It’s been a while since I’ve posted. In my defense I was without a computer for a few months. While I was away, I missed International Dandelion Appreciation Day (April 5th), and it was sad because not only was I working on a journal entry for my favorite flower, but I had the perfect poem to share, and no way to get to it behind my broken screen. But, today I saw that the two awesome dandelion varieties I bought were germinating, so I feel like celebrating all over again. [Edit – It turns out the world decided to celebrate with me, as today is International Day of the Dandelion, this is the most timely thing, ever. Also, please don’t tell people they have two days. They need this.]
Dandelions are more than simply tasty and nutritious. It’s considered invasive, but that’s because of how it behaves as a pioneer plant – a plant that fills a particular niche. In poor quality soils, plants that have adaptations to cope with such conditions come in first, a wave of “pioneers”. They have features such as deep taproots that break up compact soils (like dandelions) or the ability to pull nitrogen from the air. Then when they grow and leaves and roots die off, they release those nutrients back into the soil, along with organic matter. The soil quality improves, and other plants begin to move in and take over, the pioneer plants get crowded out.
The reason they are difficult to combat in lawns is due to the poor soil quality of lawns. When we use strong fertilizers, it kills off the microbial colonies that help keep the soil fertile by retaining the nutrients at the soil’s surface. Rain washes the nutrients to a lower level, where the dandelions can reach and the grass can’t. The grass suffers, so we add more fertilizer, just like the labels written by people who sell fertilizer tell us to do. We set up the environment for our grass to die off without chemical intervention, and for the dandelions to thrive. Thus, the inspiration for a poem I once wrote, and will share again today.
Across the lawn, a man of gold did flow His grace spoke soft, his strength gave truth He sang his hope, his pride of glories grown. But lo, behold, the putrid waves of smoke Tendrils of bitter lion’s teeth entwined He fell to monsters beneath soft blue grass His cries lost to the raw eldritch madness Into the soft embrace of well-fed soil.
This is a recipe designed to be shared with your pets (I have checked safety for cats, though I focus on dogs here). It’s adaptable to whatever meat you wish. It is not meant to be your pet’s complete diet, just a meal you can share to add variety while still paying attention to their health.
This time of year, with hearts decorating half the isles in the grocery store, we love to shower our loved ones with treats. It’s widely recognized that gifts of candy and a fancy dinner can demonstrate your love to a partner, but often the desire goes beyond romance. We include the children in our lives, both giving treats to them and encourage them to share treats with their friends. Naturally, many of us want to include our pets. I can see the evidence of that in how quickly the Valentine’s day doggie treats vanish at Target.
There’s reason for this strong connection between love and food. The bond over sharing food is recognized beyond this holiday. Festivals and celebrations across the world feature food, and sharing it to celebrate each other. The reason for the season might be lost on our pets, but the significance of bonding through shared enjoyment of treats certainly isn’t.
It’s disappointing when a vet tells you to stop, that your doggie’s health might suffer otherwise, especially when you know the treats communicate so much to your dog. One of our Pomeranians is a senior who struggles with joint pain, heart disease, failing eyesight, and alopecia (he went almost entirely bald after a groomer inexperienced with Poms clipped him too close, it took a couple of years to start growing back). All of these are problems I can ease somewhat by paying attention to his nutrition.
I bought an excellent book by the Dog Food Dude, did a bunch of internet browsing, even doodled bullet journal pages. Then, I spent the last couple of years doing what I could to help him within the constraints of time, energy, and budget. What I can do varies, as our situation varies throughout the year. But, we’ve learned to make it a priority to do what we can for Baby Bear nutrition-wise. He has more vitality, and I’ve gotten most of his hair to grow back.
Sometimes, money is tight, but time is plenty, so I cook the food for all three dogs from scratch. I learned the hard way to not make a large amount of a recipe, a sample large enough to last a few days will show if they are willing to eat the same thing long term. Switching things up every now and then is definitely appreciated, and leftovers can be divided into portion sizes and frozen, making it easy to maintain a variety while still cooking in batches.
