The City of Kitchener recently installed two new interpretive signs along the Grand River Walter Bean Trail near Kitchener’s Doon Valley Golf Course. (The nearest access point is the golf course parking lot. To see the signs, head west along the clearly marked trail until you cross the river over the new iron bridge).
These signs feature illustrations I completed earlier this year. One sign (below) is about a settlement of Mohawk and Mississauga peoples along Ontario’s Grand River in the early 1800s. The main illustration shows women returning from their agricultural fields, located across the river from their homes. Included in the lower right corner of the sign is an illustration showing one of the artifacts archaeologists found at the site – a silver ring brooch – and how the brooch might have been used. As the text on the sign reads, “The archaeological evidence at the site tells the tale of a people who adopted only those elements of European culture that they saw as useful, while retaining many of their ancient traditions.”
The other sign (below) shows a more hypothetical settlement along the flats of the Grand River roughly A.D. 500 to 1000. Archaeologists named this culture “Princess Point” after the location in Ontario where the first evidence of this culture came to light. The main illustration shows a family in the midst of their daily activities on a late September day.
At the sign’s lower right are two illustrations of artifacts found along the Grand River not too far from where the signs are – a projectile point (see previous post) and a large pot. Archaeologists found the pot in pieces and painstakingly glued the pieces back together. Below is a photo of the reconstructed pot; I was fortunate to be able to borrow it for a while in order to illustrate it. What’s interesting about this pot – in addition to its beautiful form and extensive ornamentation – is that the people who made it so long ago repaired the pot after it broke in two. They must have valued it enough to drill holes in a few places so they could bind the pieces together with twine. Unless they filled the holes and cracks with some sort of pitch, it seems the pot would only have been used to hold dry goods. It is an impressive 38.5 cm tall.
My illustration of a pronghorn antelope ended up on the fifth in a series of six silver bullion wildlife coins. The Royal Canadian Mint released this one last month; it is available globally from bullion distributors. (Locally, you can find it at Colonial Acres Coins). You can read more about it here. The coin is 38 mm in diameter.
Recently installed interpretive signs in Kitchener’s Huron Natural Area use my illustrations to help educate the public about the local environment.
I created the illustrations by making detailed graphite drawings, scanning the drawings, and digitally adding layers of color underneath them. The forest illustration in the second photograph includes a range of animal and plant life found right there in the Huron Natural Area.
I finished painting this today:
Roughly 10,500 years old, the projectile point was found in Cambridge, Ontario. It is made from Onondaga chert which comes in quite a range of colors (see a different Onondaga chert point here).
As described in my previous post, this is Canada’s 2012 Lucky Loonie, a circulating one dollar coin (the reverse side of which I designed). According to this news report, it was unveiled at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and distributed to all of Canada’s 2012 Olympic athletes as a good luck charm (see photo here). Apparently, a loonie buried at center ice at the 2002 Olympic hockey games brought good luck to Canada’s men’s and women’s teams. Thereafter, the Royal Canadian has produced a special circulation coin for each Olympic games. Five million of these special 2012 loonies are out there!
One of the Mint’s commercials featuring the lucky loonie is here.
A Mint representative talks about the coin on CTV Morning Live here, although he describes the loon as taking off in flight when in fact it is doing a territorial display.
Another news segment about the coin is here.
Update August 13: My local newspaper, The Record, published an article about myself and the coin here today.
Recently, the Royal Canadian Mint released three new coins featuring designs I created, one of which is a circulation Lucky Loonie. A collector edition silver Loonie bears a similar loon design, and a collector edition toonie shows two wolf cubs. I’ll post photos as soon as I have managed to acquire the coins, but for now visit the links in the previous sentences to view images at the Mint’s website.
(August 7 update: see my photo of and more news about the circulating lucky loonie here).
(August 15 update: Below is a photo of the silver Lucky Loonie).
(August 20 update: Below is a photo of the special edition toonie).
While these are not my first coin designs for the Mint (see here, here, here, here, and here), the Lucky Loonie is my first circulating coin design, and I’m delighted to know it’ll end up in the pockets of Canadians everywhere. So, Canadians, be on the lookout for some shiny loonies in your change, or just go ahead and order them for face value at the Mint’s website – there’s no shipping charge or taxes at this time.
The loon I drew is spreading its wings in a territorial display. Contrary to what many believe, it is not a courtship display. While doing research for this coin design, I came across a 1972 paper by Sjölander and Ågren, (citation below) which states:
Since the territorial behavior of loons is so spectacular and the behavior most likely to be seen by the observer, it is easily understandable that it has been interpreted as courtship by many authors…. Our observations indicate, however, that there is very little courtship in G. immer, if by courtship is meant a special behavior preceding and leading to copulation.
In other words, the images one sees of loons with their breasts jutting out of the water and their wings outstretched are not mating dances, but displays induced by the invasion of one’s territory by another loon that isn’t a mate. The authors go on to illustrate several territorial displays as well as some comparatively calm courtship behaviour.
“Reproductive Behavior of the Common Loon,” Sverre Sjölander and Greta Ågren, The Wilson Bulletin, Vol. 84, No. 3 (Sep., 1972), pp. 296-308 (see page 300)
This illustration of an artifact from the Princess Point culture will end up on an interpretive sign along the Walter Bean Grand River Trail in Kitchener, Ontario – not far from where the artifact was found. I used gouache paint on hot-press watercolor paper and really, really enjoyed painting a small object that didn’t move or change over time.