Electric Owls and Giant Rats: Pest Control at Pastime

Pest Control at Pastime Hardware, ink & watercolor, 5x8". Sketch of artificial owls and other pest control devices

Pest Control at Pastime Hardware, ink & watercolor, 5×8″

When we made our annual sketching pilgrimage to Pastime Hardware on a cold winter evening I picked the Pest Control department. I was attracted by the big, ugly, inflated hanging rat and the artificial owls who seemed to be discussing who was going to nab the rat.

The names of the products seemed inflated too: Pest Chaser Pro and Sonic Pest Chaser (both made me imagine cartoon critters that jump out of the box and chase critters away). And then there’s the Tom Cat Mole Trap (contains cat? that chases moles?) and Cat Stop (do you need Cat Stop after you’ve released the Tom Cat Mole Trap?)

I know someone who is courting real owls by putting up owl houses in her yard. That solution might be worse than the problem. My son has a family of screech owls living in a tree across the street from him and they keep him awake, screeching all night long.

Creepy Crawly Critters: Sketching at Petco

Small Water Dragon Lizard, ink & watercolor, 10"x7

Small Water Dragon Lizard, ink & watercolor, 10"x7"

On a previous sketch night at Petco, I chose pretty little birds as my subject. This time I went for the creepy, crawly things. This little lizard was very cute and I imagined he wanted to go home with me. I’m sure my cats would have enjoyed him very much. The baby corn snakes (bottom corner above) were really weird. They moved as one and appeared like a multi-headed scramble of strings.

Female Mice, $3.49

Female Mice, $3.49

These little mousy girls were also cute, but it’s just so odd seeing animals being sold as pets that would otherwise be considered vermin. Sketching caged animals in the pet store is always disturbing to me, but is also an interesting drawing challenge.

Rats licking water from their water bottles

Rats eating and licking water from their water bottles

The rats seemed pretty happy in their glass box, with no need to earn a living and food, shelter and entertainment available on demand. They were interesting to draw but the smell in the rodent area was quite unpleasant (to put it nicely). Fortunately it was time to meet up and share our sketches which we did in the scent-free aquarium accessory department.

Herding Elephants? Rallying Rats?

Elephant & Rider, Ink & Gouache

Elephant & Rider, Ink & Gouache

I drew this elephant to illustrate an interesting blog post for my job last week. The post is about change and uses the analogy of an elephant and a rider. The “Rider” is our rational, analytical side and the “Elephant” is our emotional side and the author explains why you have to work with both to make a change.

Elephant, ink drawing painted in Photoshop

Elephant, ink drawing painted in Photoshop

I drew the elephant in my sketchbook, scanned the line drawing and painted it in Photoshop. That’s the one I used for that post. Later I painted the line drawing at top with gouache in my sketchbook. Which do you like better?

Rats Rally the Herd, Ink & Gouache

Rats Rally the Herd, Ink & Gouache

I did this illustration for the same article, but it got rejected, theoretically because two pictures were too many for the one post, but I suspect it was because rats are a little too creepy, even though it is the acronym of a group that was highlighted in the post (RATS: Reading Apprenticeship Teachers and Supporters).

RA Rats, ink drawing recomposed & painted in Photoshop

Rats Rally the Herd, ink drawing recomposed, painted in Photoshop

I used the same line drawing for the final illustration above, but cloned/altered some of the rats and painted and sketched more in Photoshop. This is the one I proposed for the post and got rejected. I didn’t mind, it was fun to do.

Urban Nature: Swimming Rats, Smiling Cats

 

Sunday Morning Nature Sketch, ink & watercolor

Sunday Morning Nature Sketch, ink & watercolor

 

It was a rainy Sunday morning and at first glance out my window the world looked gray and bleak. Then a flock of seagulls swirled by in the clouds and I looked a little closer. A dove sat nestled on a wire, a few ants straggled along my windowsill, a bee sniffed around a flower–a rose–beautifully blooming in November! The more I looked the more I saw and sketched. My cat Fiona joined me in looking out the window so I sketched her too.

 

Swimming Rats and Ducks, Pitt Brush Pens

Swimming Rats and Ducks, Pitt Brush Pens

 

A couple of days later I drove my car to the Toyota dealer in Albany for an oil change (and free car wash). They offered a ride home but though chilly, it wasn’t raining, so I decided to walk the 3 miles instead. I stopped along the way to watch the egrets and ducks in the creek next door to the Pacific East Mall.

I was stunned to see a big rat swimming across the creek. Then another rat swam by and disappeared under the concrete bridge. I sketched (above) while I waited for another rat sighting to take a photo. And then…

SCREEEEEECH…. KABOOM! I heard tires screeching and looked up as a driver on Pierce Street tried mightily (but unsuccessfully) to swerve and avoid crashing into the car of an old Chinese man who had suddenly turned left in front of him to enter the Asian mall parking lot.

 

Swimming Rat and Duck, photo

Swimming Rat and Duck, annotated photo

Then an old Chinese woman stopped to talk to the ducks. She told me that she brings them bread every morning. I asked her about the rats and she said, “Oh yes, they live under the bridge” we were standing on; she didn’t mind them eating her bread too.

 

Sketching Parakeets at Petco

Parakeets at Petco, ink & watercolor

Parakeets at Petco, ink & watercolor

After we finished sketching the laundromat, we moved on to Petco. I can’t wait for longer days so we can do our Tuesday night sketchcrawls outdoors again. But it was fun drawing the parakeets. They were holding pretty still, puffing up and preparing for beds. I worried about them, hoping they have happy lives.

Albino Guinea Pig, ink and watercolor

Albino Guinea Pig, ink and watercolor

This little guy was kind of cute in a spooky, red-eyed sort of way, but even on sale I wasn’t tempted. When my sons were young,  I bought an adorable pair of long-haired calico guinea pigs and we had such fun playing with them…for about two weeks. And then there was the years of caring for them….

Medium Male Rat, ink & watercolor

Medium Male Rat, ink & watercolor

He looked way too much like the kind of rodents you do NOT want to see in your house. I’ve seen pet rats that had some charm, but this guy just looked way too big and ratty. My sister had a rat that I babysat when she went on a trip. The rat was in a cage beside my son’s bed and it pulled the wool blanket that was my Grandma’s from the bed into the cage, bit by bit, and chewed off the corners for nesting material.

Then a couple of years ago, when Alison of art blog Scribbles Adagio was creating a multi-media work that included scraps of old blankets, I sent a 12″ square of the blanket to her in Australia. She sent me back one of the finished pieces that now hangs over my bed, a keepsake partly composed of my Grandmother’s blanket.

And I still use that old blanket to keep warm and cozy when I watch TV, even though it’s full of holes, missing corners and a 12″ square.

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