Sunday, April 28, 2013

Georgia O'Keeffe, a Review of Three Books

Georgia O'Keeffe's  painting, Cliffs Beyond Abiquiu,  was reproduced in  one of my grade school reading books.  It was my favorite of the paintings  in that book.

I have always remembered the vertical composition, the colorful cliffs and the "slit" down through the center of the vertical.  It was the smooth gradual variation of vivid color that appealed to me.  That smooth gradual variations of color  that were so much a part of much of her work are still part of what draws me to her paintings.

I began looking for Georgia O'Keeffe paintings.  Mostly, I found them in art museums Tom and I visited.  Somewhere I came across a book of her paintings in full color  in a large format book...Georgia O'Keeffe, A Studio Book, published by The Viking Press.  The book was first printed in 1976.  The copy I have is from the third printing in 1981.  Georgia O'Keeffe wrote the commentary for the paintings.

Twenty plus years ago, I was pleased when the Quality Paperback Book Club offered Georgia O'Keeffe, a biography written by Roxana Robinson in 1989. When the book arrived,  I opened it up with anticipation.  But I put the book aside after I bogged down reading about her ancestry.  I know forebears are the typical beginning of most biographies but I was reading for pleasure and the details about her ancestors were not my primary interest.

A month ago my sister loaned me The Spirit Catchers by Kathleen Kudlinski, copyright 2004 and published by Watson-Guptill Publications.  The book is part of Art Encounters, a series for young adults.  In this novel,  a fifteen year old boy meets Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico in the summer in the 1930s.  She befriends him and teaches him photography.  In return, he cleans her brushes and helps her with other tasks around her adobe dwelling.  Part of the story is concerned with Georgia O'Keeffe's painting, Ram's Skull with Brown Leaves, which is reproduced on the cover.

This book sent me back for another try at the Georgia O'Keeffe biography.   The book is a thick one, over five hundred pages.  There is a lot of information so there were times when I had to set it aside for a day or two so I could absorb what I had read up to that point.  She lived to be ninety-eight and had an active life for most of that time.  This time I read, looking forward to the time that would correspond with the young adult novel.

 Robinson does a good job of describing paintings Georgia was producing so I could look through the Viking Press book and find many of the paintings.  The three books provided a rounded picture, Georgia O'Keeffe as seen from different viewpoints.

She associated with many  well known artists and photographers so I learned a bit about Arthur Dove and John Marin, Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter as well as a lot about her photographer husband, Alfred Stieglitz.

Her strong will, strong opinions,  and deep commitment to her art are obvious in all three books.  It appealed to me that she believed in taking care of this earth long before "being green" and "leaving a small footprint" were  the popular messages they are today.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

An Earth Day Walk at Garbry Big Woods...April 22

Seth, Scott, Ceceila, Pat, Tom and I met at Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary.  We were hoping to see the Large-flowered trillium.  When we arrived at ten in the morning the temperature was only forty degrees Fahrenheit, definitely chilly.  The flowers were half open.  When we left an hour and a half later, the temperature had risen to sixty degrees and the flowers were wide open.

Garbry is home to Nodding Trillium as well as Large-flowered Trillium.  The flowers are about the same size but the leaves are broader and the flowers are on a stem that bows down a little.

Only a few of the Nodding Trillium were open.  Many were half open like the one in this photo.

Last week there were a few Sessile Trillium buds were open but this week we saw maroon flowers throughout the woods.

The Bloodroot flowers were gone but there were a few Trout Lilies still intact.

There were more Bellworts than last week.

The Mayapples were showing swelling buds but we didn't see any that were open.

Tom took another photo of the Hispid Buttercup.  He only saw one, just like last week.

He took this portrait of a species of Blue Violet.

One of the prettiest groups of flowers he found was this cluster of Spring Beauties.  As these flowers age, they show more and more pink.

There were flowers which we didn't find a week ago.  Tom found this Wild Ginger.  Its flower grows on the ground where it is pollinated by insects who are drawn to its foul smell.

Another new bloomer was the Wild Blue Phlox.

Ceceila and Pat showed me the buds on the Ohio Buckeye.  They were on a slender sapling.

 I was really glad Ceceila has sharp eyes.  She spotted the first Jack-in-the-Pulpit I have seen this spring.  it is in the lower right hand corner.  It was about the size of a person's thumb.

