We are the sole cause of the dwindling numbers of rhino’s around the world. That’s right. Humans. This information is well documented but I wanted to use this day to share that fact again. Rhino’s have NO natural predators. The decline in their population is as a result of poaching and shrinking natural habitat. That’s it. It’s a rather dreadful fact.
A Few More Rather Serious Rhino Facts:
“Two species of rhino in Asia—Javan and Sumatran—are critically endangered. A subspecies of the Javan rhino was declared extinct in Vietnam in 2011. A small population of the Javan rhino still clings for survival on the Indonesian island of Java. Successful conservation efforts have helped the third Asian species, the greater one-horned (or Indian) rhino, to increase in number. Their status was changed from Endangered to Vulnerable, but the species is still poached for its horn.
In Africa, southern white rhinos, once thought to be extinct, now thrive in protected sanctuaries and are classified as near threatened. But the western black rhino and northern white rhinos have recently gone extinct in the wild. The only three remaining northern white rhino are kept under 24-hour guard in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. Black rhinos have doubled in number over the past two decades from their low point of fewer than 2,500 individuals, but total numbers are still a fraction of the estimated 100,000 that existed in the early part of the 20th century.” Source: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/rhino
On A Lighter Note:
The collective noun for rhinos: A crash of rhinos
Closest relatives: Tapirs, zebras and horses
Swahili word for rhino: kifaru
Click here for a free downloadable rhino coloring page from me to you. There are lots more on my “Gifts” page on this website.
Rhino’s appear twice in “Moyo’s Journey” on the African Savanna page and in the Indian jungle page.
Well in case you missed it on my social media all week, today is WORLD GIRAFFE DAY, which pleases “Josephine” no end!
Tragically, giraffe populations have declined by 40 percent in the last 30 years and are now thought to number fewer than 98,000 in the wild. Thus they have recently been listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation in Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Alarmingly, some subspecies may be even more at risk of extinction than is currently recognised.*
So really, EVERY day should be WORLD GIRAFFE DAY! Today’s date was chosen by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation however, to celebrate the longest-necked animal on earth on either the longest day or night of the year, depending on which hemisphere you live!
In my picture-book-for-all-ages, “Moyo’s Journey”, we join Moyo on a short trip into the African Savanna. There she learns the importance of individuality from the zebra. She could also have learned this from the giraffe as each and every hide is unique, like a thumbprint. Moyo is the Swahili word for Heart. The Swahili word for giraffe is “Twiga”.
Giraffe Facts you may not know:
While it seems hard to believe, giraffes have the same number of vertebrae in their necks (7) as humans.
Giraffes have excellent eyesight enabling them to see danger from a distance. It is thought that this is the reason that other animals congregate nearby, for an early warning of approaching predators. It also helps them find their herd easily, despite the excellent camouflage provided by their hides.
While their eyesight may be excellent, they do have the highest blood pressure of any land mammal and need a very big heart to pump the blood all the way up to their head. The average giraffe heart weighs about 22lbs and can be up to 2 foot long. Because they have to bend so low to drink, giraffes have a complex pressure regulation system in their upper necks to prevent excess blood flow to the brain.
Giraffes and NASA? Blood flows differently in space and so the circulatory system of the legs doesn’t have to work as hard as it does on earth, in order to pump the blood back up. As a result, the leg veins of astronauts get thin, and weak, which can create medical complications when returning to Earth. Observing the rapidly inflating leg veins of giraffes, scientists created an airtight tube that seals below the waist and applies periodic vacuum pressure. This makes blood rush into the legs and pelvic area helping keep the astronaut’s leg veins in shape. An example of this in giraffes is seen clearly in babies who are able to stand almost immediately after they are born and are able to run alongside their herd within 10 hours of being born!
And talking of running – giraffes can reach speeds of over 30 mph. Although their ambling gait – they pick up both legs on the same side at the same time – makes it appear as if they are strolling leisurely, they can cover over 15ft with each step!
Giraffes are browsers and feed mainly from the top of acacia and commiphora (myrrh) trees. They are capable of eating up to 140lbs of leaves and twigs a day – with the aid of their very long, prehensile tongues. These can extend as far as 18” and are dark in color to prevent sun damage. They also have unique 2 or 3 lobed canine teeth which they use to strip leaves from branches. Males and females, eat from different parts of the tree to avoid competition for food.
Collective Nouns: I’m rather obsessed with collective nouns and they are sometimes a source of inspiration for paintings for me. Here are a few pertaining to giraffes:
a corps of giraffes
a herd of giraffes
a tower of giraffes
a stretch of giraffes
a totter of giraffes.
The original painting of “Josephine” has been SOLD, but prints, canvasses, clothing and home decor are availb on my Redbubble or Zazzle stores.
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is the only NGO in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of giraffe in the wild throughout Africa. If you are interested in supporting them and the invaluable work they do – please click here to donate – OR here to adopt a giraffe (no, you can’t take it home with you!).
Here is one last fact – and IMO the WEIRDEST: The closest relative to the Giraffe is the okapi. And that in itself is both a painting and a blog post for another day!
My “In My Garden” collection of paintings and merch brings me much joy, despite allergies to the perfumes of many blossoms, and a thumb that is only green after a day spent painting in my studio! I do, however, love the outdoors and all that it offers. Spring hiking in the local area with my biologist buddy is a slow and beautiful event and we stop every few paces to macro-capture emerging shoots, taking home albums of photographs to transform into paintings.
I may not enjoy all the fragrances, but I do appreciate the visual beauty of big, blowsy blooms. I’m drawn to the sculptural quality of their petals juxtaposed with their leaves. You can tell from my portfolio that, like a butterfly, I am drawn to color. I love the lexicon of words we have for colors, I love its sometime gaudiness, the fragility of its tints, and the impossibility that all of this exists in nature. I’m gladdened that flowers are a home and food source to many of the little creatures I paint, and I am in awe of the fact that they turn their faces sunwards every day. I might not have much talent as a gardener, but I laugh alongside every bloom.
June is “National Rose Month” so it seemed right to feature these flowers particularly, this week. They are all-encompassing and synonymous with love and beauty, war and politics. So much so in fact, that on November 20, 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed a resolution making the rose the national floral emblem at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden…
“More often than any other flower, we hold the rose dear as the symbol of life and love and devotion, of beauty and eternity… The study of fossils reveals that the rose has existed in America for age upon age… We find roses throughout our art, music, and literature. We decorate our celebrations and parades with roses. Most of all, we present roses to those we love, and we lavish them on our altars, our civil shrines, and the final resting places of our honored dead… The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 159 has designated the rose as the National Floral Emblem of the United States and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation declaring this fact. NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the rose as the National Floral emblem of the United States of America.”
The “In My Garden” series in my online stores – Redbubble and Zazzle – features canvas, framed and metal prints. The collection is not limited to these more traditional forms of décor however, and you can find my flowers on phone cases, luggage tags, mugs, pillows, clocks, tote bags and clothing.
“The earth laughs in flowers”. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Applying the gutta is technically the most challenging part of silk painting. You need to make sure that you have strong solid outlines, with no gaps or breaks in them. To this end, I thought we would start with a practice piece first with a free form design. We are going to apply the paint FIRST for this project and then add the gutta on top of it as a decoration. This will give you a good idea of how the paint flows on the fabric, and how to control the gutta applicator.
The finished piece could be used for a card or a multimedia piece at a later stage.
HINT: When I crop painted silk fabric from a painting, I always hang on to it for future embellishments
Stretching the Silk
To begin the process, you will need to stretch the silk so that it is taut over the frame, attaching it at close intervals with the three prong silk thumb tacks. Begin with one tack in each corner of the frame. Then pin it down one side of the frame, and then pin the opposite side. Do the same with the other two sides until the silk is snug on the frame with no wrinkles. Cut the silk on the outside of the frame so that you have no pieces left flapping in the wind! Here is a short video on how to do this.
Freeflow painting for the practice piece – click here for video.
As your paint will not be restricted by gutta for this process, remember that the colors will flow into one another. Get a feel for how quickly the paint does dry – and you will see that it leaves a water mark when this happens. Also consider which colors you juxtapose with others to avoid an all over muddy brown! I am assuming that you are familiar with primary and secondary colors of the color wheel. If you aren’t then take a refresher look online to remind yourself of which colors together create other colors. I use nylon brushes in various sizes to apply the silk paint. Experiment with blending colors without washing your brush and with adding a little bit of water. Don’t try and paint anything specific, instead just work on getting the feel of the paint and how it flows on the silk.
When the silk is dry, try doodling with the gutta to get a feel for the pressure you need to apply to both the applicator bottle and the silk, the kind of bold lines you need to use, and how to avoid blobs!
Once your abstract test piece is finished and completely dry, remove it from the frame and on a low setting, with no steam, gently iron the entire piece. You can then cut out the pieces you wish to use. If you are making cards, then a light application of spray mount on the back of the piece you plan to use will work well. I will cover other gluing options in a later post. The most important thing to remember is that in order for the colors to “pop” you will need to attach the finished piece to a white background. Try it out against other colors and you will see what I mean.
This is a fun and easy way to start silk painting. Please send me any related questions – I’ll be happy to answer them!
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Thank you for scrolling through my website to get this far! I am so excited about the imminent launch of “Moyo’s Journey” and I look forward to sharing her travels with you all.
My own journey to Moyo is because of the love, inspiration and opportunity that so many of you provide. To my hiking and walking friends for patiently listening to page by page accounts of my progress; to everyone who gave valuable and insightful editorial feedback as the journey progressed – particularly the ever diplomatic and extremely talented Lu; to my family for living it day by day; and particularly to Owen for giving me the world – I thank and value you all.
I came to Moyo because of my passionate belief in the importance of travel, of seizing opportunities and of being true to yourself. I also know that nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important than kindness. Future blogs will circle “Moyo’s Journey” and encompass all that we discover and experience with her and the creatures she encounters.
I welcome your own voices on all of these – send me your guest posts, your photos of travel and learning from others, your tales of kindness, of adventure, of opportunity. And your photos of the wild and majestic creatures with whom we share this planet.