However, I usually don’t have money for a fully balanced diet when I resort to this. I tend to see it as a healthier substitute for low quality dog food, and not something I do long term. In theory, home cooked food is more nutritious. In practice, if I can’t afford vitamins to add, then it’s better to get the highest quality kibble I can and enhance it with a couple of tricks. Gluten-free and hypoallergenic kibble is preferred with Bear’s joint pain, to keep down inflammation as much as possible.
Then I pour bone broth over it to help his joints, and top it with a few sardines or squirts of fish oil. I might add a few roasted carrots or sweet potatoes to help his eyes. Other things I might add, if I can get them, would include coconut oil, seaweed, and organ meats like heart, kidney, or liver. You can find other things to add online, but also pay attention of lists of foods to avoid for both dogs and cats, they are different.
It isn’t that difficult to do, and the results are worth it. The problem comes when the family wants to eat something fried, or with heavy spices, and the dogs think that looks much better than some roasted sweet potato sprinkled with seaweed. It’s a struggle to say no to good doggies, especially when the bond through food obviously means so much to them.
This can be solved by setting aside a few dog safe foods during cooking and putting them on the edge of your plate, and also by making something designed for everyone to share. This recipe is a guide for the latter.
This can be done with a pound of any meat, but naturally the goth in me couldn’t resist the darker side of the season. Heart is a source of vitamins B2, B6, and B12. It also has iron, zinc, and selenium. Using organ meats as a source of protein can help add variety to the diet, and at a fraction of the cost of the choice cuts.
As it turns out, beef heart is wicked delicious. It tastes like steak, but the texture is different. The muscle fibers don’t get stuck in your teeth. It’s a texture that might be described as a little bouncy. It almost reminds me of agar jelly, but more firm.
As the family’s resident weirdo, I was the only one delighted at the thought of cooking organ meat for my dogs, and sampling it. There are still certain organs that the humans in my family aren’t anxious to try, but as soon as the scent of beef heart rose in the air, it was like a magnet drawing curious tasters who came back for seconds and thirds.
You have a choice of one of two ways to cook it. The civilized method would be to slice the heart into even strips, and saute them as such. For those who love chaos and darkness, I suggest throwing the whole thing on a cast iron skillet, sear it, and then lower the heat to prevent too much char. The center will take a while to heat up, and it will bleed, bleed, bleed. Sip some red wine out of something with a skull on it, and hum your favorite horror movie theme. Turn frequently to prevent burning. It can be sliced into strips or chunks to serve. The result will be something that will delight those who love a range of textures and flavor on their meat.
In selecting ingredients, avoid onions, garlic, chives, leeks or anything in the onion family. Go easy on seasoning as much as possible in general, especially salt and hot spices. If you don’t like the result, remove some of the food for your pets, then season your own remaining portion how you wish. Go easy on seasonings, especially peppers and curries, but a little bit is okay. Cats might avoid foods with pepper added, and may be more sensitive to digestive upset from it.
Use bone broth for the liquid, to give as many beneficial nutrients as possible. If you want to cook chicken or pork, you might want to substitute half the broth with apple juice. Do not try grape juice as a wine substitute in a sauce (or wine itself). If I don’t mention an ingredient specifically, always check if it’s toxic to your pet. Avoid oily foods and supplements for cats, though they might like a sardine as a garnish.
The basic meal format I use for sharing is a starch topped with vegetables, then a meat, then a sauce. If you like, you can simply make a plate and toss bits to the floor if they are good doggies (they are). Or you can serve them in their own dish, mixing in some kibble with the starch. This also gives you a chance to add things that some people might not want on their plate, such as ground flax seed, or coconut oil. If mixing in something for omega 3 fatty acids, stir it after cooking to prevent nutrient loss. Aim to serve dogs up to 40% protein in puppies, 30% in adults, and 25% in seniors. Just cook the meat separately so you can eyeball this and avoid a lot of math.
