Thursday, February 7, 2013

Creating "Mists of the Lagoa"

The Lagoa do Parado, as I mentioned in my last post, is a very special place. I wanted to capture that feeling in a painting and so I chose this particular misty moment. The tree that you see in the foreground is the Araticum-do-brejo or Pond Apple in English. The scientific name is Annona glabra. These trees grow in marshy areas and often in clumps as you can see in my painting. The Lagoa has an unusual number of these "clumps", more than any other area in Brazil. In fact, so many that the word "Araticumzal" is used to refer to them. These trees also grow in Florida in the United States, especially in the Everglades.

The taller trees that you see in the background are Caixeta trees (or Caixetal to refer to a group of them). The scientific name is Tabebuia cassinoides. These are considered to be in the region of the Atlantic Forest while the Araticum-do-brejo is a tree of the restinga, or area between the coastline and the forest. 

I used a gray-toned Pastelbord which gives it more stability. Tropical humidity can be a problem here, so this seems to be a better choice than paper. It has a slightly rough sanded surface to grab the pastel pigment. I did a quick gestural underpainting to establish the main shapes in dark green watercolor. Once that was dry, I began working directly with FABER-CASTELL pastel pencils. This was both an interesting and a fun change from my watercolors....and more to come.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bicudinho-do-brejo Complete !

My painting of the Bicudinho-do-brejo is complete, with a detail above. As I mentioned in my last post, this endangered Marsh Antwren is at home at the Reserva Bicudinho-do-brejo, which makes part of the Lagoa do Parado in southern Brazil. The reserva, or reserve, is 25 hectares, or about 75 acres. This is not such a large area, but it has a significant amount of endemic and endangered species. Besides being an incredibly beautiful area, it is very important for its biodiversity.

The image below shows the complete painting, and as seems to be my artistic leaning, at least these days, the bird is quite detailed with much attention to its anatomical correctness, while the background gives more of a free expression of its habitat rather than a scientifically correct botanical rendering. I do wish to be true to each species that I paint, especially since so many of them are endangered and one day these paintings may be important for their accuracy. However, they are still paintings and I wish to achieve the spirit of the creature and its habitat while creating a piece of art.

Again, I wish to thank Ricardo Belmonte Lopes for helping me to achieve this accuracy through his photographic reference.

On a final note, the calendar of butterflies that I was so determined to complete, even well into our new year of  2013 is available from my Zazzle shop, at the following link:

Friday, February 1, 2013


The Bicudinho-do-brejo, endemic to the marshes and swamps of the state of ParanĂ¡, Brazil, is an endangered species. Discovered in the 1990s by biologists/ornithologists (and good friends) Dr. Bianca Reinert and Marcos Bornshein. This species is also at home at the Lagoa do Parado, at the Reserva Bicudinho-do-brejo ( , you don't have to be a member of Facebook to view this professional Page) and you can even friend her on Facebook - Bicudinho Do Brejo. The English name for this lovely little bird is the Marsh Antwren. Bianca is very familiar with the daily life of these birds and their daily dramas, even recognizing individual birds.

The reserve is a very special project and my husband and I are both involved with it. For that reason, the next several months will be devoted to expressing the beauty of the reserve and its wildlife inhabitants through my paintngs, in watercolor, such as this one, but also pastel and oil.

The image below shows the beginning of this painting (the male of the species), with my usual detailed drawing of the primary subject matter, and initial background washes. I wanted to keep a free and loose approach to the background in contrast to the detail I will be painitng of the bird, the beginning of which is shown in the image at the top of the page. And soon.......the finished painting, with special thanks to biologist/ornithologist Ricardo Belmonte Lopes for providing the photographic reference !


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