Thrivin’ Tadpoles

When I opened the box full of potential tadpoles from the pond supply company, I expected to already be a little disappointed. It was 80 degrees out and 5:00. The mail had to be sitting on the front steps for hours. Casualties were not a possibility, but a certainty.


What I found was a bag of awesome. I counted eight tiny swimming spermy critters sealed in a bag like an ill-fated goldfish. Obviously, they give you a couple of extras “in case.”
American Toads are extremely resilient creatures, but I didn’t expect a 100% survival rate. Nearly 2 weeks in to tadpole ownership, I really did not expect that.


My “taddies” as my daughter calls them, have exceeded expectations. They’ve already grown. They swim with the vigor of a sober Michael Phelps. Watching one wiggle it’s way through a lettuce leaf piece three times it’s size was hilarious.


Still, I am not sure how to make these guys into art. I mean they are TINY. Even the smaller adult toads I have drawn could be measured in inches. These guys not so much. Taking photos of them is quite difficult – they zoom around like little torpedoes. My camera lens is a notoriously good prosumer lens but it can’t dream of focusing fast enough.


Still, what a fun adventure! If these little guys do well, I may make toad raising a tradition. Their energy and the amazing transformation they will partake in is cause for celebration. When I do finally get to drawing one of them, I think it will be a very large drawing to convey just how great these little guys are.


taddie3 taddie1

Why toads?

I had a very good experience at the LoLa Art Crawl this past weekend. I was at Glacier’s Cafe on Minnehaha across from the Hub. We had great weather, good traffic, and really good frozen custard and sandwiches. Thanks to Ben and everyone at Glacier’s for a great time! My only complaint would be that I wished I could have gone out to crawl some of the other spaces myself.

I had a lot of interesting conversations with people about many different topics. Some wildlife rehab volunteers told me about rehabbing snapping turtles. I directed a young artist to Wet Paint in St. Paul for the best selection of truly artist quality colored pencils. The question I got most was “why toads?”

I know I gave a different answer every time. Sometimes I talked about the wonder of frogs and toads in fairy tales, other times I just said that they make me smile. I do  think there is more to it than that ; I identify with their ugliness and their ordinariness.  Their individuality is lost on the people they come in contact with. They are defined instead by the odd place where they were found or how close they got to your lawn mower blades. Instead of the princess, I feel like the toad. Perhaps there is some magic behind this toad skin; perhaps not. I just know that this really does make me smile.





Making of “Waiting for His Kiss”

One of the forums I like to visit has a lot of “work in progress” posts where you can watch as the artist updates the thread with different stages of their art piece. I am much too impatient for them and usually wait until there are a few pages of posts and skip to the end.

The process is fun to watch, I just like it condensed. So beginning after the very first stage of “Waiting for His Kiss” I began snapping photos of my progress with my phone. Here is the resulting .gif.

Waiting for His Kiss Progression

I don’t know if anyone can learn much from the progression, but it is cool to watch the drawing come to life. Next time I’ll try to use more consistent lighting!

“Waiting for his Kiss”

Drawing Copyright Janie Mork2011

Next week, my colored pencil drawing “Waiting for His Kiss” will be shipped to Texas for the Colored Pencil Society of America’s 19th annual International Exhibition. I am very excited. This was my first year joining the CPSA. I was first attracted by their guide that lists the most lightfast colored pencils and their work to bring more recognition to the medium. What made me really want to join is the ridiculous quality of the work of its members. Colored pencil is not often thought of as a high art medium, but the results you can achieve with them are amazing. It is an honor to be accepted in to the Exhibition, and I look forward to seeing the award winners!