Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Animal Faces

Here's something a little different.

Photographic ATCs!

Printed and mounted for the "Animal Face Photos" swap on AFA. I had to look through my archives for these.

* Ruffed Lemur (Perinet, Madagascar) 2007
* Cassowary (Daintree Zoo, Queensland) 2010
* Bush Stone-Curlew (Daintree Zoo) 2010
* Kookaburra (Rainforest Habitat, Port Douglas) 2010
* Kaka (Mount Bruce, New Zealand) 2008
* Crocodile (Daintree Zoo, Queensland) 2010
* Pelican (photographed in Wellington Zoo, but native to Queensland) 2008

I am also working on my latest Reading Group cards. If it stops raining this weekend (haha) then we shall be going on a sign-photographing expedition for another photography shot I am participating in. I have enough sign photos now - but most are from Hawaii and Queensland.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Postcard labels

So I sometimes get people wanting postcards from me - people that live in as yet "unconquered" countries. But I may not have time to make them original art - so how do I go about getting my art into those countries?

By putting little hand drawn "stickers" on the back of the postcard. Made all the more convenient because most purchased postcards have their brand name on there - a waste of good space if you ask me!

So here's a few I've rustled up so far. I made two this morning, and the kakapo some time ago. Keep in mind that they are no more than 4 x 3 cm in size and thus the detail isn't overly detailed. I can also print them off and apply them to the back of all my postcards, should I so desire.

Kiwi, Kakapo

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wanganui River

When I decided to draw a landscape to send to Mauritius, I got thinking - what don't they have in Mauritius? Mountains, I imagine, and probably nothing quite like the wild Wanganui river, either. I've not seen it myeslf - this was photoreferenced off a picture my father took when he and mum visited there in 2008. I joined them later in their jaunt, at Rotorua. I actually made the river look a little bluer than the reality.

Hector's Dolphin - Tutumairekurai

The Hector's Dolphin is one of the smallest in the world and rather rare. It is found only down and around the South Island of New Zealand, with the pods near Akaroa being well frequented by tour boats. They prefer shallow(ish) water and are rarely found far out to sea. They are opportunistic feeders, prey limited more by size than anything else, favouring fish and cephalapods. They are occasionally predated by sharks and orca, but the biggest risk comes from humans - namely the fishing boats, and there have been several reported Hector's Dolphin deaths due to fishing. Indeed, if you do a google image search for "Hector's Dolphin" one of the first things you will see is a washed-up corpse.

They have a number of Maori names which refer both to them and the closely related Maui dolphin - tutumairekurai, aihe, papakanua, upokohue, tukuperu, tūpoupou and hopuhopu. Maori traditionally used to watch dolphin movements to predict the weather.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Moho-pereru - the Banded Rail

This is one of those birds that I have always wanted to see in the wild. However, it is small and fast and even difficult to see in captivity. When I used to volunteer at Orana Park - a local wildlife park/zoo, there were a family of these in the Walkthrough aviary - and it still took me months to actually see one. They are the little cousin to the weka, and also to the pukeko. They make their home in mangrove swamps, salt marshes and rush-covered freshwater ponds, particularly in the North Island. In the South they are relatively rare. I have certainly never seen one. Each pair defends their own territory, and they may stay in one place for many years. They hunt for crabs and invertebrates amongst the mud. If danger threatens, they run away - although capable of flight, they rarely engage in it. This makes them easy prey to introduced mammalian predators. Despite being unwilling to fly, they are a widely distributed species - with a multitude of subspecies littered throughout Australia, Melanasia and Indonesia.

Tawaki - Fiordland Crested Penguin

This handsome chap is a Fiordland Crested Penguin, known also as the "Tawaki". He can be found along the Fiordland coast and on Steward Island. Although they forage in the ocean for squid, crustaceans and tasty fish, they head inland to make their nests in temperate, coastal rainforest. The form monogamous pairs, although sometimes will nest in groups, nesting under overhangs, in caves, or under tree roots. Although they lay two eggs, generally only the first one hatches, and even if two chicks do break free, there is a day or two between them in age and the younger usually fails to compete with its sibling for food and dies. The male guards the chickat first, whilst the female feeds it, but after a few weeks the chicks are creched together and both parents forage. These birds are quite shy and among the rarest of our mainland penguins.

This fellow is my second "Official" postcrossing postcard (which means to say that the recepient ahs been chosen randomly before sending) that I have made by hand. This time I did not make it because I wanted to "conquer" the country (it's headed for the US), but because I really felt the lady would appreciate it. I am looking forward to her response!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Morepork (Ruru)

Our only extant native owl, the Morepork is related to the Australian Boobook. It is a small, compact owl with a distinctive two note call - "ruuu-ruuu" (or "mooor-poooork" depending on your imagination). Like most owls, Morepork are nocturnal, coming out at night to hunt for grubs and insects - also the occasional bird or mammal. They inhabit forested areas and avoid areas that are too dry.'

This fellow is going to wing his way to Finland.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Archey's Frog

New Zealand is home to four different frog species, all of which are rather primitive compared to their cosmopolitan relatives. This is Archey's Frog. It is found in only two different parts of New Zealand - the Coromandel and near Te Kuiti. Pesticides and predation by introduced predators are partly responsible for its decline.

Our frogs have an extra bone in their vertebrae and retain the remains of their tail muscles. They are largely terrestrial, but require a relatively moist habitat. The youngsters retain the tail through their juvenile stage as it provides more surface area for them to breathe through until their lungs are fully developed.

Yes, it's true - they do not even require ponds to breed.

Instead the female lays her eggs in moist soil, in which the tadpoles grow (in the egg) and develop into froglets, before hatching out to ride on their father's back.

