NZ Natural History Artist #1: Bruce Harvey

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On my recent trip up north to Russell, we made a stop along the way at Waipu, where they were having an antiques show. They had all sorts of fascinating things- old books, fountain pens, sewing machines, vintage postcards… but what caught my eye were these vintage Air New Zealand menus, because of the beautiful bird illustrations on the covers. I bought a couple for a few dollars each, and have framed them (in some repurposed frames from the op shop). It turns out the illustrations were done by NZ artist Bruce Harvey (one of the best known NZ artists of birds), between the years 1976-79.

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Continue reading “NZ Natural History Artist #1: Bruce Harvey”

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weka watercolour

here is a watercolour painting I just finished yesterday- it is of a North Island Weka (Gallirallus australis greyi), like the ones that I managed to sketch and photograph on a recent trip to Russell.

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and some progress pics from my instagram:

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#progress #bird

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I have heard that the North Island Weka is more endangered than the Kiwi- so a pretty special thing to see in real life!

I used a limited palette (the majority of the bird is just painted with ultramarine blue+ burnt sienna- my favourite combo!) and tried out some new-to-me watercolour paper- plain hotpress Fabriano paper (the paper itself didn’t have a name) which was pretty good but hard to remove mistakes without ruining the paper, which I guess is to be expected from a cheaper paper!

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I also just wanted to mention an interesting interview I listened to on the weekend by Nick Patton (from the Picturebooking podcast), who interviewed Katherine Roy– an illustrator of kids natural history picture books. Its a really interesting listen for anyone who is interested in the intersection of science, art and childrens books. Check it out here.

Till next time!

emma

sketches from russell

I recently came back from a 5 day trip to Russell (in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand) which was a lot of fun.

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the view from the main street in russell

 Here are some of the sketches I made on the trip! I was aiming to fill the whole sketchbook I made, but ended up with a sketch-a-day…

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sketches of abby, and the weka that live on the campground where we stayed

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the campground set in bush that is kiwi and weka habitat- the weka are very curious and like to investigate the tents and pinch food. They were also really fast and difficult to sketch!

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unfinished sketch- view of the campground from the nearby mangroves

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The sketchbook I used was a repurposed hard back book that had been withdrawn from the library I work at. I refilled it with my new favourite paper- Lana Dessin drawing paper (which is only $3 for a large sheet- enough to fill this book!). Its great because its 220gsm and you can also use watercolour on it easily.

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I brought a small watercolour travel set, my waterbrush and other drawing supplies (pencils+pens)- all kept in a click-clack container to stop them getting water damage etc.

Next time I’ll have many more pages left to fill!

till next time,

emma

rock pigeon- ink to digital process

here is the work in progress of a small illustration I did as a secret-santa gift for someone who loves pigeons. It was rendered in ink and then coloured digitally (same process as described here):

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/ initial sketch – I wanted to originally make the pigeon a (punk) rock pigeon but as you see that didn’t quite end up that way! /

Continue reading “rock pigeon- ink to digital process”

merry christmas!

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pohutukawa- the new zealand christmas tree

 

wishing you (and your families) best wishes for the festive season! 

Its been a crazy few weeks in the lead up to christmas- as a result sadly no blog giveaway- as I alluded to in my last post– will be happening for christmas this year…

BUT, if you’re still in a gift-wrapping mood- here are my gift tags that you can download for free (here are the instructions from last year-including make your own stamped gift wrap!).

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I have spotted a number of my favourite artist/illustrators offering free gift tag downloads, so check these out for some beautiful decorations for your gifts:

Oana Befort

Phoebe Wahl

Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn (beautiful small sheets of wrapping paper to print!)

and

Meg Hunt (one of the 18 designs found at this link)

I’ll be taking a break over the next couple of weeks from posting, but will have a 2014 round up post later in the week.

Best wishes + have a merry christmas!

emma

from india ink to (digital) colour

since the last post about what I’d learnt about digital illustration techniques, I have been trialing the “new” method of colouring ink-wash paintings in photoshop (described at the end of that post).

Here are a couple of inktober illustrations that I coloured in photoshop, using the watercolour brush from Kyle T Webster.

