Animal Alphabet

D is for Desert Cottontail

These little guys are all over Texas.

Fun fact: Desert cottontails hardly ever drink water. I feel like I should make a craft beer joke here, because Texas, but desert cottontails really just get all the moisture they need from the plants they eat.

My Texas Wildlife menagerie is growing!

Categories: Animal Alphabet, Animals, Artwork, environment, Weekly Sketch, Wildlife | 2 Comments

Weekly Sketch: C is for Cicada

My sketch is a day late this week, and I still didn’t manage to finish it.

The humble but vocal cicada. Its metallic buzz is the sound of a hot summer day in Texas.

This sketch is a clear failure to simplify.¬†Apparently the more familiar I am with my subject matter, the easier it is for me to depict it with a few simple lines. If I’m drawing something I’m not super familiar with, like armadillos or cicadas, I end up with a tall pile of reference photos and a thousand unnecessary details. And in this case, an unfinished sketch. I’ll try to do better next week.



Categories: Animal Alphabet, Animals, Artwork, environment, Life, Weekly Sketch, Wildlife | Tags: | Leave a comment

Weekly Sketch: B is for Bat

Austin is home to the world’s largest urban bat colony.

About a million and a half Mexican free-tailed bats reside under the Congress Avenue Bridge. They emerge at dusk to hunt mosquitoes and other insects, and return at dawn.

Fun fact: Bats and armadillos are both nocturnal. But armadillos sometimes venture out in daylight, especially in cool weather.

Categories: Animal Alphabet, Animals, Artwork, environment, Weekly Sketch, Wildlife | Tags: | Leave a comment

A is for Armadillo

Two of my artist friends inspired my resolution for 2020. There’s this thing I do where I get a great idea for a Christmas or birthday card, but when I go to draw it I get all bogged down in details and the pursuit of hyperrealistic perfection. Then it stops being fun and I wander off and never finish it. The last card I managed to finish was this one in 2017. I spent way too much time on it, and when it was finally done I realized that I liked the cheerful storybook simplicity of this card better anyway.

So for my 2019 Christmas card I planned to keep things nice and simple. I would draw a cartoon-style armadillo next to a festive little yaupon tree full of winter berries. Easy peasy. Except I seem to have forgotten how to draw simple shapes. No matter how many times I started over, I couldn’t figure out how to depict a card-worthy armadillo without obsessing over all the little details that make armadillos so adorable.

I didn’t feel too bad about my unfinished card. Mailing out Christmas cards seems to be falling out of fashion anyway in these busy times.

But this year we received a hand-drawn card from a young family friend. And it brought me so much joy.

She made it look so effortless. And I know it wasn’t effortless at all, or if it was it’s only because she works on her art constantly, all the time.

I have another friend who challenges herself to draw something almost every single day. She shares the images online. She’s been doing this for a couple years now, and I’ve watched her artistic skills develop pretty dramatically in that time.

So on Christmas Day, as I stared enviously at the handmade card from my young artist friend, I resolved to follow the example of my other friend who draws something every day. Except not literally every day, because then I’d have to give up some other hobbies that i like. The best I can realistically commit to is one completed sketch per week. Still way better than my current average.

The goal is to learn how to quickly draw images that capture the spirit of the subject without a lot of unnecessary details. The rules are simple: I will post one sketch here on my blog every week. If my sketch isn’t finished I will post it anyway, even if all I have is a rough outline. Hopefully I will improve with practice.

For my first sketch I wanted to finish that armadillo. I grumbled to Luke and Elizabeth that it’s basically impossible to draw a cartoon armadillo, because they’re too…textury.

They both immediately drew cartoon armadillos.

Luke drew this one:

His first draft only had three vertical stripes down the middle. “This is Texas,” I said. “We have nine-banded Armadillos here.” So he added six more stripes and the ballcap, because Texas.

Elizabeth drew this one:

“It’s not nubbly,” I said. “It has no nubbles.”

“I might color it later and add nubbles,” she said. “This is a cartoon armadillo.”

I went back to my drawing board, and eventually produced this:

I like it, but it took too long to draw. Maybe a year from now I will be able to draw a simple armadillo without spending a week on it. That’s the goal, anyway.

Happy New Year! 2020 is going to be an exciting year, I can feel it!

Categories: Animal Alphabet, Animals, Artwork, Christmas, Friends, Holidays, Life, Weekly Sketch, Wildlife | Tags: | 7 Comments

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