Friday, March 22, 2013

San Diego and seashells

I had an absolute blast in San Diego! The main reason I went there was for an Engineering conference but I stayed an extra 4 days to look around. I know it has one of the largest zoos in the world, I know it has great mexican food and I know it has pretty good seashell shops *wide grin* My MTG friends were disappointed I didn't visit any game shops, I was too distracted :P

 My first stop was Point Loma to visit a seashell shop. I did some research beforehand and heard that this shop had a huge range of seashells, urchins, coral and other sea ornaments for a decent price. I wasn't disappointed! The only shell they didn't have, which I've been itching to get for a while, was a Lightning Whelk. This shell is special cause it's one of the few which have a sinistral spiral (opening on the left instead of on the right).

Ocean Gifts and Shells shop on Newport Ave, Point Loma in San Diego

 Discounted shells and starfish - the sugar starfish they had on sale were HUGE!

 50% off the entire store! The prices were hiked up a little but it still ends up being cheaper overall

 Awesome sunset after a wet and gloomy day

 I was a little bummed the shop didn't have lightning whelks so I asked the owner where I could find one and he suggested making a visit to the seashell shop in Seaport Village. I looked it up before I went to sleep and decided Seaport Village was worth a visit overall.

Seaport Village was quite nice too. Decent food, lots of small souvenier shops but nothing I could really take home with me, until I found the Seaport Village Shell Co. Limited :P It was a little treasure cave. Lots of corals, shell jewellery and seashells. Not as cheap as the first shop I went to but it has different shells and it wasn't too pricey so I was happy to shop around.

 Found some Florida Whelks in a basket for $3 each (dextral spiral)

 A shelf of small seashells and urchins in containers

 A whole basket of Lightning Whelks for $10 each!! Very happy indeed

Look how big it is! I was hoping they would have smaller ones too (they usually have more colourful and distinct markings) but they are probably not worth selling or not as common. One big one is good enough for me =)

The third day was devoted to the San Diego zoo. I lost an hour in the morning cause I didn't realise it was daylight savings in California... grr... The zoo was located within Balboa park which was in itself very impressive. The zoo tickets cost $40! A bit pricey but well worth it. I spent the whole day there.

 Sleeping red panda

 Fluffy flamingoes

 Beautiful Malayan tiger


I ended up with 950 photos :D Had to sleep early that night cause the conference started early the next morning and lasted for 4 days. After the conference was over, I took a bus trip to Coronado Island to visit the beaches there. It was quite bare unfortunately, but I did find some colourful scallops and my first sand dollar! We don't get them in Australia.

 One of the few sand dollars which were intact

 Seashell haul from the beach

The next day I planned for a proper look around Balboa park. There was a huge St Patrick's day celebration and parade so the long walk there turned out to be quite an interesting one.

At the park, there was a group of volunteers with a lot of domesticated parrots and other birds on display. They are a not-for-profit organisation called the San Diego Bird Rescue. They take in pet birds who have lost their owners or had been given away by their owners. Some of them can live up to 100 years old. The group seemed to be putting a lot of effort to rehabilitate these birds and were asking for donations. I donated what I could to help them out.

 Poor parrot, started pulling out its feathers after losing its owner

Same with this pretty one - she was very cuddly

There was a red, and a blue macaw on display as well

 The volunteer showing the birds some love

It was a good 10 day trip to the US, if only the flights were not so darn long (15 hours each way). To finish off the post, some WIP shots of the butterfly chart:
The pencil sketch took 3 days to finish, symmetry is so hard!

Female Junonia Orithya (Blue Pansy) coloured

 Colouring the butterflies on my work station

Monday, March 4, 2013

Nature inspired artwork

Continuing with the itch to decorate my house, I decided to make some nautica related drawings from the seashell specimens I have. I am the type of person who appreciates the old specimen charts/prints for old encyclopedias, especially the inked drawings. Here is my attempt to recreate them for the seashells.

Spider shell and the Virgin Murex shell

Butterflies have also been my interest since I started a mini school project about butterfly farms. I quite like the massive IKEA poster with European butterflies on it but I would have liked them better with tropical butterflies which I am more familiar with. So I decided to make my own! It took a while to finish it. I'll have to post up the WIP pics in the next post.

From top, left to right:
Junonia Orithya (Blue Pansy) male and female;
Grass Yellow, Rajah Brooke's Birdwing, Small Cabbage White;
Lime butterfly;
Painted Jezebel, Lycaenidae (a mash up of 2 different ones cause I couldn't find a good ref) and the Five-Bar Swallowtail

Here is another sketch I made over the past 2 months. If I have the time, I would love to paint this on  a large canvas and hang it up. I love birch trees!

Also included some photos of the sea urchins that I have in my house. I already have an encyclopedia-ish sketch in the works for sea urchins and other shells I have lying around. The house is going to turn into a museum... I'm sorry Hann :P

 Bought the top two, found the bottom two while beach combing

Close-up; I had to pick off the remaining spines and clean out the insides eewwww

 The store bought ones retained their colours nicely, shame the two I found have been bleached by the sun!