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Wildlife art, by Auntie Betty Illustration, to help raise conservation awareness for endangered species.

Betty's Life of Painting and Her Wildlife Art

South Island kōkako
'South Island kōkako' original watercolour painting

​South Island kōkako

Presumed extinct, I still hope that the South Island kōkako may survive in remote forests of the South Island of New Zealand.

South Island kōkako (Callaeas cinerea)
Māori name: kōkako
Location: New Zealand
Conservation status: Relict

Once widespread in South Island forest, the species became very rare by the late 19th century.

With limited flight ability, these forest-dwelling birds hopped and bounded between branches and across the forest-floor.

Their nests were built slightly above ground-level, making their young a favourite food source for introduced predators.

So rare, these birds are believed to be on the brink of extinction (relict), if not already extinct.

This is set among delicate wineberry blossoms painted from a lovely photo by Steve Atwood (used with permission) and the kōkako is painted from Creative Commons photos from Te Papa.

'Ukraine'

The Eurasian Blue Tit Bird (Cyanistes caeruleus) exactly represents the national colours of Ukraine and is also native to Ukraine.

"This artwork is realistic but symbolic of the innocence and resilience of the people of Ukraine. My Mother's family is originally from Poland and the Czech Republic, so the current war feels really close to home and I want to do my bit to support the Ukrainians. I cannot think of a better representative to show my support for Ukraine.”

Eurasian Blue Tit Bird (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Location: Europe and Eurasia
Conservation status: Not Threatened

This painting is based on the photo by Waldemar Zielinski, Pixabay. 

‘Toutouwai’

‘Toutouwai’ is an original, one-of-a-kind, Jacobean embroidered artwork. I adore robins from all around the world, but has a soft spot for the South Island Robin species.

South Island Robin (Petroica australis)
Maori name: Toutouwai
Location: New Zealand
Conservation status: Declining

South Island robins are extremely friendly and curious birds. They are a favourite with trampers.

They are marvelous singers and can be found in forests all around the South Island of New Zealand. There is also the North Island robin and the Stewart Island robin.

The embroidery is based on the reference photo by Jakub Soltysiak (used with permission).

'​Canterbury grass skink'

'Canterbury grass skink' is native to Canterbury, the region where I live. I am passionate about raising awareness of vulnerable species in Canterbury.

Canterbury grass skink (Oligosoma aff. polychroma Clade 4)
Location: New Zealand
Conservation status: Declining

This small, diurnal skink inhabits a range of open habitats.

It is also known as the Common Skink.

This photo is based on the beautiful photo by herpitologist, Carey Knox (used with permission).

Canterbury grass skink (Oligosoma aff. polychroma Clade 4)
'​Canterbury grass skink' original watercolour painting

'A Circus of Kea'

'A Circus of Kea' show the amazingly vivid flashes of colour concealed beneath the wings of kea.

I love all birds and have a soft spot for the 'clowns of the Alps'.

Kea (Nestor notabilis)
Māori name: kea
Location: New Zealand
Conservation status: Endangered

Once common, the world’s only alpine parrot is now endangered due to the debatable belief that these birds attack livestock, and numbers have been further depleted by lead and 1080 poisoning and road fatalities. Kea are omnivorous; highly intelligent and have been observed using tools and co-operating with other kea to achieve a goal. The collective noun for kea is ‘circus’, which suits their playful and curious personality.

This watercolour painting was based on the gorgeous photo by Noel Chignell  (used with permission).

'Blue Tit in a Blossom Tree'

I was delighted to be commissioned to paint a special 80th birthday present for a dear family friend. The family wanted a watercolour painting of the lady's favourite bird, the Eurasian Blue Tit bird.

Eurasian Blue Tit Bird (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Location: Europe and Eurasia
Conservation status: Not Threatened

Painting based on the Blue Tit bird photo by Federico Maderno, Pixabay; and blossom details photo by Jill Wellington, Pixabay.
Eurasian Blue Tit Bird (Cyanistes caeruleus)
'Blue Tit in a Blossom Tree' original watercolour painting

‘Pīwakawaka’

‘Pīwakawaka’ is an original, one-of-a-kind, Jacobean embroidered artwork. The fantail is my favourite bird in the garden, where I often see and hear both pied and melanistic fantails. Sometimes we are delighted by fantails visiting us inside the house.

Pied fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa)
Maori name: Pīwakawaka
Location: New Zealand
Conservation status: Not threatened

The only fantail species in New Zealand, pīwakawaka is insectivorous and seldom still, as it flits about in search of flying insects. These gregarious little birds are commonly found in city gardens as well as forest.
Fantails frequent manuka plants, which attracts their favourite prey: flies and bees.
Fantails are not uncommon; however, the success of their breeding season is a helpful guide for environmentalists to indicate whether pest predators (which prey on fantails and their nests) have been eradicated in an area.

This embroidery is based on the reference photo by LorryM, Pixabay.

'Torrentfish / Panoko'

'Torrentfish / Panoko' is my favourite painting.

I am so delighted that it was adopted by a dear friend, who is a freshwater ecologist.

Torrentfish (Cheimarrichthys fosteri)
Māori name: panoko
Location: New Zealand
Conservation status: Declining

This declining migratory fish species lives in gravelled river rapids. The pelvic fins under the pectoral fins form a double hydrofoil allowing them to sits effortlessly in fast water . Torrentfish are threatened by extensive irrigation and water pollution.

