the prompt for our final zoological assignment was to illustrate a field guide page. i chose to depict some of the wildlife species i saw while conducting biodiversity surveys in eastern montana (a previous field job). my original plan was to arrange the animals organically across a painted landscape backdrop, but with three other final projects due within the week, i chose to delegate my time elsewhere. these were painted in gouache in thin washes. i wanted to keep it light, almost like watercolor. i also challenged myself to complete them quickly, spending an hour max on each. i managed this for some, like the nighthawk, but for others i failed miserably. the toad took me about 3 hours.
here’s an idea of what their habitat looks like:
(pronghorn in the distance)
it isn’t called “big sky country” for nothin’. walking around these fields, a lot of it privately-owned farmland, you wouldn’t expect to see much. but turns out it’s still teaming with creatures, you just need to know what to look for.
Great Horned Owl, (Bubo virginianus)
Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni)
Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)
Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Ord’s kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ordii)
Plains garter snake (Thamnophis radix)
Woodhouse’s Toad (Bufo woodhousii)
Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)
also seen but not depicted: short-horned lizards, rattlesnakes, other snakes, red-tailed hawks, mice, shrews, voles, ants with giant ant hills, rabbits, hares, bats, poorwills, leopard frogs, mustangs, mayflies, mosquitos mosquitos mosquitos, etc. etc. etc.
*note: the font used on the field page layout came from the fabulous lost type co-op, whose typefaces are available for download on a sliding price scale. as a poor art student still experimenting with design and typography choices, i can’t recommend them enough!