Pinto’s Spinetail is an endangered bird that hives in subtropical forest and shrubland in NE Brazil. Just 2% of native forest remains in this area, and less than 1000 of these birds are currently surviving. They mate for life, and my favorite fact about them is that “pairs sing in duets to defend their nesting territories”, according to abcbirds.org.
see the forest
as quiet as
song has wandered
This painting is an experiment for me–I’ve been inspired by how Claudia McGill takes the world and simplifies it into color and shape, and this is my first attempt to imitate her approach. Although she likes to use her paints straight out of the tube, I have to admit I mixed the bird feather color, not having a tube of gouache even close to the right tone. It felt like painting in layers, and I do like layering. Although I have a long way to go to reach Claudia’s grasp of the essential shapes of things…
And the Oracle was insightful, as always.
On my way to the beach (although the forecast is for a rainy week). Nina has promised to keep you entertained while I’m away.
noise words without meaning
footnotes to the air
Answers taken given
traded for babble
Particles of lies shared
on repeat screeching
I meant to write a quadrille (44 words) with the secret keeper’s words this week, but I wasn’t paying attention really, and the “6-5-6-5-6-5-6-5” I wrote down beside each line became syllables instead of words. I also meant it to be more about the birds. I used all the words though!
Now to the subject at hand: The parrot is painted with the new gouache I got for Christmas. I wanted to do something bright and colorful to start, and a parrot seemed the perfect subject.
Parrots are symbolically associated with voices, words, communication, and the power of truth. They do not keep secrets. They are also linked to color magic. And, like many birds, they serve as messengers between heaven and earth.
They are also endangered, due to habitat loss and the pet trade. These intelligent sub-tropical birds can live 80-100 years; a pet parrot is a lifetime investment, requiring enormous amounts of attention, care, and intellectual stimulation to thrive. Needless to say, both birds and humans are better served by leaving these social animals in their natural habitats, and protecting those habitats.
from inside the earth
rebirth transitioning death
answers with echoes
It’s Bat Appreciation Day…a reminder of how vital they are to ecosystems everywhere. Insect control, pollination, and seed dispersal are all important ways that bats help keep the earth in balance. Many bat populations are endangered for the usual reasons: habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting, disease, use of chemicals.
Bats play an important part in story and myth as well. Because they often live in caves and come out at dusk, bats are associated with the ambiguity of night. Western culture tends to give bats an evil shading (think vampires and the wings of devils), but many Asian and Native American cultures associate them with good luck.
Today also marks the celebration of Haiku Poetry Day. How do I know this? Charlie at Doodlewash is sponsoring a month of celebratory days, and he made sure I knew about Haiku Poetry Day for NaPoWriMo.
I’ve painted sea turtles before, when I was doing endangered species on a regular basis. It bears repeating that nearly all sea turtles are endangered. Habitat destruction, particularly of coastal nesting sites, and poaching for eggs, meat, skin and shells all contribute to species loss, but one of the biggest problems is that they get caught in fishing nets. To save sea turtles and the ocean ecosystem they are part of will require global cooperation.
Turtles generally spend most of their time in water, while tortoises reside on land, so why are box turtles not called box tortoises? Sometimes they are, in fact, but they actually belong to the pond turtle family, so the turtle label is also appropriate. They are the state reptiles of North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kansas. Populations are declining everywhere due to (surprise!) habitat destruction and fragmentation, but they are particularly endangered in Asia, due to their use in traditional medicine, and the pet trade.
And terrapins? They tend to live in swampy areas, equally at home in water and on land.
Nina and I have done a number of turtle posts. With more coming, I’m sure.
You can read more about endangered turtles here.
Last February I posted about the wonderful bird paintings showing up in my neighborhood. At the time, the man behind the project, Avi Gitler, told me to watch for more birds. Wow! He wasn’t thinking small.
Imagine my surprise when I walked over to Amsterdam Avenue a few months ago and saw…an entire building filled with birds (and James Audubon too!). This beautiful mural, “Endangered Harlem” was painted by a young artist from Baltimore, Gaia.
At the corner of 155th Street and Broadway are two murals, flanking the gas station there. “Fish Crow”, by Italian artist Hitnes, is also part of a project he did where he created 15 bird murals following Audubon’s journey across the United States. You can read about this project and see more of the murals here.
The other mural on this corner, “Swallow Tailed Kite (and others)” was painted by the Ecuadorian-American artist Lunar New Year. You can see more of his wonderful work on his website here.
…and Happy National Bird Day! Let’s all work to help save these beautiful creatures from extinction.
And don’t forget Draw-a-Bird Day, the 8th of each month, is coming up again on Friday!
I haven’t had the watercolors out for awhile, and this little guy caught my eye.
Lemurs are found only on Madagascar. All lemur species are endangered due to shrinking and fragmented habitat. They are also poached, even from reserves, for food, and kept as pets. Seventeen species of lemur are already extinct.
The ring-tailed lemur was featured in a previous endangered species post.
For more information about efforts to save these primates: http://lemur.duke.edu/
…to both Halloween and many ecosystems. They keep insects under control, pollinate plants, and disperse seeds. Seventy-five species of bats are endangered or critically endangered due to the usual: loss of habitat, climate change, disease (in North America white nose syndrome has killed huge numbers and is still spreading), and hunting for food and medicinal use in Southeast Asia.
And Vampire Bats? The species, living in Central and South America, mostly feed on blood from farm animals and birds. And the bite doesn’t kill. The danger comes from the possibility that the bat carries rabies.
Only a small percentage of bats carry rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and cats and dogs are a much bigger rabies threat to humans, although since the advent of widespread vaccinations for pets, there have been very few cases of human rabies in the United States.
You can see my last year’s Halloween bat post here.
I’ve been neglecting the endangered species category for awhile, but when I squeezed out way too much brown paint the other day, I did a number of simple painted line drawings with the excess. For one of them, I used a reference for snub-nosed monkeys that I had in my file of animals. I don’t know if it’s just this photo, but the blue face is very exaggerated compared to others I’ve seen. The strong blue works well with the brown lines though.
Snub-nosed monkeys are found in southern China and northern Vietnam and Myanmar. They live in large groups in the same mountain forests that giant pandas prefer. This habitat is disappearing, due to human settlement, but especially due to forest destruction as a result of logging. The monkeys are also hunted for their fur and body parts, which are used in Chinese medicine. It seems no creature is immune from the voracious appetite of Chinese medicine.
For their part, China has established reserves for both monkeys and pandas in an attempt to save both. However, the species of snub-nosed monkeys that live in Vietnam and Myanmar have no such protection and are critically endangered.
I’ve drawn Japanese Cranes before, but I wanted to try colored pencil on the black paper I bought awhile ago, and they seemed the perfect subject.
I go back and forth about the blue background. Yes or no? maybe it should be less linear.
The inspiration for drawing on black came from some work by Marisol I saw at El Museo Del Barrio. I tried to find some good examples online, but this is the best I could do:
You really can’t see how luminous they are from these reproductions. And they are large, very large. I also love the layers, and the way she took the hands and body parts and made them into an abstract form. The one on the right is part of a series Marisol did in response to the war in Vietnam.
…and have I mentioned that Japanese Cranes are an endangered species?