Giraffes have blue tongues

Posted by Nadya on May 25, 2013

Did you know that Giraffes have blue/grey tongues?
Yep! Apparently, it’s to protect from sunburn!
Giraffes spend a lot of time browsing in the tallest of trees, and reaching for the highest leaves with their tongues – so their long tongue evolved a dark colouration as a means of protecting from sunburn.

Giraffe painting by Nadya Neklioudova

I took the reference photo for this painting in Namibia on my trip there in 2010, but it was from far away so I didn’t think the photo quality was sufficient to make prints. It did, however, serve me well as a reference for this little painting! It’s more of a sketch than a painting, but I really needed something fairly quick to paint, as a way of taking a break from my big detailed projects which I’m working on at the moment.

The original giraffe painting is available for purchase in my Etsy shop. :)


Posted by Nadya on May 10, 2013

I’ve been enjoying doing the local markets here in Brisbane! Here is a picture of my market stall, this was last weekend at Inspired 2013. :)

The event was organised by a wonderful local artist Kylie Farrelly, as a fundraiser for the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital.

One of the most wonderful things about the markets is being able to talk to people about my work, and hear their stories about animals they feel a connection with. For example, someone at Inspired purchased my Tawny Frogmouth print, and shared a story about how a wild Tawny Frogmouth came to live on their balcony – what a special experience!

All of these prints shown can be purchased in my Etsy shop!

Un-abandoned blog

Posted by Nadya on May 5, 2013

Hi everyone,

I’m guilty of having abandoned this blog! I’m sorry. I’ll do better. Starting now.

Long story short: I got bogged down in work and more work, some days I think of something to post and then a zillion other things need doing first, so the post gets put into “the long box” (as we say in Russian) and the box gets longer and longer until the item or thought put in it becomes unreachable.

Well, I’m changing that. Instead of giving a re-cap of my life and art over the past 2 years, though, I’m just going to follow the principle of “start anywhere” when starting something new, and start here, today.

Here’s a new image – “Pelican Dream“:

Pelican Dream

More news soon. Promise. :)

It’s November already?!

Posted by Nadya on Nov 7, 2011

Where did the time go!? Someone tell me, please?

Wow. I’ve got a lot of blog catching-up to do…I’ve been busy participating in two art exhibitions over the last month!

Creating For Conservation 2011 was held in Adelaide, South Australia on October 7-9th. I wish I could say I visited South Australia, but only two of my paintings went on the trip – and one of them has sold! The “Springbok Portrait” in watercolour and ink was 100% donation to Painted Dog Conservation Inc, raising money for their conservation and community education initiatives in Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. I’m very proud of my little antelope!

Springbok Portrait painting

Springbok Portrait painting - SOLD at Creating For Conservation 2011. Prints are available in my Etsy shop.

Next up was Wildlife In Art 2011, which ran from Oct 29-Nov 6th, at the Richard Randall Gallery at Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane. It was organised by the QLD Wildlife Artists Society, of which I am a proud member, and it is always so amazing to see what the other artists have created for the exhibitions. QWASI is an incredible and inspiring group of artists. This exhibition was focused on our wonderful Australian wildlife, with many original paintings as well as cards and prints. (But, between running around and finishing a new painting, organising prints, organising framing, etc, that left no time at all for blogging!)

I will talk about my new artwork that was created for that exhibition, in a separate blog post, as it is a painting of a dear feathered friend who comes to visit me nearly every morning! My friend is a wild Pale-Headed Rosella.

What’s next? The next QWASI exhibition will be in February at the Logan Art Gallery… I’m already working on a new painting for it, so hopefully, it won’t be such a crazy rush to get framing organised.

My foster Elephants

Posted by Nadya on Sep 12, 2011

As you may already know, I raise money through sales of my elephant-themed art and photographs to support my two foster babies… BIG foster babies. They are elephants!

One is a baby elephant named Sities, who was rescued last year by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, and whom I have been supporting through their Elephant Orphan Fostering program. Of course, the donation goes to help all the orphans at the Trust, not just her, but she is my baby all the same. :)

Sities at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Sities at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Little Sities is a suspected victim of poaching or human-elephant conflict. Without her mother, left all alone in the world, apparently she wandered into Mgeno Ranch in the Tsavo Conservation Area, crying and desperate for company! There is a wonderful documentary made about her rescue – “For the Love of Elephants”.
I began sponsoring her last year because she was the youngest baby at the time, but actually, she has become a bit of a movie star since her rescue, recovering in body and spirit and growing up to be a feisty, outgoing little elephant who is a favourite of all the visitors. According to the Keepers Diary, Sities has a trick. She jumps out of the mudbath and runs to the cordon to smear mud on all the visitors before racing back into the mudbath again!”

