Tag Archives: Katy Jones

International Vulture Awareness Day – and Some Owls

The weather today is distinctly unsummery, fittingly, as it’s the beginning of the Autumn term and I’m back to work with a vengeance.

Apparently today is Vulture Awareness Day, so I’m going to share some sketches I did over the summer at Gauntlet Birds of Prey, Eagle and Vulture Park in Knutsford.  Only one is of a vulture, because they’re a lot harder to draw from life than owls – they don’t tend to keep still!

Black Vulture Sketch
Black Vulture Sketch

Vultures are often perceived in a pretty negative way, but they perform a vital role in cleaning up carrion that would otherwise be a breeding ground for disease.  However, vulture populations are declining worldwide, with decreases of 97% for some species in  South Asia and West Africa over the last two or three decades.  The most significant causes seem to be the deliberate poisoning of carcasses, often by poachers (in Africa) and the use of the banned veterinary drug Diclofenac (in South Asia).  Traces of this drug in recently treated cattle are lethal for vultures.  The consequences of vulture decline in India include drinking water being contaminated by rotting carcasses and an increase in feral dogs, which spread serious diseases such as rabies, anthrax and plague.

Many different organisations across the world are trying to help endangered vultures.  If you are interested in donating, SAVE, standing for Save Asia’s Vultures from Extinction, is a consortium of some of these organisations (including RSPB and WWF).

Snowy Owl and European Eagle Owl sketch
Snowy Owl and European Eagle Owl

I also sketched some owls and a Marabou stork at Gauntlet, as you can see above and below.  If you’d like to see some of my finished colour drawings of owls, there are some in my Etsy Shop – both originals and prints.

Unidentified owl (!), Marabou Stork, Barn Owl and Boobook Owl
Unidentified owl (!), Marabou Stork, Barn Owl and Boobook Owl

Shiny New Blog

Imagine me, staring nervously at my laptop, wondering what to type.  Blank pages are terrifying, aren’t they?

OK, never mind the terrifying blank page.  Come in, sit down, have a cup of tea.  In fact, why not a glass of wine? Or a hot chocolate with plenty of cream and marshmallows if that’s more your style.  Comfortable? Good.  If you’re comfortable, then I’m a little more comfortable.

So.  Why start writing a blog, you ask? Helpfully, for the progression of this post.

Well.  Several reasons.  For one thing, I’m a writer.  Not a very prolific writer at present, but a writer nonetheless.  It ought to be easy for a writer to blog about her work, her projects, her inspiration (it ought…).  For another thing, I’m an artist and I’m increasingly realising that when people connect with a piece of art they usually want the story.  They want to know more about the artist, the inspiration behind the work and the process of creating it.  So perhaps I can do a little explaining here.  Also, I get a lot out of other people’s blog posts.  There are so many people out there generously sharing their ideas, experiences and expertise…their craft tutorials, their preschooler activities, their free crochet patterns…and I make use of them all the time.  (I read today that Pinterest users spend an average of 98 minutes per month on Pinterest.  Really? I’m sure I chalk up 98 minutes every two or three days…).  I help myself to other people’s freely shared information so liberally that I think I ought sometimes to make a contribution to the general pool.  I’m hoping to share ideas which have worked well for me and maybe attempt a few tutorials.  Perhaps I’ll start with a tutorial for a woodland faerie garland – what do you think??

Ah yes, faeries.  What, you wonder, has any of this to do with faerietales? I do love faerietales.  (Forgive my self-indulgent spelling…)  I love listening to storytellers, I love the beautiful illustrations which often accompany faerietales (I’m thinking of Arthur Rackham, Errol Le Cain and my childhood Treasury of Fairy Tales by Hilda Boswell…anyone else have that?) and I love modern, faerietalelike novels and short stories.  I would dearly love to create the sort of tales produced by the likes of A.S. Byatt or Angela Carter…and my recent writing does seem to be heading a little further into that kind of territory.

Strangely, faeries don’t very often crop up in so-called faerietales…but I’m at least equally drawn to the idea of faeries.  Most of my artwork is faerie or fantasy related and I go into a frenzy of delight (mostly in the privacy of my own head, I have to say) over the faerie and pixie inspired clothing and accessories which abound at the faerie balls and festivals I sometimes attend with my artwork.  ‘Faerietales’ seemed appropriate because the word draws together many of my interests and enthusiasms and also because – not coincidentally – the name of my online art portfolio is ‘The Faerietale Gallery’.

So there you have it.  Have you finished your drink already? Sure you won’t have another one? Well, I hope you’ll drop by again soon and check how I’m doing…and do please leave a comment if anything springs to mind!