Friday, July 27, 2012

NZ Naturally Tarot: The Fives

 The Five of Coins, a pigeon with deformed feet blatantly ignores the scattered bread crumbs and his fellow flock feeding below.

You have suffered from a set-back - possibly injury or illness, or a monetary loss. You feel lost, alone andinsecure, but you must not overlook the people around you that can offer support.

For the Five of Trees, two bellbirds engage in a verbal joust.
Now is a time when you shall find yourself engaged in fierce competition with others as ambitious and determined as yourself.  You may suffer a blow to your pride. But now is not the time to retreat, it is time to come up with new, innovative solutions.

The Five of Wands are represented here by a pair of dotterels, their nest has been destroyed by a dirt bike. However, you will notice that they already have one chick and that the two remaining eggs were infertile. 
You have suffered a loss or a set-back, a disappointment. But you must not look too closely at what you have lost, but at what still remains.. Do not become too lost in negativity.

For the Five of Peaks, one pipit hoards the worms, guarding them from the other.
You may feel triumphant, but your success has come at the expense of others. This can lead to tension and hostility.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The 3000th Milestone

This is the 3000th piece of mail art I have created since August 2005, when I first discovered ATCs. For this significant milestone, I decided I could not just make any card - but I had to make something important.

I selected the Ten of Waves because it is one of the most delightful cards in the tarot deck - and I need to get my tarot deck completed. This card represents emotional fulfilment - a happy family life - not necessary rich in financial gain, but rich in love and affection.

To represent it, I chose the Maui's Dolphin, a subspecies of Hector's dolphin. This particular subspecies is one of the rarest sea mammals in the world and there are less than 50 adult animals left - therefore if a pair were to bear twins like this - then it would be a cause for celebration. Alas, due to the NZ government (withdrawing funds from conservation) and deep net fishing, the Maui's dolphin does not currently have any cause for celebration, but hopefully the more recent awareness of their plight shall help to change that.

Finishing the Fours

The Four of Coins is a card that suggests hoarding, keeping one's wealth close to the body. This image represents this theme in two ways - firstly, because the mother mouse is protective of her four babies, and secondly because of the nature of her nest - she has been hoarding garbage - and four coins as well. Mice are something of a problem in New Zealand - they were not native here, but like any civilised country, they arrived with the civilisation. They compete with the native birds for food and could eat eggs or babies.
The four of Waves is a card about disatisfaction. This white faced heron is not happy with the three fish she's already caught - she is already eyeing up a fourth. She has more than she needs, but yet she is stuck in the routine and she does not know how to break free of it.

This is the second time I have drawn this image - the first one is somewhere in Louisiana. I foolishly neglected to scan the card before I took it to the US with me and traded it away. I believe this image is a better one, however.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nz Naturally Tarot - Fours

Well, half the fours.

The four of Waves currently resides somewhere in the southern USA. And I foolishly did not scan it first. So, I am trying to contact the new owner to ask her to please kindly scan it. Alas, she has not been online for over a week and I am afeared I may have to create it again. I am also needing to make the backs soon. Why? Because I have discovered a place that will print them: and I have a discount coupon for them, valid until the end of July. So time is tick-tick-ticking away. However, they cannot print the entire deck - their decks consist of 54 cards, so I only have three more to make to complete it.

Also, the Four of Trees is card #2999. Yup, since I started creating mail art in 2005, I have now created (almost) 3000 pieces. I feel that the 3000th should be something special. Any suggestions?

The Four of Peaks:  This is a time for reflection and meditation, a time to recuperate before finding a way back to themselves. Here it is represented by the alpine weta. And it may look dead - frozen in the ice, but the alpine weta has this amazing ability to be completely frozen and then defrost and "come back to life" so to speak.
 You can watch video footage of it here

The Four of Trees: This is a card of completion - but not of final completion, but that of setting up the foundations for greater things. Such as marriage, or as these two kakariki are experiencing, the creation of a new bond that will lead to much more. But be wary, for there is still much work to be done!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Animal ATCs

Pine Marten
Barn Owl

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Kakapo

Okay, so I'm not exactly making one of these every day. But it's winter, and I work, so it is therefore too cold (and dark) before work and too dark (and cold) after work for me to be particularly motivated. Plus, I'm still trying to adjust to the switch in light/dark rhythms, thanks to being in the northern hemisphere for a month.

And yeh, I'm slack.

So, here's a kakapo:

He's for a lass I am doing a trade with over on DeviantArt.

