It is loosely based on a few stories I read in a book about the cultural history of NZ birds- the New Zealand eagle (which was the largest known bird of prey, with a wingspan of up to 2.4m) was written throughout Maori myth and legend as a dangerous bird that preyed upon humans, and was also seen as a bad omen. In this drawing I tried to imagine children re-enacting the myths of warriors who fought against these giant birds of prey.
Here is the colour palette I used:
hope you are all having a great weekend! Check back mid-week for another installment of NZ natural history artist- this weeks artist is Piers Hayman, an ornithological artist who did some really amazing work. Till next time! emma
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.
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!
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.
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you might remember the short film I “drew” for my sisters university assignment, just over a year ago. This small project made me realise the huge number of possibilities and ideas that could be brought to life through combining illustration, film and animation. Stop motion animation is something I’m really interested in, and I had the idea to perhaps do some biology and conservation based short animations, but hadn’t gotten around to doing anything yet.
Then earlier this year, I saw an advertisement for the Outlook for Someday film competition, which is to encourage film making specifically regarding sustainability, for young people. I thought it would the perfect competition to enter (and my last opportunity- next year I will be too old!) as it combined film (stop-motion animation in my case) with conservation. So I made a short stop-motion animated film on the subject of ecology and sustainability, using coloured paper cut-outs and live action drawing, and entered it. I found out a few weeks ago that my film was selected for the Department of Conservation Big Picture Award- and we got to attend the amazing awards ceremony last week.
Here is the film- I called it Nature’s Ghosts because it is about the huge loss of species the earth is currently experiencing as a result of mans’ influence. It was created using a borrowed ipad and a basic stop motion app, then edited using Photoshop CS5 and Corel Video Studio, and my sister kindly did the voice-over (recorded on the ipad using garageband).
The other films in the competition were amazing, a combination of animated films and real-life documentaries, and it was great to meet the other film makers on the night. You can check out the other films here. The overall winning film was this documentary ‘To the Rescue’ by Mason Cade Packer– an amazing film about food wastage and the charities that work to ‘rescue’ food and bring it to the people that need it.
I can’t wait to make some more biology/conservation animations. There are definitely things I would like to improve on next time and I am hoping to write up some more short films to animate in the new year. Thank you very much to the Outlook for Someday team that created such an awesome event and competition. If you or someone you know is into film and is under 24 years old, encourage them to enter next year– its an awesome thing to get involved in!
I’ll be back later this week with some more posts and am hoping to do a blog giveaway before Christmas gets here!
or perhaps I should have called it ‘the mock-up poster’ because this was sort of a quickly put together version of my puriri moth lifecycle for a portfolio submission. I’d like to add to it by doing a fully painted background at some point and adding in text of course.
the tree+backgrounds to the various larval stages are watercolour+coloured pencil, the insects themselves are coloured pencil only.
Its Puriri Moth season again in NZ- I’ve only seen one this year though- much less than last year!
Today I’m posting a painting I finished last week of baby saltwater crocodiles hatching from their nest. It was inspired by a story on the saltwater crocodiles life cycle that I read- and I left the upper corner empty to suggest a space for text in a book spread.
Mediums used: W&N cotman watercolours and Pebeo Gouache (covering white) for highlights.
I tried out splattering the background with watercolour to get a dirt-like effect and after I was done realised that I’d splattered tiny paint drops all over my walls…oops. Lucky it was an easy clean up!
Don’t forget- you have until Monday 5pm (NZ time- Midnight Sunday EST) to enter the skillshare giveaway for 1 months premium membership! There are only 2 entries so far so you’re chances of winning are high if you enter 🙂 The classes are really awesome- lots of new ones have recently been added including Vintage Hand lettering by Mary Kate McDevitt and Drawing Daily Monsters by Stefan G. Bucher- which I am really keen to do. Get your entries in!!
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:
the adult- with distinctive yellow wattles
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.
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.
Here is another scientific illustration project I am currently working on- illustrations of the NZ Magpie Moth for MSc student Cassandra Marks at the University of Auckland (also from the Holwell lab). I am doing a series of identification-style watercolour illustrations of the male and female moths as well as some views of the caterpillar. Here’s some pics of where I’m up to- also I made a gif of the watercolour process!
And the final- this is the female Magpie Moth:
I used Winsor and Newton Cotman watercolour paints, mixing the black for the wings from Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna, but found I had to pump up the darkness of it by using some pure black for the darkest areas.
Thanks to Cassie for letting me post these in the middle of the project!
Here is the first of my spot illustrations for the puriri moth poster I’m working on. Its done in watercolour with coloured pencil on top, and is four times life size. In real life the eggs measure roughly 2mm in diameter, and change from white to purpley black a couple of days after being laid.
The leaf litter itself is based off puriri tree leaf litter, so you have puriri leaves, and a decomposing berry (plus a green berry stalk) in the image. I found the soil very hard to depict!
And with the eggs:
The eggs and the leaf litter study were done separately, so I still have a bit of work to do in photoshop on the composite image to make the eggs look more like they are “in” the image, rather than floating on top. Argh! Next time I will definitely be doing them as one.
In other news- this is the 50th post on this little blog! Thanks to all the people who are now following along! I’m hoping to develop my posts more to bring more tutorials and reviews in the coming months. Its been a learning curve this blogging thing, but a lot of fun, so thanks for your support so far.
Over the last few weeks I have been busily working away on my final project for my scientific illustration class (which is finishing shortly*sadface*)- hence my lack of posts over the last week! For my project, I decided to do an illustrated life cycle of the native puriri moth (Aenetus virescens) or Pepetuna. The puriri moth is the largest flying insect in NZ (females up to 150mm wingspan) and is beautifully coloured in varying shades of green (from yellow through blue). It is also long-lived (est. 5-7 years) but most people only encounter them in their adult form, when they live for only a couple of days!
I wanted to do an illustrated life cycle to raise more awareness about their life history- which is not commonly known (they are nocturnal wood borers). Part of this process was finding specimens of the various life stages to illustrate from- and I can tell you this was no easy task! For the last few weeks any spare moment has been spent rooting around on forest floors and peering into tree trunk holes to try and find the larval forms of the moth- with varying levels of success. I have also had a lot of help from the Auckland Museum and other moth experts.
So, here are some photos and sketches of what I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks:
Back to sketching at home…
The final illustration is going to be done in coloured pencil on strathmore windpower smooth paper (new coloured pencil fave!), and is compiled digitally in photoshop- I’ll share the final illustrations in my next post!