Saturday, January 24, 2015

Let's go for a walk

 Come on! Let's go for a walk!

What'd you say? Are the dogs coming?  Of course, they're going outside, too.  Oh!  They just heard a magic word.  Outside!  Did someone say outside!?

Here we go, out through the yard on a grassy path through a mix of yellow grasses, rusty red leaves, and grey bushes.  Ansel, gardener extraordinaire, laments the dreary colors of this time of year, but the birds don't mind.  The thick shrubbery is a haven our feathered guests, not to mention good food with berries, seed heads, and several feeders stocked daily with sunflower seeds.  Cardinals, jays, junco, sparrows, woodpeckers, goldfinch, house finch, wrens, nuthatches, and pine siskins are the regulars.

Now, we're going past the old shelter covered in vines, and filled with firewood.  The wood stove is hungry, and we keep it fed. Inspections of the shelter must be done, and Antro is the dog for the job.  He checks all the nooks for rodents, and other critters that only his nose can identify.

On we go to the old apple orchard.  Only a few old apple trees remain, and the spaces have been filled in with younger trees.  Some were planted to provide a screen from the road, and others food and shelter for wildlife.  Are you enjoying the winding paths cut through the tall grass?  Watch the dogs bound through yellowed grass.  Their tails whip the air in excitement.  Nose down in a hole, sniff, sniff, snort, butt in the air, tail a'whorl.  Okay, let's go!  Cici runs to catch up at a whistle and call, Antro and Silly, the terriers, linger at the scent for as long as possible.

Next, we're heading for the pine grove planted over 30 years ago...

On a different note...

The blog turns 3 years old today.  I hope you've enjoyed the blog this year.  Here are a few links to some of my favorite posts of the year.  I would love to hear if you had a favorite post!


Abstract Snow

Mushrooms to Study

Hello Amphibians

A Year at Bolduc Lane

Little Silly's Big Adventure

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Doodle for Creativity

I haven't been taking as many photos lately as I usually do.  It's a combination of not carrying my phone as often since reception is spotty among the blue ridge mountains, and being too absorbed in seeing things that I forget that I have a camera.  I am trying to get some photos together for you to enjoy of our new home, but I hope you enjoy some doodles.  Some of the doodles were done recently and others are a bit old.

I often come up with ideas for paintings while doodling.  I know the free time sketching, scribbling, and sometimes just sitting while waiting for ideas is important to my creativity.  Our busy lives pressure us to be doing stuff every second of the day.  Balancing our responsibilities can make finding time to let creative thoughts bubble up challenging.  Creative ideas seem to come to me the most often when I am outside, being quiet in nature, and sometimes those ideas turn into artwork.

I'd love to hear what helps your creative juices flow?

A Pileated Woodpecker working its way up a branch inspecting every nook and cranny.  
A few mornings ago, I saw several crows walking out in a field beyond the property.
The crows were just on the crest of the hill and looked enormous.  While looking and the crows walking along, I spotted the Pileated in the winter trees.  

Bambam in the garden.  The afternoon sun was lighting up some little unidentified insects.
The insects seemed to be dancing globes of light, perhaps they were fairies!  

Red-shouldered Hawks glide over the yard and me,
squawking and diving as they go

This is a real tree.  I drew its essence as accurately as I could,
but I didn't attempt to make it too detailed with individual leaves and bark textures.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Drawing with String

This winter I took up a new hobby, embroidery, in order to make some Christmas presents and be busy during these super cold winter days.  I found an old embroidery hoop down in the basement, and remembered getting pillowcases that my Grandma Erwin had made for me.  As a kid I was too impatient to complete many sewing projects, but now I think embroidery is fun because it is similar drawing with colorful thread, a needle, and fabric.  I mentioned that I was thinking of getting a kit of pillowcases with a stamped pattern to Jacob to get started.  He said that I could come up with much better designs than anything they'd have as a pattern.  So, I bought plain pillowcases, a washable fabric marker, a bag of embroidery thread of every color, and started doodling.  Of course, by designs are inspired by nature!

The first pillowcase set I made for Jacob and me of our favorite dragonflies and damselflies

My pillowcase is on the left with a Rosette Skimmer, a Halloween Pennant, and an Emerald Green Jewelwing.  Jacob's pillowcase has a Giant Darner (similar to a Green Darner, but an inch longer), a Rosette Skimmer, and a Rubyspot damselfly.

I made my mom and dad Barn Swallow cases.  I drew the birds on paper, cut it out, and traced it onto the case.  

