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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Top 10 Woodland Animal Masks

I love drawing animals that I can turn into masks. Many of these animals I have spotted either in my yard or when I'm out driving. The area of New Jersey where I live still has considerable undeveloped land, thank goodness. The medium of pastels works nicely for capturing the texture of fur or feathers and the richness and subtlety of color.


1. Red Fox
There are two species of foxes found in New Jersey: the red fox and the gray fox. While the gray fox is known to be native to the state, there is some dispute regarding the red fox. If red foxes were native to New Jersey during early colonial times, the animals were not abundant. Today, both species are present throughout the state.


The pointed ears, slender muzzle, and slanted eyes, bushy and unusually long tail, coupled with its small size and orange-red coloration, make the red fox instantly recognizable to most observers. The tail is typically up to 70% of head and body length. The eyes of mature animals are yellow. The nose is dark brown or black. The pelt color of red foxes ranges from a pale yellowish red to deep reddish brown on the head, sides and back, and white, ashy or slate gray on the underside. The lower legs are usually black and the tail has a white tip. (info from NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife)


There is a spot on my drive to buying art supplies where the road comes to a T, this is where I have seen a red fox. You can understand why cartoonists have depicted them as being sly. They have a certain way of slinking with their head slightly lowered.


2. Owl
This was the first mask that I made. I'm quite certain that I have heard great horned owls in the woods behind the house during the night. You can listen to owl sounds at this site.


3. Wolf
The wolf comes in both a small and large size and is a very popular mask. Many captivating fairy tales that feature wolves seems to contribute to their appeal. The Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, NJ is a popular destination for those interested in wolves.


4. Black Bear
Yes, I have spotted bears several times, particularly in the last two or three years. The first time was on a Fourth of July when we were sitting on the patio and one started poking around our compost bin. My son was out for a run recently and one dashed in front of him to cross the road. I generally go out and pick wild raspberries in the woods, but was slightly wary this year. I might panic and forget the protocol for when you encounter a bear.


5. Deer
New Jersey has an abundance of deer. Just take an early evening drive and you are likely to come across a small herd of deer munching on something green. Bucks can weigh as much as 150 pounds and doe are around 100. Fawns are spotted to camoflage them from predators, but once they grow a winter coat, the spots disappear.


6. Rabbits
We have small brown rabbits that we see in the front yard that come out to dine in the evening. This mask , however, was based on our pet rabbit. Did you know that rabbits can deveop diabetes if you feed them too many carrots?! There are so many wonderful associations to bunnies in classic children's literature. Beatrix Potter comes immediataely to mind.


Raccoons are sporting their own natural masks with the black fur around their eyes. I was walking on my road one day when I looked down and saw a raccoon looking up at me. Raccoons generally only come out at night, so my first thought was "rabid", but maybe he was just venturing out for water.


8. Porcupine
Amazing footage of porcupines can be found here.I have never seen one in the wild.


Hawks are preatory carnivores protected by New Jersey state and federal law. THey can fly up to 150 mph when diving and are a spectacular site to behold when you look up into the sky. The Audobon Society hosts several hawk watches throughout the state, the closest one to me is at Merrill Creek. You can find the schedule at their site.


In my etsy shop I have this mask listed as a raven. All ravens are in the crow family, but not all crows are ravens. I didn't have much of an opinion about crows at one time, but as I have been seeing more of them I have come to appreciate how magestic they are. Their feathers are such a metallic sort of midnight blue and their very size is impressive.


All my masks are available here.


I am also available to design custom masks for special events.

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