I can't stand rooting through scraps of paper in search of a subject to draw and watercolor. I have enough pieces of paper all over my studio and office. They drive me crazy. No matter how many times I straighten up, the pieces of paper pile up and so I have to surrender at least somewhat.
About a year ago, I acquired a large stack of relatively recent National Geographics via Freecycle. These bound pages offer a much more orderly reference than miscellaneous scraps. Plus, I learn things.
For example, the reference photo of this Polar Bear comes from an article about Franz Josef Land. I'd heard of Franz Josef Land but was not sure where, exactly it was or that it is part of Russia.
My reference photo for this entry is by Cory Richards and the caption reads, "Polar bears eat mainly ringed seals and bearded seals, captured on sea ice. On land they scrounge seabirds, eggs, even grass. This animal grazed for days below Rubini Rock—then chewed up the remote camera."
I turned around the other morning and spotted one of these darling Red Efts on my screen. Naturally, I had to go meet the thing and look it over, up close and personal. Yes, I picked it up and held it in my hand.
When I was a child at camp in the Catskills, we would catch these what we called Salamanders in the woods and probably took them back to our tents for pets. Then, I had no idea but just learned that this is not a Salamander at all but a juvenile Eastern Newt who spent its larva stage in the water, lives on land while a bright orange juvie and then returns to the water as an adult. These creatures live for 12 - 15 years! Amazing!
I had to commemorate this only find of my adult life in an illustration. I am so impressed and delighted that once again, so many, many years later, I am living in the vicinity of the Eastern Newt and that one came to visit.
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