Ansel and Mary Carol (dad and mom Malcom) got garden inspired pillowcases.  

These are Angel Trumpet flowers, brugmansia.  Ansel grows several varieties of the tropical plant in the garden.  They grow taller than people.  Many of them are dug up and put under the house every winter, others are cut down and buried in layers and layers of pine needles and leaves.  The flowers smell wonderful at night.

A hummingbird with Mexican Sage and a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly with purple cone flowers can be seen in the garden during the summer time.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014 fall paintings

I haven't shared my paintings from 2014, and wanted to share my nature inspired artwork with you. The beginning of 2014 was artistically/creatively consumed by my children's story project in which I wrote and illustrated a story about Silly dog.  You can check out a post about the  children's book here.  I painted over 20 pictures to illustrate the book.  After that project, I really didn't produce many paintings, but played with watercolors making bookmarks, and doodling.  Then summer came with summer camp and the garden and I didn't paint anything!  But after summer camp, I got busy.

I got a super pack of seven 1 ft square canvases because the first thing I painted after summer camp was series of paintings for John and Nicole for their wedding.  The three paintings are of horses that tell a nice story.  I painted the horses in a Native American style which I have always admired.  I fell in love with this earthy iron yellow color.  I would hang the paintings in this order horizontally with a 4 inch space between so the story doesn't get lost.  I always try to tell a story with my paintings.  I don't know if I always succeed, but I the idea of storytelling is important to me.

John and Nicole met while stationed in the Fort Hood 1st Cavalry horse division. They are part of the ceremonial and traditional detachment of mounted cavalry.  The detachment can be seen when troops are deployed from Fort Hood, when the commanders change posts, at parades, and other special events.  You can see a great photo of John in the Rose Bowl parade on the 1st Calvary Horse detachment facebook page  Way to go John!  Oh!, and the white/grey horse is suppose to be John's horse Sweet tea, and the Paint is Nicole's horse Breezy.  :)


The next painting was done for our landlords in Chaplin, John and Doreen Bolduc, who were exceptional.  My conversations with John often strayed to the deer that he feeds in his yard.  Jacob and I also had a tiny herd of two does and a fawn that would clean out the bird feeders every night.  They always froze and stared at me when they were caught in the act.  I enjoyed studying the woods as I walked to make the background look right.

Owl of the Year - Year of the Owl was the only painting that I really did for myself.  Seeing and hearing the Barred Owls in our backyard was a highlight of our year in Chaplin, CT.  Owls are so fantastic!

Lisa got a Red-tailed Hawk over looking the valley in McNeal, AZ for Christmas.  Red-tail Hawks can always be seen sitting on the telephone poles along hwy 181 that runs through the valley where she and my brother, Luke live.  The hawks seem to guard the valley.

Billie got Kangaroo Rats playing at night.  Billie is a veterinary assistant, and I knew she would love a painting of a  fuzzy animal.  I have also heard her describe herself as a desert rat so that's what she got.

I'd love to hear what you think!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Favorite photos from 2014

My friend, Roberta, at Growing with Science, has posted her favorite insect photos from 2014!  Many bloggers, Arizona: beetles, bugs, birds and more, enjoy posting year end reviews, and I am no exception since starting my blog in 2012.  Here are links to previous year's favorite photos- 2012 & 2013

This year was a bit different since, I hardly took any photographs of insects!  In the past, my camera is pointed at lots of the six-legged creatures, but this year in Connecticut the focus was on plants, fungi, amphibians and summer campers.  I guess that is what happens when you are in a cooler climate instead of hot Austin.

Here are my favorite photos from 2014!  Happy New Year, Everybody!  I hope this is a great one for you all!  It's so hard to choose only a few pictures, but here are 14 for you to enjoy.

Amphibians- very orange wood frog, and a red-back salamander guarding eggs.

Tiny brown mushrooms photographed in a way that they look big.
A sunset colored amanita mushroom
with the tiny brown mushrooms to the left 

 The tastiest mushroom found in our yard, chicken-of-the-woods
A very New England view with birch tree, mushrooms, and woodpecker holes.

Snow-scapes- I had many more snow pictures from last winter, but I chose these two because I love how the sunset colored the snow and cast long shadows across the white and blue ground.


Red Oak

Spring Ferns

Trout Lily

A few more favorites!
Jacob at the coast

Summer campers with Secret Oak, I love this picture.
The kids lined up on the tree as you see them.
This group was the first and most challenging of the entire summer!
I love the colors and action in this picture.
Cici's jumped into several of my pictures this year.
She is much more photogenic than my other two dogs.