Illustrations  More native birds of New Zealand: Kākā, Kea and Kākāpō
01/06/201800:00 Emilie Géant

I love books, particularly picture books. I often buy children's books, not even for my son, but for myself. Okay, I read them to my son but really they are for me!

Out of this love for books, when David contacted me to talk about a collaboration for his new publication and asked me if I'd work on the illustrations, I was really keen to jump on board right away. We're planning on a release before Christmas so the time is tight and I'm working late nights on it.
What's new? Drawing, of course!

In the meantime, I keep daydreaming among my birds as for the last commissioned work I was asked to paint. This large illustrations reunited 3 of the native parrots of New Zealand: the Kākā, the Kea and the Kākāpō. Being all parrots, they are nothing alike whether for their personality nor for their appereance. Don't be fooled by the similarity of their names!

The Kākā is the first one I painted. It has brown feathers which reveal surprising red gleam with light. They are definitively not scared of people here and love to come “share” your snack. Every now and then, I pay a visit at Mount Bruce wildlife centre which is a bird reserve not far from Palmerston North. The cheeky Kākā never fails to join me while I have my coffee on the deck. Sometimes, there are even spraye drops of water on the tables in case they become a bit too insistent!

The Kea is about the same size as the Kākā, maybe bit slightly larger. Its brown and green feathering shows a very regular, almost geometrical pattern on each feather. To represent them at its best, I had to draw them one by one in detail. Winning the Bird of the Year title in 2017 did not encourage him for better behavior neither. As much as tourists enjoy its easy proximity in the mountains, they're lucky if the Keas don't ripped off they car's antenna or window rubber. They made the headlines in New Zealand a few times because of the damages they are able to cause to vehicles.

The last but not least of the parrots is the Kākāpō. It is one of those many birds in New Zealand that can't actually fly. Instead, it will climb on trees and let itself float downwards. With its chubby body and genuine bear-like feathers around its beak, it looks like a serious old man. Don't you think?

The three of them make a lovely trio. I really enjoy painting them together. This painting was the perfect opportunity to share more about my artistic process and step by step work. If you are interested to watch my progress as I go, you can watch a couple of little videos on my new
Youtube channel from the drawing to the painting of this A2 illustration. I'm working on sharing more contents like this ones soon, showing the various techniques I use in my work.

Special thanks to Émilie for the generous use of her images. Copyright of all images and text herein belong to the artist and may not be used without prior approval. Follow Émilie's adventures in New Zealand and see her fabulous work on her Instagram!
I'm Emilie, a French artist who fell in love with New Zealand and its culture when traveling around the country 10 years ago. I've decided to settle in Aotearoa in 2012 with my husband and my half French/half Kiwi son. As a newcomer, I explore the culture and environment of New Zealand through my paintings and illustrations. I am here to share with you my experiences, work and everyday life here as an illustrator and most of all my love for this amazing country and its people!

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