Summary of my art print galleries

Sailing seven seas: A collection of 12 unconventional seascapes. Calm waters and stormy waves; tropical oceans and the Northern seas; deep blue, azure and dark waters, green seas and skies of imaginary worlds; nights on the open water with shining stars and moonlight; sailboats, tall ships, fishing boats, barques, brigs, schooners, tug boats, cutters and ketches; tales, legends, bedtime stories dragons and other mythical creatures of the ancient seas.

The wooden jewelry box: modern, rather abstract paintings inspired by the beautiful patterns and structures of trees, branches, twigs and the amazing color variations and textures of gemstones, crystals, minerals. Vibrant colors of the autumn forests and leaves; the pattern of bare winter branches against the blue sky; the deep, lively green of summer woods; weeping branches reflecting in the water of a placid lake. Maple, oak, elm, ash, birch, sycamore trees and pines –  if you like nature, especially old trees you really should check out this gallery.

Skyscapes and horizons: a collection of modern landscape paintings with a lot of hidden meaning to think about. The endless horizon and the constantly changing view of the sky and the clouds above the land and the sea. The different faces of the sky during daylight and nighttime: lively blue summer skies with white cumulus clouds; the darkness of the hanging storm; the peace of a silent snowfall; the magic of a clear, starry sky.

Winter is coming: my minimalist winter landscape series. Endless, snow covered lands; frozen lakes and rivers; snow laden, bare tree branches against the pale winter sky; aerials of the winter fields and river banks with hay bales, bridges, churches and barns and the northern ice fields with migrating caribous; the winter wonderland of a secret garden behind an old stone wall.  Herons, ravens, and the falling snow…

Winter is coming…

My feelings about G. R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones stories are a bit…well, complicated.

I started to read the first book more than ten years ago and I loved it at first – it’s very intelligent storytelling about an amazingly interesting imaginary world with compelling, diverse characters all around.
And then Ned Stark was killed off in a way that made me refuse to continue reading… I mean, it was obvious from the beginning that it’s not one of those stories where everything turns good at the end and all the heroes ride into the sunset and live happily ever after. And I suspected when the Starks moved to the South that it will end very badly for him, but the emotional cruelness of the circumstances leading to his death knocked me out – at the end he was forced to give up his true self for nothing, just because he couldn’t accept the reality about some of his family members and friends.

old abandoned derelict tower bells under pale sky white light from above through the arches snow covered hills rolling first snow hay bales on the farm field with barn

old abandoned derelict tower bells under pale sky white light from above through the arches snow covered hills rolling first snow hay bales on the farm field with barn

I know that’s nothing uncommon, it has happened and will happen again and again in history and in our everyday lives (though, usually with less severe consequences ;-)), but somehow that anger I felt just made me not want to connect to the characters anymore. So – though I was very curious about how the story will unfold – I stopped reading.

Years later, when the series started on TV I couldn’t resist watching some episodes from time to time and I kept reading the news and spoilers to follow the story – but I always kept the distance, I just didn’t want to invest emotionally anymore.
Maybe, someday, I will start the books again…

lonely tree standing in winter snow top of the hill with a wolf in silent snowfall snow covered snow laden branches blue sky wind still garden gate wrought iron hedges

lonely tree standing in winter snow top of the hill with a wolf in silent snowfall snow covered snow laden branches blue sky wind still garden gate wrought iron hedges

Anyway, one of the details of Martin’s world that got my imagination was the idea of the ever returning severe winters of unpredictable length.

Where I live, winter weather can be rather erratic: some years we have only a few snowy days and the temperature is around zero; some years the country is covered with snow for weeks or months, with freezing cold.

winter sky with snowfall and snowflakes flying birds ravens crying crows forest behind the ice wall stone church fields misty fog lake shore through the clouds

winter sky with snowfall and snowflakes flying birds ravens crying crows forest behind the ice wall stone church fields misty fog lake shore through the clouds

