Friday, February 17, 2012

I Love Your Ugly Mug.

It's been a long while since I added anything to The Nest Egg Art Project blog but that doesn't mean that the project isn't always on my mind. Recently I spent an afternoon organizing images of my artwork. It was no surprise to find that I've done more drawings and paintings of Turkey Vultures than any other bird. My love of these New World Vultures began during my research for the Beauty & the Butterfly series.

Now, Turkey Vultures are by no means threatened, in fact they are listed by IUCN Conservation Status as Least Concerned. It is how they are collectively perceived that has my heart broken. My wish is that no matter how ugly or disgusting an animal (or human for that matter) may be seen, they have value. When we understand a being's value we begin to feel compassion and I think we could use a lot more compassion in this world. That is the spirit I wished to convey in the Beauty & the Butterfly series and carries on every time I sketch a beautiful and much loved Turkey Vulture.

In celebration of the Turkey Vulture I pulled several past sketches. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Beauty and the Butterfly Drawings

What do you do on a 22,000 acre cattle ranch in Wyoming for a month? You make a whole lot of art. I just spent the month of April at an artist residency at the Ucross Foundation in northern Wyoming. There is no way to describe how wonderful of an experience it was in a few short sentences, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

My mission…create a body of work depicting vultures in a beautiful way. I love a challenge and I’ve always enjoyed finding beauty in what others might consider “filthy”. (I am a dirtbag at heart).

This series is comprised of five 40”x30” oil on canvas paintings and nine 12”x9” pastel and charcoal drawings on butcherpaper. All of the vultures in the paintings are listed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered.

It is my hope that the viewer can catch a glimpse of how beautiful I see these wonderful creatures and understand that they are valuable within our communities and beyond.

(You can find more information and great photos of the vultures below by visiting and

Beauty and the Butterfly Drawing Series

Ruppell's Vulture

Monarch Butterfly #1

Turkey Vulture

Monarch Butterfly #2

Cape Vulture

Monarch Butterfly #3

Monk Vulture

Monarch Butterfly #4

White-backed Vulture

Beauty and the Butterfly Paintings

Beauty and the Butterfly Painting Series

Cape Vulture
(also known as Cape Griffon)

California Condor

White-headed Vulture

Lappet-faced Vulture

Egyptian Vulture
Seeing a California condor with my own eyes made this project a priority. This particular condor was recovering from a serious bout of lead poisoning which she acquired by eating carrion shot with lead bullets.

Her wingspan is 9.5 ft., making her 10 ft. wide flight enclosure a tight squeeze! I had the privilege of watching as she was moved to this enclosure. She was cautious and so inquisitive. As she investigated her new surroundings, you could see her “wheels turning”. What a smart and beautiful girl. I am glad to say that she is well and on her way to being released back into her natural habitat.

Vultures don’t fall into what the masses consider beautiful and maybe that is why I adore them. It is my hope that this series will allow the viewer to see them in a different light.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wishes For Wildlife

Liberty Wildlife's 17th Annual Wishes for Wildlife Benefit Event




5 Burrowing Owls is one of the auction items that will be available on the evening of the event. Help support our wildlife!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Passenger Pigeon
Great Auk
The Dodo, Passenger Pigeon, and Great Auk are three birds that everyone on this planet should know about. Unfortunately, we can only read about them because all three are extinct and we were the sole cause. One of my favorite bird books is The Great Book of Birds by John Gooders. Below are words taken from Mr. Gooders about these lost treasures.

Dodo is a classic. This giant flightless pigeon was first discovered in 1599 and thereafter was hunted for food by mariners. By 1681 they were extinct. (That’s less than 100 years!!)

