I like to think of Manitoba as the “middle” Province in the heart of Canada. At least that’s how I used to think of it when I was learning about the provinces and territories in grade school. Officially part of Canada’s Prairie Provinces, Manitoba is vastly spotted with various sized lakes and terrain ranging from grasslands to arctic tundra in the far northern region. The official emblems are in my opinion, a great representation of that diverse landscape and in ways a nod to its rich First Nations history.
If this is the first post you are seeing in this series, you can read more about it on my previous posts here. Now on to the symbols represented and a few process shots.
The title of the piece is a translation of the Latin Gloriosus et liber, which is the official motto of Manitoba.
Animal – Plains Bison
A symbol that is synonymous with the prairies itself and known to have roamed North America in the millions, the bison was once on the brink of extinction. They were a staple for the First Nations people providing food, clothing, and utensils among many other uses. Luckily, efforts were made with the aid of government and private organizations to restore the herd populations of this massive animal. The bison graces the Province’s flag and coat of arms.
Bird – Great Grey Owl
The Great Grey Owl was designated the official bird in 1987. It is the largest owl in North America, with a wingspan measuring 4 feet (1.3 m) across. This owl makes the province its home all year round.
Flower – Prairie Crocus
This gorgeous floral emblem of the province was designated in 1906. It was one of the first designated floral emblems of all of the prairie provinces and was decided up through a provincial school vote. Resilient in extreme temperature changes, the prairie crocus has an outer hair-like coating for protection.
Tree – White Spruce
A popular choice for Christmas trees, the white spruce is able to weather almost every climate Manitoba has to offer.
Fish – Walleye
As one of the most sought after species of fish within the province, the walleye is famous for its potential size growth, iridescent coloring, and numbers.
My initial concepts for this illustration, while exciting in a sketch, didn’t work as I had planned in actual execution. I found that when I used my photo references what was true proportionately, wouldn’t work or look right in the end. I quickly had to think of some other compositions to stay on pace with my deadline. In the end, I think the composition still ended up a striking as I had hoped.
Bison hair also proved to be a challenge in this drawing. My resulting approach included many layers of acrylic ink washes and colored pencil.
Getting the details and contrast just right was an important part of this piece since the bison is essentially one over-all color. Of course to the artist’s eye, this isn’t 100% true since I actually used many colors to render it. If you asked the average person, however, they would probably just say “they’re brown.” 😉 I decided to make this more interesting with shades of red-brown and violet.Capturing all the different textures in this pieces was also a great challenge and something that has been a common theme with all the pieces in the series thus far.
Thank you to everyone for your support and following me along on this journey. Stay tuned for next month’s province!
Prints available in my Society6 shop!