Monday, December 10, 2018

December Ducky Doodle - The Famous Fancy Duck of Central Park (with review of the Harry Potter History of Magic exhibit)

So, hooray, last week I broke out the colored pencils and crayons again and produced another ducky doodle. When I shared this one on Facebook I called it the "Ardith Bondi Duckydoodle Challenge"; the inspiration for it was twofold, with the original prompt being the stunning photo below of the increasingly famous "Hot Duck" of Central Park. Seriously, I've been thinking of him as the "Fancy Duck" -- because isn't he just the fanciest duck you've ever seen? -- but apparently "Hot Duck" is getting to be his accepted nickname as his likeness spreads across media both social and traditional, to the point that if you google "Hot Duck" it will most likely auto-suggest Central Park.

He's not really supposed to be here, the best guess is that he's a pet somebody released, but he seems to have settled in just fine and posts about him are all the rage among the NYC social media set. I will most likely try to go see him at some point, I don't really have a zoom lens that will do him justice but I'll take my camera and just plan a picture-taking day in the park, and if I get to see the duck, yay. If I get to take a picture, double yay, but with so many great photos of him out there, getting the shot is not really that important (kind of like I don't worry so much about getting whale shots on the American Princess because I know Artie Raslich will almost certainly share something spectacular from the same trip).  

Ardith Bondi, the photographer who got this lovely shot of the fancy duck, is another friend I've met through Gotham Whale, the local citizen science group that researches our local marine mammals from seals on up to the humpbacks who have returned to our area with increasing frequency as our waterways (which have grown cleaner and cleaner since the Clean Water Act was enacted) support larger and larger schools of menhaden (the small oil-rich fish that is a favorite summertime food for whales). I'm not sure I've ever met Ardith in person but we're Facebook friends, I love her photos and always look forward to her postings. Click here to see more of her photography.

She'd gone to Central Park to see if she could get some fancy duck photos back at the beginning of November; she said there was a mob of people there and it was hard to get a clear shot, but her patience was rewarded with this lovely photo of the mandarin in a perfect showboat moment, fluffing out his feathers at some pesky mallards. I'd seen a few shots of him at this point but this was the one that made me think "Oh, wow, I gotta draw that duck!"

That ended up not happening until Inspiration Part 2, which was (of all the unexpected sources of inspiration ever) this year's Scholastic Trade holiday party.

Ordinarily, "inspirational" is the last adjective I would apply to a company holiday party. I'm an introvert, not an extreme one but enough so that the small talk just feels awkward. I like Scholastic's more since the company's been doing them in house for the last few years, it really helps to NOT have music blasting the way they do at the catering spaces you can rent for your company's holiday shindigs (I hate that, I'm bad enough at small talk without having it be impossible to hear what anyone says back to you), plus the food service company that runs our company cafeteria and coffee bar actually does a really good job with the food and decor, but I still just consider myself bad at company parties.

This year, though, the Trade division got an extra special treat - somebody on high decided we were going to have our party at the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibit at the New-York Historical society. I'd already been to see this as a fun warm-up for seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Halloween, but I was delighted to have more time to go back and look over the exhibit again. The Harry Potter series is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and the exhibit was curated by the British Library in honor of that milestone. They did a wonderful job of putting together examples of real-life historical artifacts and tying them in with the world that J.K. Rowling created, and the art is plentiful and luscious -- there are Harry Potter drawings and paintings by Mary Grand Pre (the illustrator of the American editions), Kazu Kibuishi (my favorite of all the Scholastic Graphix imprint artists, who did a lovely set of covers for a 15th anniversary paperback box set), Brian Selznick (Hugo Cabret illustrator who did covers for the 20th anniversary box set), Jim Kay (illustrator of the magnificent illustrated editions that are the latest offering in the Harry Potter re-issues, just glorious stuff so far) and J.K. Rowling herself - she's quite talented on the art side too and you get to see a lot of these charming little drawings she did to help herself envision Harry's world. So those are scattered all through, and then many of the historical artifacts are also beautiful, with illuminated manuscripts and scrolls and globes and, oh, all sorts of lovely things to look at.

This did actually end up being the first time I've ever gone home from a company party hungry. Food and drinks were not allowed in the gallery, just in the lobby area. I had one drink and a couple of hor's d'oeuvres and then dove into the exhibit. By the time I came back out it was five minutes before time for us to get out and all the food was gone - but I didn't care and if I were to go back and do it again I would do the same thing. Sometimes you feed the mouth, this time I feasted my eyes and went home going "MUST ART! MUST ART!" - fixed myself a super-quick dinner (because I was ravenous, lunch had been a long time ago) and then set myself a challenge of drawing Ardith's duck in half an hour. Nothing to do with the exhibit, just been thinking of drawing him for a while so being in a drawing mood, I picked him as my subject. And the 30-minute challenge was just because with no art training, I can be really slow figuring out how to show something, but I needed to get some sleep and it was already late. I dispensed with my usual obsessing over the reflections in the water (seriously, I think I spend twice as long on the background as on the subject when I do these drawings) and pulled it off it 45 minutes and was pretty happy with it too!

So there is both a review of the Harry Potter History of Magic AND my NYC social media participant mandatory #hotduck entry! 


Haralee said...

I love your sketch of the duck! Sounds like a really fun party. Any party where there is an activity gets high marks in my book.

bonnie said...

Thanks! Wednesday nights are usually pretty uneventful, this one was more fun than usual.

It was a great idea for a party.

Laurie Stone said...

What a talented artist you are! Love that little duckie.

Lois Alter Mark said...

That is awesome! You are so talented!

bonnie said...


Now another friend has posted an ever MORE colorful photo...may have to have another go!