Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fish #2 Largemouth Bass

Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) with fly rod
Mixed media (pen & ink, permanent marker, and colored pencil) on paper, 30 December 2012, 11" x 13.5"

This piece is a little darker in real life and the accents of color don't show up very well here. It's mostly just black & white, but there are some green accents and the background is brown colored pencil. I really need a scanner to capture these art pieces better. Photos just don't serve them very well.

Here's my original photograph that served as the basis for this piece. As usual, I've changed a few details.

This fish was caught on 23 June 2007, just as a rain began at Nonconnah Creek- a notoriously funky ditch in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. I'm pretty sure I'm the only person to ever disgrace a fly rod by taking one down into Nonconnah, but as you can see there are fish to be caught. The fish above was the second of two similar sized Largemouths I caught that day- both on the surface, both as the rain was beginning to come down. This was the first of the pair...

Maybe I'll eventually draw it too. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bird #4 Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Acrylic on cardboard, 29 December 2012, 11" x 13.5"

I didn't quite finish it in time for Christmas, but 'tis the season. I hope you like it, Bill. It's a bit of a different perspective for a Cardinal. I kinda thought it looked like a rock star with a mohawk from a head on view, so I went with it.

Some of the acrylic paints I used were enamels, so it was very difficult to photograph without a terrible glare. I had to take it out into natural light on the front porch for a photo... which makes it look a bit lighter than it appears in real life. I desperately need a large digital flatbed scanner for this stuff.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Fish #1 Longear Sunfish

Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)
Mixed media (permanent marker & colored pencil), 21 December 2012, 11" x 13.5"

This is my artistic interpretation of the Longear photo that has graced the header of my blog, The Naturalist's Angle, for well over a year now. I've liked it so much that I haven't really gotten the urge to change it... like so many of my fellow fly fisher bloggers do with their headers. This fish was caught in July of 2007 on the South Fork of the Spring River in Arkansas. I used my artistic license to alter a few things from the original image, but I'll leave it to the viewer to figure out those details.

I have wanted to draw a Longear for a long time, and I think it turned out pretty much like I had envisioned. I believe Longear Sunfish are one of the most beautiful fish that swim in freshwater, and I imagine this won't be the last one I illustrate.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bird #3 King Bird of Paradise

King Bird of Paradise (Cicinnurus regius)- male & female
Mixed media (colored paper cutout & permanent marker), 18 December 2012, 11" x 13.5"

This one is a bit different. The paper cutouts are a tribute to Henri Matisse. My reason for taking this approach reflects some of my perspective on the biological concept of sexual selection. In many cases where sexually selected traits influence mate choice, the females are choosing males that have the ability to survive while maintaining brilliant coloration and adornments that most certainly oppose forces of natural selection. Simply put, being brightly colored with all sorts of decoration does not aid the individual male's basic survival, but if he wants to reproduce (and increase his biological fitness) he has to be "pretty" in her eyes.

We certainly don't understand all that a female Bird of Paradise takes into consideration when making her mate choice, but I imagine she sees a male as a distinct pattern of colors (hence my choice for paper cutouts)... and if anything is out of place, he will not win her favor. Missing a delicate tail feather? Sorry, Mr. Bird of Paradise, you lose.

Of course, complex and ritualized mating displays and "dances" are an important part of mate choice for Birds of Paradise as well.

Poor little guys have a lot to do to impress the ladies... makes me really glad I'm not a Bird of Paradise.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bird #2 Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Colored pencil on paper, 16 December 2012, 11" x 14"

This one took me a while... not an easy subject. Pelicans have some weird proportions. This piece appears a little darker in real life, flash photo washed it out a bit.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bird #1 Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)
Permanent marker on paper, 04 Decemeber 2012, 11" x 14"

That's right. Sharpie art.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A new beginning

This blog is the offspring of a parent blog, The Naturalist's Angle, where I post about fly fishing, nature, conservation, and other outdoor adventure.

After many years of hiatus from purely artistic pursuits, I have finally decided to get back to it.

Let me give you a brief history.

I am probably one of the few people my age or younger who can honestly say I had a great public school education experience courtesy of the Memphis City Schools system. This was largely because of the art programs at the junior high and high schools I attended. These two schools were my neighborhood schools, and both are in short walking distance of the house where I spent the formative years of my youth. Even though they were my assigned schools by district, I had to "audition" to be placed into the "optional" art programs. (MCS offers what they call "optional" programs at many of the system's schools ranging from high level college preparatory academics to the arts.) Geography alone was not enough to give me the opportunities I was afforded. You had to prove you belonged.

When I was still in sixth grade at Willow Oaks Elementary (optional for academics), I went to an "audition" at Colonial Junior High to see if I had the basic skills to be molded into an artist. In addition to taking a portfolio of my naive elementary artwork for review, I was placed in front of a still life arrangement and given an hour to draw it. The "audition" was so called because many of the programs offered by the junior high and high school were performance based arts. These schools proudly wore the label of schools for the "Creative and Performing Arts," and within the halls the programs were simply referred to as "CAPA." It meant a lot to be a CAPA student at Colonial Junior High and Overton High School. You weren't cool if you weren't in a CAPA program... except for the band kids... they were and always will be nerds no matter where you go... only kidding, Kelly. ;)

A lot of time has passed since high school... over sixteen years to be honest. A lot of art has not been created in that time period. Sure, I've had a few projects here and there- a few murals, some exhibit art for a zoo where I worked, and I've even painted a canvas or two... but it's time for a new beginning.

One of my friends from high school, who joined the CAPA art program at Colonial Junior High in ninth grade, has found herself with a similar desire to reconnect with art. We're trying to keep each other motivated by picking a subject and simultaneously creating a piece of art. The rules are simple, we take turns picking the specific subject (which at present will be birds- mostly native to the eastern U.S.) and we post our products online at the same time. The are no limits on media, size, style, or anything else that could possibly restrict an artist.

Let the fun begin.