Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sink's Farm

The day Marsha and Donna painted these, I had another appointment on my schedule. They sat on Marsha's back porch and painted what they saw. It is always interesting to look at paintings that two or more artists have created from the same view. As I often tell my Children's Drawing students, even if all of you are drawing from the same model, what you draw will be different from what anyone else draws. Every person sees with his own unique eyes and unique point of view. This is one of the reasons that art is exciting to me. No one else sees what I see or what you see.

Acrylic by Donna Clark 12 X 9 inches


Watercolor by Marsha Elliot 10.25 X 7.5 inches


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cooper's Hawk

This photo has been Photoshopped to improve its quality but it is still not quite what we really saw on our front porch railing one morning a week or so ago. Tom used his Canon EOS but he was shooting through our front window at an angle. You can see the living room drapery on the right side. The bird was sitting on the railing just outside our front door.

For five years or so a pair of Cooper's Hawks nested across the street in our neighbor's tall tree. A fierce wind and rain storm broke the top out of the tree. The nest came down, too.

The hawks are still nesting somewhere in our area. One summer day I looked out my kitchen window and saw a parent sitting with a young hawk on the picnic table on our back patio.

We are glad the Cooper's Hawks are around. They are beautiful birds to watch as they fly in and swoop down to land on a branch. They hunt birds so sometimes we see them in the walnut tree watching our bird feeders. They remind us that nature has a system of checks and balances that creates a healthy environment. Hawks are as important a part of the natural world as the birds they prey on.

Cooper's Hawks also hunt chipmunks and squirrels which keeps the populations of those rodents in check.

Tom took this telephoto picture of the bird in which you can see that the bird has a yellow eye. The yellow eye is a characteristic of the young birds. The adults have red eyes. The speckled back is also indicative of a young bird.

I am happy to share our yard with these beautiful creatures.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kyle

This is my latest photo of you, Kyle. I hope to see you this fall and get more pictures. Riding that bull was fun. I can tell by the expression on your face.

Remember walking on this pillowy path? I hope the church collected lots of money for its family camp that day.

Here are some other pictures of the fun you've had when I was around to enjoy it, too.

These are from when you lived in Virginia. They were taken in a park near your house. You are the leader and Barry and Camille are running along behind you.

Below, you are playing with a Harry Potter action figure at Grandpa and Grandma's house when you were four.

Have a wonderful double digit birthday. Hope to see you soon.

Lots of love from Grandma

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tipp City Area Arts Council Booth

Last Saturday I manned the Tipp City Arts Council booth at the Farmers' Market. There were fresh produce booths,and also booths where creative people were selling specialty items such as maple syrup and herbs, fresh baked goods, cut flowers, potted plants, jewelry, jams and jellies. One little girl was selling lemonade and her sister was selling seed bead jewelry that she had made.

I saw old friends and met new people.

Tom helped set up my display, then went off shopping. Today we had a stir fry for supper with the summer squash and green beans he bought. Sunday morning he fried French toast using the cinnamon swirl bread he bought and on Saturday for supper we had fresh sweet corn on the cob.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August Trip to Magee Marsh...Part 2

In the spring we look for birds when we visit Magee Marsh, but this time I was interested in seeing the Swamp Rose-Mallow (Hibiscus palustris according to Newcomb's Wildflower Guide).  The wetlands where we see waterfowl in the spring are covered with the beautiful pink blooms in late summer.

The flowers are large and showy.

We decided to brave the boardwalk even though we knew our blood would be siphoned off by female mosquitoes seeking it to insure healthy off-spring. We lathered ourselves with insect repellent which helped a lot. Tom was found by the pesky insects a few times when he stopped a bit long because he wanted a perfect photo.

This is the way the boardwalk looked. We were the only people on it. In spring there are so many people looking for birds, particularly warblers, that it is hard to move.

We saw a few Swamp Rose-Mallows beside the railing so Tom took this photo. The huge sepals covering the unopened blooms look like balloons.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources encourages gardeners to plant the native Swamp Rose-Mallow instead of  Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)  which is an invasive species.

There were common buttonbushes along much of the boardwalk. (Cephalanthus occidentalis). Buttonbush is found in most wetlands in Ohio and is used for wetland restoration. This was the first time I have seen it in bloom.  Another name for buttonbush is Honey-bells.  Insects and hummingbirds take the nectar.  Bees use it to make honey.

The blooms were interesting, round like Sycamore balls. Below is a closer view. The bloom to the left is not yet open.

The photo below shows an aging bloom. I like the orange pink color.

