Sunday, December 04, 2005

Illustration Friday - Blue - Blue tongued skink

This week's topic is Blue.

I found this hard since there are so many of my favourite blue things that i could think of, it was difficult to pick something.
I considered adonis blue butterflies, blue tits, blue herons, blue throated humming birds, blue berries, corn flowers [bachelor buttons], harebells, blue bells, kingfishers - the list was endless.
Also i have an odd relationship with the colour blue since I'm a synaesthete. I taste certain words and music, and hear colour - and blue is the biggest trigger.

I wasn't aware of this being odd untill i was in my mid 20s and I was visiting Bristol Museum . Bristol is famous for a type of cobalt blue glass -made by adding cobalt oxide to lead crystal and the intense blue colour is out of this world. When faced with a large display of Bristol Blue glass i was overcome - it was like being sucked into space , filled with energy and surrounded by singing angels.

I am typing this looking at a Bristol blue goblet, one of a pair that my husband bought me a while back and I find it really hypnotic - i could spend hours just staring at it.

Still i didn't want to draw some glass , even though that might have been fun to experiemnt with. I wanted to do something kind of unusual and it occurred to me that a blue tongued skink would definitely fit the bill.

Skinks are lizards which usually have fairly small legs given the size of their bodies. Most skinks have a sort of skinny snaky appearance with little weak legs, and some have no legs at all.
Of the thousand or so species of skink, a small number of species have blue tongues and i thought it would be interesting to paint one of these skinks for the IFriday topic. The blue tongued skinks are only found in Australia ,Tasmania ,New Guinea and Indonesia.

They are omnivorous -they will eat plants and berries and bugs and small animals. Their habitat varies from forest edges to near desert depending on the species.

After pondering a bit more , I decided that the shingleback blue tongued skink would be the most challenging to draw, as this skink is covered in very tough and knobbly scales which gives it the colloquial names of shingleback lizard or pine cone lizard.

The shingleback is only found in Australia and they are unusual among lizards in that they are monogamous for life. The same pair will come together each year to breed once the pair bond has been made. They give birth to a litter of live young after a 5 month gestation period rather than laying eggs like many other lizards.

They are also called two headed lizards since their stubby tails are roughly the size and shape of their heads -this is of course handy for defense as they can shed their tails if attacked, like many other lizards.

The shingleback that i've painted here is in a defensive posture -so his head is raised and mouth wide open to display his blue tongue.

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carla said...

I really like how you go through the process of choosing a topic, usually discarding the more obvious in favor of the esoteric. I always learn something really interesting here, and it's almost always about nature...something i enjoy learning of. You did a wonderful job on this guy. The skin looks very rough and knobby as you described, and I see that stretching membrane look of the flap around his mouth. The tongue is a cool must be something to see one in "person." I also like the idea of seems so romantic in the lizard-like way:>

james said...

Your illustration spurs memories of collecting skinks in the hills when I was a boy and proudly bringing them to my science teacher. Newts, lizards and frogs were plentiful then, now I feel fortunate just to see one in the wild. Your illustration is marvelous.

Rowantree said...

Your illustrations look like books of natural sciences of the school.
Great work in details like textures and colors. And also very well documented !

bananarobin said...

Xavier loves the monster which he thinks is probably a dwagon! Great drawing - he even thinks it's a photograph!

kay susan said...

He's great. Thank you for the nature lesson.

ValGalArt said...

amazing work! i love it!

Toni said...

you amaze me how your posts start out one way and end up with your illo far from the first thoughts.
I mean this in a good way and they are always educational.
Wonderful illusration!

Alina Chau said...

HA ! HA !! This is soo coool!

constanthing said...

He's very well-illustrated, the menacing pose, rough textured skin and the blue blue tongue. I've never seen one in well life before but I bet this is as good as a photograph.

Anonymous said...
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gudbrandsdottir said...

Very original illo! Thank you for visiting my site and for your kind words!

marion said...

I love the texture of the scales.

Reminds me of Christmas a few years ago when i remember telling my ex-husband that my mother had asked for new scales (for the kitchen) as a Christmas present, to which he quipped back - "what's wrong with the ones she came with?"

As you know my mother thought that the appropriateness of the comment might entertain you!

The Unknown said...


Julie Oakley said...

Great illustration Alison and interesting words.
Love your friend Marion's comment - sounds like her Mum and mine have a lot in common!

Dana said...

I have heard of people who can taste sounds, etc..., but I have never met one. I bet it is a very interesting trait to have. What do you hear when you see the color green?

Beautiful illustration as well. I love the blue tongue.

Anonymous said...
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Alison Ashwell said...

A pure green doesn't seem top provoke the sounds- but a blue green varies from tinkling to crashing cymbals depending on the exact shade.

Anonymous said...

its a good picture but people remember skinks can be more longer and different shades of bronws and yellow some have even a pinkish tone to them

becky said...

love skinks i have one people who love lizard cheak out my blog!