food webs

Over the past couple of years, I have been increasingly interested in the dynamic and complex relationships between organisms in ecosystems. I started developing this series of drawings that explores these relationships.

I call these “food webs” in recognition that often, these inter-species relationships are based on who eats or is eaten by whom. I particularly like the word “web” because I think it most accurately describes how these relationships work. Traditionally, this is referred to as a “food chain” but a chain indicates only a single line of relationship where a web describes a more complex set of relationships. The idea of a web also draws attention to the fact that there are crucial connections between many organisms in an ecosystem and that the loss of even one of those organisms can impact the entire structure. 

I have chosen to arrange the organisms in these drawings in such a way that (I hope) demonstrates the complexity of those relationships. I chose the circle as the basis for the composition of these drawings in part because it helps reinforce this idea of interconnectedness. Plus it allows for some fun shapes!

Advertisements

doin’ demos

Demonstrating a technique is my favorite way to connect with people around my artistic process. I love being able to talk about both my process and my subjects at the same time. I also love how demos help demystify the artistic process somewhat. 

Sketching from living creatures, whether in the field or through some portal like a nest camera gives me the ability to observe natural behavior and capture intimate moments in the lives of my subjects. Sketching this way also forces me to be loose and not too precious about the outcome. Sometimes the animal decides when the drawing is finished by changing position or flying away!

Recently, I did a demonstration of quick sketching techniques at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History. I used nest cameras hosted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group. Here are some of those sketches. 

peregrines

For a few years, I have been watching the nest cameras mounted on San Jose City Hall, tracking the progress of the nesting peregrine falcons there. I love the opportunity to watch the lives of these birds in such intimate detail. Oh the joys of technology!

This year, I’ve decided to track the progress of the nesting season a bit more closely. Here are my first sketches from the archived video footage of the nest cameras. 

food webs

Over the past year or so, I’ve become increasingly interested in how various species fit into the ecosystem. I wanted to find a fun and interesting way to explore these relationships so I started making these food web drawings. I’m looking forward to developing more of these. For now, enjoy!

pen and ink extravaganza

I’m working on a series of drawings for a book about the area near the confluence of the Yuba and Feather Rivers. The focus of this book is the flora and fauna of this area so I’m drawing a lot of my favorite subjects. Working in pen and ink is satisfying and challenging in equal measure. 

more sketching

Working on drawings can be so fun when I am just in the beginning stages. I’m playing with layouts and orientation, just experimenting. I do most of this on tracing paper and below you can see the seams of the sheets as I use multiple sheets to accommodate a large drawing. 

These are grey pine and blue oak, two species native to the arid foothills of California. 

sketching

A couple of years ago, I did some illustrations for a book on the First People of the northern Sacramento Valley. I was recently contacted by the author, a historian, to create some new illustrations for another book. This book is focused on the flora and fauna of the same area. These are my preliminary sketches.

progress and receptions

This Sunday, December 6 from 2:30 to 4 PM, there will be an opening reception for the Jewels of Nature show at Tilden Park in Berkeley. Several members of the California chapter of the GNSI will be showing recent works. Please stop by! I have three pieces in this show, including a California sister butterfly and a desert moth with its host plant. 

The Miniatures show at the Monterey Museum of Art is open now through January. If you’d like to support the museum, this is a wonderful opportunity to do so! I submitted a small version of the pigeon featured in my series Birds We Love To Hate. 

While working on the sketches and research for my large life cycle of the White-lined Sphinx Moth piece, I am keeping myself busy with more butterfly drawings. Here’s the latest progress on a Common Buckeye, done in colored pencil on Duralene.