This week’s drawing of the week is of a Red Admiral butterfly.
With the snazzy latin name of Venessa Atalanta (I think I may employ this as a pseudonym at some point), this beautiful creature is coming to a garden or woodland near you! (That’s if you live in the British Isles of course).
This beauty will be part of my every growing illustrated butterfly guide, I’ve got quite a collection of watercolour and ink butterflies now, I’m just trying to decide on which illustrations make the final cut. I’ll show you the finished piece soon.
This stone curlew looks so grumpy I had to make him my drawing of the week.
I became fascinated with Stone Curlews after watching Springwatch a few years back where one was brooding her chicks – I was rooting for the whole family.
They are quite rare in the UK, visiting occasionally in areas such as Norfolk and Wiltshire. They are not related to our long-billed friends the curlew, but they do have a similar call hence the name. See that big yellow eye? That’s because this fella is mainly active at night and that peeper helps him see in the dark.
As usual I created this illustration using watercolour and ink with a combination of broad and fine tips to capture the variation in texture. I wanted to keep the bird drawing quite scruffy, depicting him as if he’d just been discovered foraging among the rocks and stones.
This time my drawing of the week is of a very happy yellow budgie.
I do tend to anthropomorphise the subjects of my drawings particularly my bird portraits as I do find a very deep connection with the animals in my illustrations. I suppose I can’t help but be sentimental about this guy in particular as my sister had budgies as pets.
But it’s true of all of my creature illos; when you spend the time with them that I do studying and scrutinising every feature, you can’t help but feel closer to your subjects. I admit that after many sessions with my watercolour and ink to create each drawing I probably imbue my animals with qualities they don’t really have.
For example I think this yellow fella is smiling at us – he just looks so cheekily delighted with himself.
This is essentially a sneak peek into some of the bird portraits I’ll be exhibiting in my local book indie bookshop, Wivenhoe Books. It’s an intimate little space and is perfect for giving some of my smaller illustrations a gentle showcase. The size of this piece is A5 so it will work well in a more compact hanging area.
Peacocks are becoming my new favourite thing to draw. I’ve been doing lots of sketches of peacock feathers but I thought for the show I’d give a ‘head and shoulders’ watercolour and ink portrait a go. I’m rather pleased with the result and am particularly taken with the plumage.
To state the blindingly obvious, the peacock is the male bird; the female is known as a peahen and she doesn’t have the snazzy tail. The reason I say this is that I once (this is a while back mind) searched for hours for female peacock and obviously came up with zilch.
In honour of this week’s Crufts 2017, my drawing of the week is of an American Cocker Spaniel.
This quick little doggie sketch was created in watercolour and brown ink. It didn’t take very long to do but I am quite pleased with the illustration. I think this animal has a certain stoic, noble quality.
I will not lie to you, I love a Cocker Spaniel – they could be my favourite breed. I love the character of a spaniel – so friendly, energetic and full of life.
I am a massive fan of all shaggy haired dogs generally. This my friends is because I was/am an indie kid of the early nineties variety and have a great affection for long-haired, scruffy herberts.
Just look my dog’s refined face. It takes me back to 1993 when Richard Ashcroft was not Richard Ashcroft as he is now but was instead known as “Mad Richard” and The Verve was known as just Verve. Ah those heady days of youth… long haired boys in terrible jeans – it was a tremendous amount of fun.
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.