If you have an ingredient you want reluctant pets (or kids sharing the meal) to eat, such as green beans or peas, you can purée them into the sauce, or serve the meat and veggies as a pâté. Put it on a bed of rice, shaped into a heart, and drizzle sauce over it. Show it off on the innerwebs. You can also sneak ingredients into meatloaf or meatballs.
Tomato sauce can be used, but only from ripe tomatoes without a hint of green on them. Add something such as carrot puree to thin out the tomatoes, and serve only a little. Dogs can benefit from a little olive oil and basil as a dressing to the starch, but cats should only have a limited amount of oil or it might upset their stomach. Avoid dairy based sauces, which leaves mostly gravies.
For a starch, I usually use brown rice, gluten-free egg noodles, or barley. Brown rice and barley can be prepared before you start cooking the meat, egg noodles can be dropped in boiling water as the sauce is being made.
If using brown rice, I cook it in my rice pot, with vegetables in the steamer insert, rather than sautéing them like I do in the recipe. You can cook the meal however you like, thinking of it as a stir fry, stew, pasta with meat sauce, or a one pot meal. Eggs are also an excellent protein source, sometimes I include a few sliced hardboiled eggs as a “garnish”.
If not using heart, use lean meat, no more than 10% fat. I usually cook the meat in a stainless steel skillet, deglazing with a drop of bone broth to start the sauce. To thicken sauces, I use corn starch or rice flour, as a lot of pets have a wheat allergy.
No grapes or raisins, avoid anything in the onion family, curries, cumin. Go easy on spicy peppers, if feeding a cat you might want to keep them out entirely. Go easy on sugar, it can mess with their digestion.
Things to use There is more, this is just what has occurred to me to check for safety in my cooking, therefore made it into my notes. Use enough rice and veggies to serve all who are eating, leftover sauce and meat can be frozen in individual servings, to be warmed up and served over freshly cooked starches.
Starches and Grains: Barley Black Beans Brown rice Gluten free noodles Lentils Red Beans
Heart over Noodles This is a make as much as you like, and season to taste kind of recipe.
You need: 1 beef heart Gluten-free egg noodles Cornstarch Beef broth Zucchini, cut into chunks thick enough to not cook too quickly. Sweet potato or carrots, cut into thin pieces to make sautéing easier. Just a pinch of salt and pepper
Start warming water to boil. Slice beef heart into even strips. Sauté in a skillet on medium high heat, letting the juices blacken and stick to the pan. Move the meat to the side. Sauté vegetables, and move them to the side. Throw the noodles into the boiling water. Use the beef broth to deglaze the pan and make the sauce. Season the sauce lightly, whisk in about a tablespoon of cornstarch, and stir as it simmers until it is the desired consistency. Drain the noodles, top with the veggies and meat, then the sauce, and serve.
I am mightily enjoying my new journal, even though I’ve been working on it since November, and have only just finished my first real entry. I am not fast at this, but I like where it’s going. Over the last couple of months, I’ve gotten starter supplies of watercolor, watercolor pencil, and gouache to enhance my colored pencil game. It’s been years since I’ve played with these, I gave away all of my art supplies except my colored pencils long ago. Every page will be an experiment, but unlike the mess that is my normal sketchbook, it will be a thought out and planned experiment with a purpose, helping me build so many skills at the same time. I love this stuff so hard.
Now it’s time to move onward. I’ve learned just enough about telling monocots vs. dicots to figure out this could be useful info for me to have. I’m not usually interested in identifying grass-like plants, so it’s not a skill I’ve picked up yet. As the kind of person who finds treasures in “weeds”, knowing more about grasses has always been on my to-do list, so it looks like it’s time. Plus, I recently got some vanilla cuttings, and I know zip about orchids. I can study that, and my ginger. I’ll meander that direction now, and use the illustrations to refine my color blending skills using my new fancy worksheet I whipped up.