Perhaps no story of man’s senseless slaughter matches that of the extermination of the Passenger Pigeon. No doubt when the first white men arrived in American, the Passenger Pigeon was the most numerous bird on earth. Breeding colonies could often be measured in miles. By the middle of the 19th century thousands of hunters earned their living from shooting the birds. Within a couple of generations the flocks were no more. Martha, the last captive female died in Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
The Great Auk of the North Atlantic was exterminated by sailors in 1844. This flightless, 30 inch bird was the northern equivalent of the penguins. It was a welcome item of food to scurvy-ridden sailors on long voyages.
Education and compassion are the only things that can keep this from happening in the future.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Saturday, February 6, 2010 6-9PM
to benefit Audubon Center of the North Woods & Eloise Butler Wildlife Garden and Bird Sanctuary and BxB 2010

Last year I stumbled upon an article for an annual avian art exhibition called BirdxBird in Minneapolis. I am excited to say that I am on the 2010 roster. What is BirdxBird? Cynde Randall, artistic director for the exhibition, says it best in her “scoop” for the participating artists.

So here’s how it works: about 120 of us make some beautiful work and once a year we install a big show and hold an auction to benefit the birds. The money that we raise goes to support critical habitat and environmental programming at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis and Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone Minnesota.”

The artwork produced for this exhibition is in response to data collected about avian species. Since 2002, BirdxBird has installed the work of painters, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, and multi-media artists for a one night exhibition and auction. For details on this event visit If you just so happen to find yourself in NE Minneapolis on Feb. 6th, swing by Northrup King Gallery 320!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Igor was commissioned by a wonderful woman who works at the Tucson Wildlife Center. She came to my booth at the Indie Chic art fair and we had a delightful conversation about black vultures.

Apparently the center has a black vulture named Igor that is quite something. She'll present this sketch to the center as a Christmas gift. Yay Igor!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Indie Chic @ 10th Street Art Fair

I am happy to say that the Indie Chic @ 10th Street art fair was a great experience. I made some friends, sold some artwork, and got to spend the day in the sunshine.

What is Indie Chic @ 10th Street? The sponsors say it best: It is an alternative craft fair with a selection of hip, handmade items including clothing, jewelry, ceramics and wall art all made by independent crafters. Vendors are carefully chosen for their unique urban aesthetics.

Shop hand-crafted and local. Why? It helps the environment by reducing your carbon footprint, it keeps your hard-earned money in the community and it supports Phoenix's handmade revolution!

This was the first event in which I donated 10% of my proceeds to an avian conservation organization. That organization was Liberty Wildlife located here in the Phoenix area.

I've really gained so much from Liberty since I began volunteering there. It was a meager donation but backed with much appreciation for the wonderful services they provide to our local critters!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Corn Bunting

I recently had the pleasure of completing a commissioned sketch of a Corn Bunting. Sketching a bird I knew nothing about was a challenge but knowing that this little guy would soon reside in a flat on a small Scottish island made the challenge most welcome.

I thank Kieren Jones, who is the new owner of the sketch, for this opportunity. Kieren is a conservationist working in an attempt to stop the Corn Bunting from disappearing from UK shores. Below are a few of his words about the bird in which he is so passionate.

“The Corn Bunting is one of the defining birds of European farm land, in fact the gaelic name for the Corn Bunting translates as "the fat bird of the barley". Unfortunately with the modernization of farming techniques there has been a dramatic shift towards silage bails. These are not only ugly to look at but unfortunately also leads to fields being cut before they are ripe and the seed ferments in the bails. Without this food source there has been an 83% drop in Corn Bunting numbers across the UK in the last 50 years.

With other countries following suit and modernizing farm techniques the research which the RSPB are undertaking becomes of the utmost importance.”

Thank you Kieren and all of those who devote their time and energy to causes that make a difference in our lives!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Liberty Wildlife

I have to share a great experience. Inspiration has shot through the roof! Recently I began volunteering at Liberty Wildlife which is a non-profit avian rehabilitation, conservation, research, (you name it-they do it) organization here in Phoenix, Arizona.

To witness the birds that I have been looking at only in books and photographs first hand is amazing. To experience their true size, to see them in motion, and to interact with them...its almost to much to take in!

But the most wonderful thing to witness is their personalities. Not only the characteristics of their species (like the wicked, intense stare of a golden eagle or the intimidating hiss of a great horned owl) but of them as an individual. Each is truly unique and I am grateful to share time with them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Humbolt Penguin

Humbolt Penguins are considered warm weather penguins. They are found in the coastal regions of Peru and Chile.

