Jigsaw puzzles for Christmas

Now that winter is coming I decided to augment my  VisibleTales puzzle store collection and made my winter landscape series available on 1000 piece jigsaws. The size is 20″ by 30″, that’s a lot of snow in blue and white :-).

The holiday shopping season has just begun, so if you are looking for a great Christmas gift for someone or just want to spend a few winter nights with putting together a challenging piece just click the images, they will take you right to the store.

CFN’s Little Rangers – an environmental education camp for kids in the Menabe region of Madagascar

More than a year ago when I was writing the post about the Globe-horned chameleon – one of the many endangered chameleon species endemic to Madagascar – I contacted biologist Dr. Matthias Markolf, chairman of the Göttingen based non-profit organization Chances for Nature, to ask for permission to use his excellent photographs as illustration on my blog. I was aware of CFN’s committed work in environmental education and wildlife conservation, so when Matthias told me about their recent project on Madagascar and asked me if I could make a poster for their ‘flagship’ species – the Madame Berthe’s mouse lemur, smallest primate on the world – it was no question this was something I’d love to get involved with. I offered them that I create a 12 piece series – they provided a list of the suggested species, and soon the posters featuring Madagascar’s wildlife were ready.

The program the posters aid is the ‘Little Rangers’, an environmental education camp organized by CFN for local kids in the Kirindy forest in the Menabe region of western Madagascar. The Kirindy Forest is an approximately 100 km2 large protected area of one of the main threatened wildlife habitats of the island, the dry deciduous forest. The forest canopy is dominated by huge baobab trees; it’s home for several rare and endangered species like the giant jumping rat, the Verreaux’s sifaka, several mouse-lemur species and other nocturnal lemurs, bats, tenrecs, reptiles, frogs, rare insects and the fossa. The forest is an important research area for biologists studying different species and the ecosystem of the island, and also an eco-tourism location.

image credits (all cropped): 1. Grey mouse lemur by nomis simon CC BY 2.0 2. Fossa by zoofanatic CC BY 2.0 3. Lowland streaked tenrec by Alan Harper CC BY-NC 2.0  4. Giant jumping rat by Josh More CC BY-NC-ND 2.0  5. Verreaux’s sifaka by nomis simon CC BY 2.0 6. Malagasy green tree frog by hehaden CC BY-NC 2.0  7. Satanic leaf-tailed gecko by Allan Hopkins CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 8.  Red-tailed sportive lemur by Frank Vassen CC BY 2.0 

During the multi-day camp the children participate in different playful educational activities aimed to increase their knowledge about the unique wildlife of the island and to gain a better understanding about the dangers of human-induced threats to natural habitats and the importance of preserving the environment and wildlife. Many animal species of the island became already very rare because of their rapidly disappearing habitat (slash and burn agriculture is prevalent on Madagascar) and hunting by locals, so visiting the protected forest is a special opportunity for the kids to observe lemurs, birds and other species at close range.

CFN plans to offer this camp as a permanent program in the future, they are trying to gain some traction and support for the project. To help this, the posters where also exhibited on location at the Centre National de Formation, d’Etudes et de Recherche en Environnement et Forestier in the Kirindy Forest.

The LITTLE RANGERS education camp in the Kirindy Forest, Madagascar
©Copyright Matthias Markolf 

If you’d like to know more about the Little Rangers program or other activities of CFN, please visit their youtube channel or their website. If you’d like to get involved and help their work, you also find options for donation on their website.

Opera poster for Bizet’s Carmen – two color variations

I recently finished the poster for Bizet’s Carmen – I couldn’t decide which color version I like better so I uploaded both.

The basic design is the same: the long stem single red rose in front of a bull skull with long horns, and a beautiful ‘navajo’ – a traditional Spanish folding knife – above the title. I guess the associations connected to these symbols are pretty universal and need no explanation to anyone who’s familiar with the story of gipsy Carmen, José and torero Escamillo…

I feel the black version maybe fits the dark ambiance of the story better, but the sandy colored ‘Death Valley’ version is a bit more poetic as a composition reflecting about fatal obsession, love and death.

black-white-red-minimalist opera poster for-bizet-carmen

black-white-red-minimalist opera poster for-bizet-carmen

 

original-design-opera-poster-for-bizets-carmen-death-valley

original-design-opera-poster-for-bizets-carmen-death-valley

 

Both versions are available in my store.

Jigsaw puzzles for sale – nature, landscapes, beautiful skies

My Skyscapes and horizons collection is available as jigsaw puzzle from my VisibleTales webshop!
I always loved  landscape and nature puzzles (what a surprise…:)) – there’s something really soothing in putting together piece by piece an image of a beautiful cloudy sky, a peaceful lake, a winter mountain or a starry night sky…

The puzzles in this collection are either 1000 pieces, 20″by 30″, or square format 676 pieces, 20″ by 20″, depending on the aspect ratio of the original works. Clicking the images will lead you directly to the store – I recommend bookmarking the store page for future purchases, there are regular discounts on the site.

