Nova Scotia Bobcat

January 24, 2010

Nova Scotia Bobcat

The colored pencil drawing of a Bobcat begun earlier this week is finally complete.  Earlier stages of the image can be found at

Nova Scotia supposedly has the largest population of bobcats in North America.  They are Canada’s most common wildcat and keep the populations of small rodents and mammals such as Snowshoe Hares in check.  For photos of bobcat tracks, see my nature journal post  Bobcats in the Backyard.

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January 22, 2010

Here are different stages of one drawing of a Bobcat made with colored pencils. The first stage, shown above, was done on January 20th, and only reveals the Bobcat’s eyes.

The second stage, done on January 21st, shows more facial features.

The final drawing, completed January 24th, can be viewed at Nova Scotia Bobcat.

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Green Sea Turtle

May 4, 2009

Sea Turtle off Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Sea turtles are quiet, elusive creatures, still mysterious to humans after many years of study.  They are threatened worldwide due to hunting, pollution and loss of habitat.

A photograph one of my sons took while scuba diving off of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef provided the subject for this drawing.  It was created with colored pencils.

kip with turtle

Here is a photograph of the same turtle shown in the drawing.


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Wolf Sketches

May 3, 2009

Wolves’ eyes are smart, alert and mysterious.  They hold us captive while making us look inward. 

To look into the eyes of a wolf is to see your own soul – hope you like what you see.

~ Aldo Leopold

These sketches were made with black charcoal pencil and colored pencil on manila paper.

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small-conch-shellIf you truly would wish to learn about any thing in nature, one excellent way to go about it would be to attempt a drawing of it in pencil.  Paints and watercolors can be forgiving of detail in a way that pencils cannot.  A pencil drawing demands an exact understanding of the subject.

These three images are all part of one large drawing I made when I was an art student.  Looking at them now, many years later, I see where I substituted exactness with fogginess in some areas, in order to save time and effort.   

My instructor at the time told the class that in order to become master draughtsmen, we’d have to create a minimum of 10,000 drawings first.  This idea is very similar to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule in ‘Outliers,’ his recent book about the factors that contribute to high levels of success. 

shell-studyGladwell’s discovery is a disappointment to anyone who thinks that there is a shortcut to success.  Persistence and hard work are more important than talent.  I think people who are gifted acquire satisfaction with less effort in the beginning, and so are encouraged to do more.  But it is their ongoing practice that helps them achieve success.

As a child I spent countless hours drawing.  Compared to my peers, I did a lot less of other things.  But it was time well spent because I learned so much about nature in the process. 

shells-studyDrawing is a quiet activity that gives both children and adults an opportunity to observe and study nature up close.  Nothing more is needed other than a piece of blank paper, a pencil and… patience, something that is only learned through practice.

These drawings were made with a terra cotta charcoal pencil on manila paper.

Raptor Eyes

April 18, 2009


A Bald Eagle's Eye

A raptor’s ability to spot prey from a great distance, its superior depth perception and rapid focusing all contribute to its skill at catching unsuspecting prey on land, in the air or in the water.

Considering the size of their heads, raptor eyes are quite large compared to those of other birds.  They are fascinating subjects to draw.  These drawings were made with colored pencils.

the osprey

An Osprey

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April 7, 2009


Pussywillows are a welcome sign that the winter is over and warmer days lie ahead. 

In my early years in school, I recall gluing real pussywillows to bare branches drawn on sheets of paper.  I don’t think that’s common practice in schools anymore, as pussywillows aren’t as easily found as they used to be.

This drawing was made with a fine tip black marker.

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The cold waters off Canada’s east coast may lack the colourful wildlife found in warmer seas, but we do have Purple Starfish and Green Sea Urchins. I’ve shown the urchin without its spines in order to reveal the star shaped design found on its shell. 

This painting was done in acrylics on masonite.

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Asymmetry in Lobsters

March 31, 2009


Lobsters are a good example of asymmetry in nature.  Often, their claws are not only found to be of different sizes, but also different shapes.


Lobsters will regenerate a claw if it is broken off, but it takes some time for the new one to grow back to its maximum size.  This may also account for an asymmetrical appearance. 

The photo I used as a guide to paint the lobster at top showed the right arm hidden under its body at the point where it is attached.  Its left arm was also tilted at an angle to show its narrowest side.  Both of these positions exaggerate the discrepancy in claw sizes.

The painting at top was created on masonite with acrylics while the drawing of the lobster was made with a fine point black marker.

The image of a Lobster on Rocks shown at top appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of the Arsenic Lobster poetry journal. 

The original painting is at The Inn at Fisherman’s Cove in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia.

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Moon Shell

March 28, 2009


There’s something about moon shells that sparks my imagination.  In the drawing above, I used the design of a Northern Moon Snail as a starting point for some rainbow-like colour combinations and patterns. 

Colored pencils were employed on heavy textured paper.

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