This is a pencil sketch I drew of a White-faced Ibis. He is a character in a book I’m working on. The ibis, Arco Iris, gets his power from the rainbow obsidian stone he wears. Sometimes if you draw a character, it helps you write about their personality and physical traits.
I recently took pictures of White-faced Ibis in a field near Paisley, Oregon. The field was full of blue camas and it gave the scene a kind of magical feeling.
When you think of ibis, you may think of ancient depictions of this bird found in Egypt, but there are three species in the United States. You can find Glossy Ibis, White Ibis, and White-faced Ibis in parts of North America, Central America, and South America.
Inlay depicting Thoth as the ibis with a maat feather. Image source: Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
The plumage of our local ibis looks black at first, but when you take a closer look, it’s iridescent. Their feathers catch the light as they plunge their long beaks into marshes and meadows in search of prey. They eat a variety of prey including insects, worms, and small fish. Ibis are particularly fond of crayfish.
When in breeding plumage, some of the White-faced Ibis’ feathers turn a bronze color, their legs turn pink, and a mask of pale white skin around their eyes appears. What better way to attract a mate than putting on a mask, pink leggings, and a bronze cape!
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I entered a short story I wrote in a local contest and I just found out it took first place in the Children’s Fiction category. Hooray for me! 😀
The short story from my first novel is called How the River of Falls Came to Be and it’s about a little newt who gets more than he asks for. He ends up turning into a tortoise in the desert and he misses the rain.
Here are the last couple of paragraphs:
“Many years later, Tortoise passed away and his shell tipped upside-down and filled with water from passing storms. In fact, the shell caught so much rain it overflowed. The heavy shell eventually sunk and settled deep in the earth. It became the source of a river with many waterfalls. Río de las Caídas.
Sometimes when you walk along the river, you can see the smiles of Rain and Sun in waterfall rainbows. They are showing their gratitude for the gift Tortoise gave to the world.”
I’ll be reading the story I entered in the Central Oregon Writers Guild Contest next month at the downtown library in Bend, Oregon.
Back to work editing my book, Dark Fountain Songs. Maybe I’ll draw some pictures of tortoise to go along with the “award-winning” tale.
On January 20, visitors entered Classroom A at the High Desert Museum to find the room filled with lifelike mounts of raptors. One mount depicted a California quail being chased by a sharp-shinned hawk. Another was of a great horned owl perched on a branch. A golden eagle mount, with outstretched wings, dwarfed the other birds on display. Artist Ian Factor welcomed participants in the workshop and everyone got to work sketching the birds. Curator of Art and Community Engagement Andries Fourie also attended and offered help when needed.
My fancy drawing kit
Various art supplies were available for our use. Many attendees brought their own supplies neatly tucked into special cases. Others, like me, had the bare essentials, so we were grateful more were provided.
Drawing from reference materials
A variety of reference materials were displayed. There was a collection of bird wings, talons, and skulls. An articulated bird skeleton stood on a tabletop. We learned the basic form of our subjects by looking at mounts prepared by taxidermists. Though not available at this workshop, study skins, or museum mounts, are often utilized for research and artistic purposes. Photographs can help when you’re doing wildlife art and participants were snapping a lot of pictures. Reference materials are helpful in getting the details right and in understanding the underlying anatomy.
This workshop, like most hosted by the Museum, was open to people of all skill levels. Some attending the event were beginners, while others were more advanced. The artists drew the birds with a variety of media. Several sketched in black-and-white with pencils, graphite, or charcoal; other participants added color with pastels and colored pencils.