Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Guest Illustrator for Bird-a-day!

When I discovered fellow illustrator, Washingtonian Kevan Atteberry, had embarked on a monster-a-day illustration challenge the same time I was doing a bird-a-day on my own illustration blog, a plot was hatched to play guest illustrators for each other one day during the month. It’s a way of connecting illustration through social media, a creative exchange made easier with all our network platforms. It also gave us a break from our own self-imposed subjects!

I love the benevolence of Kevan’s monsters. From snaggle fang to pointed tail, they are truly weird and wonderful, yet clearly soft-hearted creations.

So here is Kevan's delightful feathered friend! For more of Kevan's work, and for a look at my monster part of the deal, please go here to Kevan's Facebook page:

What Kevan said about the process: "When Claudia approached me about a "daily feature" swap, I was intrigued. She was doing a "Bird-a-Day",  and I was doing an October Monster-A-Day; just like I did last year. It is a practice in discipline for me - as well as a way to exercise my creative chops. Although some mornings I was/am certain the well has run dry. I am enamored with Claudia's scratchboard technique and a birder for the past 40 years, so my answer to her was "Yeah! Let's do it!" So today, the 24th of October, here is my bird. An unidentified species with a taste for demon bugs."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hands-on Book Festival

Tuesday, October 23, I will be sharing illustration and book art tid-bits with 
200 Des Moines, Iowa children at the Des Moines Public Library for the
Rotary Club sponsored Wonder of Words Hands-on Book Festival. 
Author Sarah Prineas will also be there.
Plenty of scratching will be going on!

For more information, see

Birdies 16, 17 and 18 enjoy a story-telling cat

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blue Jay and Sumac

The understory at Hickory Hill park was aflame with red sumac last week. Several blue jays were flying and hopping around in them. The contrast was stunning. Inspiration for Bird Number 15.

Monday, October 15, 2012

How to scratch a magpie


Big news from the studio! A short demonstration video has been produced, giving you a glimpse of my process at the drawing board. I'll post it permanently later on the side later, but for now...

Thank you Charlie, father-in-law extraordinaire, for perfect lighting, all around camera and production expertise and shared enthusiasm for art and birds, angry or otherwise. Please visit his website of stunning photography.
(Magpie, number 14)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A fellow Etsy artist just created these lovely origami cranes with my wrapping paper. Please check out her other works of paper art. I'm calling these birds 12 and 13!

Thank you, Nancy!

Friday, October 12, 2012

No. 11, Downy Street

This is a collage experiment using natural materials. Downy woodpeckers often crawl up and down our river birch, seeking out their insect dinners. I scanned some of the peeled bark and layered my illustration on top. Hmmm. The effect is kind of cartoon-ish, although the texture of the bark is quite cool!  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Blackbirds, stitched and scratched

Today I post of birds in other's art. I love seeing birds as inspiration in different mediums, different styles, different eras, even different millenia!

Even though I can hardly mend a sock, I love textiles and know so many gifted quilters and weavers and knitters. When looking through art history, I admire in the older quilts a certain palette that speaks to me of comfort in nature.

On a trip to New York once, I visited the American Folk Art Museum. Their textile collection is stellar. Quilts bear out stories thread by thread, generation to generation, bird by bird. Here's an image from a quilt made between 1858-1863, by an unidentified artist who lived in the vicinity of Albany, New York.  This quilt is entitled "Bird of Paradise",  for the flamboyantly feathered guy in the center of the piece. My eyes are drawn to the more pedestrian black birds tending to their nest.

I reached into my archive and also share my world's version of the same muse. Bird number Ten.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Blackberry fall

Number six. Crow and blackberry leaves.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cardinal and swamp white oak

Birds four and five! Cardinals and swamp white oak.

I learned a new tree yesterday. I literally worked outside on what may be one of the last warm days of fall. I set up at the picnic table and just drew and sketched. On a break I wandered around the garden a bit. I kept seeing these fallen leaves, broad and roughly shaped like an oak, but with lobes that were round and closely, evenly spaced. I couldn't quite i.d. them. They were so classic! I found the tree in our neighbor's yard. Definitely an oak, but what kind? No "fresh" acorns that I could find, so I googled the leaf shape and I think it's a swamp white oak. They're native to the midwest, and seem to thrive in dry, lowland sites where this one is, contrary to what you would think by it's name.

So, quercus bicolor, thanks for reminding me that nature is always surprising and teaching. You also gave my cardinals a place to hang out in this latest installment of a-bird-a-day.

Studio Outdoors
Swamp white oak; cute little lobes, huh?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fall Finch

Bird three, goldfinch in fall plummage.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Bird a Day

It's October! Trees are aflame here in the midwest and cooler, sweater wearing temperatures have arrived. Animals, including humans, are sensing the change and general down-shift in nature. After our extremely hot summer, this seasonal time of pause is most appreciated.

Lots of birds are already on the move in their annual migrations. I look forward to, and yet always feel a bit sad, when I see my first goosy "V" in the air. What an incredible feat, those winging over vast distances above land and water to reach their winter homes.

All this bird flight inspired me to start my first personal illustration challenge, a creative migration so to speak. No secret that I love to draw birds, so I thought for the month of October I'd post a bird a day. Don't know if I'll be "birded out" by Halloween, but I'm game to see how a daily assignment feels. Okay, let the tweets begin! Check in with suggestions of favorite birds!

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