I’m not a fan of cold, but I love snow – the first snow that turns the land into shades of blue and white; the silent snowfall overnight with huge snowflakes, sitting on my rooftop window so thick that I wake up in the morning to the unusual silence; I love to drink my morning coffee sitting by the terrace door looking out to the snowy garden and I love the days when the snow just keeps falling and eventually the city gives up, all traffic stops and life slows down. I love to cross the river walking over the bridge and stop for a while to watch the ice floes floating at the surface of the cold water; and going to the snow covered woods and fields for my daily running is one of my favorite things, especially when there’s no wind at all and all the branches and twigs of the trees are packed with heavy layers of snow.

winter sky with snowfall and snowflakes flying birds ravens crying crows forest behind the ice wall stone church fields misty fog lake shore through the clouds

winter sky with snowfall and snowflakes flying birds ravens crying crows forest behind the ice wall stone church fields misty fog lake shore through the clouds

(…I certainly don’t love snow when it’s transformed into the greyish mass that later hardens on the roadside so dense it can survive even the first few weeks of spring weather, but that comes with the package if you live in the city…)

And no matter how cold or snowy winter is, after around 4 month there’s always spring coming…

But what if we wouldn’t know how long next winter will last? What if it would stay for years; with short days and long nights, never ending snowfalls, frozen rivers and lakes; covering everything with a heavy snow blanket?

I had these questions and thoughts often on my mind while creating my winter landscape collection and eventually this gave the title of the series: Winter is coming…

The Madeiran large white butterfly

madeiran-large-white-butterfly

madeiran-large-white-butterfly

Madeiran large white butterfly

The Madeiran large white butterfly is one of the many species that were last seen in the 20th century. We can’t absolutely be sure about the extinction of these species – the IUCN Red List assesses them usually as critically endangered, possibly extinct – but in the case of this butterfly unfortunately it’s rather certain that there is no hope anymore: since the 1980s there were several searching attempts organized to find living specimens on the relatively small island of Madeira – all unsuccessful.

Female Madeiran large white

Female Madeiran large white

Female Madeiran large white
©Copyright Antonio Aguiar via Arkive

male Madeiran large white

male Madeiran large white

Male Madeiran large white
©Copyright Antonio Aguiar via Arkive

Date of extinction: Many sites list 1977 as the date of the last confirmed sighting – in fact, the last specimens of the species were collected in 1986.

Range: Endemic to the Macaronesian island of Madeira.

Habitat: The Madeiran large white used to live in the laurisilva (laurel forests) of the north-exposed valleys of the island where many nectar-rich plants like thistles and knapweed and diverse types of crucifers – the preferred host plants of the larval stage – grow.

Description: The Madeiran large white (Pieris wollastoni) was considered for many years as a subspecies of the fairly common Large white (Pieris brassicae) – the cabbage butterfly, but it is now regarded as a good species of its own. It was first described in 1882 and – as its name suggests – it had considerable size: 67 -72 mm wide white wings with dark tips and spots on the forewings (females were colored more yellowish, with more spots than the males). The caterpillars were green with black lumps and yellow stripes on the upper part of the body. They used to produce several generations a year from March until late October.

description-Madeiran-large-white-butterfly-Butler-1882

description-Madeiran-large-white-butterfly-Butler-1882

First description of the Madeiran large white
by Butler in 1882 from the Annals and Magazine of Natural History

The Madeiran large white is one of the species featured on a stamp collection issued in 1997 about the butterflies of the island.

Madeiran-Large-White-Pieris-brassicae-wollastoni

Madeiran-Large-White-Pieris-brassicae-wollastoni

 

Cause of extinction: Continuing decline in the area, extent and quality of the natural habitat and possibly a parasitoid wasp or an outbreak of virus infection caused by introducing the small white (Pieris rapae) to Madeira in the 1970s were the most important factors leading eventually to the extinction of the subspecies.

My special thanks to Mr. Antonio Aguiar for his expert help.

Dodo – the emblem of extinction

dodo the emblem of extinction

dodo the emblem of extinction


Dodo – the emblem of extinction

The dodo is probably the most famous in the long line of extinct animals of the last few hundreds of years. Being the species that made humankind realize the fact that an animal can actually and permanently disappear from existence because of the impacts of human civilization made the dodo a generally known icon of extinction; and appearing as a character in Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and in the popular animated movie franchise Ice Age established its prominent position in modern pop culture.

