Friday, 30 May 2014

New work and jumping out of my comfort zone!

I recently completed this commission of a beautiful white horse. It was only the second horse I have drawn since starting MMD; the first was a birthday gift for my friend last year. My most common subjects are of the canine variety, with cats coming a close second, but I certainly don't feel that the dogs hold me in a particular comfort zone. Yes I draw a lot of them but they are all different; different breeds, colours, long and short fur etc. etc. so I never consider myself to be drawing the same subject over and over by any means.
Having said that, it was definitely a refreshing change to draw Ollie. I have become very much accustomed to the shape of a dog's face; the direction of the fur around the muzzle; the fold of the ears; the shape of the big pink tongues! Drawing a horse is a whole new experience as they are such a different shape! Most noticeably the long, long face ending in large nostrils and with two eyes very far apart, there are very little similarities between drawing a dog and a horse, perhaps apart from the sparkle in their eyes.

I'm hoping to receive more horse commissions in the future but even better would be rabbits, chickens or even lizards! That would be GREAT fun!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Birding update-the last few weeks!

I've been pretty darn busy these past few weeks! My waiting list for portraits is lengthy so I've been working non-stop on new pieces and barely had time to think about blogging let alone actually doing it! Having said that, I have managed to squeeze some birding in here and there, including a couple of exciting spots (for me anyway!)
I paid a visit to one of my local country parks, Buchan, during April after reading that their female great-crested grebe had finally joined the male there on Douster Pond. I had never seen one before so thought it would be the perfect opportunity to tick another species off my bird list and if I was lucky, catch them doing their infamous mating dance. I wasn't disappointed!
I only caught a small snippet of the dance, but it was enough to see them shaking their heads and swimming away and back in a perfect mirror-image of one another. I was really, really pleased to have seen it. They certainly are beautiful birds, particularly the russet colouring around their heads.
I also enjoyed watching this cormorant busy himself with lots of diving to the bottom of the pond. Trying to catch a photo of him when he kept disappearing was a challenge; I had to try and predict where he would resurface next! Alongside the grebes and cormorant were coots, moorhens with four very new chicks, canada geese, foraging blackbirds and mallards. Buchan had mentioned on their Facebook page that they also had Mandarin ducks on the pond, but sadly I couldn't find these. I wish I had as they are another species I haven't seen before! 
 We've had further visits to our garden from goldfinches this month which I am thrilled about. If only they would invite their friends along; the most I've ever seen is four but usually I'll only spot two on the feeder.
Last month I went on a long walk through the countryside. We followed footpaths we'd never walked before and discovered fields and tracks we never knew were there. Best of all, we heard the first cuckoo of the year, a day before it is traditionally heard! What an unmistakable call; I don't quite know how anyone can possible mistake it for a wood pigeon. I also spotted a blackcap on that walk and plenty of butterflies including orange-tips, small tortoiseshells and peacocks.
The blue tits have officially nested in our new nestbox. I collected fur taken from our cats' brush and some hair dropped by the passing horses on our lane and put it out for the birds; it was extremely popular and was carried away by the tits very quickly. It was wonderful to see them with beaks full of fur and knowing that their nest would be the cosiest in the neighbourhood!

Both the blue tits and the nuthatches have recently started carrying insects into their nests. It's hard to tell the parents apart but after reading up on their nesting habits, I've decided it's a bit too early for their eggs to have hatched (I certainly haven't heard any chicks cheeping) so the food must be from the male feeding the female as she incubates the eggs. I'm greatly anticipating the day when the chicks fledge!