August 15, 2012

Day 3: Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Today's bird is a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I just love the pop of red on this little guy! When it takes flight, you'll see that the red is under its wings too, which is quite an unexpected surprise. Not only does this birdie look pretty, it sounds beautiful too! They say that the rose-breasted grosbeak's song is like a Robin who has taken singing lessons. Haha! I would love to wake up everyday to the sound of them singing.

Oil Pastel on Paper
I'm not sure if you have noticed a pattern yet, but I am choosing birds for this series by color. The last two birds (Red-winged Blackbird and Northern Cardinal) both have a little bit of red and black, as does this grosbeak. Tomorrow's bird is a woodpecker -it has a little less red, but more black and white. What do you think it is? Leave a comment below or tell me here.

August 14, 2012

Day 2: Northern Cardinal

I hinted yesterday that today's bird would be red and have a crest. If you guessed Northern Cardinal, you are correct! This bird is pretty easy to spot, not just because of its vibrant red feathers, but also because it is a common city bird. I've seen and heard so many of them just in my backyard!

Oil Pastel on Paper

Most male birds (not just the cardinal) have brightly-colored feathers to attract females. Female birds, on the other hand, do not have as much pigment in their feathers. The female cardinal looks like this. The lack of pigmentation helps them camouflage into the trees and protect themselves from predators. Smart, huh?

Follow me here, here, or here to see some work in progress pictures.

August 13, 2012

17 BIRDS // Day 1: Red-winged Blackbird

I'm excited to announce a fun new series I will be starting called '17 Birds'. Basically, I will be posting a painting of a bird everyday for the next 17 days. Early this summer, I took a biology course where I had to learn to identify more than a hundred species of trees, plants, and animals. The great thing about this class is that most of it took place outdoors, which is much easier than learning from a powerpoint presentation. We would either walk around campus or take a bus to a regional park. 

Now, I am not particularly fond of nature (I like my bug-free world), but this ended up being one of the most interesting classes I have ever taken. I especially loved learning about birds! Our instructor taught us how to identify them and their calls. We even got to use our own pair of binoculars! It was really easy to hear these birds, but spotting one was like finding a gem. That's what this series is going to be about -the 17 'gems' that I have spotted and/or heard thus far.

The first bird I chose is the Red-winged Blackbird. We saw this bird on the first day of our field trip. The red and yellow patch on its wing really stands out against its jet-black feathers. This is one feisty little bird. We saw one of them chase after a red-tailed hawk, and another one chase after a crow. It does this to protect its babies from predators. The audacity of the red-winged blackbird quickly made it a class-favorite.

Can you guess what the next bird will be? Hint: It is red and has a crest.

August 7, 2012

Summer Road Trip [in instagram photos]

My family goes on road trips almost every summer. This year, we decided to drive all the way from Minnesota to New York, which is probably the longest drive we've ever made. We passed through seven states and spent about five days on the road. Just call us crazy! ;D It was totally worth it, though. We met up with friends, explored new places, and most importantly -ate great food! Here's a look at our trip.

The great thing about being the road is seeing these cool sunrises...
...and warm sunsets.
We made a stop in Chicago to see the shiny bean! And Philadelphia to try Philly cheese steaks.
We did all the touristy things we could think of in New York -Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.
Top of the Rock gave us a great view of the city and Central Park. I was amazed by the amount of buildings there were. I definitely underestimated how big the city is. My sister and I at Grand Central Station.
Charging Bull and Times Square.
I was humming the 30 Rock theme song in my head when we were at Rockefeller Center. Lady Liberty made out of legos at FAO Schwarz; I think I was more excited about the toy store than my little brother was!
Had the chance to go to the Met as well. I love how these frames add to the grandeur of the paintings. Saw many famous paintings, but this portrait by Chuck Close was by far my favorite! Can you believe it's a painting?!
Took the subway for the first time and guess what? It's not that bad! We also had to do a lot of walking when we weren't taking the subway. So how do you get a tired and whiny 4-year-old to keep going? Bribe him with a rainbow popsicle is what you do! :)
Fun sighting -saw a model in action while walking around. I'm also pretty sure I saw Kelly Cutrone in Soho. I think that pretty much completes my New York experience ;)
Chinatown was also one of my family's favorite spots. We were there almost every night for dinner! #typicalasian
Had to try some New York pizza since people say it's the best. Shake Shack burgers were pretty good too. My favorite thing, though, was a gyro from a food truck on the street (not pictured). That was the best!!
Okay, maybe I have more than one favorite... My picks: Mocha cupcake from Sprinkles Cupcakes; Lime and Basil macaron from Laudurée.

I hope you are all having a great summer too!