Date of extinction: The last widely accepted sighting of a dodo dates to 1662.

Range: The dodo was endemic to Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean about 2000 km off the southeast coast of the African continent, east of Madagascar.

Habitat: Natural rainforests at the coastal area of the volcanic island with tropical, humid climate.

Cause of extinction: With the arrival (1598) and settling of the Dutch sailors, the rainforests of the island were gradually destroyed and replaced by plantations of imported crops (sugar cane, rice, tobacco, citrus trees etc.) to cater to the needs of the drastically increasing human population. With its natural habitat disappearing rapidly, the flightless, tame bird was hunted to extinction by the predators – dogs, cats, rats, pigs and macaques – introduced to the island by the settlers. According to prevalent opinion the settlers themselves also consumed the dodo’s meet, though recent archaeological investigations have found scant evidence of human predation.

George Edward's Dodo painting

George Edward’s Dodo painting


One of the most copied but incorrect depictions of the dodo:
Roelant Savory’s painting of ornithologist George Edwards’ stuffed specimen, around 1620

Description: Recent scientific examinations also show that the common portrayal of the dodo in literature and pop culture as the archetype of the plump, gluttony, dumb(ish) bird is largely incorrect. Descriptions about the bird from the 17th century are contradictory regarding the details (colors, plumage, tail, beak etc.) of its look, with only a few – rather poor quality – drawings made of wild individuals. The numerous depictions created in the later centuries either copy the few originals made of living dodos brought to Europe and overfed in captivity or were made of badly stuffed specimens. These stuffed specimens were all damaged or lost during the centuries until only a dried head and a foot remained with soft tissue (in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History); along with a few dozen of incomplete and composite skeletons und subfossils mainly found in the excavations of the Mare aux Songes swamp in Southern Mauritius around 1865 and 2005.

Dodo skeleton Durrell Wildlife Park

Dodo skeleton Durrell Wildlife Park


A composite dodo skeleton from the Durrell Wildlife Park,
© Josh More – www.starmind.org 

Based on the scientific and forensic examinations of these remains and the few legit depictions of living specimens in the 17th century in Europe and India, dodos were neither particularly fat nor dumb – their build and brain size agrees with the parameters of bird species living in similar habitats and conditions. The dodo was about 1 meter tall and weighed about 15 kg; his closest relatives are Asian pigeons but the dodo adapted perfectly to a life on an isolated island with no predators and evolved to a flightless bird with short wings, a bulky body, stubby, strong legs and strong, crooked beak.

accurate dodo depiction Mughal Ustad Mansur India

accurate dodo depiction Mughal Ustad Mansur India


One of the few more accurate dodo depictions from India
by Ustad Mansur c. 1625

However, as the skeletons don’t really provide any clue about the outer details, fact is that after 350 years of its disappearance we have only speculations about how exactly the dodo could look like…

12 images for environmental awareness

Nature, wildlife, animals, and environmental awareness were a natural part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I was growing up reading Gerald Durrell’s books; with my family going every weekend on long hikes in the surrounding woods and mountains; and taking home every kinds of stray, wounded or abandoned animals from fallen, injured nestlings to baby bunnies thrown out after Easter (I have to admit though that our parents weren’t always completely enthusiastic about this habit…).
Through this connection with nature and animals, being aware of the impacts our everyday life and human activity in general has on our environment became also a part of our consciousness: my sister and I learned at a very young age about issues like the diminishing rainforests and the increasing pollution of our oceans, and about how to do our best to lessen or avoid the harm we cause to our planet.

critically endangered animals

critically endangered animals

And I remember that even as a kid I was constantly stunned – and enraged – by how little the vast majority of our peers, their parents and our teachers knew and cared about these things. I remember a particular conversation I had as a teenager trying to explain the importance of preserving the Amazon forest to my friends and I remember how they dismissed my reasoning labeled as naive, unimportant and exaggerated.

extinct animals last seen in the 20th century

extinct animals last seen in the 20th century

More than 20 years later, as humankind almost succeeded to literally smother a whole planet into its waste, with desperate warnings about global warming and plastic pollution screamed at us from the media, and internet petitions circling on Facebook, one would think this behavior has generally changed.

