Little originals

Have been sketching-for-sale lately, creating small originals to sell at the Saturday Summer Market in Gustavus. Here are a few samples:

hocker-hummingbird-sketch hocker-puffin-sketch hocker-yellowlegs-sketch

The hummingbird’s rufous sides aren’t very rufous, are they? I picked the wrong watercolor pencils, but then I ended up liking the color combination, so…

I rarely draw or paint puffins. They seem to get so much press already. But this one was fun to do. I liked the challenge of the water, and the challenge of showing some–but not too much–detail on the wing feathers.

The yellowlegs is my favorite. It’s from a photo of a bird down along the Salmon River. I love that it stretched its neck up, creating this unusual pose for a portrait. Something about the pose, or the eye, gives it so much character!

New book!

I'm pleased to announce that the new children's book about humpback whales is finally at the printer, and should be in-hand in late June! See below for the cover and a sample page. 

The book is 32 pages, 8.5X11, paperback, with full color illustrations and a parents/teachers section at the end. It costs $11.95. It's being printed now, and should be in hand by the end of June. Contact me if you'd like to pre-order or if you have any questions.

You can learn more about our When You See Flukes  book project, and about humpback whales near Juneau, at our "Spot the Whale" website.

Flukes-cover-4-20-13

 

Flukes-book-sample

Spring, 1 year later

Wrangell-hbird-hockerIt's amazing how quickly a year passes. I've traveled and taught and sketched a lot in the past year, but haven't returned to my lonely blog til now. 

Just got back from a teaching trip to Wrangell, Alaska, for the Stikine River Birding Festival. Bird highlights for me included sandhill cranes chortling overhead, flocks of white-fronted geese descending on the school football/soccer field, snow geese whirling over the Stikine Delta, and a fascinating talk about the wildlife of Wrangel Island, Russia by biologist Vassily Baranyuk. Also, this sad highlight, a female rufous hummingbird that hit a window. I tried to capture her iridescence by starting with white Prismacolor for the feather texture, then layering metallic green watercolor and several shades of Neocolor pastels and water.

Today, two hummingbirds–a male and a female–are tussling over the feeder outside my window, swirling around each other and surrounded by swirling snowflakes. It has been a long, cold spring.Nice to see these little spots of warmth.

What the Jays Showed Us

Hocker-marten-sketch Was on a walk with my friend Jill this afternoon, when we noticed about six Steller's jays hollering at something in a cluster of spruce and alder. After craning around a bit, we spotted a small, round-eared animal, the first wild marten I've ever seen. On the way home, I tried to hold the spring-steel body, rounded ears, downy fur in mind until I could get to my sketchbook. This page of memory sketches is the result.

Latest Project: Whales!

Hocker hawaii whales I've been working on text and illustrations for a new children's picture book about humpback whales–and not doing much nature drawing–so I thought I'd post an image from the book. My illustration pace has been glacially slow, but I'm hoping the book will be printed by the end of the year… or at the very least by next spring, in time for the whales' return to our Southeast Alaskan waters…

Island Naturalists

Hocker-kayak-trip-sketch- Spent a blissful three days puttering around Benjamin and North Islands with two naturalist friends. Kayaking and exploring conditions couldn't have been better: warm, sunny days with glassy water, cooler breezy evenings, lovely sunsets, few biting insects. Most importantly, we were surrounded by a paradise of nature puzzles and treasures to discover. Here's a first page of sketches; I'm planning a second page of memory sketches and notes and plan to post it soon.

UPDATE: looks like our mystery orchid is Malaxis (Hammerbya) paludosa, bog adder's-mouth orchid.

Fringe benefits

Hocker-hummingbird-sketch An expedition in search of dippers had me scrambling through devils-club and alder tangle, up a steep, fast-moving creek above Juneau. The dippers kept zinging upstream past me with food, so I knew the nest was even higher. Just about the point where I decided it wasn't worth six million more devils-club stabs and the risk of spraining some valuable joint, I sat  down for one more vigil. I never did see the dippers, but while I waited, this rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) nest was revealed to me–a great example of the fringe benefits of keeping still and paying attention.

The sketch is from a photo, as I had my camera but not my sketchbook…

Oystercatcher Morning

Hocker-oystercatcher-sketches

Hocker-oystercatcher2 Spent a pleasant couple of hours yesterday morning on a small island in Auke Bay, observing a pair of black oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) at their nest site. I especially enjoyed watching the different behaviors of the female and the male. The female was very vocal, stood and walked tall when in motion, moved around a great deal. The male crept among the rocks, keeping his head low, and sat still for many minutes at a time. The female was the one to settle on the nest, though.

The scrape nest held three eggs, just at the edge of the ryegrass zone, green with black speckles and very hard to see. It was an eloquent case for being very careful when exploring the shore this time of year–and perhaps just avoiding this type of habitat altogether and staying below the tideline…

 

UPDATE: I have just learned that the tagged bird is actually a male, so the above-described behaviors should be role-reversed… This male was banded and satellite-tagged about four years ago. He has been returning to the same nesting area ever since.