Album Illustration, Ross Bleckner

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July 29, 2011




I've been working on album artwork for a band in Barcelona, Spain. I was given a lot of freedom, which is always nice. These are just a bunch of little spot illustrations I whipped up for the interior art. I stuck with what I love and know best: lot's of mosses, coral, spores, lichens (surprise!).

The second image is not mine ( I wish). I've been thinking about the work of Ross Bleckner a lot recently. I have a book of his amazing watercolors. They always make me think of really elemental lifeforms: pollen, cells, spores, amoebas, moss etc. etc.

The 2 paintings from the previous post about the Garfield Park Conservatory sold (YAY), and if you are reading this and you are one of the individuals that bought one: Thank you! If you are reading this and did not buy one but were hoping to, I will be posting a couple more next week.

Have a lovely weekend!

Garfield Park Conservatory

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July 26, 2011



If you live in Chicago, then I hope you are familiar with the Garfield Park Conservatory. I live in Evanston, just north of the city, but when lived in Chicago proper, the conservatory was one of my favorite places to go, especially in winter. It provided respite from all sorts of urban stresses, and satisfied cravings to connect with nature. It was designed by architect Jens Jensen in 1906. The fern room is amazing. It houses cycad trees over 150 years old, has a waterfall and everything is covered in ferns and mosses. It's a slice of botanical heaven in the heart of the city.

Last month Chicago was hit by a hailstorm and the conservatory sustained terrible damage. Much of the glass windows were shattered, sending shards of glass in to plants. There are photos of the damage on the their website that could make you weep. I am working on a few paintings to benefit the reconstructions efforts of the conservatory. These are first two here. Both are homages to the fern room. One is a maidenhair fern, the other a cycad tree. Both are up in the STORE.

100% of the sales will be donated to the Garfield Park Conservatory. So come on people, get a sweet little painting and help a great cause!

Chimney Swift - Chaetura pelagica

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July 21, 2011


Hello: long time no postie?. It's been a full summer; strange too. I've had more changes in my life in the last 8 months than I've had in the previous 8 years, but that's subject matter for a different blog. Everything is fine, but my, how life can change on a dime. The positives are that my family and I are well, and my plate is full of great illustration jobs; work that I am truly excited about. More on that later.

Back to Tiny Aviary business:

The other day I found a dead chimney swift in our alley. It broke my heart, as swifts are some of my very favorite birds. I await their arrival in our skies every summer. When I finally hear their rapid clicking calls and see their little cigar shaped bodies fluttering up high like bats, I know that summer is undeniably here. If you have never seen one up close, they really are amazing. Swifts have small, short legs unfit for perching like other birds, but perfectly adapted to clinging vertically to walls. In addition, their tail feathers have rachides (the central shaft of a feather) like stiff bristles that extend beyond the length of the feather and aid in their vertical, wall clutching ways. Their eyes are enormous dark pools; almost insect like.

Before European settlers came to the North America, Chaetura pelagica were very numerous and roosted in the hollow cavities of large, ancient trees. We quickly pillaged our old growth forests, but almost as quickly swifts adapted to our urban structures. Instead of those old trees, they now roosted in our brick chimneys. And NOW we are tearing down, or sealing off our old chimneys. What's a good C. pelagica to do? The most recent issue of Audubon had a great feature about a lovely Texan couple that have been pioneers of Chimney Swift conservation. Paul and Georgian Kyle have figured out how to build swift friendly structures and have published their findings. Their very informative site is HERE.The site contains excellent information on Chimney swifts, as well as photos, videos, and pdfs on how to build one of their "swift towers". A great video of swifts gathering up at a chimney to roost for the night can be viewed HERE.

Do you have Chimney Swifts in your town this summer? Don't know? Go out and look, silly.

In the meantime, I'm putting up my little swift portrait in the STORE.

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