Kakapo are critically endangered - in fact, they're technically extinct in the wild. Some years ago now all remaining birds were taken into captivity for a breeding program. There were less than 60 left at the time, and the population now numbers around 126. There are many, many interesting facts on kakapo and I could almost write a novel, so we'll keep this short.

- They're the only flightless parrot in the world
- They breed very slowly - only producing eggs after mast seeding events which provide plentiful seeds

- Kakapo are the only parrot to use a lek system for mating
- The male plays no part in raising the young - his only duty is to fertilise the female.
- Sirocco is probably the most famous kakapo, he was partly raised by humans and looks to them as his ideal mate, thus is not good breeding material. He has become the official Spokesbird for New Zealand and acts as am ambassador. He even has a facebook page.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mahay, the Mongoose Lemur

Mahay is a river "trader". He travels the Tsibirhana river withhis family, collectig adn trading items along the way,

He is also a Mongoose Lemur, an animal that is classified on the ICUN list as "vulnerable" and therefore qualifies as  my endangered species for today.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Kowaro, the Canterbury Mudfish

The Kowaro is a freshwater fish of New Zealand that is now limited to only 80 different habitats. It prefers slow moving or stagnant water. Once this may have been swamps and pools within boggy kahikatea forests, but now their habitats are widely fragmented and predation by eels and other fish makes some of their potential habitats unihabitable.

Alledgely they are brown in colour, but my reference looked more grey. I may have to add some more brown to this image. They also have less rays on their pelvic fins than I have drawn here. Don't you love it when you find out you've interpreted the image wrong?

Here's my first Art Doll. This was great fun to make and I think I might have to make more - she has ten parts to her, and can wriggle her ears!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Indian Gharial

Okay, so today's effort is pretty mediocre. I have a good reason for this - thursday is my longest working day and I was not feeling particularly motivated. Also, it turns out reptiles are harder to draw than birds - I guess because I have not practised enough.

So here we have the Gharial or Gavial of India. It's critically endangered. I could write more, but it's late and I need to go to bed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

California Condor

Critically Endangered

This handsome fellow is the Californian Condor. Once found through the western USA, his numbers fell into steady decline due to poaching, lead poisoning and habitat destruction - so much so that in 1987 the government captured all the living birds and put them into a breeding program. There were 22 wild condors remaining at that time. There are now over 400. As the population in captivity grew, birds were re-relased along the Californian coast and also into previous haunts - such as Utah and Arizona. The release site there is known as the Vermillion cliffs. He has the largest wingspan of any "land" bird in the USA, up to 3 metres. The Californian Condor is a pure scavenger - his talons are not strong enough to capture and kill prey, and he likes his food rancid. This puts him at risk from lead poisoning if he consumes animals that have died of gunshot wounds.  His naked head is an adaptation to his diet - with no feathers on his head he can stick it all the way into a juicy carcass to gobble up the tasty organs, without his feathers getting all nasty and clogged with blood. Birds cannot, after all, groom their own heads. Other awesomely-gross adaptations include the regulating of temperature by urinating on his feet - allowing him to go from the high, cool air to the depths of hot desert canyons without ill effect and also, if threatened, he will vomit up the noxious contents of his stomach. What a delightful beastie.

Here's the Vermillion cliffs, where we didn't see a condor:

My gods, the Painted Desert is beautiful. I do not think I have ever said "WOW" to the scenary as much as I did, this trip.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Endangered July

I read this thread on DeviantArt yesterday and it got me to thinking - I should do that too! Alas, I had already missed the 1st July and was still not feeling up to achieving much on the 2nd (not sure if it is jetlag or the fact it gets darker earlier here), so I chose to begin today. Therefore, I shall conclude on the 2nd August.

Esentially - like WhiteTippedWaves, I am going to create an ACEO/ATC every day featuring a different endangered animal. Probably tending towards my "no lines, animal with food" style.

Here's Day One:

The Sea Otter, found on the Pacific coast of the USA. And what a delightfully plump beastie he is too! The smallest marine animal, but also the heaviest species of otter. His diet consists of crustaceans, shellfish, fish and sea anenomes. He is one of the few animals that use tools, and carries his favourite rock in a pouch of skin under his armpit. This pouch (or the one of the other side) is also used to store shellfish while he brings it to the surface. He is the only marine mammal that uses his feet to forage - or to be precise, his hands. And he rarely comes ashore, wrapping himself in kelp when he wishes to sleep to avoid being swept out to see. Isn't he wonderful?

And here's me (with Tiriki) wearing an awesome T-shirt I bought from the Oregon Aquarium in Newport - where I got to see these rather large wee fellows in fairly close quarters. Golly, they're plump! 

So, suggestions on what animal I should draw tomorrow? It must be endangered!