nuthatch

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nuthatch_wing

watercolour in moleskine,

As I said before, it sounds really creepy, but I love drawing dead animals.

I mean there are actual proper reasons beyond the macabre. I really adore painting animals, both in more natural and anthropomorphic contexts. When they’re dead, they obviously can’t move, so I can really focus in on all the details. From there building expressions and character into illustrations where I don’t always have ideal references becomes much easier.

This guy is a poor little nuthatch that flew into the window and broke his neck. I spent a couple days painting him from different angles, in different positions, until he began to smell a bit. The glamorous, glorious, never in the least gross life of an artist…

lady pole

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lady_pole.jpg

watercolour on yupo,

I’ve been listening to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell while I’ve been painting recently. Susanna Clarke is absurdly brilliant. I’ve done one painting of Strange stepping through onto the King’s Roads for the first time, but I’d love to do some more. In the mean time, I’ll have to content myself with some quick experiments on yupo… This time focusing on the lovely Lady Pole.

captain niall

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captain_niall

watercolour on Fabriano Artistico, 11cm by 14.5 cm

Back to the subject of books… I listen to a lot of audiobooks while I’m drawing or painting. One series I particularly enjoy Finishing School books, beginning with Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger. (Check out more here.) The narrator, Moira Quirk, is pretty wonderful, too.

The only drawback to listening to Gail Carriger’s books while painting is the danger of occasionally spluttering with laughter over one’s painting… At any rate, here is Captain Niall, a werewolf and a gentleman.

galanthus nivalis

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This whole winter has been in identity crisis, trying to act like spring, which means this drag out of similar pseudo-winter weather towards April is even less amusing. Real deep cold and I are hardly besties, but I love that dark, snowy heart of winter. Call me a masochist, but those bone-biting, snow blind days have a precious, frosty spot in my heart. I hate climate change.

Bright spots, however, are spring flowers! Crocuses and snowdrops are among my very favourite flowers, and I’ve seen a few rounds of them this year as the frost keeps biting them back. Here is a quick sketch of a few dew laden snowdrops. (Galanthus nivalis).

galanthus_nivalis

watercolour on Fabriano Artistico, 10cm by 7.5 cm

strix nebulosa

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I love birds. I love drawing them, watching them, studying them. I even love the annoying ones like starlings and blue jays. Though I struggle with city pigeons. I’m not overly fond of pigeons, but I think it’s more that I dislike the circumstances of being surrounded by a cloud of birds that look more like moth-eaten taxidermy versions of themselves than the actual pigeons.

However, I do, of course, have favourites. Among them is this stately beauty, the Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa). Unlike many other owls, Great Greys’ diet is almost exclusively rodents, so I’m a big fan.

owlx

scratchboard, 11 cm by 12 cm

shakespeare week

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I love Shakespeare. I always think it sounds a bit trite and pretentious when I say that, but I really do. Maybe it’s because my father taught English, including Shakespeare’s plays, and my parents took me to productions when I was little. While I’ve never been hugely fond of King Lear, Macbeth and Hamlet have these incredible epic status weights in my formative story brain. Twelfth Night, of course, sparked all those cross-dressing-romance chords even before I got to Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness.

But the one that really carved out a spot in my heart early on was Midsummer Night’s Dream. In second grade I played the part (somewhat obliviously) of a ballet skirted Cobweb in a school production. I think it was the same year my father took me to one put on by Deerfield Academy and John Reese where Puck zoomed around on rollerblades. So while I don’t have anything obviously Shakespearean, here are Moth and Mustardseed gossiping.

bird_fairies

watercolour on Fabriano Artistico, 16.5 cm by 11 cm

lord byron

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Another birthday! This time to the original hipster, Lord Byron. Here, from one of my favourite poems of his, Apostrophe to the Ocean.

CLXXIX.
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean—roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin—his control
Stops with the shore;—upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,
When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.

shipwreck

watercolour on Fabriano, 18 cm by 12.5 cm