My drawing this week is that of a cormorant. When I do my little morning walk along the Wivenhoe quayside I often see these pre-historic looking birds with their wings out stretched soaking up the sun or in a little group looking like they are waiting for a bus. When the tide is up they often bob about in the water on the hunt for fish. I love them so I wanted to capture these creatures in watercolour and ink.
If you want to catch a glimpse of these sleek guys, you can find them around the UK coastline on rocky shores, coastal lagoons and estuaries. You may also catch them at reservoirs, lakes and gravel pits.
This week’s drawing of the week is of a bright pink flamingo head.
I must admit it has taken me a little while to warm to the flamingo bird, although really fun to paint and draw (you can really go to town with pink watercolour here), it was a bird that never really got under my skin like a puffin, lapwing or curlew. I suppose I was put off because they have been so popular as a motif in homewares and stationery design.
Perhaps I also thought they were show-offs of the avian world – to me they were just a bit too lairy with their pink plumage. Maybe I was jealous – no one could accuse me of being leggy and it’s rare that I splash out with colour in a sartorial sense (I leave that for my illustration).
Of course I was wrong. I mean these birds are magnificent creatures and when you find our about these birds they really are fascinating. Here are some fun flamingo facts…
Flamingos beaks are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat. The bills are uniquely used upside-down. Don’t know what I mean? Take a look here…
In the pink Their distinctive pigment comes from carotenoids they eat in animal and plant plankton which are broken down into pigments by liver enzymes.
Flam Fam Flamingos are very social birds. Their colonies can be thousands strong. This protects them from predators and enables them to nest more efficiently.
What a pair
The birds perform synchronised ritual displays in colonies. The members of a group stand together and display to each other by stretching their necks upwards, making calls while head-flagging, then flapping their wings. Flamingos form strong partnerships although in larger colonies flamingos sometimes change mates (well we’re all allowed to change our minds). Both the male and the female play a part in building and defending the nest. Occasional same-sex pairs have been reported, which makes me happy.
My drawing of the week is a young eucalyptus plant.
I was at a friend’s house last weekend and she had gorgeous bunch of eucalyptus in her lounge. They also looked so elegant placed on their own in the vase, unadorned, unfettered by other blooms. Inspired by these I had to source some of my own sprigs to draw.
It has kick-started me trying out some more botanical illustrations. I’ve already done some further eucalyptus sketches and some more watercolour and ink drawings of ferns.
I really enjoyed doing this drawing of the week, my sanguine looking cockatoo. I’ve drawn it as part of series of bird portrait works to be exhibited later this year.
Now I know this black cockatoo is rather purple in his hue but I wanted to reflect the luxurious, deep and rich nature of his plumage. Very few dark shades are just black, they almost always have a base of purple, green or blue at their core.
As usual I created the illustration in watercolour and fine pin ink pen but this time I used a posca white pen to create the little dots on my boy’s feathers.
We recently welcomed the new luna (or is it lunar?) year of the rooster so it’s only fitting it’s this week’s drawing of the week.
As much as I like a brown or black bird illustration, the bird I’ve drawn here is a Brown Leghorn rooster, which I have chosen purely for his plumage. When I got out my watercolour paints to illustrate this fella I knew warm orange, purple and emerald hues would be the order of the day. I really wanted to go to town on the colours for this guy as I think the rooster (also known as a cockerel or cock) is such a glorious creature – I really admire them as they pace around the chicken pen.
As well as being the symbol for my football team, the cockerel is also a scared animal in some cultures, with the rooster being associated with the sun goddess Amaterasu, in fact Zoroastrianism held the rooster as a “symbol of light” and associated the cock with “good against evil” due to its heraldic actions. So all praise for the mighty rooster!
Created with watercolour and ink, this colourful illustration was made for my illustrated butterfly guide print that will be coming soon.
The Peacock butterfly is one of the most easily identifiable butterflies in the UK. The eyespot markings act as a deterrent to potential predators. The underside of the wings are almost black which gives it wonderful camouflage when its wings are folded upright. They also have a loud grating noise produced by the rasping of their forewings, which acts as a secondary deterrent for creatures that want to eat them.
This week’s drawing of the week is a Orange tip butterfly.
After all that Christmas stuff I’m now working on illustrations for next year and I’m going to make an illustrated guide to butterflies. This is the first of many butterfly drawings.
The latin name for these creatures is Anthocharis cardamines and you can find them in damp pastures and meadows, damp woodland edges and glades, riverbanks, ditches, dykes, fens, railway cuttings and country lanes.
My final Christmas gifting idea can also double up as decorations! I just decorated these mdf Christmas trees with posca pens I had left over from my autumn shows. I’m very fond of sticking to a simple set of colours, so as well as using black and white designs I’ve also done some black, silver and gold trees. It’s about as bling as I get. Both of these would go with black wrap or metallic gold and silver papers. As you can see I’ve used my laurel stem design (how to here), and simple star, snowflake, heart and tinsel motifs. Another of my go-to motifs is my simple flower design. Like my other Scandi-style shapes it’s really easy to recreate as you’ll see by my how-to below. Simple flower how to step 1: Make a three curved marks one at the top and two at the bottom. Simple flower how to step 2: Add two lines between the triangular shape so the shape resembles a dancing man. Simple flower how to step 3: Draw curves around the lines to make petals and add a dot in the middle. Simple flower how to step 4: Colour in the petals and make little dots around the shape.
This time for my drawing of the week I’ve done a very earnest little Zebra. Even in the middle of doing loads of Christmassy type stuff I still made time to work on my zoo animals series.
Although I love black and white drawings I can never resist subverting a traditional black and white subject with a bit of colour, so as well as using my black pens on this illustration I’ve adding some purple and yellow watercolour notes.