Tag Archives: British Wildlife

Happy New Year- Vive la Vole!

Happy New Year to each and all! If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you gave and received some lovely things!

I know this isn’t the post I had planned to release next, (a silent book project update is almost ready!) but during the past few days a fire that has long been dwindling in me has roared up in the grate- I feel more well, and feel as though I have more energy than I have in months- so I had to make the most of it! (And this is one of those short, sweet posts that’s just bursting to get out!)

One small part of why I’ve been feeling so fantastic is because I have a new hero- a wildlife artist called John Busby. I received a book of his called “Lines from Nature” as a present – please, please seek it out if you have any even slight interest in animals, nature or drawing!

Not only are the artworks in this book technically brilliant and full to the brim of character, they are also observed completely from life- this dedicated man braved all weathers and environments to make drawings again and again, in order to truly understand his subjects.

Shortly after getting sucked completely into this gift, I was lucky enough to meet a vole close up – my partner’s Dad sometimes finds the little tykes in the kitchen, and he’ll keep them for an extra day or two if he knows we’re visiting so I can draw them. (And a five star treatment they get too, sometimes with added Radio 4 if he’s working nearby!)

Glimpses of a Vole 29-12-18 (Web) © 2018:19 Carina Roberts Illustration

 

The vole was very timid the first time I went in- I gently put a small handful of peanuts into the vivarium and sat waiting, as still as I could be. He darted to and fro collecting, giving me a suspicious eye as he ran between the food and his nest made from moss and woodland detritus. I had to be very quick to get him down on paper, but not move so violently as to startle him. When there were no more peanuts, he dived back inside and that was that.

Glimpses of a Vole 1-1-19 (Web) © 2019 Carina Roberts Illustration

The second time, three days later, I tried sprinkling some sunflower hearts out for him instead of peanuts- a bit of variety, and a little experiment to see if he behaved any differently. Now, maybe I caught him at a different “cycle” in his day, or maybe he felt like he knew me a little better (I’d like to think that the latter is true, but it’s very unlikely!) – whatever it was, this snack really brought him out of his shell. Instead of hoarding them away like the peanuts, he came out to nibble them in full view! (In fact, at points, it was almost as though he was posing!)

And what a little character he was, gazing over one shoulder at me! You know when a dog scratches its head with back leg? It may surprise you to hear that voles do it too! After solving the itch his head had a very sweet little ruffled patch right in the centre of his forehead (see above drawing!)

Two fairly short (no more than 30 minutes each) drawing sessions later, I had really started to break the ice with this little fellow. It was such a fresh flash of excitement to draw completely in the moment like that- something I hadn’t done for a while, or at least not properly. In day-to-day life there are always time constraints, your mind wanders and feels guilty for things you should be doing, that a bit of live scribbling somehow isn’t as important. But it is, it REALLY is.

There is a lot, a LOT to learn here for me. Yes, I can think, I can plan (that’s part of who I am) but I also have to embrace the moment- not all is perfect in life, or in artwork. Sometimes the unplanned scrambles up steep hills and through driving rain will be more fun, and teach you more than the interactions and parties you spend your life rehearsing.

Equally, I can spend hours upon hours at my desk, perfecting my next artwork or deliberating for hours over the phrasing of a message to this or that particular client, but most valuable can be the quick observations I can make just because I took a sketchbook somewhere to draw from life. Instinctive, honest sketches- which can speak in less words than I can,

I

CAN

DO

THIS!

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The AutumnHobbit

© Carina Roberts and AutumnHobbit. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carina Roberts and AutumnHobbit with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Inktober 2016- Personalities of British Wildlife!

Good evening, lovely readers!

I’m delighted to announce that, for the first year since attempting the challenge, I have successfully completed Inktober!

For those of you who have never heard of it, Inktober is a simple concept- one sketch or artwork must be completed for every day of October, in an ink based medium… Whether it be an inky painting or even just a biro sketch, the whole idea is to keep up artistic momentum throughout the month, and to perhaps take the opportunity to dabble in a new medium. Inktober is called a challenge for a reason, though- it’s tricky to do a drawing every day on top of everything else that’s going on in life, particularly one that you’re proud of and happy to share with the world! I’ve struggled in the past but this year I was adamant that I would finish the challenge, with 31 drawings I was really happy with.

After going to an exhibition of Quentin Blake’s work earlier this year in Cardiff Museum, it’s been at the back of my mind to try working with bottled ink and a scratchy pen again. When I was younger I was very interested in calligraphy, receiving a small kit as a birthday present with a fine-nibbed fancy pen, different coloured bottled inks and smooth parchment paper. As I was searching for materials to use in this challenge, I came across them again at the back of my shelf, and decided it was high time for them to shine once more!

I think that part of the reason that I’ve struggled in the past is because I was always trying to think of a separate theme every day- after a couple of weeks, to keep spewing out an entire concept from scratch every day, AND complete all the other work I wanted and needed to get done, AND keep up with everything else always got a little too much for me to handle, so I would abandon the challenge.

