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.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Watercolor Birds #43: Gray Catbird

I saw a catbird yesterday. It was the first time I actually noticed it and could identify it. It is not a remarkable bird. It's pretty small and gray, and it likes to spend its time in the bushes. Not something that would immediately call for your attention.
Unless it raises its tail and you notice the red butt :)
Or hear a mew.
Gray Catbirds are related to mockingbirds and thrashers, and like them, they have a large repertoire of songs they make up out of mimicking other sounds they hear. And they got their name from a mew sound they make.
Unfortunately, the bird I saw did not mew, though I asked it to. I guess I'll have to get my mews elsewhere.

Animal Alphabets: Mermaid/Merman

Well, what can I say? I'm probably the only one, but I really don't like mermaids. It's not personal. I have nothing against any particular mermaid. I just dislike the idea of a mermaid. It seems like some sort of a weird combination of simultaneous sexualization and spaying to me. So I was glad to see the option of merman in this week's #AnimalAlphabets. In fact, I would have preferred to draw a merbunny, but I figured I should practice drawing humans, for once.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Illustration Friday: Yarn

One might assume that Naked Mole Rats enjoy running around naked, like a gang of proud nudists, but Molly feels like it would be nice to warm up with a fluffy new sweater every now and then.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Watercolor Birds #42: Baltimore Oriole

This bird was simply on the cover of, and I couldn't resist. [Note that they rotate their cover pictures.] I tried to use a colorless pencil as masking for the white spots. It didn't give clean results, but it's probably better than if I tried to do it without. Definitely faster, at least. The flowers are a mess!
I hope that one day I'll get to see this bird in the wild.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Illustration Friday: Tornado

Watercolor Birds #41: Emperor Penguin

It was just a matter of time before I painted a penguin. I am totally absorbed by penguins, especially since I started participating in the citizen science project Penguin Watch. You should try it. But don't let it consume you too much. You have other things to do!

I believe the head of this chick is a little too big. Unless it's just my artistic way of emphasizing its baby cuteness?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Watercolor Birds #40: European Goldfinch

Here's another Old-World bird I miss, like #38, the bulbul. They used to be very common when I was growing up in Israel, but I haven't seen them in ages, even during my visits. According to the Hebrew Wikipedia, their populations went down due to hunting. They are hunted to serve as caged song birds and to hybridize with canaries to create a colorful singing bird. A horrible way to hunt them is to catch one, break off its wings or legs, and let its alarm calls bring more birds to the net. Poor things.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Watercolor Birds #39: Chipping Sparrow

Sparrows are hard for me to tell apart. There are so many of them, and they all look pretty similar. So one has to find specific distinguishing characters. For example, a Chipping Sparrow is similar to Field Sparrow, but they differ in that the line by the eye and the bill are both black in the former, while they are reddish and pink, respectively, in the latter. So hopefully, next time, I'll be able to tell what kind of sparrow I'm seeing.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Animal Alphabets: L is for Lernaean Hydra

Another installment of #AnimalAlphabets. This Lernaean Hydra is a little ways from its lair, Lake Lerna, because it went on a stroll, where it found a lemon tree and had to try out the fruit. Most of its heads did not approve.

Watercolor Birds #38: Black Capped Bulbul

This is another Old World bird. A very similar species (White Spectacled Bulbul) is very common in Israel, or at least it used to be when I was growing up. According to the Hebrew Wikipedia, it is now the 7th most common bird in Israel. It used to be the 4th.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Watercolor Birds: The First 36

I thought it would be nice to arrange the first 36 birds in a 6 by 6 grid. :)

Watercolor Birds #37: Yellow Warbler

This time I tried a better watercolor paper. It does work better, it seems, for the background, but I don't like the general look of it. Perhaps I should have used the other, smoother, side. I guess I'll have to keep experimenting. If you're wondering where the warbler's second leg is, so was I. I think it's leaning up against the longer branch. Cute little birds.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Watercolor Birds #36: Blue Jay

My Blue Jay came out a little off. There's too many lines on the tail, and for some reason the beak doesn't look large enough. It makes it look like a small bird. These are really magnificent when you study photos of them. The different blue shades on the wings, separated by almost evenly spaced black lines, are really pretty.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Watercolor Birds #35: American Robin

American Robins are everywhere, (Well, at least in North America), but that doesn't mean they're not super cute.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Watercolor Birds #34: Barn Owl

Well. Barn owls are tough! They have so many little dots and larger dots... And perhaps I should get the water-repellent material to make the white dots.

Fun fact about Barn Owls: They are one of the most spread-out species. Just look at this distribution map:

Monday, June 6, 2016

Animal Alphabets: K is for Kraken

Poor Ms. Kraken. All she wants is to be loved by Mr. Killer Whale. It's not her fault she's so big.

Watercolor Birds #33: Belted Kingfisher

I had no idea there was only one common species of kingfisher in the US! In addition, this bird seems unusual to me because the females have more colors than the males: the males lack the reddish-brown bands on the underside. Also, there's a little heart-shaped white spot on this bird, on both males and females, which is pretty cool.

I made the beak pointing straight ahead, when it's supposed to go a little down. Again, not paying enough attention at the drawing stage... But I'm pretty pleased with the way the stump she's resting on came out, for a change.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Illustration Friday: Nose

A first attempt at painting a bunny with watercolors. Of course, I had to ruin it with background... Regardless, I need to figure out the best way to render fur with this medium.

Watercolor Birds #32: California Condor

I'm pretty pleased with the way the condor came out. I was afraid it wouldn't come out well because of all the feather details. This painting could probably use additional shading

California Condors are so cute! Check out their webcam!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Watercolor Birds #31: Black Vulture

Did you know that the Black Vulture is a very supportive parent? They provide for their young long after they've fledged. Their sense of smell is not so great, so they follow Turkey Vultures to find carcasses.

Here's the full image of the vulture:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Watercolor Birds #30: Black Skimmer

Woohoo! Thirty birds! Even 31 if you count the two species of crows.

The first time I saw this bird was on Rockaway Beach in NYC. I thought it was amazingly cute and unusual, even though I didn't notice at the time that its upper beak is shorter than the lower one! How cool is that? My adoration was not reciprocated. The flock of them started to fly toward me, just above my head. So I backed off and let them have that stretch of the beach all to themselves.

I'm not completely pleased with the way the background came out. Those specks by the legs are supposed to be sand flying around, but I haven't mastered that technique yet, obviously.