Well, it hasn’t. Although there has been some advancement regarding environmental awareness and there are more and more people who do everything and beyond to save and protect what is still left of the planet, most people I know aren’t even willing to collect their waste selectively.

animals endangered by human activity industrial overfishing deforestation agriculture dams

animals endangered by human activity industrial overfishing deforestation agriculture dams

I don’t get this attitude, I never will. I could go on for pages about the reasons, but it doesn’t lead anywhere. I don’t know if being appreciative of the beauty and diversity of our planet and its wildlife or feeling responsible for the harm we cause to other living beings can be taught – I can’t imagine my sister or I could have turned out any other way, and I know a lot of people who didn’t have the kind of family background we had growing up and still think the same way as we do.

My niece is about 10 years old; she loves animals and nature, knows a lot about wildlife conservation and environmental issues and does what she can on her level. But most of her friends and classmates (and their parents and teachers…) have basically no idea or just don’t think these things are important – same story again.  And I see that most of the kids would be inherently interested and would care but with the practically non-existent school education about these subjects and without proper behavior patterns from the parents it’s a lost case.

recently extinct animals 21st century

recently extinct animals 21st century

It has been my conviction for a long time that making environmental consciousness a fundamental part of education at school in every country would be crucial – but I‘m not in a position to achieve this. So – as I’m working partly in graphic design – I created my poster series about endangered and extinct animals. My main intention was to try to give a useful tool to help dedicated parents, teachers or communities who’d like to do something to get the kids’ attention and get them involved – and maybe, hopefully, their parents too (yes, I’m still naive…).

extinct bird species

extinct bird species

The poster series features 12 endangered and 12 already extinct animals. It’s not a random collection: I selected the species very thoughtfully to give the opportunity to cover as many aspects of environmental issues and wildlife conservation as possible. With the help of the posters the kids can learn about these animals and on their example it’s easy to talk about a wide range of topics: about the impacts of pollution and global warming; about how human activity like agriculture, deforestation, building dams and roads etc. changes the habitat of animals; about how overfishing and industrial fishing like netting kills marine wildlife; about poaching and holding wild animals captive for the sake of human entertainment or hobbies; about the vulnerability of islands to invasive species; about the utmost importance of clear waters; and about general things like how an ecosystem works, how can the tiniest element of a system be as significant as the biggest, and why it is so important to maintain the balance.

And, of course, about the possibilities of wildlife conservation and preserving or restoring the health of our environment: everyday acts like conscious buying choices, reducing plastic waste, recycling and sparing resources, using renewable energy; scientific methods from inventing non-polluting or biodegradable materials to resurrecting already extinct or critically endangered species by captive breeding programs and cloning.

animals endangered by illegal trade and poaching

animals endangered by illegal trade and poaching

The posters portray a wide range and diversity of species: mammals, birds, fishes, insects; amazing, cute, weird or cool animals; well known, emblematic and relatively unknown species; endemic and global species; species of islands and continents, oceans, seas and rivers, forests and grasslands, mountains and lowlands; recently and hundreds of years ago extinct animals from all around the planet.

The abbreviation and year under the name refers to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List category of the species: EX – extinct, CR – critically endangered, EN – endangered.

I made the posters available by setting up a store on RedBubble, with a small profit that goes entirely to the Sea Shepherd to support their efforts to save our oceans and marine wildlife.

animals hunted to extinction

animals hunted to extinction

Whether I believe my idea could work, and 12 images could really make any difference?
I don’t know – it’s just a tool, and without dedicated people who put their time, efforts and knowledge in using these posters they are just decoration. But even then, if a kid spends every day in a classroom with these posters on the wall it’s more likely s/he will pay attention and start to ask questions…I think at this point the only chance we have is to make sure that future generations are brought up with an attitude that makes sure they are precisely and painfully aware of the consequences of their everyday acts, that the human race is part of the intricate ecosystem of the Earth, and that each and every individual is personally responsible for the future our planet has – or doesn’t have.

endangered species with successful conservation efforts

endangered species with successful conservation efforts