Frog Hunt

Yesterday morning we set off on an expedition to hunt for frogs.  While we have all manner of other wildlife wandering around our garden, we have not yet had any amphibians so we have to go elsewhere in search of them.  We know a spot where, at certain times of year at least, we are guaranteed to see frogs.

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My oldest son was also hoping we would encounter a snake, as we have found them in the same woods before, but we had no luck.  My kids have yet to comprehend that the more noise they make, the less likely they are to meet any critters.  Their constant scampering and foghorn voices give any animal within range ample notice to scurry and hide.  For instance, we saw the flash of a white tailed deer’s rump as it fled from us a nanosecond after my youngest had bellowed something about climbing a tree.

We were, however, entirely successful in our mission to find frogs.  My ten year old must have the best vision out of all of us as he was quickly able to spot frog after frog after frog among the green pond weed.  We could hear the bellow of bullfrogs all around us.  We managed to spot one particularly chubby chappie sitting on a fallen branch, sadly too far away for a clear photograph, but there were some smaller specimens swimming around in the water or sitting just out of the water.

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Some of the frogs were very bright green, blending perfectly with the pond weeds, but others were darker brown with mottled patterns on their backs and rear legs.

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We left the pond and wandered off in search of other interesting beasties.  We saw birds and dragonflies galore – including some stunning neon blue ones with black wings – and some nonchalant squirrels.  Everyone was getting a bit mopey and hot and fractious, forgetting that this was the proper outdoors and not a zoo park.  I could sense a rebellion beginning to foment.

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Happily we found a stream that was safe enough for pootling about in.  The boys liked having fish swimming around their feet but they liked the cooling effect of the water and the shade of the trees even more.

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Then, much to everyone’s delight, we spotted another frog and this one was in hand’s reach so they picked it up out of the mud to have a brief closer look before letting it hop off back into the water again.  I think it may be a juvenile green frog but I am not confident in my identification, not being much of a herpetologist.

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Much cooled down, a little rested, and buoyed from the unexpectedly close frog encounter, the boys’ spirits lifted again and we continued on our stroll around the woods like a band of Merry Men.

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Art: Tree Frog and Zombie Bunnies

I had a boost to the creative side of my ego recently with two people liking my work so much they commissioned me to produce drawings for them.  I have not made any art for anyone other than myself and family for well over a year since the whole immigration and relocation thing gobbled up my free time and sapped my creative energies.  I have, however, been gradually building in a bit of time here and there to devote to creativity.  It was, therefore, a real pleasure to spend a whole lot of time on art last week in order to design, create and complete both commissions.  Of course, the house went to wrack and ruin as a result but meh!  You will need to forgive the quality of the photography in this blog post.  Last week was incredibly hectic so it is actually a wonder I thought to even grab a quick snapshot of the work in progress and the completed work.  Suffice to say they look much better in real life than they do in the photos.

The first commission was for a doodled tree frog.  I have done other doodle animals before but this was my first frog.  It was a really fun shape to work with and the silhouette was so very clearly of a frog using its sticky feet to clamber up something that I had complete free rein to fill it with whatever doodles struck me.  I started by sketching out the external and internal shapes.  I then started to fill in the interior shapes with lots of doodles, working in different areas so as to avoid the ink running or blotting or my fingers accidentally smudging anything.  It was very therapeutic and restful to just sit at a table in a pool of sunlight and doodle away.  I aimed to balance out more geometric patterns with more organic ones.

And here’s the finished doodle tree frog:

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In my family, we are a tad obsessed with zombies.  I have been crazy for zombies since childhood when I first saw ‘Night of the Living Dead’.  I have watched everything I can featuring zombies ever since and have read a few zombie novels too.  My kids have inherited my love of zombies though, of course, they don’t get to watch those movies or read those books – since I am not as permissive in such regards as my parents apparently were.  They play ‘Plants V Zombies’, dress up as zombies and play zombie-themed make-believe games.  They also inspired me, a couple of years ago, to take on a weekly drawing challenge whereby I had to draw a different zombie every single week of the calendar year.  Emerging from that personal project, I also sold a few zombie drawings.  The other of last week’s commissions was for a version of a Zombie Bunnies drawing I sold a couple of years ago.  My eleven year old has yet another version in his bedroom.  As you can imagine, I took great pleasure in drawing zombie critters again because it has been a while.

I started by mapping out where the zombie bunnies should appear on the paper.  I then applied the colour.  I work in quite a graphic way with the detail coming from the drawn line so this stage was all about blocking in chunks of colour to create separation and contrast between the members of the horde.

The final stage is the most intricate and time-consuming as it is about using the ink dip pen to add all of the detail of shape, line and pattern.  It is these elements that ultimately give the zombies their unique characteristics and personalities but which also tie the drawing together as a whole, unifying the image.

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I had a great deal of pleasure in producing these two very different art works.  They were both fun projects.  It was also a real joy to be justified in devoting that much time, energy and focus into art again.  It made me realise how much I was missing art in my life.  My goal, therefore, once we move into our permanent house, is to find a light space in the house that I can “borrow” on a regular basis to act as my art studio.  Furthermore, if I can find the time in my schedule to allow me to be productive then I might even explore the possibility of actively selling my art again.  But that is getting ahead of myself for now.

Thanks for looking.