Jigsaw puzzles for sale – a challenging collection

This jigsaw puzzle collection is a rather challenging one – the textures and patterns of trees, tree branches and forests reminiscent of gemstones and crystals from my Wooden jewelry box series aren’t so easy to put together 🙂 … not to mention the composite images with the starry night sky…

The puzzles are square format 676 pieces, 20″ by 20″, available in my VisibleTales webshop, clicking the images will lead you directly to the store. There’s always a running discount on the site, just click through and check the banner.

Jigsaw puzzles for sale – the Dragon’s tales of the enchanted forest edition

1000 piece puzzles with scenes and stories from the bridge at the edge of the enchanted forest, not just for kids :)!

Here’s the second chapter of my jigsaw puzzle collections, already available in my VisibleTales webshop, clicking the images will lead you directly to the store:

Obviously, they’re not meant for really small children – I’d say up from the age of around 6-7 – , but if your kid is a motivated type and you’d like to spend some time together doing something fun while you can chat about more or less serious topics, putting together these puzzles is a perfect occasion.

The only thing you need is a table you don’t need to use for anything else for a while, because most probably you will not be done in one afternoon or evening :)…Have fun!

Jigsaw puzzles for sale – Sailing the Seven Seas edition

Looks like most of the world will be closed for a while so I decided to make my illustrations available on jigsaw puzzles – maybe it can help some people to make the time or forced isolation a bit more enjoyable.

My family has been an avid puzzle fan since I can remember, we used to make home competitions when I was a child. On holidays, putting together a puzzle is one of our favorite regular programs – it’s nice to sit around a table and fiddle with the pieces while chatting.

For now, the illustrations of my Sailing Seven Seas collection are available as 1000 piece puzzles, but I will add all series in the near future – stay tuned for the blog posts for announcements. I opened a new store dedicated for the puzzles, it’s called VisibleTales. There are almost always some running discounts, check out the link to see the current offers.

Here are the puzzles, clicking on the images will lead you directly to the store:

More jigsaw puzzles pinned to my Pinterest board.

Opera poster series available

My new minimalist opera poster series featuring classic works of great composers is out and available!

gift-ideas-for-opera-fans-classical-music-lovers

gift-ideas-for-opera-fans-classical-music-lovers

As many people out there I’m pretty sick and tired of hearing about the present virus situation but the story of creating this series is loosely connected to the Covid-19 crisis. I had a ticket for the opera for late March and I was looking forward to having a great night when the first round of the restrictions was announced and the show got cancelled.

To find some compensation, I searched a bit on youtube and was delighted to discover that there are hundreds of excellent recordings of whole opera performances from all around the world to listen to. And to top it, you can watch some of the greatest singers perform who you would never had the chance to listen to live. So, using the time of the forced isolation I delved into the world of operas and decided to create a poster series for some of the greatest classics.

mozart-opera-posters

mozart-opera-posters

It wasn’t easy to choose the ones I  featured. I had to include some of the most popular operas of musical geniuses like Verdi’s Aida and Rigoletto, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly or Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, many of them – Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Puccini’s Turandot or Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia – are among my personal favorites . Die Zauberflöte was the first opera performance I’ve ever been to – I was only around 8 when I saw it with my sister, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is my mother’s favorite. Strauss’ Elektra and Beethoven’s Fidelio were new to me and – for very different reasons – I found them both very interesting.

minimalist-opera-poster-design

minimalist-opera-poster-design

Of course, there are dozens of popular, beautiful or interesting operas of great composers that I couldn’t include – I usually stop my collections at 12 pieces, but this time I think I will make an exception and continue the series until the epidemic is over with adding one or two new design each month. And I definitely plan to continue to discover pieces I’ve never listened before – I think this is a good way to make something positive and enjoyable come out of the time while we have to stay home.

german-opera-posters

german-opera-posters

If you think you’d like to have a poster of your favorite opera on your wall or you are looking for a gift for someone who loves classical music, please feel free to visit my store –  all of my poster designs are available as high quality acrylic, metal, canvas and framed prints in different sizes.

More opera posters on my Pinterest board.

lesser-bilby-macrotis-leucura-yallara

Lesser bilby – the yallara

lesser-bilby-macrotis-leucura-yallara

lesser-bilby-macrotis-leucura-yallara

Lesser bilby – the extinct rabbit-eared bandicoot

On a personal note…I clearly remember the first time I saw a picture of a bilby. I was just staring at the photo thinking there’s no way this creature is legit: this must be a hoax, a digitally manipulated image of a rabbit and some kind of other rodent…
In fact, this is a recurring impression for me – certain animals simply look so beautifully unreal like they were fictional characters from a weird dream or an animated movie. Of course, it’s just a feeling evoked by the amazing diversity and whimsiness of our planet’s wildlife, but in some cases this impression proves to be right with time 🙂 : in 2018 Dreamworks released an animation short about a bilby meeting a chick in the dangerous outback of Australia.

