To Capture a Butterfly

Drawing butterflies has been start…stop, start…stop.

Yet this summer has been quite a year for butterflies! There has been quite an invasion of Painted Ladies this year.

A series of three Painted Ladies photographed in the garden.

These butterflies have made it all the way from Africa! Quite amazing!

Over the last few years I have seen quite a few different butterflies. Here are my favorites.

Orange Tip, Peacock, Green-Veined White, Painted Lady, Small Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Ringlet and Fritillary

Therefore with this in mind, I really should compete a butterfly!

My first attempt was part of a watercolor pencil demonstration which I never finished and then I started a second drawing but was not happy with the paper I was using.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly watercolor pencil demonstration

My current attempt is this Peacock on Pastelmat and thankfully I am happy with the way this drawing is progressing.

Peacock butterfly work in progress

Here’s hoping I can finish it!

World Lion Day was Saturday 10th August 2019

“World Lion Day supports and promotes charities and foundations that instill awareness of the great need for conservation efforts and sustainable solutions for addressing the global dwindling world lion population”

To acknowledge World Lion Day I decided to post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram the following image:-

I chose this early graphite sketch as it best reflected how I feel about the lack of a ban on Lion Trophy hunting imports both here in the UK and internationally. As part of the post I raised awareness of the “Change.org petition Ban lion trophy hunting into the UK” hoping people would go and add their signature to that cause. Since then I have discovered that there is also a similar petition in the US on “Keep The Ban on Importing Elephant and Lion Trophies“. Hopefully these petitions will be successful!

For more information why not visit the World Lion Day website .

Lions are my favorite Big Cat and despite having completed a few lion drawings… I decided to undertake another drawing but this time in graphite. I had previously done this chap in color and will at some point redo a version in color as since that last drawing I have adopted new techniques and my drawing skills have improved.

A work in progress of a graphite male lion
A work in progress of a graphite male lion

In addition to it being World Lion Day on the 10th, it was also World Elephant Day on the 12th August. I have only ever done a very rough elephant sketch as you can see below!

Elephant on smooth card: Source image in “Animals” by Lucy Swinburne

Elephants are tricky to draw but I think I am now ready for another go. When I will get the time… I have no idea!

Concentrating on the Native

Time to start planning new projects. I am concentrating on the native for a bit!

While projects with an international wildlife theme are extremely good to do, it is important not to neglect what is local. Unfortunately people can sometimes be more familiar with the issues facing lions, tigers, giraffes, wolves and rhinos and be totally unaware of the issues that affect their local wildlife.

An example of such an issue relates to squirrels. Locally there is a very healthy population of American Grey Squirrels but unfortunately where I live in Scotland, they are not native. The native squirrel is the red squirrel. This is smaller and has been under immense pressure ever since the introduction of the bigger grey squirrel. Currently red squirrels are now only confined to a handful of areas.

The grey squirrel and the red squirrel
The grey squirrel and the red squirrel

While grey squirrels can be fun to watch out in the local woods, I have to confess I would rather see our native red squirrels. Therefore it is vitally important to raise awareness of how the introduction of the grey  has had such a negative impact on our native red populations.

Another issue that I think is quite sad is how remarkably unobservant many people are.  I remember while out walking the dog,  watching people make their way along a path to get to work…  just a short distance up the hill stood three roe deer quietly munching away.

Portrait of Roe Deer- work in progress
Portrait of Roe Deer- work in progress

The deer just seemed to know that the chances of people seeing them was very low.

I always wondered what the reaction of those people would have been if they had just turned their head to the left and saw how close the deer were!

Maybe you would argue that it is a good thing that most people are oblivious! After all, it  could lead to the deer facing greater disturbance.

While that is certainly a risk… I think it is one that is worth taking.  Being the optimistic person that I am, my view is that the more people who are aware of the presence of the deer the more likely they are to value  and care for that area.

Going back to the point I made earlier about people not recognizing  the animals that live in their own country… here is one example… this is the Pine Marten. Well Pine Marten under construction!

Portrait of a Pine Marten- Work in progress
Portrait of a Pine Marten- Work in progress

I wonder if people would recognize this animal as being native to Scotland.

It is a forest dweller that is unfortunately confined to the North of the Country. This gorgeous member of the weasel family has been in decline but thankfully numbers are now rising.

These new drawings of a Pine Marten and a Roe Deer once finished will be added to my gallery of local wildlife. My intention will be to make prints from the originals and use the illustrations as a means of provoking discussion about wildlife issues.

This concentration on local  wildlife will not be to the neglect of international issues.

It is my view that by by raising  awareness of what is happening locally  on the doorstep, it can not only foster an interest… but also provoke a call to action . As people become more involved with the local…  hopefully they will start to identify the connections with the global.

Migrating birds demonstrate this perfectly. People tend to like birds and welcome the return of swallows and swifts. But, for these birds to survive they need to have good habitat not only at both ends of the journey but also on the stop over areas in between. Migrating birds would be a good subject to draw in the future.

All too often people are sympathetic to international causes but their distance creates a remoteness and a feeling of powerlessness. By valuing the local hopefully they will make the connection and support the global too!