Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock; Rupicola rupicola


June 08, 2010

I first saw a picture of Rupicola rupicola in an old encyclopedia belonging to my grandparents. I was immediately drawn to it's bright orange plumage, and the male's flamboyant half moon crest that obscures both face and beak. They're native to South America, and the males use leks to attract females. Leks are areas, or clearings (whether in forest or prairie) where many males of that particular species will congregate and display for spectating females. Prairie chickens and Sage Grouse are species here in North America that use this system as well.

I had to complete a painting recently for this show. I couldn't decide what to paint, and then when I was at the Field Museum, browsing the collections, I decided to look up some specimens of Guianan Cock-of-the- Rocks. The first image is of my surrealist two-headed rupicola painting on plywood, and the second is a detail photo of one of the specimens I used for reference.

Monster Loon


June 03, 2010

Busy busy this week, but I found this while trolling through my Field Museum pictures. Dave Willard had been helping me to locate a specimen of an American Kestrel for a commissioned painting I had been working on. While I was waiting for him to pull the specimen from the collections cabinets, I looked over and found this thing sitting on a table! It was a large plaster sculpture of what Dave called an ancient relative of modern day loons. I think of loons as these peaceful water birds that grace postcards of Minnesota, with haunting calls filling northern spring evenings. This thing, however, looks like an avian torpedo that could remove a few limbs from unsuspecting humanoid swimmers. Cool!

I asked Dave if I could take it home.

He said no.

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