Bilby – short animation
©Copyright Dreamworks via CartonBrew.com

I really hope Dreamwork’s short will gain the bilby a little exposure and support: obviously, the species actually exists (at least the greater bilby…) and it needs every help to keep it that way. So back to the facts:

Bilbies are rabbit-like marsupials also known by the name rabbit-eared bandicoot, endemic to the arid and semi-arid areas of central Australia. There are two bilby species: the greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis), slowly becoming endangered with around 9000 mature individuals living in natural populations and in captive colonies; and the lesser bilby (Macrotis leucura), already extinct.

The lesser bilby or yallara is relatively unknown to science: most of our knowledge is based on a 1931 description (On mammals from the Lake Eyre Basin) by H. H. Finlayson, who also collected 12 live specimens near Koonchera dune in north-eastern South Australia, where the species seemed to be abundant at that time.

lesser-bilby-yallara-Macrotis-leucura-extinct

lesser-bilby-yallara-Macrotis-leucura-extinct

The lesser bilby went extinct during the 1950s

Date of extinction: The lesser bilby most probably went extinct during the 1950s, but the exact date is unknown. According to the accounts of aboriginal Australians, the species might have survived into the 1960s; but the last physical evidence collected was a less than 15 years old skull found below a wedge-tailed eagle’s nest in the Northern Territory in 1967.

bilby stamp rabbit-eared bandicoot

bilby stamp rabbit-eared bandicoot


The bilby on Australian postage stamps from the late 1950s 

Range: As the lesser bilby was first described in 1887, there’s very little known about the original range and distribution of the species – at the time of the discovery, lesser bilby populations might have been severely decreased by foreign predators introduced to mainland Australia by European settlers in the late 18th century. The known range of the species is confined to the Gibson and Great Sandy deserts and the northern half of the Lake Eyre Basin in central Australia.

Habitat: Lesser bilbies used to inhabit arid, sandy dunes and deserts with spinifex vegetation (common collective name of the characteristic, hummock-forming bunchgrasses endemic to Australia), sandhill canegrass, tussock grass and mulga.

spinifex-hummock-bunchgrass-central-arid-Australia-habitat-bilby

spinifex-hummock-bunchgrass-central-arid-Australia-habitat-bilby


Spinifex – the characteristic vegetation of central arid areas in Australia
©Copyright Dr. Fiona J. Walsh / CC BY 2.0 

Description: The appearance of the lesser bilby was very similar to its surviving relative regarding the general shape and proportions of the body, the head and the tail. Bilbies have characteristic, elongated bandicoot muzzle; long rabbit-like ears; and long, furry tails. They have strong forelimbs and claws used for burrowing and digging for food; and they move with a cantering gait with the hind legs moving together and the front legs alternatively, often carrying their tail like a banner.

The fur of the lesser bilby was colored pale yellowish-brown to grey-brown, with lighter fur on its belly, limbs and tail. The body mass of adults was about 300-450 grams, a lot smaller than the greater bilby’s.

Bilbies are strictly nocturnal animals; they spend the daytime sleeping in their 2-3 m deep burrows. The lesser bilby had the habit of temporarily closing the entrance with loose sand while in residence. Bilbies have very limited eyesight – they’re almost blind – but their ears and nose are very sensitive. They are omnivores, feeding on anything from ants, termites and other insects through roots and seeds to small rodents.

greater-bilbi-lesser-bilby-bandicoot-cure-ears-muzzle-portrait

greater-bilbi-lesser-bilby-bandicoot-cure-ears-muzzle-portrait


Characteristic features of the bilby: the elongated muzzle and the long, rabbit-like ears

Being marsupials, lesser bilby babies spent a longer period in their mother’s pouch after birth. The females usually had twins and the species probably bred non-seasonally.

Cause of extinction: Competition with rabbits and other animals, degradation and loss of habitat, being hunted for food by aboriginal people and changes in the fire regime are all possible factors that contributed to the extinction of the lesser bilby; but the main reason was that the bilby was defenseless against foreign predators like the foxes and feral cats that were introduced to their ecosystem by humans. The main threats for the still surviving greater bilby are very similar. The national conservation program to save the greater bilby includes monitoring and protecting the wild populations from competitive animals and predators, and captive breeding with reintroduction of small groups into conservation areas of its former habitat.


The national conservation program for the greater bilby also includes captive breeding in zoos.
©Copyright TVGreen on YouTube

 

The lesser bilby poster at the top of this post is available in my store on Redbubble, with design variations more suitable for apparel and other products. My whole profit goes to the Sea Shepherd to support their fight to protect our oceans and marine wildlife.