Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter bunny

How have rabbits become synonymous with Easter? And where is the theory behind the Easter Bunny bringing chocolate eggs to children (and adults)? I never quite understand the connection anymore than I understand the connection chocolate or chicks have with this holiday either, so I did a little research.

Marion Murdoch's version seems logical.
It is thought that the hunt for eggs came first, with no association to the rabbit. As children searched for the eggs, they flushed out rabbits and thus began the stories of the rabbits leaving the eggs. Eggs were traditionally given out at the start of Spring in Egypt and Persia.

Historically, the rabbit, hare, and eggs in folklore have their basis as pagan fertility symbols, signifying Spring and new life, and the worship of the goddess Eostre or Eastre (usually shown with the rabbit as her symbolic animal). To entertain a child, the goddess turned her favorite bird into a hare, which immediately laid colorful eggs. When the Christians moved into the pagan's territories, they decided that the custom of coloring eggs was not harmful and adapted it to their own festivities.

Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following a full moon, so the moon was used to figure out the date of Easter every year, and the hare (not the rabbit) was the symbol of the Egyptian moon. The hare was always been portrayed with its eyes open, watching the moon. In fact, the Egyptian word for hare is "un" which means open. Hares are born with their eyes open, rabbits are born with them closed.

When German settlers arrived in America, they brought with them the legend of "Oschter Haws", the white Easter Hare. Children behaved themselves, believing that, if they were good, Oschter Haws would lay colorful eggs (symbols of rebirth) for them in a nest the children had provided (usually their hat or bonnet, placed in the barn). By the 19th Century, the Easter Hare became the Easter Rabbit. American families would later adapt the nest tradition, using baskets, chocolate, and money. Easter itself was not widely celebrated until after the Civil War. A recent poll showed that 88 percent of adults still continue the Easter Bunny tradition
And to make your arteries quiver and your dentist rub his hands in glee here are some facts about Easter candy production:
  • The first chocolate eggs were made in Europe in the early 19th century and remain among the most popular treats associated with Easter.
  • 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made for Easter each year.
  • 16 billion jelly beans are made for Easter.
  • Each day, five million marshmallow chicks and bunnies are produced in preparation for Easter.
  • Easter is the second top-selling confectionery holiday behind only Halloween.
  • 88 percent of adults carry on the Easter tradition of creating Easter baskets for their kids.
  • 76 percent of people eat the ears on chocolate bunnies first.
  • Red jelly beans are kids' favorite.
  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records the largest Easter egg ever made was just over 25-ft high and made of chocolate and marshmallow. The egg weighed 8,968 lbs. and was supported by an internal steel frame.
Of course, I have to include a link to the infamous 'Peeps' experiments. You remember those neon coloured marshmallowy chicks?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Outside the zone

Its a holiday for me today so I spent my time catching up with some drawing. This is my effort with the baby orangutan on drafting film. Its been the first time I've seriously worked on this support and I have to say that I quite enjoyed using it.

There isn't much tooth to it of course so layers were a challenge and choosing colours became more crucial and I went outside my usual colour zone. The image changes slightly too depending on the colour of the paper you put behind it. Its currently on white. I have to look into how to frame this medium as its obviously too floppy to be framed on its own and needs a backing.

This drawing is done with coloured pencil and is about 11 x 14. The photo, as always, doesn't do justice to the colour of the drawing. In real life it has a softer glow to it and the colours are less intense in some areas, more so in others.

”The seed of your next art work lies embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections (or mistakes, if you’re feeling particularly depressed about them today) are your guides -- valuable, reliable, objective, non-judgemental guides -- to matters you need to reconsider or develop further.”
-- David Bayles and Ted Orland.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


There are so many project in my head that its difficult to prioritize them and I find myself working in small sections of time on a number of them. Interruptions from various sources distract me and just when I find a block of time to myself, the multitude of images all call individually for attention.

I started a drawing in coloured pencil on mylar tonight. Its a unique surface -very smooth application, but not open to using many layers, so it really is an experiment. There are a few Q & A's about using drafting film that are very useful.

Drafting Film Q's and A's

Portrait demo on drafting film

And to prove how easily I get distracted, here's a sketch I did of my grand daughter even when I knew I had other drawings that needed work on them. I think I need blinkers.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Meet Eric. He's a baby orangutan rescued after his mother was killed in the forest in Taiwan. I have been studying apes lately and find them constantly interesting. Poor Eric looks a little alien in this line drawing, but should become more animated as details emerge.

I will transfer this line drawing to some mylar that I finally found and see how it works with coloured pencil. As I haven't used drafting film much yet, its an experiment. I'll show you how it progresses - if it progresses.

This line drawing is 9 x 12

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it "creative observation." Creative viewing.

William S. Burroughs

People ask how to draw and its never an easy thing to explain. Everyone has in them the ability to draw, but the ability to observe is difficult to explain. I was drawing a chimp's hand today and explaining to the person what I was seeing and how interesting it was. They didn't understand and I could see I lost them the further I got into the subject and the drawing.

Artists often look at things differently. I saw a television program that showed old communities in Newfoundland long abandoned or resettled. Buildings slowly decaying and nature reclaiming the land for itself again. I asked 'what do you see?[ The answer was a quiet setting near the sea. In my mind, I saw possibilities for drawing, focal points, light and shade. I listed colours that I would use as scenes flashed in front of my eyes. I saw something very different. Why do some see the details and others do not? Is it training, the level of interest, ability, habit? Perhaps a combination of all of the above.

This is a quick sketch for an oil painting that I will start soon. Yes, I know I keep putting it off, but I will do it. My sketches end up on the trashiest paper - anything from napkins to envelopes to newspaper. However, I believe getting the idea down is more important than the support at that point.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Why do apes fascinate humans so much? Do we see ourselves in them, or they in us? I remember years ago being at a zoo and watching a big male orangutan who was watching me as well. We held eye contact for a good 5 minutes with about two ape arm lengths between us in a fairly open zoo.

I continued to photograph him and watch him when he stretched his arm as far as he could out between the bars of his enclosure to pick a dandelion from the grass, then he held it out to me. I so wanted to take the flower he was offering, but couldn't. It was one of those moments in life when you feel as if you can read the animal's mind. Or so I believe. Now taking that flower may well have meant, he'd rip my arm off, but it felt safe somehow with him.

These chimpanzee sketches were the start of a WDE at WetCanvas that never quite got finished. I'd like to go back and doing a painting or coloured pencil drawing of a primate. They do have a fascination to me and perhaps I to them.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

What is spring?

I came across Loretta's post in Pomegranates and Paper about what signals spring to her. It was inspiring and made me think about how I know spring is here. What about you? What makes your heart and soul know that it is spring?

Here's my list so far.
  • Crocuses peeking round the last vestiges of snow in the garden
  • Ducks and geese starting to lay eggs after the winter break
  • Putting away winter coats and boots
  • The cat being outside for hours instead of 5 minutes at a time
  • The greenhouse feeling warm even without heat on
  • Starting seeds for flowers and vegetables
  • Rabbits in the garden
  • Robins returning to the garden
  • Cleaning the winter's grime off outside windows
  • The pair of crows in the woods setting up their nest again
  • Lighter mornings and longer evenings
  • No frost to scrape off the car in the morning
  • Open windows
  • Plowing the fields
  • Looking at brightly coloured dresses in the stores