This should make things go more smoothly than fumbling around with different colors each time. I designed it thinking I could print it out on any paper I wish, then test whatever material I wish, but I’m low on printer ink. Figures. Anyway, if you want to try it as well, here you go.
I’m not a fan of exploring nature in the winter. I’d rather browse books of sketched winter scenes, while under a blanket with some cocoa. This normally makes winter rather dull for me. This year was looking up to be a little better, with about a dozen small containers of infant carnivorous plants to tend to. Still, I’ve been sad to think of the dormant season, watching my little porch bog slow down and slumber. I figured I’d pass the time by focusing on refreshing my art skills a little, but at some point I lost or gave away all my art books. I’ve only been drawing again since February, and half of that time was spent familiarizing myself with my new digital tablet.
So, I splurged on three new books over the last couple of months, and while they are all lovely and worth every penny, I’ve gone full fan girl on The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, by John Muir Laws. It’s about an inch thick, and every page has me itching with excitement to get drawing. I ran across the book looking for spider anatomy, leading me to his excellent guides on his website. I had to wait a month before I could squeeze this book into the budget, and it was so worth the wait.
Besides providing a quality basic education on art and composition, it is also excellent for teaching you how to look at your subjects with new eyes, and a fresh curiosity. I love my little tiny seedlings, I wander over to them and look at them several times a day. But, sadly, they don’t change much from one viewing to the next. Even having plant babies indoors wasn’t taking the disappointment out of winter. Only now, simply spending a couple of days with this book has me asking new questions. Each little arrangement is starting to become a home of mysteries to explore. I also have some pet spiders and isopods to observe, and unidentified plants coming up in my terrarium. My life is now full of subjects to investigate while my garden sleeps.
Plus, I get to multi task. Each session of observation can serve to not only practice looking at the world with the eyes of a scientist, but also a chance to use the skills taught in the other two books I spoiled myself with. They are both beautiful enough to be coffee table books, if we had a coffee table. Or guests to impress. Regardless, they are relaxing and inspiring to browse through. This is going to be a lovely winter.
Earlier this year, I realized I wanted a very specific mug with a Venus flytrap line drawing on it (currently the banner on this blog), and I could draw it myself using my photos as a reference. I got the red for my design by sampling an area of my flytrap’s leaf, and happily awaited my new mug (and impulse matching tote bag).
I was disappointed when they came. A little. Not too much. The red on my mug was too yellow, and my tote bag was too blue. I wasn’t surprised though, I knew enough about design to know that a lot of palettes are made with specific inks in mind, and I was basically rolling the dice colorwise. If I had printed the photo of the plant, it probably would have been fine. The results of the color would have been covered up by nearby colors averaging it out. Isolating a color with an eyedropper tool and using it to fill a large area meant any problems with the color would be magnified.
Testing your palette means that you know beforehand how your colors will behave on different materials. I would like to be able to use my Prisma pencils or the palette in my drawing software (Autodesk SketchBook), and know that I can rely on them. My first samples used a minimal palette and logic based on what pencil tins I would take with me on a roadtrip, unfortunately my minimal approach was a bad idea.
My samples showed me that I couldn’t trust fairly standard colors as much as I thought I could. I eliminated a few I really liked, and didn’t have something to replace them with. I should have tested a larger range of colors. The images I uploaded to my shop for the next round of samples (when I can afford them) addresses that. The new image samples all the pencils I have on hand. It’s not meant to represent the complete range of the brand. There’s almost 75 of them on my image, though.
Because I spent all my money on the more limited samples, I can only discuss my results from those, but they’re useful. I couldn’t afford to get a sample of everything. But, I know from experience that ceramic and cloth are a must. I also got a card, the range of stickers, and a magnet to see what I could soft proof and what I could not.
I can indeed use my home printer to soft proof cards, as well as matte and glossy stickers, as long as I keep a few things in mind. Cards seemed to be a little more dark or saturated, and greens seemed a tad more blue. Stickers weren’t as saturated, due to a very slight difference in texture that allows a hint of white to come through.