Some fun facts about these wonderful animals: they are non-migratory and can reach speeds up to 20 mph underwater! The St. Louis Zoo has wonderful information about the Humbolt on their website. Just click here to find out what they have to say about this amazing critter!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Barcelona Chair

This painting is on the large size (for me anyway), measuring 64x36". This is one of my favorite birds, the Greater Adjutant, on one of my favorite pieces of furniture, the Barcelona Chair. I enjoyed pairing an endangered scavenger that is commonly found rummaging in garbage dumps atop one of the most iconic designs of the 20th century. Click here if interested in seeing the progress of this painting.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


This painting gets it's name from the shy little Whopping Crane chick that sits atop the Sumatran Rhino calf. Unlike other rhinos, which appear hairless, the Sumatran Rhino is covered in long shaggy hair. It is also the smallest of all rhino species. They are generally solitary in nature which makes learning how to help them as a species a challenge. With fewer than 300 individuals the Sumatran Rhinoceros is critically endangered.

Also at around 300 surviving individuals is the Whooping Crane. But that is a large number compared to the 21 individuals that existed in the 1940s. The Whooping Crane is the tallest bird in North America. They are monogamous and generally mate for life.

Nothing like a dip in the tub!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pygmy Hippo Calf

This is a portrait of Monifa, a pygmy hippo calf born at the Tarongo Zoo in Sydney on Oct. 15, 2008. Outside of zoo walls, little is known about the pygmy hippo because they are solitary, nocturnal, creatures found in the interior forests of West Africa. It is estimated that 2,000-3,000 individuals remain.

My favorite new site,, has some great footage and information on the pygmy hippo.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Attwater's Prairie Chicken

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas has a wonderful Prairie Chicken Recovery program. I donated this sketch of a male during booming season to their recent fund-raiser, Bandanas, Boots, & Bison Concert Under the Stars. Click here to watch a male in "booming" action. It is pretty amazing!

Here are a few words about the history of the Attwater's taken from Fossil Rim's website:

Less than a hundred years ago, one million Attwater's Prairie Chickens ranged over six million acres of coastal prairie in Texas and Southwestern Louisiana. Today, less than one-percent of the original coastal prairie remains. As development eradicated this fragile habitat, the native species followed. Today a mere 50 birds live in the wild.

In 1992, as part of a comprehensive recovery plan for the species, we initiated a captive breeding program at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. This work has been crucial in preventing the Attwater's extinction.

Since 1992, Fossil Rim has contributed 60% of the total Attwater's into the wild.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Brown Pelican

The brown pelican is the only pelican that dives from the air to catch it's food, which is quite a sight! But these amazing birds nearly disappeared from North America between the 1950's and 1970's due to the use of the pesticide DDT.

The birds were removed from the Endangered Species list in the Southeastern US in 1985. This year the California Fish and Game Commission decided to remove the brown pelican from the state Endangered Species list.

Channel Islands National Park in Ventura, California (one of the most beautiful places on earth!) provides essential habitat for this species. Click here to find out more information about the brown pelican and Channel Islands.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Burrowing Owls

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has identified the Burrowing Owl as a candidate species and in several states they are considered a species of concern. They are endangered in Canada.

I think the 2 most interesting Burrowing Owl factoids are that they live in underground burrows (hence the namesake) and to ward off danger the chicks make a sound identical to that of a rattlesnake. There is a fantastic video of Bob Fox, co-founder of Wild At Heart, on the AZ Game and Fish Dept.'s website that demonstrates the chicks convincing performance.

Wild At Heart is a non-profit dedicated to the conservation and preservation of Arizona's native birds of prey. Through The Burrowing Owl Project, this organization is helping relocate owls that are in danger of losing their natural habitat due to suburban development.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Micronesian Kingfisher in Teacup

This painting is of one of my favorite birds of all time, the Micronesian Kingfisher. It is indigenous to the woodlands and forests of Guam but there are zero left in the wild and about 100 in captivity. I was surprised to learn that the usual loss of habitat was not fully to blame for the demise of this kingfisher but rather the brown tree snake.