We saw a lot of Jewelweed bushes but only four blooms. I know there will be more because this is the beginning of the blooming season for them. The Jewelweed blooms we saw were Pale Jewelweed, also called Pale Touch-me-not(Impatiens pallida). I don't know if the Spotted Touch-me-not(Impatiens capensis) is also found at Magee Marsh. I often see both in the same area. Tom took several photos here and received several mosquito bites for his efforts to get a picture he liked.

Some people say the plant is called Jewelweed because dew or raindrops sit on the leaves like jewels. Other say it is because the seeds inside the pods look like pearls.

The mature Jewelweed seedpods are shaped like fat minature peapods. If the end is touched, the pod bursts open. This gives the plant its other common name, Touch-me-not.

And I spotted another variety of Milkweed. This one is Ascleplas incarnata, Swamp Milkweed. I recognized it by the distinctive milkweed type flowers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sunny Day on the Stillwater River Trail

A couple weeks ago, Tom decided to take a video of the Stillwater Prairie boardwalk.  I decided not to walk as far as the prairie and stopped at a bench overlooking the Stillwater River.  The spots of sunshine on the gravel made an interesting pattern in front of me.  Though it is not visible in this photo, there is a path between the trees that leads down to the river's edge.

I wasn't sure how long I had to sketch before Tom returned so I elected to start with a Micron pen sketch.  He wasn't back by the time I had finished a general sketch so I put a few watercolor washes on the sketch.

Original sketch

Now I wish I had left it as it was, perhaps only accenting the ink shadows in front of me.  But I didn't.  Here is what I did, in five more steps.  Two and three  are below.  Probably, you can view both of them at the same time so it is easier to compare the two and see what I added or changed.

Stage 2 

Stage 3
In Stage 2, I added more detail with the micron pen, defining the foreground shadows, the Virginia Creeper on the foreground trees and the rocks. I started defining the path which is not visible in the photo.  I also added more pen lines to the tree trunk with the overhanging branch and added scribbly foliage for the "weeds".

You will notice that the sketch I drew is different from the photo at the top of the page.  I moved the trees in the background.  The mid distant tree was in the middle as I sat on the bench and I didn't want it to be the focal point.  I moved it to the right. 

I painted that mid distant tree grayer and was immediately sorry. In  Stage 3, I lightened the mid distant tree, and brightened the two nearest trees.  I brightened the Virginia Creeper and added more foliage to the distant tree with the overhanging bough.


Below are steps four and five. Again, you should be able to view both at the same time and notice the changes.  I started thinking about the yellowish river at this point. I did a lot of experimenting, lightening areas, darkening areas, adding yellows, and greens, taking out yellows and greens, adding Micron pen lines, taking them out.  I plan to paint this river a lot more.  Its color this time of year, an olive green, and its brightness at the same time, are challenging. 

I also continued brightening here and there.  Some day I hope to learn to keep the whites to begin with.  I added a little Chinese white to the closest rock and to the Virginia Creeper.  I worked on the contrast between the far shore plants and the tree with the overhanging bough.

Stage 4

Stage 5

I thought I was finished so I signed it.  But I wasn't.  I lightened and reddened the mid distant tree even more.  I continued to experiment with the river trying to get a glassier look.  I have done paintings I like better but I learned a lot by painting this one.

From the first

...to the last.

The Stillwater River from the Trail...watercolor on 140 weight cold pressed paper...5.3X7.3 inches.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August Trip to Magee Marsh...Part 1

We left on Saturday afternoon and arrived at the Sleep Inn where we always stay  when we spend time in the Toledo area about 3:30.  After relaxing and eating at Applebee's for supper, Tom decided to take a little drive.  We drove past the docks in Toledo and then headed east.  He drove until we were close to Magee Marsh. We decided to go there since we still had an hour or so of daylight.  We especially wanted to see the Swamp Rose-Mallows which cover the wetlands this time of year.

But, before we  reached those wetlands, we were treated to a sighting of a lifetime. 

We have two native species of swans in Ohio, the Tundra or Whistling Swan, and the Trumpeter Swan.  The Tundra Swans are here in spring and fall during their migration flights.  The Trumpeter Swans are here all year around but only in a few places...like Magee Marsh.  We have often seen them in the distance when we have birded here, but never on the road beside the van.  Yes, as we watched, they walked out on the road beside the driver's door.  I keep my Fujifilm JZ300 camera in my purse so Tom took photos from the van, wishing he had his Canon.  My little camera did an admirable job.

We think of a bird's bill as a 3-D triangle but look at all the planes on it.  The eyes are nearly hidden by the black surrounding them.

If we had had any doubt about these being Trumpeter Swans they were squelched by this swan.

Around its neck is a band attached by the wildlife staff who released it.  In 1996 Magee Marsh was the first of 11 sites where Trumpeter Swans were reintroduced in Ohio.

