Sunday, August 21, 2016

Illustration Friday: Gold

This is a European Goldfinch I painted back in June as part of my 50 watercolor birds series.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Travel Drawings

Last month (end of June to mid July) I went on a trip to Israel and Estonia. Immediately when I got back, I started school and had to catch up on the first two weeks I missed due to my trip. It was SO hard! The regular workload for this school, especially in the first quarter, I hear, is immense, so just imagine trying to complete 3 weeks worth of work in a single week. I will show some of the products of this work in a following post, but my point here is to explain why it's taken me so long to start writing this post.

I went to Israel only about 8 months following a previous visit there, which is very unusual. I normally visit every two years. But I had an extra special reason to go this time - my cousin's daughter's wedding. It was such a beautiful wedding! And I had a chance to see people I haven't seen in ages.

While on the trip I decided that I would try my hand at drawing from life. So my first drawings were at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul of people waiting for their flight to Israel.

When I got to my cousin's house, where I was staying while in Israel, I tried drawing Gina, my cousin's dog. 
 Gina is a very sweet barky dog
I also tried drawing her cat, Yulia, but she was less cooperative, preferring to nudge her head against my pencil-holding hand. So my drawings of her do not do her justice. She's really pretty.
While waiting on my sister and brother-in-law outside of their winery,
 I decided to draw this tree. The smudge at the top is a by-product of tightly attaching a pencil to the sketchbook

And these are some unaware(?) train passengers on my way to Tel Aviv. 
It did feel weird drawing people, as one must keep watching them, and worry if they'd get annoyed by you. I did not have any problem, however.

No, the weird insect was not one of the passengers 
On one of my days there I went to visit my friend in Jerusalem, and the bus was seriously late. I did not have a phone to call her and let her know that I'd be late, but a really nice person, Hofit, let me use her phone. I'm so thankful!
But not only that, when she heard I am an illustrator, she wanted me to draw her! So this is what she ended up looking, and you can see that my drawing did not do her justice. 
I do have a few excuses, though. For one, she was sitting right next to me, and I realized that one needs a bit of distance to get a good view of a drawing subject. Another excuse is that I really was not that trained in drawing people (as you can see from other entries in my blog, I tend to gravitate toward animals). But she was kind enough to like it, nonetheless. Thanks, Hofit!

After my short visit to Israel, I traveled to Estonia via Helsinki. In Estonia I had the pleasure of finally seeing a talented illustrator I met in the blogosphere. It was so nice to find out how alike we think about so many things, despite our age gap and coming from different parts of the world. Hanna was such a great host, taking me to all the interesting places in her beautiful city, Tallinn. This blog post is mostly about my drawings, but I feel like I must insert at least one photo of Tallinn.

Hanna was delighted when I mentioned I wanted to visit the zoo. We took our sketch books with us, of course.
Northern ground hornbill 
 American Black Bear
 A sleeping Polar Bear

We did a lot of other things, like visiting the botanical garden, the TV tower, a few museums on a rainy day, and this really neat outdoor museum where you can see how people lived in different parts of rural Estonia throughout the years. Not only can you see it, you can also taste it! They have a little inn there, where you can get authentic village dishes. It was so much fun!

I also went to Tartu and was terrified at the KGB cells museum:
A scary-looking Soviet guard. 
The scariness was enhanced with sound effects. 
 After 5 days in Estonia, I took a ferry back to Helsinki. I sketched a few people during the 2-hour ride, but I think this one (at the bottom) came out best. She reminds me of the Japanese animation characters, like from 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother (Halev, in Hebrew).

I had fun in Helsinki, as well. The first day was nice and sunny, but the second day was rainy, so I again spent it at a museum. I enjoyed the works of this Estonian guy:
A kid with a crow by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Final Watercolor Bird: Gambel's Quail

This is my second final bird. The first one I made - a Snowy Owl - turned out so badly, I decided it would be inappropriate to make it the Grand Finale. And since I'm lazy, and my camera is in the other room, already packed, I decided to scan the image. The scanning didn't capture the texture of the paper where there's no paint, so it looks a bit different from the other images I posted in this series.

Now I'll be away for a couple of weeks, and I'm not taking a laptop with me, so I will not be able to post anything until I get back.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Watercolor Birds #49: White-Necked Rockfowl

A bird that I only learned recently about, when I watched this video. You must watch it to fully appreciate this birds cuteness. Because of the video, I've known this bird as Picathartes, which is the genus name. There are only two species (the other is the Grey-Necked Rockfowl), and they are both confined to small (separate) areas in Africa.

I made the bird too balloony at first. What you see here is an attempt to fix it, which, I think, worked pretty well. But it still doesn't capture the exact, forward-leaning posture of the bird. Because its feathers form a smooth-looking surface, I didn't have to spend a lot of time on small details. So you'd think I'd put more effort on the shape. Oh, well. Live and learn.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Animal Alphabet: N is for Nekomata

So apparently, Nekomata, is a Japanese mythological animal, that's basically a two-tailed cat :)

Watercolor Birds #48: Palestine Sunbird

Sunbirds are very similar to hummingbirds, but they're found in the Old World. They do tend to perch more, rather than hover, even when feeding. Palestine Sunbird is the only sunbird species found in Israel.

Looking at it now, I see that the branch's lines are blurred when their supposed to be sharp, and vice versa, but I think the bird itself turned out well. Perhaps could benefit from a bit of smearing of some of the feathers along the bottom left edge, but other than that, I'm pretty pleased. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Watercolor Birds #47: Greater Roadrunner

It's been a while since I last saw a roadrunner. Most of the time, I'd seen them with a lizard in their beak.

I can't believe I'm already in number 47! Only three more left. Am I getting better at using watercolors? I think so. But since I'm mostly using practice paper, I'm not sure I master all of the different possibilities of watercolors. I think I mostly use the watercolors just to color, still putting too much attention to details, rather than let the materials determine the final outcome. I guess I will have to come up with some other "50 watercolor somethings" to practice other aspects of watercolors.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Watercolor Birds #46: Brown-Headed Cowbird

Yesterday evening, before sunset, a flock of cowbirds landed on my porch. They stood on the rail for a few minutes. Just long enough for me to confirm my identification. Some of them looked like finches, all streaky, but I now believe they were juveniles, or perhaps females.

These blackbirds are brood parasites. The females lay their eggs in other birds' nests. This allows them to produce a lot of eggs (up to 36 per season!), since they don't have to take care of them or the hatchlings. Forced adoption, which might well result in the killing of some of the legitimate nestlings. [Side note: If you search online, you can find images of large cowbird chick with its small colorful adoptive parent.] Most bird species do not realize they have an invader, but some, like the Yellow Warbler, can, but they are too small to push the large cowbird egg. So instead, they build a new nest on top of the old one (

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Watercolor Birds #45: Anhinga

Anhinga. What a wonderful name. This bird is found mostly in South and Central America, but it does summer in some of the southern US coasts, as well as stays year-round in Florida. So when I was in Florida, I might have seen and mistaken in for a cormorant. Because I had no idea another black water fowl existed! Silly me. Well, now I know. If you can see the beak of the black bird, and it's long and pointy, then it is Anhinga. If it's shorter and rounding downwards at the tip, you've got a cormorant.

Fun fact: This bird is also called Water-Turkey, because of its wide tail (did not have room for it here) and Snake-Bird, because when it swims, only its head and long neck can be seen above water.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Watercolor Birds #44: Golden-Crowned Kinglet

I don't think I've ever seen this bird, even though it's supposed to be around most of North America during the winter. It does spend a lot of time high up in the foliage. Hopefully, if I do ever get to see it, I'll know what it is.