The Philadelphia Zoo has been a leader in the conservation of this endangered species since the Guam Bird Rescue Project was initiated. This year the zoo is opening the doors of the new McNeil Avian Center. Visiting this facility might cause my heart to explode from pure wonderment but I am willing to risk it!

(I thought this lovely little guy deserved a fancy teacup and a few good books).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wish Me Luck

I've just submitted a grant application for The Nest Egg Art Project from Arizona Commission on the Arts-keep your fingers crossed! Here is a condensed version of my project narrative:

Arizona Commission on the Arts Artist Project Grant
Project Narrative

My mission is to produce a body of work using the imagery of extinct and endangered birds as well as birds that have been removed from the endangered species list. I will organize an art exhibition to take place in the fall of 2010 for this artwork and donate a portion of the profits from each art piece to an organization dedicated to maintaining the livelihood of endangered bird species.

The Attwater’s Prairie Chicken is possibly the most endangered bird in North America. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas initiated a captive breeding program in 1992. In that time, the Center has successfully contributed 60% of the total Attwater’s released into the wild.

I have been given the wonderful opportunity to visit Fossil Rim to observe and sketch these amazing animals. The prairie chickens are most active in the spring . I plan to visit in mid- April.
Through this project I hope to become a better artist, learn more about avian behavior, and become part of a community that supports the survival of an animal about which I am passionate.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Love Me

I can't seem to get enough of peregrine falcon chicks! This little guy, entitled Love Me, is painted directly onto a mounted piece of vintage wallpaper.

For me, wallpaper is the epitome of "home". It represents civilization, life, and humanness. It is taking a space and making it a permanent area to live.

I had a fantastic art teacher, Ms. Sylvestri, who referred to setting up our work space at the beginning of each class as "building our nest". "When you get your nests set up, come to me with questions", she would say.

I have never really put the two together until just now, but decorating your personal space with wallpaper or any other means of personalization in order to make a more comfortable environment for you and your family is just that - building a nest.

Placing the subject (a bird) in an environment that it does not belong (a home) has been an extremely enticing juxtaposition to me. With every painting I try to gain a greater understanding of this comparison. Animal vs. man and wild vs. civilization are extremely overwhelming topics when looking at the entire picture. I'll just have to take it bite by bite instead.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Peregrine Falcon Chick

This is a pastel and charcoal sketch of a peregrine falcon chick. This particular species has had a rocky past but thankfully now has a promising future.

The use of the pestiside, DDT, caused a rapid decline in the peregrine falcon population. DDT caused thinning of eggshells which resulted in the eggs breaking during incubation.

Once listed as endangered, the american peregrine falcon has made a recovery and in 1999 was taken off of the endangered species list.

I found a great quote in the most fantastic book, Peregrine Falcons by Candace Savage, "The peregrine is a bird with a naturally long life. But sensitive, high-level predators such as peregrines feed at the top of the food chain, and so have served as bellwethers to alert us to the invisible contamination of our world. It is because we have lost large numbers of raptors, including peregrines, that we discovered the progressive poisoning of our food chains by chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides."

Monday, March 16, 2009


The Elepaio is native to the three Hawaiian islands of Hawaii, Oahu, and Kauai. This beautiful bird is actually one of Hawaii's most abundant songbirds but is still classified as endangered due to severe recent declines.

I have always preferred painting to drawing but recently made it a goal to improve my drawing skills. This particular mixed media piece is dear to my heart because it is the first sketch that began my journey to becoming a better draftsman (draftslady?). Drawing is now a great passion of mine.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Greater Adjutant

The Greater Adjutant is a disturbing-looking scavenger that can reach a height of 5 feet. They have disappeared from most of their historic range in India due to habitat loss. The species is globally threatened, with a total population thought to number no more than a thousand. A small remaining number of these birds can be found feeding in garbage heaps in Vietnam and Thailand.

I saw a photo of a lone Adjutant atop a mountain of trash and was immediately intrigued by this bird. I have always found a quiet sense of beauty in filth and ugliness.