12/28/20

Dumping on 2020

 2020 was the Year of the Rat and it was a real %!*#$! stinker and needs to be dumped on!

2020 was the Year of the Rat, but as it turned out, it was really just one big stinking rat's arse of a year. I sincerely hope 2021, which according to the ancient Chinese zodiac is the Year of the Ox, will be a better year for the world and not full of BS.

 


12/6/20

Nature's Greetings

Nature's Greetings
Sending out holiday greeting cards that I illustrated has been a tradition for over 40 years. However, this year I agonized for weeks on whether I should even send out cards. And if I do create artwork for a card, what should I render? A cartoon? No. Something whimsical? No.

The pandemic, the tanking economy,
the passing of friends, a loved one battling cancer  -- like so many others, 2020 was a rough year for my family.

Ultimately, I decided to go ahead and create a card so my family and I could once again reach out to relations, friends, and business acquaintances with a personal touch. And I looked for
my muse where I have so often found inspiration and solace  – among the natural beauty and wildlife of the canyons of the West.

Best wishes. May 2021 be one of recovery, hope, love, and beauty for you and yours.

---

Know nature. Learn to be still.

12/2/20

A Jolly Howliday Children's Book

Fun Holiday Children's Book
Coyote Claus: A Southwestern Desert Tale
, is a
holiday children's book with a fun southwestern-themed take on Clement C. Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas. Now into its second printing!

 

11/22/20

Whip It

 Whiptail Lizard Sketch

 

Having grown up in Arizona, it used to be that I very rarely saw any reptiles for several months after Halloween. However, with climate change I now often see them throughout the year. And with high temperatures hovering near 90° most of November this year, the reptiles of the neighborhood have been actively out and about. That includes a large whiptail lizard that has been strolling around our house for the past couple weeks. Naturally, if nothing more than an excuse to take a break from assignments and projects, I had to do a watercolor sketch and a whimsical take on the desert denizen.

For the lack of a better name we have been calling him/her “Stripes.” Although Stripes usually takes a saunter around our desert yard in search of yummy insects to eat, she/he can really move it when motivated. Seems that some whiptails can reach speeds approaching 20 mph when sprinting. After watching Stripes run, I don't doubt it.

 ---

Know nature. Learn to be still.

---

Another Desert Backyard Visitor:

Scrappy Rabbit




11/8/20

Thanksgiving Tradition Turkey Repost

Being intelligent and open-minded, my family has always been reasonably civil when gathered for holidays. But whoa, I have sure heard some really juicy tales of other families literally battling it out over family and world issues! So please have a HAPPY Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Tradition 
 

11/1/20

The Sheep & the Turkey

 An Original Markix Fable
(I believe this is a rather fitting time to share
this short tale from a current book project.)

   One day several sheep, enticed by the site of a distant green meadow, wandered away from the flock and trotted far off the mountain path to graze. After spending several hours stuffing themselves on the rich, green grass, the sheep realized they were lost.

Panicking, they ran in circles, baaing at the top of their lungs, and crying uncontrollably. “The wolves will eat us!” they screamed. “We don’t know how to find our way! Is there no one to save us?!”

Hearing the panicked and distraught sheep, a turkey that was passing by hastened over to tell them how to solve their problem.

“I am the most superbly smart bird ever,” the turkey declared. “Just look at my beautiful feathers that show the world how smart I am. Listen to me and I will be your shepherd. I will save you from being eaten by the wolves!”

“Follow me and I'll show you!” he shouted. “The valley where you live is just on the other side of that big rock!” Then he hopped quickly over to the big rock and launched himself high up into the air. Unfortunately, being a large bird and a poor flier, the turkey went over the cliff on the other side of the rock and plummeted straight down into the river far below.

One by one the sheep rushed over and hopped on the big rock and leaped into the air. Just like the turkey, they all plunged down into the waters of the river below. All were swept away by the swift river current, never to be seen again.



Moral: Arrogant would-be leaders should always be questioned, not blindly followed.


10/27/20

Ballot Box Clip Art

 

 

Here's a ballot box clip art image I created for teachers at EducatorClips.com

Educator Clips is whimsical clip art that teachers and students can download for royalty-free use.

 
Click here to download the image.

 Vote early! Vote climate!