They have no external eardrum and do not croak although they do chirp and yelp when frightened. Their eyes are round - not slitted. They hunt using their mouth - not their tongue and they cannot swim like a "normal" frog - they dog-paddle if placed in water.

Archey's is the smallest of our native frogs. It is also CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. In the last 10 years the population has dropped by 80%.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Our Flightless Icon

The Kiwi is a real Natural Oddity. It may be a bird, but it fills the niche of a mammal. Its body temperature is lower than most birds, and its feathers are made of loose fillaments, not interlocked ones, like most birds. It cannot fly - doesn't even have wings to speak of. it prods with its bill in the leaflitter, searching for bugs and grubs, clearing its nostrils by snuffling. It is the only bird with the nostrils at the tip of its beak. Kiwis are monogamous, and the egg is the largest in proportion to any bird*. Once the female has laid the egg, she goes off to eat (she's had to eat a lot to help the egg production and then fast towards the end because her stomach is compacted due to the egg) and the male does the incubating (in almost all the species). The chick that hatches is a miniature kiwi, almost ready to fend for itself.

* In Port Douglas the guide there declared this particular "claim" true of the Brush Turkey of Australia . It's not. Brush Turkey eggs weight 180 gms and the average weight is 2274 gm (less than 10% - 8% to be precise). However, the Brush Turkey can lay more than 3 times its weight in eggs.
The brown kiwi on the other hand, lays one egg weighing 450 g, whereas she weights around 2800 gm (making the egg 16%).

The Taniwha

The Taniwha is a beast of Maori Mythology. It is a Guardian of deep ponds in rivers, dark caves and the ocean. Closely interlinked with the land, it punishes any who dare to break Tapu (taboos) and has been used to defend land from development. If one has interacted with a taniwha in their life, then it is possible that they shall become one after death. Likewise, some woman have been known to have relations with male taniwha and produce taniwha offspring.

Friday, May 14, 2010

By popular demand

Yesterday, whilst randomly googling away on the Net I found this awesome site, filled with delightful baby photos. Who can resist the naked little wrinkly thing that is a baby Aardvark? Not me! And not a lot of other people either, if the poll I posted in my facebook is anything to go by:

What should I draw next?
A. Taniwha
B. Baby Aardvark
C. Kiwi
D. Something else (please suggest)

I did not exactly have a lot of votes, but the Aardvark came through at 100%.
I've inked the linework of the taniwha for tomorrow.
Which therefore means that I am almost Up to date with my promised Postcrossing arts.
Time to send some more emails!

Almost 60 countries conquered with art!


Postcard of a Llama. For Redlynx in Russia.

Fish, fowl, flower

Three NZ atcs for Vox in Serbia.

They feature:
~ Saddleback or Tieke on NZ Tree Broom
~ Copper butterfly on an alpine daisy
~ The Giant Kokopu - a freshwater fish

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Out of the Ordinary

Don't you hate it when you've finally finished a challenging piece and you scan it and realise the errors?

It's a 1965 MGB. Whatever that means! Destined for Sri Lanka, if it's good enough...

Monday, May 10, 2010

If your Totem is the Cheetah..

... You are swift and agile. Once you have set your heart and mind on a specific goal, you focus on it with an intensity that can be exhausting to others. You must learn to relax during times of stress, to take a deep breath and watch for further opportunity to come your way.

This is my first Totem card drawn at the larger size of 6x4 inches.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Topsy Turvy Tui

The Tui is a New Zealand Honeyeater, related to the Australian species. He sups the nectar from flowers - like these purple fuschias, pictured here. Also known as the Parson Bird, ebcause of his white bib. He is an extraordianry mimic, and has a most musical song often interspersed with cellphone noises, car horns and sirens when he lives in an urban environment. They have also been known to mimic human voices.

This fellow is destined to make the looooong flight to Kazakstan.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Le Petit Prince

The Little Prince waters the arrogant flower.

This postcard is destined for Iran!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A new chapter in the "Aesop's Fable" collection

The Wolf and the Stork

Wolf was always a bit of a greedy eater, and one day he bolted down his dinner so fast that a bonoe became lodged in his throat. He choked and coughed, but it failed to come out. A passing Stork saw his distress and stopped by to help him.
"Pray hold your mouth open," she instructed, and the Wolf did, although it took great restraint. Using her long bill, she plucked the bone from his throat and tossed it away into the bushes.
"Now," said she, " what is my reward for saving your life?"
"Reward," scoffed the Wolf, feeling rather better now that he could breath. "You do not need a reward. You have stuck your head into a wolf's mouth and survived - that is reward enough." He then pounced at the Stork, who flew into a neighbouring tree. She glared down at him.
"Be warned," she said, "should I ever come upon you choking again, for such kindness shall never be repeated."

This one is going to the Netherlands. Probably.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Drawfest Day

Today we had a DrawFest meet up in the public library. I felt a little awkward as I walked up to the table of artsy types - as they were predominently teenagers, and all drawing manga-style art. Now, as you know, I can't draw Manga too well. Luckily I knew one of them from a previous engagement (Armagadden) and she made me feel welcome. Anyhow, I had come with a list of things I could draw, which proved to be useful cos in the library there are references aplenty for the taking!

The first piece was requested by the lass that had organised it, and is my character and alter-ego:

Then I drew a Meerkat, using a greeting card I'd purchased for a reference and colouring without inking.

Then two-hours had passed and I was hungry so I went home to have lunch and draw some more picture of animals with their lunch.

A polar bear for Norabear

A shortnosed fruitbat for Jo-on-the-go.

I am actually amazed at how quickly I can rustle up a full colour Art Card. The uninked pieces take between 30-60 minutes.

Btw, I have created another blog for my inwards mail and official postcards, originally it was a Postcrossing blog, but I've decided to share some of my awesome mail too. It's here: