Brolga: A dancing Australian crane for a children’s story

As long as I can remember, I have loved images of Brolgas. They are a crane-like bird that lives in marshes and on the plains. One of my favorite images is from Sidney Long called Spirit of the Plains. It has a woman with pipes, walking through long grass, followed by a dancing set of Brolgas.

Here she is the piper, and they her companions. Dancing, weaving, living spirit beings. It is almost as if the flute and grasses dance together to create their wild energy.
Long_Spirit-of-the-plains

Along the way to finding my own art style, I found these illustrations for inspiration. I particularly admire the metamorphic image towards the right. The transformation image by Judy Prosser is brilliant. This image gave me the idea of playing with watercolor for my own images.

BrolgaInspiration

My first drawing steps were in pen and ink. I typically like to use a .01 pen as it creates very fine lines. I use a gestural style, where I don’t try to fill in all the details. Later, I come back and add the color, let the watercolor dictate the color blends. Then I take it into digital and push the values, erase where needed, and focus on areas around the ‘face’ of the animal.

Brolga stories
These images are the sketches for the Billabong Flats children’s stories. Brolga dances in the grasses, down by the water.  The spirit of movement, the play of wings and wind, these are her ways.

BrolgaDancingRiaLoader

The graceful cranes, high-stepping in the marsh make me want to move. I am drawn to the rhythm, the sweep of the wings, and the capture of lively abandonment to the moment. Watching and drawing these birds gives me joy.

The first image above is available as a print from my store at Society6.

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