My husband and I were shopping the post-holiday sales when we discovered a “seasonal” store. The picked-over assortment of toys, puzzles and calendars has probably vanished with the melting snow, but that day there were still hundreds of options in dozens of styles.
Calendars may be going the way of the photo album and the land line, transmuting into a set of data points on smart phones. I’m not complaining. My digital calendar not only reminds me of each appointment, it gives me a route and an (almost) accurate travel time.
But there’s something magical about flipping the page on a new week or month and enjoying the next image. Every year I make an art calendar for friends and family. And though I suspect she’d rather look at twelve months of grandchildren, my mother hangs hers in January and asks in November if I’m “doing another calendar.” “Yes,” I say. “Just as soon as I figure out what to put in it!”
I choose images that evoke the seasons. The snow and bare branches of winter give way to the soft pinks and greens of spring. Summer brights fade into the neutral shades of fall. I hope the images are lovely to look at, since each one will be hanging for a month in someone’s office or kitchen.
Baboons aside, here are some of my favorites from this year’s calendar.
The dried Empress Tree leaf (Paulownia tomentosa) was completely absorbing to draw. Its deep curls reminded me of draped fabric. The fast-growing Paulownia is native to China. The leaves are large – this one was about a foot long.
Elephant’s head (Pedicularis groenlandica) is a favorite wildflower of a good friend. We’ve seen it often along hiking trails. I cobbled together a contour drawing and value study from my old hiking photos and took advantage of the richness of colored pencil on mylar. I didn’t have a reliable color reference, so I pushed the pinks. Why not!
This sample illustration from Noodles and the Magic Sock was fun to paint with water color and colored pencil on illustration board. In this image, Noodles (Felis nawtii) is using the sock as a lasso and a circus hoop to control magic animals.
My last post included a sneak peek of this acrylic painting of Martha, our Washington Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum). Martha had a bumper crop of apple-flavored berries. After stripping most of the tree, the squirrels tried to shinny out to the very tips of the branches. The birds are still laughing.
The new year promises some exciting challenges. I’m taking a figure drawing class with plenty of self study in human and animal anatomy, and am continuing to explore acrylics and painting. But now it’s time to get back to my Star of Bethlehem portrait (Ornithogalum sp.), also colored pencil on mylar and perhaps Miss December 2016.
I think it is pretty clear that you need to do enough appropriate illustrations for a 2016 Adorable Wasps calendar!
I know! But it’s a toss-up between Adorable Wasps and Cuddly Assassin Bugs.
Man, I’m blown away by your work, particularly the last image, the work in progress. Would you mind telling me what brand of colored pencils you’re using, or do you use a mix? So, so beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.
Thank you so much! My standard is Faber-Castell. They’re hard, sharpen to incredible points, and float onto the mylar in whisper-thin layers. When I want a specific color or something creamier, I go for Prismacolors, Tombow or these new Bruynzeels I just found. They’re great – somewhere between Faber-Castell and Prismacolor in hardness. Happy painting!
Thank you! I love my Polychromos pencils by Faber – I assume you use the same ones (primarily)?
Yes – I use the Polychromos pencils and love them too.
Beautiful work, Christine!! I go through the same thing with my mom and calendars… 🙂
Thanks Karen! I never know who “really” wants a calendar and is just too polite to say no 🙂
i always want a calendar and save all of them.