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When I lived in Panama, birds were everywhere. Our house in Gatun (which is no longer there because the new, wider canal construction has converted my old neighborhood into a large reservoir for the new lock system) had wires right outside our kitchen window. For a week or so each year it was covered by little green lovebirds. Our annual Audubon bird count was a time of great excitement, as we compared totals with previous years and celebrated current totals.
Here’s a link to Audubon’s web site with more information about the annual bird count.
More personally, Molas – the cloth panels of Kuna women – portray an amazing variety of birds. So, when I started drawing, birds were central.
These images are from my book, Paisley Pig & Friends: A Multicultural ABC
While researching my next book on turtles, I discovered that the quatrefoil shape is also reflected in Mayan design. Take a look!
How many animals can you name that start with the letter ‘N’?
It’s not easy, is it?
I came up with ‘narwhal,’ ‘newt,’ and ‘nightingale.’ So for this drawing I fudged a little bit and added a ‘nurse shark’ and a ‘needle fish.’
Yep, Umbrella birds are real, but they are not from Uzbekistan. Although they live in the Amazon, my parents saw one a long way from home, in Panama.
I think they look cool drawn in the Uzbekistan folk art style, don’t you?
You can see real Umbrella birds here.
Here are some owls
In one of those strange coincidences, when I made this drawing from Janice’s photograph, I left out one of the babies. Later, Janice told me one of the four chicks had died!
To research Paisley Pig & Friends, I spent a lot of time at a Borders Book Store in Connecticut. Now that I live in Vermont, I revel in the stacks at Dartmouth College’s library. But for ruminating on designs and organizing notes, there is no better place than Crows Corner Bakery & Opera House Cafe in Proctorsville, Vermont! So I gave them this crow.
It doesn’t hurt that the best yarn store ever, Six Loose Ladies, was just down the street and a great place for color and texture inspiration! (They have since moved to Chester, Vermont.)