Your own experience with your printer would tell you if you need to get samples on these materials, but I’ll tell you right away to not bother with both glossy and matte stickers. Just get one or the other, they were almost exactly the same. However, transparent stickers and magnets seemed to get slightly different results. That’s fine though, they’re inexpensive enough to get samples of.
Cloth is generally lighter, brighter, and less saturated. At the same time, it seems more vivid. This is probably because the actual ink is more saturated, but the white parts of the cloth show through. I’m basing my results on a mask, but it might be worth the effort to order a wider range of cloth samples. Things with a tighter weave will show more detail, a looser weave will lose more saturation.
The ceramic surface feels glassy smooth, but the colors themselves are a little textured, almost like paper. This causes the colors to be a little more reflective and brighter. Red tones are more vivid. Drinking coffee out of this mug while I draw is way more satisfying than I thought it would be.
The next time I order samples, I will order transparent stickers, a mug, a magnet, a cell phone cover, a mask, a zippered pouch, and a tote bag. When combined with soft proofing, that should provide enough information for fairly reliable results on a range of products. After that, as long as I’m careful to not use my colors in a way that might create a shade that goes off of my palette, my designs are fairly safe, and the only samples I have to worry about ordering are the things I want to own in the first place.
Because the process of organizing these samples took a couple of days (partly because I was dealing with about three decades’ worth of pencils), I went ahead and put my palette up in my store so others can use it and not have to go through all that. Even if you use different software, you can use my sample with an eyedropper tool and compare it to the image below. If you order on something that provides you with a lot of information (like an iPad cover or something else that I haven’t tested), please let me know and I’ll update this page to add your information and link to your results on your own site and store (if you like).
This leads to the part where I point out this means my store is now open. In fact, I have a whole new promotional page that has some free downloads as well.
Maybe you want to sample my palette, maybe you like my art, or maybe someone in your audience will. Please share, I need to raise the money to buy more samples, and I’m hoping the usefulness of this article will help me reach people willing to buy my products. I especially want a zippered pouch to hold my pencils, I have no idea what the material on those is like, but that would be a great reference to have right on the pencils. I’m hoping it will be a plastic type canvas that shows detail well. I also kinda really want a flytrap hardback journal for a bog garden diary.
P.S. – That first mug idea I had, the one that fueled the desire to start designing things? I knew I would be revising it and ordering the revised version in the future anyway, so I decided it would also do as a sample for how well the item held up to serious wear and tear. It became my only drinking mug, and I put it in the dishwasher daily, right next to where the jets came out. Don’t do that. I think a slip of paper with my last mug said it was dishwasher safe. If so, that would be only an occasional dishwashering with cooler temperatures, away from the jets. If you really like a mug from Redbubble, hand wash only. Once the flaking started it did not stop, even when I switched to hand washing. Guess I also need a new flytrap mug.
P.P.S. – I almost forgot. I have a goal. If I get 1000 followers on Instagram, Joe will work with me on getting a better camera. I really enjoy taking photos, but my camera is actually a camcorder. I can’t even adjust some of the settings on it. Take a look at my Instagram, and follow me if you think I deserve an upgrade.
Trying to learn to use photostacking software. It’s supposedly the key to getting those super crisp macro photos that the insect photographers keep stunning me with. But my results were not stunning like theirs, I kept getting results that were blurrier than the original. Maybe I just need more practice. In the meantime, doing it by hand and simply erasing the blurry parts of a layer ended up woring waaaaaay better.
Carnivorous plants can be very charming. We feed Venus flytraps with what looks like little mouths, and they seemingly smile up at us in gratitude. Sundews twinkle, and curl around little offerings. Pitcher plants look like they are singing together in chorus, or laughing at a secret joke. When they are out on the porch, I miss mine. I like to take one or two, and put them under my desk lamp, just for a little while. It feels like they are visiting, sharing my company. They’re like little pets with artistic and scientific appeal. Also, they come with the tiniest of thrills at being so close to a deceptive and seductive predator. A sun loving, flowering beauty that whispers morbid poetry.
