Wednesday, March 23, 2016


"Glistening" hippo, 8"x8" scratchboard
"Hippopotamus" means "river horse." The fact that hippos spend most of their time in water lends credence to part of that name, but other than being quadrupedal herbivores, I fail to see the resemblance to horses. Hippos belong to the order Artiodactyla, or even-toed ungulates, which also includes deer, sheep, and bison. However, their closest living relatives are actually whales and dolphins.

Hippos actually have very little fat. Their rolls and wrinkles are formed by their very thick skin, which serves as a defense against predators. The skin produces a natural sunscreen, but still must be kept wet to avoid drying out. Hippos spend most of the day in the water, but emerge in the cool parts of the day to graze.

While hippos tend to graze alone, in the water they form loose groups. Females stay near other females and calves, young males stay with other young males, and the dominant bull stays nearby on his own. Battles for dominance use the hippos' long, sharp front teeth.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Musk Ox

"Arctic Soldiers" 12"x16" scratchboard and ink

The musk ox is a phenomenal creature, perfectly adapted to living in the harsh Arctic year-round. Their dense fur traps heat and blocks the wind. Their native range is northern Canada and Greenland, but they have been introduced into parts of Alaska, Russia, and Scandanavia. Musk oxen are part of the Bovidae family, making them related to bison, buffalo, sheep, and goats.

During the rut, males excrete a strong, musky odor to attract females. This, of course, is their namesake. Males butt heads to determine dominance and mating rights. Dominant males will make off with a harem of females, while the subordinate males will spend mating season alone or in bachelor herds. After mating season is over, herds recombine for the winter.

For this drawing, I used a large clayboard, which I airbrushed with black ink to create the background shadows and basic ox shape. I then went in with a paintbrush to paint the details of the animals. I used the fiberglass brush to scratch the fur, face, and snow details. Photo references from the USFWS (public domain).


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Red Phalerope

red phaleropes, 8"x10" scratchboard and ink
Phaleropes are shorebirds, related to sandpipers. They eat insects and small crustaceans from shallow waters. About 6-8" long, they spend their summers in the Arctic and migrate to the tip of South America or Africa for winter. In the drawing above, the individual on the left is actually the female. The females have bolder colors, defend territory, and seek out mates. She lays three to six eggs, which the male incubates while she starts her migration.


Thursday, March 03, 2016

A Return to Blogging

It seems it has been almost a year since I posted anything here. I keep saying, I need to update my blog! I need to write more posts! But somehow, it has not happened. This time, I am determined to get back into it routinely.

This being World Wildlife Day, I made a decision. Beginning next week, I will write a weekly post called "Wildlife Wednesday." I will write a post about some uncommon species of animal, whether or not I have actually drawn it. This will be in addition to posts about my completed work.

To get things rolling again, here are a few scratchboard drawings I completed in the past year.

"Was That You?" great grey owls, 12"x16"

"Silverback" western lowland gorilla, 14"x11"

"Sol" turkey vulture, 7"x5"

"All About Attitude" green iguana, 9"x12"

"Alone in the Universe" snow leopard, 20"x16"

"On Target" leopard, 10"x8"

"Reassurance" tiger 9"x12"