have to remind the students that stratum is just the word scientists use for layer.

When I did my field botany in university, I found out that the old saw can't see the forest for the trees has more than a bit of truth. If all you notice is the trees when you're studying a forest, then you're not going to get very far. Amongst many other things, it's important to study the layers. Each forest has several strata, and each stratum affects what happens in the stratum beneath it. Each layer blocks out some of the light and some of the moisture from the next one, but each layer also provides shelter to the next. If one of the layers suddenly goes missing (say, because of clear-cutting or a massive wind storm), the remaining can't function the way they've evolved to. The forest inevitably changes.

Because of the relatively open canopy of a deciduous forest there may be a whole whack (scientifically speaking -- ha!) of layers beneath the trees, each with its own distinctive plants and animals. In the more closed canopy of a conifer forest, things can look pretty barren in comparison.

This is the kind of thing that makes my brain happy, but I'm probably boring the snot out of a few people by now so I'll stop here. Next time you're out for a walk in the forest, though, why not see if you can recognise its layers? When you start to think of things horizontally instead of vertically it can certainly give you a different view of the workings.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Begonia in watercolour pencil

A quick sketch to keep my mostly-nonfunctioning brain in some kind of gear.

Scan's not giving quite the whole thing, but it's not bad. Picture the flower with a slightly more orange tinge, and the leaves a bit less blue. Then we're closer.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Wood Frog in pen and ink

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is reverse, and linking it with a frog will take a little bit of explaining.

Frogs, you see (or at least some frogs), can reverse their gender. I'm not sure if it works for Wood Frogs, but studies of African Reed Frogs about twenty years ago found that females could change into males. Gender switching has since been observed in other kinds of frogs as well.

And why switch gender? Well, in the wild it probably has something to do with making sure that the animals can breed. If there are too many females, for instance, chemical signals may tell some of those females to become male.

That's all well and good in an untouched system, of course, but unfortunately some studies are now showing that chemicals created by humans may cause gender reversal as well. That's not great news. Many amphibian populations around the world appear to be in decline already, and having breeding populations affected by our chemical cast-offs would be a very bad thing.

On a happier note, the Wood Frog population seems to be pretty healthy. I just happened to have an old photo of one on hand (the silly thing was sitting in the middle of an asphalt path in August. I'm surprised it wasn't a shrivelled frog rather than a Wood Frog) so I used it as my source. I could tell you lots of cool things about Wood Frogs, but I think I've yammered enough for one post. Check the link at the start of this paragraph if you'd like more Wood Frogginess.

This was done in my moleskine with Prismacolor Premier pens.

Friday, 4 February 2011

General weirdness in acrylic

Not to be whingy (that's usually saved for my other blog), but I've been a bit under the weather this week. At one point I thought I'd try distracting myself with some weirdness on canvas (weird enough right there. I don't paint anyway, and I hardly ever do anything on canvas), and here you have it.

This? Well, I know why it exists. I even know what it's trying to be.

I don't think I'll tell you.

I will, however, mention that the white squiggly lines are actually highlighting a gessoed texture that you can't see in the photo. Not that it really changes anything, but that's why they're irregular.

As is the brain of the doodler, at the moment. At least this gave me something to do in between bouts of curling up under the blankets. Maybe next time I'll even aim for something that looks a little more like a real painting...
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