Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bleeding Heart, a Plein Air Sketch

Marsha, Karen, and I met at Andy's Garden, a Garden Center in Troy for a Plein Air painting session. We elected to sit near one another around a bleeding heart display. Below is the sketch I drew and painted. I sketched lightly with a NO. 2 pencil because the flowers and leaves were intricate. Sometimes I just start painting without an underlying sketch. I also covered the white areas of the individual flowers with masking fluid. Using masking fluid is something else I rarely do when I am painting en plein air.
We have been busy this month, a trip to Lake Erie, filming the Hug the Earth Festival featuring the Banana Slugs, and attending a grandson's graduation and graduation party so I set the sketch aside for most of the month. I intended to refine the painting so I took photographs of the plant at Andy's Garden.

However, when I looked at the sketch again, I decided I rather liked it the way it was. The only real distraction was a streak of white paper beneath one of the flowers where a string of mask had covered the paper.
I had used Antwerp Blue for the background so I laid a wash of it on and around the white streak. Then I used this brush, an Angle Shader. It is really an acrylic painting brush. Its bristles are soft but a little stiffer than those of most watercolor brushes. I gently scrubbed with the brush across the area where I had added the Antwerp Blue. The bristles are just stiff enough to soften the edges of the streak so the new paint blended into the background. It is important to scrub very gently so the paper is not damaged.
Here is the result.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Miami County, Ohio Hug the Earth Festival with the Banana Slugs from Santa Cruz, California, 2012

This year, for the first time, the Hug the Earth Festival with the Banana Slugs was held at Stillwater Prairie Reserve. Stillwater has a larger area to stage the event which has grown every year for fifteen years.

The Banana Slugs are a group from Santa Curz, California.  They have been together for over twenty years.  I think the group is now approaching  thirty years together.  Their goal is to educate the world about the natural world and how to care for it.  Two of them, Doug and Larry, do shows the year around in California.  Steve and Mark run a nature camp for San Mateo County. 

One of the first Slug songs I learned before I had met the Slugs was this one.  They sing it but it makes a good chant, too.

           Sun, Soil, Water, and Air,
           Sun, Soil, Water, and Air.
           Everything we eat
           and everything we wear,
           Everything we eat
           and everything we wear,

           Everything comes from
           Every thing comes from

          Sun, Soil, Water, and Air,
          Sun, Soil, Water, and Air.

Appropriately, the "Earth Names" the Slugs have given themselves match the chant.

Doug "Dirt"
"Airy" Larry
"Solar" Steve
"Marine" Mark

When the Banana Slugs come to Ohio, they bring a drummer who is not a regular member of the band.
"Gaia" Gary

Tom and I spent Tuesday through Friday filming and taking photographs of the festival. It is always great fun and lasts all day.

All of the students from the Miami County schools who come take part in a song and dance with the Slugs and spend the rest of the day doing a variety of activities. Each day a thousand or more students and their teachers and some parents attend.  The program is coordinated with the school curriculum so it is offically approved  but the children look forward to it, like all children, because it is fun and they are not cooped up in the classroom for the day.

I'll write a couple more blogs about the festival. There is a lot to talk about.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Stephen

It wasn't long ago that you and I took a walk at Charleston Falls and I took this photo of you at the front of the limestone cave. That was a good day. I hope this was a good day, too. This year I decided to remember some of the favorite books that your cousins and you liked to have me read. I'm almost positive that your favorite when you were young was The Train to Timbuctoo. Remember the last page?