They can reach a length of 20 cm but are usually much smaller.

Torrentfish are amphidromous: the fry migrate to the ocean after hatching but return to fresh water as juveniles, where they grow to adulthood.

This watercolour painting was based on amazing photos by University of Canterbury professor of Freshwater Ecology, Angus McIntosh (used with permission).

'Coromandel Striped Gecko / Toropuku inexpectatus'

After seeing a beautiful photo, taken by herpitologist, Dylan van Winkel, I knew I had to paint this gecko. I was fascinated by the different shades of brown, ranging from palest ivory and burnished copper to deepest chocolate. 

Coromandel Striped Gecko (Toropuku inexpectatus)
Also called the Northern Striped Gecko.
Location: New Zealand
Conservation status: Vulnerable
This gecko was only discovered in 1997 and may be one of New Zealand’s rarest lizards. They are seldom seen as they are nocturnal and camouflaged in their habitat.

Painting based on the reference photo by Dylan van Winkel (used with permission).

'Rough Gecko / Moko Pārae'

'Rough Gecko / Moko Pārae' is my most popular painting to date.

Rough Gecko (Naultinus rudis)
Māori name: moko pārae
Location: New Zealand
Conservation status: Endangered

This small, endangered gecko inhabits the Kaikoura Ranges of the South Island of New Zealand, where they live in low-growing scrub.
Unlike most geckos, Rough Geckos are diurnal (active during the day), living in manuka, kanuka and other forest.


This watercolour painting was based on the detailed photo by Grant Macredie (used with permission).

'Kea'

This portrait of a kea is unusual as I seldom work in coloured pencil, even though I thoroughly enjoy it.

Kea (Nestor notabilis)
Māori name: kea
Location: New Zealand
Conservation status: Endangered

Once common, the world’s only alpine parrot is now endangered due to the debatable belief that these birds attack livestock, and numbers have been further depleted by lead and 1080 poisoning and road fatalities.

Kea are omnivorous; highly intelligent and have been observed using tools and co-operating with other kea to achieve a goal.

The collective noun for kea is ‘circus’, which suits their playful and curious personality.

Painting based on my own photo taken at Otira.

'Malherbe's Parakeet/Orange-fronted Parakeet /Kākāriki karaka'

This bird was a joy to paint. I used a couple of my favourite watercolour techniques: glazing and optical mixing.

Malherbe's parakeet (Cyanoramphus malherbi), also called the orange-fronted parakeet
Māori names: kākāriki or karaka
Location: New Zealand
Conservation status: Critically endangered

This critically endangered parakeet is only found in the South Island and four offshore islands of New Zealand. The species is in decline due to the destruction of their habitat and predation by pests like rats and stoats.


Kakariki parakeets rub themselves on the stems and leaves of manuka, and even chew the plant, to rid themselves of parasites.   

Painting based on reference photo by Jon Sullivan Follow, Flickr. Used with permission.

'Pied Fantail / Pīwakawaka'

Painting 'Pied Fantail / Pīwakawaka' was a turning point in my art career - after painting it, I was inspired and challenged to paint more endangered creatures.

(Rhipidura fuliginosa)
Māori names: pīwakawaka, tīwakawaka or piwaiwaka
Location: New Zealand
Conservation Status: Not threatened

The only fantail species in New Zealand, pīwakawaka is insectivorous and seldom still, as it flits about in search of flying insects. These gregarious little birds are commonly found in city gardens as well as forests.

Fantails frequent manuka plants, which attract their favourite prey: flies and bees.
Fantails are not uncommon; however, the success of their breeding season is a helpful guide for environmentalists to indicate whether pest predators (which prey on fantails and their nests) have been eradicated in an area.

Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium)
Also called manuka myrtle or New Zealand tea tree
Māori name: manuka

Manuka plants have white or pink flowers, which attract flying insect pollinators like bees.
Insectivorous birds, like fantails, can be found hunting insects in manuka.
The honey produced from manuka contains several health benefits, which are also found in the leaves and bark of the plant.

This painting is based on the reference photo by LorryM, Pixabay.

International Wildlife Art

I also love painting endangered species from around the world.

'Green and Golden bell frog'

This frog was Betty's first painting of an Australian native species.

Green and Golden bell frog (Ranoidea aurea)
Also known as: green bell frog, green and golden swamp frog and green frog
Location: Australia


This is a threatened Australian native ground-dwelling tree frog, introduced to New Zealand, where its survival is more successful although it is regarded as feral and therefore, unprotected. Though insectivorous, these frogs will also consume worms and mice.

This watercolour painting was based on photos I took at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.

African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
'African Elephant Bull' graphite pencil drawing

'African Elephant Bull'

I love elephants - they are highly intelligent and grieve when one of the herd passes away. Despite their gigantic size, they can move extremely quietly.

African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
Location: Most of the African continent
Conservation status: Endangered

Tragically, these giant beasts of the African bush, are poached for their ivory tusks.

This picture was completed in graphite pencil on watercolour paper.

'Giraffe'

I think giraffe are one of the most graceful of creatures. 

During a safari trip many years ago, we stood only a few metres from a herd of giraffe after our viewing truck broke down. The giraffe were calm and we enjoyed seeing them so close.

South African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa)
Location: Southern Africa
Conservation status: Vulnerable

I live a few minutes from the local conservation park, where a herd of giraffe reside. Even living in New Zealand, I can still be close to these giants of the African veld.

South African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa)
'Giraffe' ink painting

 

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