Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Painting the Yangtze River Dolphin

I'm doing these paintings in random order, but I decided to finish the Yangtze River Dolphin next. It makes me sad to think that they're most likely extinct, or have so few left that the population won't recover. I tried not to make it look too cute, but what can you do when it's already smiling? This one gave me some trouble; it's so smooth, I couldn't hide my brushstrokes with fur texture. I ended up darkening it a bit more than I had intended to do. Most of my reference photos were from dead animals with varying colors, so hopefully this is accurate. Strange fact about me: I always paint the eyes of animals last (I think most people start with the eyes). On this painting, it pretty much looked the same before and after I added the eye.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Yangtze River Dolphin

The Yangtze River Dolphin, Lipotes vexillifer, is also known as the Baiji. It is a freshwater species found only in a small portion of the Chang Jiang. It probes the muddy river bottom with its upturned snout for fish. Little else is known about these secretive animals. The dolphin was determined to be functionally extinct at the end of 2006; however, there was a possible sighting in August of 2007. The Yangtze River Dolphin's numbers declined due to boat collisions, loss of habitat, hunting, and capture in fishermen's nets.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Painting the Hirola

For each animal, I'll make another post like talking a bit about the process of painting, plus any other fun facts. According to The Ultimate Ungulate Page, an excellent resource if I do say so myself, there is only one captive hirola (an elderly female in Texas). This picture is a female, since they have more reddish coloring than the grayer males. As seems to be a very common problem, I couldn't find any good photos of the hirola's feet, so I did the best I could on leg coloring and hoof structure. I had to sculpt a little head out of my rubber eraser to get the angle of the horns to look right.

Again, I had very few references, and I used some photos of different antelopes I took at the San Diego Zoo to finish this picture. Hirolas have long strange faces that are fun to draw, with a neat chevron between their eyes. Their preorbital glands are a bit disturbing to me.

Monday, October 15, 2007


The Hirola, Damaliscus hunteri, is also known as the four-eyed antelope, due to its large preorbital glands. Both males and females have ridged, lyre-shaped horns. These antelopes are found on arid plains in south-east Somalia and Kenya. The estimated 600 wild hirola are threatened by poaching and habitat loss.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Painting the Bumblebee Bat

All of the paintings of the ten focal species will be watercolor on Bristol board. I'm using Winsor & Newton Artists' paints, from both tubes and half pans. I have a Cotman brush, and brought out the big guns by using my Series 7 W&N brush, size 3. Since I can't work very wet on the bristol, I used a lot of thin layers of color. I can't do large washes, so it's trial and error in coming up with ways to try to blend the colors smoothly. Each piece will be completed on a 5"x7" paper.

Bats have always been hard for me to draw. Their arms and legs have strange structures; they're so bony, and their wings can bend in lots of weird ways. Their legs and feet almost seem upside down to me. I had one photo I took of taxidermied bumblebee bats to work from, and a few other photo references and illustrations. I like this bat's fuzzy round body.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Bumblebee Bat

The Bumblebee Bat, Craseonycteris thonglongyai, also known as Kitti's Hog-nosed Bat, is the world's smallest mammal. It weighs about two grams, and the picture above is approximately life-size. It lives in limestone caves in a small western region of Thailand. Bumblebee bats hunt at dusk in bamboo thickets. These bats have large ears, upturned noses, and lack tails. Their numbers, estimated at 2,000 individuals, are declining mostly due to logging and deforestation.