This year, I decided on a different approach to make it work- to decide on, and stick to one theme that could run throughout, to transform it into a project I was really immersed in. Those who have followed my work over time will recognise my passion for nature and natural history, (many of my more recent characters and projects centring around animals) and I was very keen for this challenge to follow suit. In the end, I decided to spend this October exploring the characters of our best-loved British wildlife; my favourites can be found below! (The full 31 drawing-long shebang can be found here, in the album of “Inktober 2016”.)

Inktober Day 1 - Fat Robin signed © 2016 Carina Roberts Illustration.jpg
Day One- I tried to make sure that this exercise was never just about drawing a robin, instead I would try to truly see a robin for all it is- for its symbolism and significance, its character and personality in the grand scheme of our wonderful wildlife.
Inktober Day 2- Hedgehog signed © 2016 Carina Roberts Illustration.jpg
Day Two- The hedgehog’s spikes were by far my favourite thing about this sketch- the scratchy pen I had on hand lent itself well to lots of quick little marks.
Inktober Day 5- Three British Owls signed © 2016 Carina Roberts Illustration.jpg
Day Five- A trio of the wisest birds in the land. Their eyes always give the impression that they’ve seen everything.
Inktober Day 7- A Quartet of Edible mushrooms signed © 2016 Carina Roberts Illustration.jpg
Day Seven- A little part of me danced for joy sketching this one… I’ve always had a huge interest in plants and fungi, maybe because when I was smaller I wanted to become a witch who made fancy brews from weird and wonderful ingredients. Either that, or a knight. Or a pirate.  I would have been happy with any of the above. Here are a collection of four edible mushrooms.
Day 14- Common Frog signed © 2016 Carina Roberts Illustration.jpg
Day Fourteen- I’ve always struggled a little more with smooth-skinned creatures, as the lines you need to create a smooth as opposed to a furry body have to be a lot more clear and decisive. That said, I really enjoyed drawing these Common Frogs, and loved drawing in more fluid lines.
Day 17- Grey Seal Pup signed © 2016 Carina Roberts Ilustration.jpg
Day Seventeen- Grey Seal Pups. Cheeky, playful, stuffed full of charm and character- look at those liquid eyes! I remembered a particular video I once saw while drawing these little chaps which featured a seal in Ireland waiting patiently outside a fish and chip shop for an offering while completely blocking the road up.
Day 20- Badger signed © 2016 Carina Roberts Illustration.jpg
Day Twenty- I’ve always loved the shambling way that badgers walk, not to mention their beautiful facial markings. I remember reading a story as a young child about how the badger got his stripes… He was marked as a thief with two blacks stripes after stealing a swan’s white feathers to fix his stained coat. On the contrary, badgers are usually depicted as more shy, kind creatures in most of our folk tales and popular fiction, a character which I preferred to coax out of this drawing.
Day 22- Shrewd signed © 2016 Carina Roberts Illustration.jpg
Day Twenty-two. Shrewd. Shrewsbury. Shrewish. How-do-you-shrew. Pleasingly round, comical creatures, deceptively vicious. Solely carnivores too, apparently.

After this challenge had just ended, I had another opportunity to study the character of some Great British wildlife in the flesh, when I had the exciting privilege to meet a young wood mouse. My partner’s father is a talented photographer who also delights in natural subjects, and he had come across this young mouse one rainy, cold evening thinking it was dead… When he noticed it breathing, however, he brought it inside to the vivarium he often photographs caterpillars in to keep it warm and safe while it recovered (and take some pictures, of course!) He was convinced it was fairly young as it was very tame, and more inquisitive than anxious about human presence. A once in a lifetime opportunity for drawing- I was sat only inches away from the little creature as it gazed at me through huge, blackberry pip eyes. After a couple of trips back to its little nest of dry leaves to squiggle around, the mouse sat so still I was able to do a full colour sketch on the spot… In fact, it was so relaxed that it started to fall asleep!

Frankie Mouse © 2016 Carina Roberts Illustration.jpg
First introduction- little mouse comes to say hello! It was fascinating to watch its quick, decisive movements, and see how fast it breathes- it’s easy to forget that a mouse’s life is lived at twice, even three or four times the speed of ours… We must seem so lumbering and slow to them!
Frankie Mouse Sketchbook Page 2 © 2016 Carina Roberts Illustration.jpg
At one point, little mouse returned to its nest of dry leaves to peep out at me, leaving one large ear poking out of the gaps.
Frankie Mouse sketch sheet 3 © 2016 Carina Roberts Illustration.jpg
Little mouse stayed still for so long in the end that I managed to draw a full colour sketch in addition to lots of movement studies. A fine life model indeed!

You never know where you’ll find your next little source of inspiration, never shut your eyes or ears to the possibilities!

The AutumnHobbit

© Carina Roberts and AutumnHobbit. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carina Roberts and AutumnHobbit with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.