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illustration: clams

January 13, 2017

clams_by_al_lau

The earliest clams first appeared 500 million years ago. Clams are a bi-valve mollusk. Unlike oysters and mussels which need to be anchored to rocks in order to survive, clams burrow themselves within the sandy bottom of the ocean floor.

Although clams may look uninspiring, they play an important part to healthy coastal waters because of their role in filter feeding.

I am experimenting with a new type of art pen which gives me a finer line. It reminds me of when I used Repidograph pens in school. Drawing clams formations is a good exercise for me to study contours and detail. So with my clam sketches, less is more.

illustration: white oak

November 12, 2016

white_oak_tree_leaf_by_al_lau

White Oak hardwood trees grow throughout the central and east part of North America, ranging from Texas up to Maine, also reaching up to Canada. They are described as white oak due to their bark being white-ish, in comparison to their oak cousins. Its acorn nuts provide an important food source for deer, squirrels, blue jays and turkey. A distinct identifier of the white oak is its leaf shape which has seven to nine rounded lobes.

Dungeness Crab Version 2

Along the west coast of America, up to the Pacific Northwest, lives the Dungeness Crab. It is one of the larger family of crabs. Their name is derived from Dungeness, a fish port town in Puget Sound, Washington state. Their lifespan is about 10 years. Commercially caught Dungeness Crabs are usually around 5 years old when their shells reach 6 to 7 inches wide. Crabs grow through a process called molting where it sheds its shell for a new, larger one. Each time this happens, the crab grows 15 to 25%. They can be found in muddy/sandy portions of estuaries with eelgrass, along rocky shores, or as deep as 2000 feet in the ocean where they forage for small fish and invertebrates, such as clams and mussels.

Here is some good news. In a world full of so many threatened species of sea life, Dungeness crabs are actually a very good choice as a sustainable food source.  Regulations is saving the species. For example, in Canada, Dungeness Crab fisheries have catch size limitations. This protects male crabs until they are sexually mature, giving them the chance to spawn before being harvested. Female crabs are also protected by having fishing season restrictions.

What is your favorite prepared way to eat crab?  Mine is Hong Kong-style which is stir-fried in a wok and tossed with soy sauce, green onions, and lots of scrambled egg. Yummy.

I have painted a Dungeness Crab before, however, my approach toward doing watercolor has changed over time, so this is version 2 of the beloved tasty subject.

sketch: salmon shark

January 7, 2016

salmon shark_by_al_lau

It’s a bummer to be a salmon in a world where everybody loves to eat salmon steak and sushi. It’s even worse when salmon have an apex predator stalking them called a Salmon Shark. This is my sketch of a salmon shark on the prowl. He kinda turned out cute. Almost huggable.

illustration: rainbow trout

September 24, 2015

rainbow_trout_and_fly_by_al_lau

Rainbow Trout are a cold water fish that live in the ocean for about three years. They return to river tributaries to spawn. They are identified by their polka dots and pinkish color at the lateral line.

painted_turtle_by_al_lau

The Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) is the most common turtle in North America. They are omnivorous, eating aquatic vegetation, insects and small fish. Their preferred habitat is in slow-moving bodies of water. During the winter, they hibernate in the muddy bottom of ponds and lakes. Wild painted turtles can live as long as 50 years.

My drawing shows the painted turtle’s favorite past-time which is bathing under the warm hot sun, an important source of vitamin D, ensuring a healthy hard shell.

photography: california

June 19, 2015

yosemite aerial

monterey_247

monterey_147

napa_7113

napa_7064

napa_6932

wente_vineyard_748

santa cruz_632

santa cruz_605

A few photos I took while in California. Quite a nice experience for the senses where everything is big. It included many grandiose views of the ocean, the mountains and of course, wine tasting in Napa Valley.

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