10/1/20

Lots of Tricks but Definitely No Treat

Trick or Treat Halloween Scorpion
Give me something good to eat.

Being a native Arizonan and nature artist, encountering venomous creatures of all sorts has been a rather normal experience for years. While it's not something I particularly enjoy, I’m rarely unnerved by their presence. Rattlesnakes don’t bother me because they are usually polite enough to let me know that I’m invading their personal space. Coral snakes always show their true colors, so I know to avoid them. And Gila monsters and tarantulas are really quite easygoing if you respect them and leave them be.

However, bark scorpions – especially mother bark scorpions with little ones in tow -- are another story. Having been the recipient of painful unprovoked bark scorpion stings and the unpleasant effects of the neurotoxins that go along with it, well, to say the least, I dread encountering bark scorpions!

Being small and nocturnal, bark scorpions have the nasty habit of stealthily finding their way into shoes, clothing, bedding, and furniture under the cover of darkness. Plus, they are not hesitant to sting first and ask questions later.  And late October seems to be one of their favorite times to visit our home uninvited and make themselves comfy in some dark corner.

Interesting Fact:

Bark scorpions, like most scorpion species, fluoresce in the dark under ultraviolet light. It seems a chemical reaction in the outer layer, or cuticle, of its exoskeleton makes this phenomenon possible. However, very young scorpions, and older scorpions that have just shed their exoskeleton so they can grow, are rather soft skinned and don't glow under black light until their cuticle hardens.

Uninvited Home Visitor
Bark scorpion fluorescing under UV light before
being returned to the desert from which it came.

9/7/20

Quackery

This seems like a fitting time to repost this... 

The Quack Frog, an Aesop Fable
     Once upon a time a frog came forth from his home in the marsh and proclaimed to all the beasts that he was a learned physician, skilled in the use of drugs and able to make well every disease.  A Fox asked him, "How can you pretend to prescribe for others, when you are unable to heal your own lame gait and wrinkled skin?"

8/17/20

Monsoon Beetle

Palo Verde Root Borer (Derobrachus hovorei)
From my Little Things of Nature Portfolio -- Sketches Afield.
---
Know nature. Learn to be still.

It looks scary, but the sight of this beetle is a welcome sight to many of us Arizona natives because it usually means that the summer monsoon and the chance for a thunderstorm or two has finally arrived.  When summer moisture makes its way to the desert, this clumsy flier — usually about 3 to 3.5 inches long — takes wing after spending three or more years in its larval or grub stage to find a mate. 
 
They are harmless to people and pets in spite of their frightening appearance. 
 


8/1/20

Scrappy Desert Rabbit

Scrappy Desert Rabbit

Taking a break in the shade of a brittlebush.
From my Little Things of Nature Portfolio -- Sketches Afield.
---
Know nature. Learn to be still.

Meet Scrappy, a frequent visitor to our desert backyard and mother of a couple of recent additions to the neighborhood. The rumpled and pierced ear make her easily identifiable.
 

7/26/20

7/6/20

Please Support Diné (Navajo) & Hopi Families Affected by the COVID-19 Crisis

As an Arizona born and raised artist who has often been inspired by the beautiful landscapes and cultures of the Diné and Hopi nations, I would like to urge you to consider joining me in donating whatever you can to help Diné and Hopi families affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Here is the link to the website where you can donate:
https://www.navajohopisolidarity.org/


Sunrise in Monument Valley. Copyright Mark A. Hicks
Sunrise in Monument Valley


Arizona Coloring pages by illustrator
Some pages from my Gila Ben AtoZ Coloring Book

7/3/20

So Uncommon and Fluffy

A fledgling Mexican Spotted Owl. A rare glimpse of a fluffy youngster of an endangered species. From my Little Things of Nature Portfolio -- Sketches Afield.
---

Know nature. Learn to be still.

6/25/20

Wildfire Survivor

Banded Gecko

Banded Gecko from my Little Things of Nature Portfolio -- Sketches Afield.
---
Know nature. Learn to be still.
 
Recently emerged from its refuge beneath a rocky outcrop into the hazy moonlit night, this diminutive desert dweller was observed among a charred landscape. The man-caused fire that just swept through the area will only heighten the struggle for survival in an already hostile environment.