I actually had a completely different idea when I started this response to Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge this week. The painting prompt is below:
First the junk mail I chose (for a gallery opening) had a strange silvery dot figure on it which I decided to incorporate into the background. Then the words jumped out of my word oracle box. Then, I thought I would add a bird…
Well, it just escalated from there. I have a box of animals too.
I got the name “postcard fiction” from one of Merril’s commenters, who looked up microfiction to see how it was defined. It works for me!
What grows here?
the mystery of
cells dividing reaching towards
the sky’s endless crown
“Until around the 19th century, Europeans had thought of the horns of a stag as essentially branches, like those of a tree, growing out of its head.”
–Boria Sax, “Imaginary Animals”
Collage and shadorma in response to Jane Dougherty’s tree challenge.
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/
Oh our Mother the earth, Oh our Father the sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs
We bring you the gifts you love.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the Warp be the white light of the morning,
May the weft be the red light of the evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness,
That we may walk fittingly where birds sing,
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
Oh our Mother Earth, Oh our Father Sky.
–Native American Prayer
I finally got to the Metropolitan Museum to see the Plains Indian exhibit a few days ago. It’s only there for another week. This “drawing of the artist’s world” was among my favorite works on display. I tried to do some sketching, but it was very crowded and I couldn’t really stand in the way of people trying to see the objects for long.
The painted buffalo robes had many wonderful figures, and I would have loved to draw them all. But I had to be satisfied with just a few.
On June 9, 2014, I started the “Endangered Species” series. As I wrote then: “I saw a book in the library about endangered species, and took it out, because I thought the photos would be interesting references for artwork. The first animal in the book is the elephant.” I had been wanting to paint, and this was my first attempt to do so in many many years.
I’ve done 29 posts on the subject since then, mostly painted, but also collaged, drawn, and printed. Like Nina, I decided to look back and gather it all together to see where I’ve been and what has developed in the last 7 months of work.
First thing, I can say I’ve learned a lot. You can’t be alive now and not realize that there are endangered species, but to actually read numbers and see photos that reflect the vast hole into which we humans have dug ourselves with our thoughtless treatment of the earth and the web of life it contains is both powerful and distressing. Wake up world!
As to the art:
–I definitely have an affinity for leopards, tigers, and jaguars.
–I think the painting is up and down. I’m not sure “progress” applies, but it has definitely improved my drawing.
–The recent cat paintings are done on very small paper, which makes me use a smaller brush and work more tightly in general. Normally I like a large piece of paper to work on, even if the final result doesn’t fill the entire page. But it’s an interesting exercise; perhaps I’ll relax as I do more of them. And then what will happen when I move back to a larger working space?
–One of my favorites of all these is the blue whale. Where did it come from? I’ve done nothing like it before or since.
–After doing the spider in a block print workshop, I was going to do more printing. I actually bought a linoleum block, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten with it.
Sadly, there is an endless supply of endangered species, so the series will definitely continue. To see the individual posts for the photos above you can look here: https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/category/painting/endangered-species/
Jaguars are gone from the United States, except for a few in the border areas between the US and Mexico, where about 100 are estimated to remain. An additional 15,000 live in the wild in Central and South America. One million years ago they were also common in Europe.
Closely related to leopards, jaguars are stockier, with stronger canine teeth than other large cats. They kill their prey, including turtles and crocodiles, by crushing the skulls with their bite. Jaguars only rarely attack humans, but they like the cattle that humans keep on their ranches.
And so they are killed by cattle ranchers. They are also hunted for sport and for their fur coats.
Jaguars occupy a wide variety of habitats, but they prefer wet lowlands and tropical rainforests. The males need a large home range, and human development leading to habitat destruction and deforestation is also a factor in the jaguars’ decline.
One interesting fact I learned: black jaguars are a result of a mutation in the gene for coat colors.
Living in the steppes of central Asia, the manul is about the size of a domestic cat, with long dense fur and a flat face. Its survival is threatened by loss of habitat and the poisoning of its primary food source, pika. It is also hunted for its fur, particularly in Mongolia, and gets caught in traps set for foxes and hares.
About 50 manul exist in zoos, but survival rates from breeding are low in captivity.
In the early 1900’s, 9 species of tigers inhabited the earth. There were over 100,000 tigers. Now, 6 species remain; less than 4000 tigers exist in the wild.
Loss of habitat. Poaching. The Chinese have become prime customers for poachers: members of the new affluent class use the ownership of the traditional ingredients in Chinese medicine, many from endangered species, as a symbol of their status and wealth.
The only way to solve the problem of this staggering rate of species loss is for all the peoples (and governments) of the world to first recognize the crisis, and then for all to work together to find solutions. Can we do it?
With the death of Suni, one of two breeding males, last week, the Northern White Rhino population is down to 6.
All species of rhinos are endangered because of poaching. Rhino horn is in high demand in Asian countries, especially Vietnam, as a symbol of status and wealth. It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine, and as ornamental handles for daggers.
And, of course, there is the problem of habitat loss: clearing land for human settlement, and excessive logging.