                      Kalamazoo to Timbuctoo
                     It's a long way down the track
                     And from Timbuctoo to Kalamazoo

                     It's just as far to go back
                     From Timbuctoo to Kalamazoo
                     From Kalamazoo and back
                        A long, long way,
                            a long. long way,
                              a long way down the track.
                                   From Kalamazoo to Timbuctoo
                                      From Timbuctoo
                                           and back.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Adam-and-Eve (Aplectrum hyemale)...Part 1

This is the way Adam-and-Eve looks during the winter and early spring. It is one of Ohio's orchids, one of the less showy ones. I decided I wanted to follow its development closely this year so every time I walked at Garbry I noted exactly where the leaves were.  This was important because the leaves decay and disappear before the flower spike breaks through the ground.  People have compared the leaves to pin-striped suits because of the pale, thin lengthwise veins. I finally asked Tom to help me find a spike. He is very good at finding elusive objects of all kinds. He did find one but it was not open at all. And I cannot find the elusive photo he took of it. However, a few days later we returned and he took this photo.
The buds were beginning to break through the protective sheath. You can see how hidden it is among the taller green leaves. On April 29, the day before we drove to Lake Erie we walked again, especially to see Adam-and-Eve. The flowerbuds were bigger.
We decided that we would stop on our way home from Lake Erie. We were glad we did. We found two plants, one in bud, the second just beginning to bloom.
And here is a close view of an individual flower.
Near the plant with the open blooms, we saw seed pods on last year's stalk.

Adam-and-Eve ( Aplectrum hyemale)...Part 2

Until I began talking to local naturalists I didn't know Ohio had orchids. When I thought of orchids I thought of the large purple and white ones that were made into fragile and special corsages when I was in high school and college.

Botanically, an orchid, according to Webster's New World Dictionary, "...is characterized by waxy pollen masses, minute seeds, and bilaterally symetrical flowers with three petals, one of which is lip-shaped with many distinctive forms".

Adam-and-Eve gets its name from its two joined corms lying side by side. There are folklore practioners who tell fortunes by placing the two bulbs in water and determine fortunes by noting which bulb pops up first.  This bit of information came from The History and Folklore of North American Wildflowers by Timothy Coffey. He cited Gibson, 1905 as the source of his information.

These corms, the two jointed bulbs, give Adam-and-Eve its other common name, the one I learned it by...Putty-Root. They contain a glutinous putty which makes a strong cement if the tubers are crushed and a little water is added and can be used to mend broken china and glass.

Putty-Root (or Adam-and-Eve), is found throughout most of the eastern United States and Canada. It prefers moist, rich, deciduous woods. It is "of Special Concern" in Connecticut and "Endangered" in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. It is "Rare" in Pennsylania, and "Threatened" in Vermont.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Portrait From a Photo, Part 6

Here is the Painting as it appeared at the end of the Part 5
This is where the painting was at the end of Part 5. And below is how it looked when I stopped to evaluate it.
On my computer screen, I can view both photos at the same time. I hope that you can do the same.

This is how I went from the first to the second.
Added Alizarin Crimson to the upper lip because the upper lip tips in and so it not hit strongly by the sunlight.
Added Burnt Sienna and Green-blue to the upper hair line and extended it along the shadow side hair.
Added Burnt Sienna to the eyes.
Painted New Gamboge, Quinacridone Red, and Orange Lake washes over the entire face and neck to brighten them.
Painted washes using these colors plus Green-blue and Primary Red on the shadow side.
Added Cobalt Blue to the outer sweatshirt, and washes of New Gamboge and Quinacridone Red to the tee shirt.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lilian Nichols...Chrysanthemum Canes

Here are two of the finished projects that Lilian brought in as examples of what we would be doing. On the left is a small glass vase or tea light holder. The sheet on the right could be used to cover a variety of objects. She had covered several brooches with it. We started with a base of polymer clay, white, pearl and translucent. Over it we laid bits of thin sheets of polymer clay in a variety of colors. Some of us made stripes. Others created a random color pattern.
Below is another color selection that was used.
Putting the covered base through our pastry blenders created a variegated sheet.
Our next step was to roll the sheet into a cane.
After indenting the cane lengthwise with a ruler, we had canes that looked like these.
We sliced off very thin sections of the canes and applied them to wooden bracelet forms or tea light holders. Here are some of the results.
We all finished our projects to the point where they could be baked. However, the longest part of the project was still ahead of us, sanding the baked clay until it was perfectly smooth, doing whatever touch up might be necessary and painting a glossy finish on it. Lilian doesn't sell bracelets she makes this way because she says that she would have to set the price at $400 to cover the cost of her labor.