Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Adult Watercolor, Their Paintings

For the last few weeks I have been teaching an adult watercolor class for beginners.

One student decided to start with this painting which is shown as a step-by step painting in Jan Kunz's book, Watercolor Basics.

Here is the student's version.  I like its vigorous style and bold colors.  She drew only a portion of the original sketch.  She added Indian Yellow and Alizarin Crimson to the Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna that were suggested in the directions.

Another student liked a painting from Julie King's book, How to Paint Flowers in Watercolour.

The photo I took was not well lit so the colors are only an approximation of the completed painting.  The student put her own artistic thoughts into the painting. The leaves are her own style and so are the flowers.  I can  feel a light breeze and spring sunshine as I look at her creation.

The third student elected to use a pot of tulips  for inspiration.

The leaves  are a company of dancers. The tulips have the starring roles. Again, the lighting was not good so the photo below is an approximation.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Earth Colors by Sarah Andrews, a Book Review

I read a lot of mysteries.  Sometimes, in the winter when the weather is bad, I will read as many as eight in a month.  Usually I get the books from the local library and that is where I found Earth Colors by Sarah Andrews.  I liked this book so much that I bought two copies, one for myself and one for my daughter who has a masters in geology.The mystery revolves around a Remington painting.  Is the painting authentic or a copy?   The sleuth is Em Hansen, a geologist looking for a subject for her master's thesis.

What, I , as a mystery reader, really want is a good entanglement where right triumphs over wrong in a few hundred pages.  Mysteries are an escape for me from the entanglements of real life where motives and solutions only evolve over years of a person's lifetime.  And Sarah Andrews provides this escape, along with interesting and believable characters, some of whom appear over and over in the series.

What makes this book different from most  mysteries is not only the amount of information Sarah Andrews incorporates about geology in general but also the history of pigments and their relationship to the geology of  Pennsylvania which she explores as the mystery progresses. Being an artist, I found that history  interesting as well as the information about analyzing those pigments which Em Hansen learns.

Sarah Andrew's thoughts on environmental issues are always interesting to me, too, and come up in other books of this series.  One of her characters in this book, Jenny, said something that impressed me so much I added it to my little book of inspiration to live by.

Jenny and Em, the geologist, are discussing how Jenny is able to maintain a happy attitude when she loses battles to preserve significant features of the landscape.  Jenny tells Em about the chestnut tree blight  that  destroyed all the chestnut trees in the eastern United States many years ago. There are still very old stumps sending up new sprouts.  The sprouts die when they reach a flowering age because the blight kills them.  These are wonderful trees, extremely rot resistant.  A person can still find barns and homes built with chestnut lumber.  Scientists have been working for years to find a way to counteract the blight.

Jenny tells Em,  "Nothing lasts forever in this world, not even blight.  So I think I'll just honor my roots and keep on sending up my sprouts."

Monday, March 18, 2013

More Signs of Spring

On March ninth , I asked Tom to stop at Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary on the way home from our birding trip to St. Mary's so I could look for Harbinger of Spring, also known as Pepper and Salt.  He laughed.  I walked a few yards into the sanctuary and returned to the van.  The woodland floor was covered with snow.  If the Harbinger of Spring was blooming, it was under the snow.

But on March 15, I persuaded him to drive up to the sanctuary again.  This time the boardwalk was clear of snow and so was the woodland floor.  AND we found Harbinger of Spring.

It is always hard to show in a photo how small the flowers are.

The day before I walked at Charleston Falls and found a few Water Striders walking on the surface of the creek.

Yesterday Stephen and I searched the yard for signs of spring.  We found crocuses although they were furled because the day was cold and gloomy.

And there were buds swelling on the daffodils.

Stephen even found a few tiny green leaves on the old-fashioned Quince Bush that Tom's dad dug up for us out of his yard.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

First Birding Weekend, March of 2013

It's time for the migrants to head north so we decided to look for ducks.  We kept our eyes open for other visitors and recently arrived summer residents also.  I'm not listing all the birds we found, just the ones we found notable for one reason or another.

At Spring Valley on Friday afternoon we saw swans across the lake among the old cattail stems, probably Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus).  From there we drove to Eastwood Lake where we saw Lesser Scaups (Aythya affinis),  Ringnecked ducks (Aythya collaris), Buffleheads (Bucephala albeola), and American Coots (Fulica americana).

On Saturday we drove  through the fish hatchery at St. Mary's, then  around the lake and stopped at Mercer County Wildlife area. On that trip, we added a Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)

Monday was rainy but we drove to Englewood Lake and found two addtional species, Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) and Redheads (Aythya americana).  Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) were swooping above the rafts of scaups.  Must be enough insects have emerged for them to find lunch.

The Worst sighting...evidence of the Emerald Ash Tree Borer which has invaded our area.  Ashes are one of the trees that are prevalent throughout many wooded areas of Southwestern Ohio.  We will miss them.  Scientists are working on ways to save the trees but haven't come up with a surefire way, yet.

And the best sighting on Saturday...a male Lesser Scaup and a Canvasback swimming close enough to get a good size comparison.

We saw this groundhog at Eastwood Lake, one of the Dayton Metro Parks on Friday afternoon.  It is the first one we've seen this spring.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Troy Civic Theatre...Boeing, Boeing

From left to right...Bernard, Gabrielle, Berthe, Gloria, Robert, and Gretchen  played by Steve Dietrich, Jo Grandel, Jessica Suba, Samantha Persing, Scott Atkinson, and Tina Hayes.

This is  the cast of Troy Civic Theatre's production of Boeing, Boeing greeting the audience after the Sunday matinee.  They clearly have enjoyed preforming as much as the audience enjoyed laughing at their antics.  The women in the blue, red, and yellow suits are the stewardesses, all of whom think they are the fiancee of Bernard (Steve), the smiling architect.  Poor Berthe (Jessica), in the white blouse,  is Bernard's housekeeper and cook whose job is to keep everything running smoothly for Bernard as the stewardesses run in and out of the apartment in Paris.

When Robert (Scott) comes to visit and the airlines change their schedules because airplanes are now faster, the five doors on the set open and close in wild succession as the cast runs in and out, sometimes avoiding one another, sometimes meeting.  Tom and I laughed out loud at the wild antics though we had expected that we would only smile at the nonsense.

The play, written by Marc Camoletti and adapted by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans, ran for seven years in London in the nineteen sixties and also ran for a short time on Broadway in New York.  It was  made into a movie starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis.

The play is a wonderful escape from the reality of everyday life.  If you live in the Troy area, I hope you find time this weekend to see a performance on March 8 or 9.  You can find more information at


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