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I had so much trouble using the watercolour brush because it was lagging so far behind my mouse pointer, but then I figured out that I hadn’t down-sampled the resolution of the B+W image after I tidied it up (I always scan at 1200dpi for B+W)- so if you are a total newbie like me and that happens to you, just place your high res tiff image into a lower resolution PSD file and you shouldn’t have any problems with the brush!! 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a few chalkboard lettering pics I have posted. Next time I’ll be sharing a quick how-to on how I made my chalkboard- so check back at the end of the week if that interests you!

emma

illustration book finds- october edition

Its been a little while since I’ve done a second-hand book finds post (the last one was in March)- and I’ve found quite a few lovely illustrated books over the last couple of months so I thought it was time for another round-up post.

I found all of these books at my local $1 book sale, which is run to raise money for the Lion Foundation. It is a treasure trove for people who love books- especially old ones 😉 Most of the books mentioned below are full of wildlife illustration, but I also find lots of art instructional books (too many to post about now!).

Here are my favourite finds of late….

Town Birds in New Zealand by Raymond Wilson, 1980

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townbirds-in-nz_raymond-wilson-rosella

 

Rosella

Continue reading “illustration book finds- october edition”

spur-winged plover paintings

last week I finished up a series of paintings of the Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus miles) – which is a relatively common bird species where I live in Auckland. Last year I did a small painting of a Spur winged Plover chick, and thought I would add to it by painting an adult and an egg.

All were painted in acrylic using a sort of watercolour wash method:

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the adult- with distinctive yellow wattles

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the chick

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and the egg!

Interestingly this species is one of only 2 NZ native bird species that have no legal protection – it was removed in 2010 after so many public complaints about the species as a nuisance bird (mainly due to crop damage and “interactions” with aircraft).

I am planning on compiling these illustrations- together with some small habitat drawings I also have just finished- into a small poster showing the life stages and common habitats of this species (such as roadsides, airports and sports-fields), and the ways in which this species is threatened by people because of the proximity it lives to us.

If you are interested in reading more about using acrylics, specifically to paint birds, I can recommend Capturing the Essence- Techniques for Bird Artists by William T. Cooper as a wonderful reference guide- you can check out my review here.

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BLOG update: If you’re a regular reader you may have noticed a couple of small changes to my site. I have updated the Useful Resources page- it now has more of a visual overview of the books I recommend. If you have a goodreads account, you can add them to your own reading list by clicking on the books image. I have also removed my portfolio page and the link above now directs you straight to my official portfolio site. Also new is the Categories drop-down list in the right side bar (under the about info), so if you are looking for posts on a certain subject hopefully that makes things easier to find! I am hoping to do a full blog re-design at the end of the year so stay tuned for some bigger changes in a few months time.

till next time,

emma

inktober week 2

second week of Inktober is over! Here are the inky sketches I did this week- all india ink with calligraphy brush:

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a forget me not flower sprig (really close up) because they are everywhere at the moment. It kinda looked better in my head…

Then I thought I’d try and expand on the little Toucan character that I sketched out a few weeks back (apparently that was actually a few months ago!!), and that ended up being what I did for the rest of the weeks sketches:

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compare this, to this…

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the difference a good paper makes! The first was done on cartridge paper, the second in a cheap Montmarte watercolour (190gsm) sketch book. I have found my favourite inking paper and will be doing all the rest of my inktober sketches on it.

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and

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Thats all for this week of the challenge.Are you taking part in Inktober? Have you managed to do a sketch for every day so far?

emma

‘journey’ illustration- pencil+digital

Here is a little illustration I just finished for last weeks Illustration Friday challenge (finished a week or two late but I just loved the concept…’Journey’). It was a little bit of an experiment- pencil rendered then scanned into PS and coloured digitally. I haven’t done much digital work but hope to improve my skills (even though I do prefer the look of traditional materials), and eventually learn 3D programs like Blender (which should be really useful for scientific stuff!!).

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Also- here are some awesome tutorials I found really useful to get ideas from on HOW to combine pencil and digital rendering techniques:

Froggie’ Process from David Opie Illustration

Colouring Pencil Drawings- Arthur Rackham Style from Jennifer E Morris Illustration

 Colouring a Drawing in Photoshop CS5 by Teagan White

and also- the brush I used:

Drew Greens Gouache Brush How-to

 

emma