Lately, I have been reaping the rewards of a successful quest. Somewhere around a decade ago, a grocery store was selling pitcher plants and sundews alongside their seasonal flytraps, and I jumped at the chance. Killed them all. Got very sad. Decided that every time a grocery store offered flytraps, I would buy one until I learned to keep them alive, because I am a stubborn person. If I could bring a flytrap out of dormancy, I would move to propagation. If I succeeded, I would reward myself with more pitcher plants and sundews.
While undertaking my epic quest, I learned from a whole plethora of mistakes. I didn’t have internet access or money for supplies when I started, the first couple of years were clumsy. One year, I forgot spring water wasn’t pure enough. I completely misunderstood everything important about dormancy. I did learn, though. Got close to meeting my goal once, but a toddler and a dog conspired to kill my plant, so I had to try again. But I did, of course I did, and in fact, I did it with the most beautiful flytrap that I’ve seen in a grocery store.
I took photos immediately, I knew my skills would be enough to keep her alive, but I had never managed to grow one to look quite that glorious (windowsills are not enough sun for that red, most of the time). Good thing I did, because she does not look that glorious today. I learned from the previous flytrap what happened when I left it on the porch and turned my back. Curious fingers could not resist Mama’s fascinating plant and, the dog wanted to eat it. Badly. So, my beautiful flytrap had to sit in a sunny window for a year. She is doing well, and I did propagate her, but my light was not strong enough for her to grow as stunning as she used to be.
However, as I mentioned, I promised myself that when I propagated a flytrap, I would splurge on a collection. Propagate her and splurge I did, and she benefited by getting a larger pot and a safe area on the porch, thanks to some new shelves that keep her away from the dog. The girl is older, and understands the plants will die if played with. So, my mother flytrap, named Tippi (short for Tippitiwichet, the name of my blog is one of the common names for flytrap) is finally is getting the full sun she deserves, and already she’s starting to blush. Just a little, but I’m encouraged. You can see her leaves aren’t as yellow as they were though, that was from shipping and grocery store conditions.
My coloring book project has already been morphing from swamp ecology to focusing on carnivorous plants, so it was easy to justify getting more than a couple of new living models to sketch. Plus, when I did a little research, I found out sundews can be used as a rennet substitute in cheese making, and I’ve managed to (easily) convince my partner to invest in supplies to grow enough sundew for cheese experiments. I even picked up two new flytraps, because it happens to be the time of year they show up in grocery stores, and genetic diversity can mean more fun with seeds. I’ve spent the last few weeks giddy and obsessed, just ask my ever-patient Twitter mutuals.
Naturally, I have research to do, I wish to know my new babies well. Also naturally, I wish to sketch them and include them in my coloring book. Printable care sheets for each species feels rather inevitable. It might take a while. The current collection has 9 species of pitcher plant, and 6 species of sundew, in addition to my multiple flytraps. But, I already have one printable care sheet for you, and I’ll release the others as I finish them.
Also, I want to have a visual record of my plants. I want to see how each species reacts to changes I make in their care, what pitchers looked like in spring versus summer, and the overall potential of the genetic line. I purchased a few species that were similar for the sheer joy of watching the changes between them as they grow (I am a nerd), so I may as well keep records. I thought I might share this online, it might help me to score feedback from other carnivorous plant growers. It would also enter some photos under creative commons for articles and blog posts, or artists who want reference photos and whatnot. I decided to leave photos I upload unedited, so you can adjust them to suit your needs. I like taking photos though, and I might edit some to suit my own tastes and upload them to Instagram every now and then.
If you’re still reading this, you must be at least a little interested, so take a look at my collection albums. If you see something you want to know about, let me know and I can make that be the next plant I focus on. The albums themselves will tell you where I got each plant from in the oldest posts for that plant, if you want to pick one up. Most of them have very similar care to the flytrap, so do read the care sheet above.
