Saturday, August 15, 2009

Shades of Gray

Each year in celebration of Earth Day, the Gamblin oil paint company hosts a special contest. Using paint residue scraped out of their "Torit" air filtration system, they blend a limited-edition line of gray paint from the recycled pigments. Since they produce different quantities of each color every year, each year's Torrit Gray blend is different. The ultimate in recycling! Gamblin then hosts a contest challenging artists to make a painting using only Torrit Gray, black, and white. You can check out all the details here, at

This is my entry, a portrait of Frans depicting his inner (contemplative) Viking.

And here's the sketch I did underneath:

Usually I don't do anywhere near as detailed an underpainting or drawing, but because the painting was to be monochromatic I wanted to work out the tonal values a bit more thoroughly first. I kind of wish I hadn't painted over it, as it was a better likeness than the painting turned out to be!

Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

(If I wrote a column for Audubon Magazine, that's exactly what I'd call it! : )

Anyway, here are a few more pieces for the Nature Exploration Area. Basically, we came up with a bucket containing 3-D animal tracks that kids can use to stamp footprints in the sandboxes (actually, they're sand barrels.) In addition to the tracks, the "toolkit" features a key of laminated cards with the animal on one side and a picture of the tracks each one makes on the reverse.

Nothing fancy or too detailed, but I had fun looking at bird photos for reference all the same. (Note that I took the card photos propped up against the phone while stuck at the desk. Very high-tech!)

Merry Christmas! ...8 months late

...or four months early! (Is the glass half-full or half-empty??)

Obviously these are a few X-mas cards that I intended to send out last year (ambitious, I know) and never got around to mailing. They are for a dog-and-peace-loving couple and a wannabe-philosopher, respectively. (The first features said couple's beloved yellow lab, Haille. Somehow in scanning and re-sizing these I accidentally cut off the words on this one, which read "Haille Krishna.") Better get a jump on this coming holiday season!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Brookside's Nature Exploration Area--Work in Progress

I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but one of my primary responsibilities at the nature center is working on the new children's playground made of natural materials, dubbed (rather unimaginatively) the "Nature Exploration Area." The NEA features tables and chairs made of tree stumps, a giant bird's nest constructed of twigs, a snake-shaped path fashioned out of stones, and lots of other good stuff.

Details of the above sign:

"Tree cookies" advertising the various features of the NEA:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Happy birthday, mum!

My mom turned 57 this May! Good lord. :P In honor of her birthday, my boyfriend (Frans), my sister (Simone), and I each drew her a picture of a bird, which we then matted and framed and presented to her (along with crepes and creampuffs.)

Here's the triptych:

Mine was a barn owl, Frans' some unknown bird, and Simone's, a budgerigar.

Close-up of my bird (gouache on BFK Rives paper):

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You Don't Gnome Me

An old sign I created for a display at Pearl Art and Craft. This was intended to supplement a display of Strathmore Artist Trading Cards (ACEO-style). Crayola crayon and pen on printer paper.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Failure and A Success

So...there's this neat art website called, based in San Franscisco, that Frans frequents (and has gotten me into as well.) In addition to featuring various artist interviews and galleries, they run a weekly (well, allegedly weekly) competition called "Free Fridayz", in which they post a topic and request submissions of artwork based around that theme. Pretty much the only rule is that you have to stick the words "fecal face" somewhere in the drawing to verify its authenticity. Sometimes the prizes are great, sometimes they're mediocre, but it's always fun to see peoples' different takes on the same subject.

A few weeks ago the topic was "That Guy", so I whipped up this drawing:

I was pretty happy with how it turned out, and my inking is coming along (though still miserable in comparison to anyone who is serious about inks.) Of course, I got a grand total of TWO votes (one of which was from Frans), and then this gem: "I have to say #6 [my entry]" and then, in the next post, "oops, I meant #7 not #6". Oh, well. :P

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I Saw the Sign

As mentioned in a previous post, I've been doing some artwork for Brookside Nature Center. The latest is a series of small signs to be posted on the way up to the volunteer office to direct potential volunteers where to go (sometimes they overlook the office and end up wandering in the woods :P ) These are painted in acrylic on little wood plaques and are now mounted on the fence-posts leading up to Jenny's office.


Eastern chipmunk

Swallowtail butterfly

Eastern bluebird


Yup, another pic created for Equine-Ranch! This is the image for the signature I use on the E-R forums. (I'd always imagined my ranch logo would be a horse being beamed up by a flying saucer.) Gouache and pen on Canson Montval w/c paper.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Seasons at the Pond

Back in January of this year, I started volunteering as a naturalist aide at Brookside Nature Center in Wheaton Regional Park. While almost everyone in the DC area knows and is fond of Brookside Gardens, which features such attractions as an annual orchid show and the Wings of Fancy butterfly display, the nature center--located right smack next to the gardens--frequently gets overlooked.  However, in my opinion, BNC's miles of wooded trails, observation boardwalks, excellent birdwatching opportunities, and diverse programs make it a far more interesting destination! Many of the programs offered are aimed at kids, but there are plenty of adult trips and activities as well.  I fell in love with the place at first sight, and find working there to be a far more rewarding experience than any paid job I've ever had. 

A month or so after I started, the volunteer coordinator (a wonderful naturalist named Jenny Aley; I highly recommend anyone with even a passing interest in volunteering contact her!) suggested that I help develop some brochures depicting the nature center's pond. Each was intended to illustrate what types of flora and fauna can be found there in different seasons.  So far, winter and spring have been finished (with the next two obviously forthcoming.) Take a look!  (The back side of each pamphlet features information about featured animals and plants.)


Depicted here are (left to right): Alder catkins (close-up); red fox pair and kits; American robin on nest (close-up of eggs); whitetail deer and fawn; mourning cloak butterflies (close-up); Canada goose pair on nest; green frog with eggs (top half of circle); American toad with eggs (bottom half of circle); bluegill; common snapping turtle; mallard duck family; brown bullhead catfish pair with eggs. 


And here we have (left to right): whitetail deer buck; male pileated woodpecker (close-up); Canada geese; red fox; whitetail deer and red fox tracks (close-up); male mallard duck; Eastern chipmunk; bluegill; common snapping turtle; brown bullhead catfish; green frog (close-up). 

Swing by Brookside Nature Center and pick up a free copy! :) 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Wee Post

Just a small update: I am not ashamed to admit that I am addicted to an online horse role-playing game called Equine-Ranch. Incorporating true-to-life scenarios and genetics, one is able to breed and show horses of any of breed, while steering clear of such obstacles as an unnamed genetic disorder, diseases such as Equine Infectious Anemia, and high inbreeding coefficients. Far more advanced than any other horse SIM, I highly recommend this game to anyone who has ever been interested in genetics and/or dreamed of having their own horse breeding outfit. 

That being said, I created this picture for a fellow E-R player in exchange for a custom horse in the game. It's pen and watercolor on w/c paper, with chalk pastel highlights: