The time has finally arrived and the series is complete! What an incredible ride this has been. This series has been a lesson in patience, creativity and process discovery. Above all, I have most enjoyed learning about the different symbols that make up all of the provinces and territories in Canada. My appreciation for nature and wildlife has always been great but if anything it has expanded with the journey I have gone on with this series.
If this is the first post you are seeing in this series, you can read more about it in my previous posts here. Now on to the symbols represented and a few process shots.
The title of the piece is the official motto of Canada translated from the Latin A Mari Usque
Animal – North American Beaver
The beaver has a long history with Country of Canada as their pelts were in high demand during the fur trade in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s. At one point during the mid 19th century, it neared extinction until the focus on trade switched to silk. This largest rodent in Canada was officially named a symbol of the country on March 24th, 1975.
Tree – Maple
Despite the maple leaf’s close association with Canada, the maple tree was not adopted as an official symbol until 1996. Ten of the thirteen native species of maple trees found in North America grow in the country. While the generic species takes the title of the official emblem, at least one of the ten species grows in every province. The tree has also a meaningful history with Canada as a symbol of industry and sustainable forest management.
In 2016, The Royal Canadian Geographic Society made a push to have the grey jay or whiskey jack named as the official bird of Canada. While it never became official bird, it won the vote against competitors such as the snowy owl, common loon, and black-capped chickadee.
The grey jay is found in every province and territory and has never been seen outside of North America. Its primary habitat is in Canada with a small percentage venturing into Alaska.
Long considered an unofficial symbol of Canada, the Canada goose is an easily identifiable species of wild goose that can be found throughout the country. They adapt well to living in and amongst human-altered areas containing fresh water. This comfort however sometimes leads them to be considered pests.
Other – Canadian Rockies & Glacial Lakes
Canada’s diverse landscape is highlighted by the towering Canadian Rockies. This breathtaking mountain range home to many species of wildlife and a popular location for outdoor and snow sports enthusiasts. One of the most notable and beautiful of the many glacial lakes found in the area, Moraine Lake in Banff National Park shines like a jewel in the heart of this great terrain.
One of the most valuable tools I used throughout this process was the Colored Pencil Project Book. Since this series was a unique project, it allowed me to create a keepsake of my process and conveniently had the perfect amount of project numbers within it. It was particularly interesting to see how many colors I was using for each project. That’s not normally something I would keep track of, but it really put into perspective how much really goes into a single piece (and clearly justifies why I need a large set of pencils :P).
For this project, I used my newly acquired Derwent Inktense pencils once again. I love how saturated they are, but I must admit I still need to work on control with them a little. I knew I wanted really saturated colors so they worked great for that, and in some ways, I got the result I wanted quicker with them.
In my original photoshop concept for this piece, there was quite a prominent reflection of the mountains in the water. I decided not to render that in the illustration because it felt like it would make the composition too busy. There’s already a lot going on in this one and I didn’t want it to feel too chaotic or like the background was competing with the main imagery.
In the end, I decided a hint of reflection was needed to still give the water that mirror-like consistency. It’s also a subtle visual cue that helps identify that area as water.
The most challenging part of this piece was the sky. It took some finessing to get the sky gradation right. I used the Albrecht Dürer pencils for that part because it required a subtle build-up of layers that would be harder to control with the Inktense pencils.
I also chose to render the wings of the Canada Goose lighter than my original reference photo so that they would stand out more in the overall composition. An important point to consider when using photo reference is that sometimes you have to alter what you see so that the image still works. It’s especially important when you are using that reference in a created composition rather than just doing a direct copy of the whole photo.
This felt like a bit of an ambitious project when I first took it on, but I feel like I have grown as an artist throughout this process which was a major goal of mine going into it. Thank you so much to everyone that has been following along on this journey. Your support really meant a lot! Special shout out to Tammie Painter for all of your kind comments and support. 🙂
If you would like purchase print of this piece or any of the pieces in the series you can do so in my Society6 shop HERE or by visiting the link in my shop tab in the menu.
Do you have a favorite piece in the series? Share with me in the comments below!
In the meantime, enjoy this little slideshow I put together of all the pieces in the series!