Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Talented People

I wanted to highlight all the participants and my co-workers at the Austin Nature and Science Center who showed artwork with me this month!  I work with talented people who make the Nature Center a great place.

Julie Bolman is a photographer who captures images on vacation trips.  Julie is a school programs educator, but has also worked at Nature's Way Preschool, at the front desk, and summer camps at the Nature Center.


Ann Martinez took the the first photo at the Vatican, and the second after a flood. Ann will greet you as you arrive at the Nature Center in the visitor pavilion. 

Jessica Gilzow constructed a thought provoking piece called transitions.  Jessica is the Public Programs Coordinator, and is responsible for successful camps, Halloween howl, and many great other programs.

Frances Pfertner displays her love of owls in collage form!  Frances is the senior Wildlife Keeper.  She and her team keep all our animals happy and healthy.


Clark Hancock captures an icy morning and a historical site.  Clark is the Exhibit Coordinator, and gives visitors have a memorable experience without them knowing it!


Anjoli Fry crocheted a spider web inspired wall hanging.  You can find Anjoli at the nature center with 8 kiddos from the preschool during the school year and 12 campers during the summer, and I've never heard her raise her voice, not once. 

Genie Martin painted images involving water with watercolors.  Genie is a School Programs educator during the school year, and the Science Specialist during the summer.  Genie is a source of knowledge and creative ideas for all the staff.  


Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's good to be Curious

I heard a little snip-it of this video on NPR yesterday evening, and wanted to share it.  What a wonderful  idea- grow thoughts in the garden of your mind.  A group of Cub Scouts were at the Nature Center about 2 weeks ago, and I was asked what is the most important thing to be a scientist, I answered Curiosity.  I love my job because I am continuing to learn, and hopefully helping kids to be curious.

Be Curious... and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Dog Days of Summer

I've just read A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold a wonderful short story highlighting natural happenings month by month in rural Wisconsin.  Each month is described with animal behavior, notable plants of that season, human activity, and of course weather in a very poetical and beautiful way.  For example, Leopold describes April as a time of floods and of the Woodcocks' "Sky Dance," and November as the time of wind music, and the ax.  I enjoyed reading that a Wisconsin May is marked by the return of Upland Sandpipers from their winter in Argentina, this last April Jacob and I saw Upland Sandpipers in route to perhaps Wisconsin.  I don't know why I missed reading Leopold's naturalist classic until now, but I am happy to have read it and heartily recommend it especially if you enjoy noting signs of the season.

August is marked in my yard by brown and mostly harvested sunflowers, several generations of Anoles leaping from brown sunflower to green turk's cap, the passion vine I planted this spring reaching above the porch with its first blooms, and Gulf Fritillary Butterflies flitting around sipping nectar from the zinnias while its caterpillar munches a passion vine leaf.  Relief washes over me as signs of the end of summer start peaking around the bend; Orion and his dog Canis Major at dawn, the sun waking up a little later, a monarch heading south, gathering Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, the end of summer camp, and the reopening of schools.  In Austin, summer weather extends well into September, so I must not get too wistful for lower temperatures, but it gives me pleasure to see hints of a change to come and read the signs of the place I live and love.

Signs I look for in Austin
Spring- Bluebonnets, migrating warblers, planting tomatoes
Summer- Cicadas, hot weather, lizards, mockingbirds, sunflowers
Fall- Colored leaves, pumpkins, sweaters
Winter- Winter ducks, broccoli, warm drinks and soup  

What signs do you look for in your yard, or area?  What animal or plant says summer or winter?

Our second passion vine flower!

Passion vine growing on the porch

A Gulf Fritillary Butterfly flying next to the bloom

Gulf Fritillary on a Zinna

Green Anole hunting for insects

Antro and I in the Colorado River, sitting on a submerged log.
It was the first time Antro went swimming.  Silly wouldn't get in the water.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bird Portraits

Welcome to the virtual art gallery!  

To see these paintings in person visit the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, the church is open during regular business hours Tuesday- Friday, most Saturdays, and of course Sunday.  
There will be an artist reception August 19th at 1:00pm.   

Me with paintings at the art show! August 2012

A Mississippi Kite that came to the Nature Center as a part of an Urban Bird Celebration inspired this series of Bird Portraits.  The rescued bird allowed me to see it up close, and I was able to see just how beautiful, and regal it was.  I decided to paint its portrait and when Genie approached me about doing an art show I thought it would be fun to paint more bird portraits.  

Mississippi Kite, a regal bird that
migrates all the way to Paraguay.

Carolina Hillbilly Wren, a friendly bird that makes a lot of noise,,
builds large crazy nests, and likes to roost on my porch

Captain Black-backed Sea Gull, truly a sea gull Larus marinus. I imaged my dad's favorite movie, Master and Commander, while painting the gull.  

Two Songbirds that I often see and hear together, Carolina Chickadee, and Tufted Titmouse I used sonograms of the birds' real song to write the music.  I haven't got anyone to play the music I wrote so I don't really know if it sounds like the birds.   

Secret Society of Sora (top) birds that you almost never see at the edge of ponds.
Playful Plover (bottom) cute little wave runners at the beach.
Vain Raven, I used Pogo, the Nature Center's resident Raven, as a model.
The photograph didn't turn out very well (that's why you should go to the show!:))

Jacob helping to hang the paintings (thank you, my dear)
Uncle Balding Eagle, isn't in the show

4700 Grover Avenue  Austin, TX 78756

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Art Show!

Starting this Thursday and going until the end of August, I will be part of an art show!  Genie, a friend and coworker, has invited Nature Center staff to submit artwork to hang in the gallery space of her church, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin.  This only the second time that I have shown work in a gallery, and I'm very excited to have the opportunity.  Over the last year, I have worked on a series of paintings I'm calling Bird Portraits.  I will post photos of all the paintings on the blog next week after the show officially opens, but I would be honored if those who live in Austin stop by and see the paintings in person.  For now, here is a sample of the series, The Great Blue Fisher-Heron it will not be in the show, and some photos of summer blooms.  

Great Blue Fisher-heron

Palo Verde 

Datura, with Turk's cap in the background

Texas native purple morning glory