Monday, 3 August 2009

Koalas! I love them Mate!

When I lived in Australia I often visited the wildlife sanctuaries and animal reserves to observe and photograph the very shy but beautiful marsupials.

I took many pictures and produced some watercolours incorporating watercolour pencils as well. Koalas have amazing fur colouration, there is nothing 'grey' about any of them! and their faces are just so expressive with gorgeous hazelnut coloured eyes. They are very gentle and warm beings (but they will bite and scratch the wrong person if provoked or disturbed).

I had some of my paintings printed by a company in Sydney that I made into cards. Now I am making them into ACEOs and I have put the first set of 5 into my etsy shop. I recycle and reuse all the time, and some of these ACEOs were previously cards, so they have been 'repurposed' and will have imperfections on their backs. However - who looks at the back and contemplates the artwork? That might go down well in the MoMA or TATE for an up and coming but not in my etsy shop.

Sam getting her burns treated

Back in February when Australia was experiencing terrible bush fires I was inspired by the story of Sam, a beautiful female who was rescued by David Tree.
I donated the proceeds from the sale of some of my handmade cards to Wildlife Victoria to help the animals. Wildlife Victoria acknowledged this donation both by email and a personal letter sent all the way to Scotland later on. Very kind, and thoughtful of them to do so and I was glad to help a little bit.
Sam is still recovering from her burns, as are many other Aussie animals, being looked after by kind and generous volunteers and rescue centre workers. Thank you all! and thanks also to David, a true animal lover!

I have always been very fond of the marsupials. I raised two Agile Wallaby babies (at separate times) when I lived in Darwin. Their mothers had been shot and they were still in the pouch. Both of them got on fine with our cat. and had their own shoulder bag draped over a chair back to sleep in!

one of my original paintings
I also love the possums which make lots of noises in the trees at night eating fruit!
I saved a female possum once that I found in a Barracks when I was in the Army. She had been hiding behind a doorway in the outside stairwell.
I immedately called the wildlife centre and they sent someone out to safely collect her. She had been in a fight and had big wounds. A couple of months later the rescue centre sent me a photo of her, recovering well and soon to be released back into the bush. That made me smile!

another original koala

Australian wildlife is susceptible to many foreign organisms, both flora and fauna, bringing disease. When all planes land in Australia from abroad, everyone and everything inside is sprayed to prevent bugs or germs invading the country.
Customs will search bags and it is forbidden to bring in plant, animal or food stuff undeclared. Many animal and plant parts will not be allowed entry. This system is in place to protect the land from contanimation lest a 'foreign' species take hold and wipe out the natural flora and fauna.

this is an original
Unfortunately, many foreign species were introduced to Australia. Some for 'sport' and some to control the natural 'pests' that already existed. Rabbits didn't take long for their numbers to explode. Myxomatosis was soon useless are the majority of rabbits became immune to it. When I lived in Sydney testing had been going on at a small island off Australia with VHD - viral haemorrhage disease - which is just like 'rat poison' causing serious internal haemorrhaging with the blood unable to clot. It then 'escaped' to the mainland! (Now it is all over Britain).
At the time there was no vaccine available for my houserabbit. Infact 'pet rabbits' were looked on as an anomaly as the media and government continually associated 'rabbit' with 'pest'. Hopefully things have changed for the Australian houserabbit now, more than a decade later.

Detail of an original
I have never held a koala as they are sensitive beings and don't like being handled often. It was a delight to stand close to them and take their photo though. I had a 35mm then and I managed to get some rather good images.

This original wasn't printed up. These paintings are 15 years old now and still hold their brilliant colour. They are all very small, roughly 5 x 7 inches and painted on thick watercolour sheets.

... and ..... this zebra is an Aussie too! This is also a watercolour + watercolour pencil painting from one of my photgraphs in Sydney. I had this one printed up.


  1. I had the pleasure to travel to Australia and New Zealand for a month last Fall and the most amazing part of the trip was the variety of flora and fauna especially those species found no where else in the world. I was pleased to see the caution the government takes to prevent the spread of pests from foreign lands...they were particularly cautious about hoof and mouth for obvious reasons. I'm glad so many of the native animals are nocturnal so that people don't bother them too much! But I'm afraid our tour guide still referred to rabbits and possums as pests. Your Koala cards are beautiful!

  2. thanks Suzanne!
    I think that tour guide needs to be 're-educated'! Possums as pests!! tut tut (and rabbits too!)

  3. Another beautiful post :)
    Thanks so much for sharing Annette :)

    That's lovely that they sent you a personal letter :)


  4. I love koalas too, even though I've not yet had the chance to be up close to one.

    Your paintings are gorgeous, as always :)

  5. beautiful artwork. very nicely done!

  6. These are gorgeous, I love the way your animals have a pride and sense of themselves, very animally, not cute or anthropomorphized.

  7. I went back and read the post with the vid of Sam drinking water in it. It brought tears to my eyes.

    Your koala paintings are beautiful.

  8. My, what shiny nose that last koala has, amazing, I can feel his wet and cold nose by just looking at it.

  9. So lovely post,
    I love koalas they are so CUTE :)
    Your drawings are great art :)

  10. thank you Lily, I thought so too!

    hi furrybutts, if you ever get the chance - go for it!

    thanks Laura,

    thank you Diana! a lovely compliment coming from a very accomplished artist! and you have summarized my painting goals succinctly!

    yes, Maureen, it is very moving indeed, and thank you.

    Pey I do believe koalas have rather dry soft velvety noses. unfortunately I must have been a bit too liberal with my highlighting!

    thank you Anya, koalas really are adorable, and more so because they need to 'cling' on

  11. The zwebra picture is stunning. You should make a colour copy, id buy one to frame and keep in my home!


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