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s ultimate goal with rescuing and raising all their orphaned animals is to return them to the wild, and they have succeeded – many of their older elephants now live happy, wild lives, dropping by to visit their favourite people and to teach the younger orphans how to be wild elephants. They also come back to the Trust when they are injured or need help – which just demonstrates what a wonderful bond these people have created with these wise and intelligent creatures!

I have been following Sities’ progress for over a year now, reading the email updates and the Keepers’ Diaries. My parents also support two other elephants at the DSWT – Sabachi and Suguta, both slightly older orphans who are growing up and learning to be wild elephants again.

So for my birthday at the end of August, my wonderful husband – who knows exactly what I like – bought me a great gift. He sponsored another elephant for me!

This little Asian elephant, Philip Dev, has a dramatic story – he was rescued from a deep ravine in May this year, and I have been following updates about him ever since. “The young, male calf had fallen into a deep ravine and become stuck. His mother, more than likely responding to his distress calls,  followed him into the ravine and became trapped as well. The rescue team comprising of the Forest Department, vets from the IFAW-WTI run Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), and two Mobile Veterinary Service units reached the site to find the calf severely injured and unable to stand. Unfortunately his mother succumbed to her injuries and died before she could be freed. The young calf was taken to the CWRC where he underwent intensive care for both the physical bruises and cuts that covered his small body and the grief of losing his mother.”

Philip Dev at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation in India

Philip Dev at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation in India

His story really touched me – as did my husband’s gift. I truly hope this little one will grow up to be a big, handsome, independent wild bull elephant, and stays safe! It seems that he is recovering and learning to enjoy life again, making friends with the other orphaned elephants, and is in very good hands.

Australian organisation Animal Works hosts the fostering program for the Asian elephant orphans at the CWRC, and like the DSWT, has regular updates on how the little ones are doing and how they will eventually return to the wild. Their mission statement is “conservation through education” and I’m so glad to support them.

A Bluetongue Lizard visits the Vet

Posted by Nadya on Aug 29, 2011

I went to hang the washing out this afternoon – and noticed Charlie (our dog) nosing around under some bushes. Knowing that there is a particular spot in the garden where Bluetongue Lizards like to bask in the sun, I called him away, went to take a look, and found this little guy:

Bluetongue Lizard

Bluetongue Lizard

I took this photo before the lizard turned around, and I realised that he was not moving his back legs very well, and his other front foot (on his other side in this pic) was terribly swollen as it seems like he got himself tangled in something some time earlier. I don’t think it was Charlie that injured him, he had just come out with me, and only had half a sniff before I called him away from the lizard… Anyway, I grabbed the poor little thing and took him to the vet straight away!

This is an email update from the vet, on their little reptilian patient:

“The lizard was a bit cold so we have him on a heat mat and his range of movement in the back legs has improved a little. The leg that was swollen, the vet thinks something has been caught around it at some point and he may lose the leg, but the can still get around with one missing leg. We will monitor him in the next few days and see how his movement in the back legs are. He has eaten tonight so that is a good sign.”

I hope the poor little guy recovers!

UPDATE Wednesday 31/08/11:
I’ve been wondering how the little lizard is doing. Just got this in email from the vet, the news is not so good:

“Just a further update on the blue tongue lizard you brought in for us. we have sent for an exotic specialist to see if we can save the leg. They are going to have a look at it and let me know. unfortunately if the leg is unsavable it will have to be put to sleep as it cannot survive in the wild with only 3 legs.”

ANOTHER UPDATE Thursday 01/09/11
Unfortunately, the vet and specialist couldn’t save the injured leg… Goodbye, little lizard. I tried. :(

“Hi Nadya,

I have spoken to the reptile specialist today and after assessment he had to be put to sleep as his leg was too badly damaged by the stricture and he no longer had feeling in that leg and survival would have been unlikely in the wild, it was more humane to put him to sleep rather than him getting eaten by cats or other wildlife and unfortunately we are not legally allowed to keep them as pets.
I’m sorry it was not a better outcome. Thank you for bringing him in to us.”

On my next day off I’m going to do a spring cleanup of the whole yard, to make sure that other local lizards don’t get themselves tangled in things…

Backyard wildlife encounters

Posted by Nadya on Aug 26, 2011

Been so busy with work (one workplace closed down, and I was transferred to another) that I haven’t been online to blog in a while. Let’s fix that!

After our photo-adventures in Karawatha Forest Park, I have been meaning to post about a wildlife encounter that my husband had a few days after that, here in our backyard:

Carpet Python

I was at work, so I didn’t see this. Charlie (our dog) was barking at something, so my husband went out to see what’s up… and immediately ran in to grab a camera to take photos for me, because this is what he discovered! A gorgeous Carpet Python – a harmless, beautiful snake, common to backyards in Brisbane.