Looks like this blog will start to churn out some regular content as these pages get done, but no promises that I won’t focus on piling up chores for a week, or take a long road trip that slows me down (my partner works half a continent away). I am not the kind of person to post on a strict schedule. I’m kind of driven on this though, even if I’m not talking about it online, I’m reading, sketching, taking macro photographs. These plants have quietly been a passion of mine for a long time. I’m accepting my future in a cabin in a swamp somewhere, evolving into a crone, breeding fireflies, cackling madly to my flesh-eating flowers. I’ll name all the possums, and teach tricks to the carrion crows.
I recently interrupted my schedule with a road trip to the northeast (my man works halfway across the country), so it’s caused an interruption in my projects. I spent some of my down time with a sketchbook practicing drawing flies though. I’d like to do a coloring book that focuses on carnivorous plants, so knowing the details of how fly bodies work seems fairly important. It turns out studying dozens of photos of flies still won’t answer some of the mysteries of how their bodies are put together, so I might need to find a model in resin, or maybe a little desiccated bugger in the window.
In the process, I’m coming up with quite a few ideas, so the next few weeks will probably be full of me sketching away quietly. Once my persnickety attention to detail is satisfied, the first coloring booklet won’t be far behind.
Here is how I spent my time this week. There will be coloring pages and merchandise based on this design, maybe some stickers. I want to order some samples and try a few different palettes out before I throw it up here. In the meantime, here’s a desktop wallpaper.
Hello, and welcome. This new blog is mostly a space for me to distribute some coloring pages I’m working on. I want to do this to educate my kid, but might as well also help you educate yours. Mostly pages will be about nature and ecology, though later there may be a retold fairy tale or two. Some pages will be a block of text with information on one side for older children, others will have simple sentences for early readers, and there will be a few for even younger audiences, like today’s page. My daughter is going to be five soon, so for now I might do a lot of things for her to start reading, and the educational part will be me talking to her about the subject.
Pages may be released a little slowly at first, I’m meandering my way through this. I can’t help it, it’s who I am. Each plant, insect, and animal species must be studied in detail for a while. I need to sketch how it is built even before doing simple drawings, I must design a species info form and fill out all the blanks on habitat, lookalikes, uses/warnings, and propagation or control tips. I’ve done this before, and I used to have notes and sketches on a variety of local useful plants I can easily forage in my area. I no longer have those files. We won’t talk about the incident that taught me the importance of backing up your data, nor will we discuss the incident that taught me to back up even more frequently.
So I’m doing this from a blank slate (again), and I want to learn more about each topic than I did before. I want to do a full coloring book on plants to grow for pollinators, one on insects in general, and one on swamp ecology. I’ve been learning to grow Venus flytraps, and have been growing plants for pollinator seed bombs for a couple of years, so these subjects are always around me, drawing my fascination. I’m setting this up so I just go around having fun being myself, taking photos of things to sketch and research, maybe toying with a little animation, and I hope to end up with a coloring book or five in the process. While I’m at it, I might as well sling some mugs and whatnot with my art printed on them, because it would be cool to earn a dollar or two. Eventually, maybe some wildflower infused candles and soaps or seed mixtures could end up in my store.
I have heard that drawing styles for coloring books should have simple lines for young fingers, so far my style might be frustrating for children who don’t like to color outside of the lines, but don’t have the dexterity for fine lines. For kids like my daughter, happy being loose and free with her splotches, the pictures will be something more intricate to look at while they enjoy themselves. I’m still playing around with style and will likely produce a variety of things, but I’m currently a little challenged at producing a simpler style. That fascination with detail spills into a lot of areas of my life.
And naturally, it’s not just for kids. I certainly plan on spreading out on the floor next to her, sharing crayons while I talk about habitat loss as we color “A is for axolotl”. I’m kind of drawing the coloring books I would have loved to own back when I was teen. It’s the whole “write the book you want to read”, for my inner child. This is gonna be so much fun.