Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Orange Bird by an Orange Nerd

I know, I know. I said that since I was back in Texas from my Florida excursion (see previous blog post) I would post to the blog more often. Summer classes started, and since I was taking two of them my time was taken up by studying. It is my first time taking summer classes - I knew they moved fast, but I didn't expect them to be this fast! One of them is already over with, so now I can blog! Can I get a hoo-rah? Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled blog post:

Sunshine Tree Terrace. That was one of my favorite places in Walt Disney World. This little counter-service kiosk served deliciously refreshing items to cool you off on a hot Florida day. Ice cream cones, floats, fountain drinks, and the legendary Citrus Swirl are all offered here.

Copyright Disney
See that little bird in the illustration above? He's the real reason I love the Sunshine Tree so much! 

He's known simply as the Orange Bird. I enjoy him not just because of his obvious, overwhelming, cuteness, but also because of the interesting story behind him. 

The Orange Bird was created way back in 1970. The Florida Citrus Commission decided to sponsor the Tropical Serenade (AKA the Tiki Room) pavilion in exchange for a mascot. And so the Orange Bird could be found both in Disney World at the Sunshine Tree Terrace and on packaging and merchandise for the Florida Citrus Commission. He even had a vinyl record with a song written by the Sherman Brothers and sung by Anita Bryant that detailed his backstory.

Unfortunately the Orange Bird flew the coop when he faded into obscurity, abandoning his post in the Sunshine Tree. He made his return in the early 2000's, however, in Tokyo Disneyland when the Japanese fell in love with him. Then on April 17th, 2012, the little orange underdog was reinstated to the Terrace and returned to merchandise. He's such a neat little character. I'm glad he's back!

I found and bought the Orange Bird record on Ebay, acquiring a record player shortly thereafter so I could enjoy the musical story of my favorite WDW bird. The album cover is delightfully kitschy, with watercolor branches and flowers surrounding the bright Orange Bird. It occurred to me that the Bird himself would look great in watercolor. Lightbulb!

Copying the illustration, I began sketching Orange Bird on paper. Here's the progression:
Initial sketch.

Lightened sketch so pencil lines won't show through watercolor.
Then I broke out the watercolor pencils and began coloring. 
Almost there...
Orange Bird-ception!
All done.
Before I knew it, a watercolor Orange Bird appeared! I just love him. Now I'm thinking I need to do a paper-pieced version. Then a digital illustration.  He's such a simple character that there are so many opportunities!

As much as I love my Orange Bird painting, I know there are others who would enjoy him a lot too. So I've decided to sell this picture on Ebay. Here's a link to the auction if you're interested:

I'll be back soon with some things I've been designing! Until then, blessings to you.


  1. zachary, you do paper piecing, too? i used to have a paper piecing store on eBay and i most did disney characters. some other things, but mostly those.

    1. Yes I do! I have done lots of different crafts/arts - I may not do them regularly, but I still consider myself a paper artist! I did an altered book a while back with a paper piecing spread, and each time I look at it I wonder how I did it :-)Do you still have anything in your store?