He did call Animal Control because he was afraid someone on the street might confuse it for a poisonous snake and kill it, but they said it’s ok and they live in many Brisbane suburbs… I still wish it was taken somewhere safe, though.

This gorgeous reptile eats rats and mice, and isn’t poisonous to people, so he is more than welcome in our yard! He’s even more welcome to stay in the front yard where Charlie can’t get to him, just in case. Our dog tends to be very curious!

I haven’t seen him yet – but I hope he is around, and safe.

Karawatha Forest Park, August 6th 2011

Posted by Nadya on Aug 8, 2011

Due to a recent heel injury, I haven’t really been out and about with my camera much. (I wish I knew how I had injured it, so I wouldn’t do it again!) This weekend I decided that my feet finally felt up to a walk in the forest, so my husband, our dog, and I went to a lovely bushland park nearby – Karawatha Forest Park. I had intended to only go for about an hour, but there were so many paths to take and so many flowering plants to photograph, that an hour turned into nearly three. My feet were not happy – but my soul was definitely refreshed!!! (And our dog was so tired, that he slept for the rest of the day.)

We saw a couple of wallabies hopping past, but they were in dense grass, so very hard to take photos of. All other wildlife probably hid when they heard us coming – so the following are photos of plant life in Karawatha Forest Park.

(Shamefully, I don’t know what most of these plants are called! I have so many animal and bird identification books, but none of native Australian plants…)

Read the rest of this entry »

Mammoths, and new exhibition on the horizon

Posted by Nadya on Jul 27, 2011

“Life has been busy! Mostly with work, and not enough painting, but that’s normal.
Have done a bit of work on the mammoths this weekend. I admit I’m struggling a bit with the background – backgrounds intimidate me at the best of times! I’m thinking of putting in a herd of mammoths in the background just so I wouldn’t have to paint any landscape or trees – hah!

I did a bit of the foreground, then rewarded myself for the effort by switching back to working on the little mammoth’s face… it’s definitely getting there!

Baby Mammoth digital work in progress

Baby Mammoth digital work in progress

You can see my progress on the background on the WetCanvas forum thread:

In other art news, I have been invited to an exhibition in Adelaide – Creating for Conservation, raising funds for Painted Dog Conservation Inc., which supports not only wildlife conservation, but wonderful community education projects in Africa. (Well, technically, I already knew about it, but forgot, and then was invited after the closing date.)

I will be sending my original Zebra and Springbok artworks there – I would love for them to sell and contribute to this wonderful cause! Fundraising for Africa – how could I not participate?

Creating for Conservation

The Art of Saving Wildlife

7 – 9 October 2011
Belair Schools Hall, Main Road, Belair, Adelaide

Creating for Conservation is about the art of saving wildlife and in turn, the art of giving to the people of Africa. The profound impact of engaging and empowering people in life skills and promise is immeasurable no matter what country you are in. This exhibition is about supporting the wonders and ripple effect of education on individuals and communities, their livelihoods and ultimately the protection of the wildlife they live with.
…Funds from this year’s event will be going towards the projects that PDC Inc supports in Zimbabwe and in Zambia – Painted Dog Conservations’ Bush Camp in Zimbabwe, and Chimpembele Wildlife Education Centre and the Zambia Carnivore Programme.”

Mammoths Revised

Posted by Nadya on Jul 16, 2011

So I emailed the Canadian Museum of Nature for advice – and boy did I get the right museum!

Actually, my librarian friend from Canada suggested it. They put me in contact with Dr Richard Harington, the paleontologist who actually discovered the Whitestone Mammoth – a nearly complete female Woolly Mammoth specimen! Tusks and everything. He responded with some advice, recommended a book (which I already have) and sent me the story of the Whitestone Mammoth, plus an image of a sculpture that was made for the Museum, according to his advice, with the proportions from that animal. That image pretty much answered all my questions re: tusk shape, etc

So, having the statue as a reference for proportion, I’ve decided to completely revise the painting.

I’ve scrapped the front-on views, because the more I worked on those, the more the faces bugged me – something was off and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Instead I’m using another one of my own elephant photos as reference for the poses. But I think I understand better now, how to make them into mammoths.

Mammoths - revised version, work in progress, digital painting

Mammoths - revised version, work in progress, digital painting

I’m still working out their faces, but hopefully they look more like mammoths than like the elephants they are based on.
I also wanted to incorporate the Whitestone Mammoth’s broken left tusk into the image.

I’m also not sure about the pose of Mother-Mammoth’s back legs, but I’ll deal with that when I get there. The original elephant in the reference photo was standing that way – but I don’t like how it looks for the painting, so will most probably shift the legs a bit.

You can keep up with progress on this painting, on my WIP thread at WetCanvas forums.