There were once thousands of Trumpeter Swans throughout the northern United States but, by 1900, they were extirpated from Ohio.  Most of them were gone by the mid 1800s.  This was because they were killed by hunters.  People wanted their meat and skins.  Swan skins were used to make powder puffs, and the feathers used to adorn fashionable clothing.  As the wetlands were drained for farming, their habitat was lost which was another factor in their decline. 

The Ohio Division of Wildlife has a complete Life History of the Trumpeter Swan on its website. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Painting with Friends...August 4

Last Thursday, the three of us gathered at Marsha's house for a morning painting session.  It was good to see Donna and Marsha.  We always find plenty to talk about between our silent intense spells of painting.  We talk a lot about painting, but we also talk about other things. 

Donna worked from her computer.  (Marsha has WiFi)  The photo on the screen is one Donna took at Meadow View Gardens south of New Carlyle.  She is using acrylics.  I forgot to ask her if she was using Golden Open.  Golden Open is a new type of acrylic which acts a bit more like oil paint. I know Donna likes them.

Marsha is using her iPad for reference.  She took the photo at the Bass Pros Shop in Springfield, Missouri.  Bass Pros Shops have wonderful dioramas featuring animals which have been stuffed by expert taxidermists.
She is working with watercolors on 140 weight cold-pressed paper.

And here I am.  I am using watercolors on 140 weight cold-pressed paper, also.  I am using the wet-on-wet technique, glazing with thin layers of paint.  You can see the ripples in the paper which will disappear when the paper dries.  Taping the paper to a board helps control the rippling.  Above the painting is part of the computer generated enlargement of a photo Tom took at Biltmore Estate in North Carolina two years ago.

After we painted intensely for a little over an hour, we took a snack break and studied what we had accomplished.

All three of us opted to bring  store-prepared snacks from our local groceries. Marsha provided iced tea, cups, plates, and napkins. 


Then we went back to work again.  Here, Donna is making the lily "pop" by adding a blue-green background.  I expect to see her finished painting on her blog.

Here is a close up of Marsha's painting.  She used mask which is a rubbery liquid that dries to a protective cover over the grasses and the egrets.  She decided not to paint the rocks in the upper left triangle of the photograph but to turn that area into something which resembles sparkling water or a night sky.  Take your pick.  The white speckles were created by sprinkling salt on the wet watercolor. The completed painting is on her Red Bubble site.

Here is my waterlily after the paper dried.  The ripples are gone.  Since I work slowly, and since I am using the glazing technique I expect to be painting on this for a number of days.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Ohio State Fair

When Robert, Tom, and I arrived at the state fair, our first stop was the Buckeye Sports Center. This is always our first stop because it is the site of the State 4-H Dog Show Competition. Tom and I have had grandchildren and their dogs competing for quite a few years.

We found Eric and his friends hanging out and grooming their dogs for the upcoming competitions. These are Robert's friends, too. He was in the 4-H group for several years and a number of the 4-Hers are in the Troy band.  Robert is one of the Troy  field commanders. 

Eric said he and Courtney wouldn't be showing for a couple hours so Tom and I decided to look around. Robert stayed to talk with his friends.

Tom and I always check out the exhibits at the Agriculture and Horticulture Building. The envionmental agencies also have booths there. We saw this water cycle diarama which we knew the educational staff at the park district would be interested in so I took a couple photos to show them. The cloud "rains" on the mountains if the viewer presses a button.

We took a photo of the transportation diarama for all those railroad fans in the family.

Our next stop was one of the commerical exhibits areas. Tom decided to buy a remote control helicopter. He has been fascinated by them for several years. The price was right.

We went back to watch Eric and Courtney compete. Here they are in the ring waiting their turn.

Off Tom and I went again.  This tme we saw draft horses in line for a competition.  Their trappings sparkled in the sunlight.

When we returned the next time, Eric was in the ring again. We saw him receive a ribbon for "Outstanding Exhibitor". Afterward, he laughed a bit sheepishly. "What can I say? They just like me."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Outer Space, A Summer School Mural

Stephen is pointing at Saturn, the planet he stuffed and painted for the class mural.

A label under Saturn told a little about it.

Each student helped to make one of the planets.  They were interesting to me because they were constructed with a variety of materials.

Stephen said the volcano on Mars was made from the top half of an individual size water bottle.  The rough surface of the planet was painted pasta glued on edge.

Neptune's atmosphere was clear Easter grass.  This planet also was stuffed.

The sun was painted bubblewrap.  Lots of glitter was glued on top.  Definitely a shining sun.

The Earth had cotton batting clouds over continents made from foam craft sheets.

The students learned this sentence to help them remember the order of the planets...My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nachos.   Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.