To get better views of the flowers, click on the photos to enlarge them.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What a Difference a Week Makes...Spring Flowers at Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary

Tom and I walked at Garbry on April 8 and again on April 15.   We saw two different forest floors.

On the eighth we looked and looked and were rewarded by finding a few Trout Lilies (Erythronium americanum) almost ready to bloom.

On the fifteenth the forest floor was sprinkled everywhere with the yellow flowers.

Another flower that was still in bud on April 8 was Dutchmen's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria).

And on the fifteenth, like the Trout Lily, its unusual blooms abounded throughout the woods.

We looked for Sessile Trillium (Trillium sessile) and found none blooming two Mondays ago.

But we found the red-purple flowers this past Monday.

One greenish Rue Anemone (Anemonella thalictroides) on the eighth...

and  clusters of them throughout the woods on the fifteenth.

Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) were just breaking through the leaves two Mondays  ago.

 But, on Monday, they were everywhere we looked.  Their unusual leaves made them exceptionally noticeable.

The Spice bush (Lindera benzoin)  buds were small yellow balls two Mondays ago.

And now they are big  fuzzy flowers.

The Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra) leaves were still protected by their covers on the eighth.

Now the leaves are opening and growing bigger each day.

Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) stems were up but the leaves were still unopened on the eighth.

And this past Monday, the leaves were opening and the flowers were open as well.

As new flowers open, some of the early ones disappear.  We didn't see any Harbinger-of-Spring.

There was still a sprinkling of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)  On the eighth all were fresh and new.

And now there were as many Bloodroot whose petals had dropped as there were flowers still blooming.  Here, in one small spot we saw fallen petals of one and the full bloom of another.

We found new flowers...Bellwort...(Uvularia).  I'm not sure of the species.

Hispid Buttercup (Ranunculus hidpidlus)...Tom identified this from one of our wildflower field guides.

Yellow Violet...(Viola)  I don't know the species.

And a Large-flowered Trillium (Trollium grandiflorum) almost in bloom.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Brukner Nature Center, April 5

Sonja and I walked at Brukner on Friday.  The day was warm enough that Sonja wore no jacket and I wore a light-weight one.  We looked around at Cattail Pond, then headed down Hickory Ridge Trail.  She hadn't seen the snow trillium.  The snow trillium were blooming more profusely than the last time I visited and there were hundreds of hepatica, not just one like on March 29 when I walked with Stephen.

I asked her if she was willing to walk to the swamp.  I wanted to see the skunk cabbage and the harbinger-of-spring.  She said, "Sure."

As we were walking up Wren Run, I spotted a Mourning Cloak Butterfly, the first butterfly I have seen this spring.  I didn't get a photo.

I did get a picture of a purple cress.

Sonja spotted something moving among the leaves at our feet.  She took its picture...a slender garter snake.

The leaves of the skunk cabbage have grown a lot since I was last in the swamp.

But there was still a still blooming skunk cabbage.

Sonja pointed out a crawdad chimney.  No hole in it so the crawdad was still working its way up from its burrow.

But the crawdad from this chimney was out and about.

As we were climbing the stairs up from the swamp, I spotted these red-purple buds and stems.  Hard to believe that there is a bright yellow flower hidden under the purple covering.  This is one of the two ragworts that live at Brukner.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pink Tulips, an Experiment

Tulips, Watercolor...11 by 14 inches (28 by 35.5 cm)

I usually paint precisely.  I deliberately tried to use a casual approach for this painting.   For the first pass, I used a Steve Quiller brush, a series 7000 Richeson Professional, number 12.  The brush holds a lot of paint and has a nice point so it is good for wide washes or fine details.

I was concerned that I would lose the light edges of some of the leaves so I roughly covered them with liquid frisket.

I began adding stronger values to the leaves.

I wanted to see if the light edges were the way I wanted them so I removed the frisket.

I decided I wanted the nearest tulip on the right to be the focal point so I removed the pale tulip behind it and  added some leaves with stronger values around it so it would be the most noticeable of the tulips.  I had thought I would use a green toned background but the Qiunacridone Pink toned down with Permanent Green Light gave more of the effect I was looking for.  

Finally, I added some brighter pinks to the focal tulip which made the lights appear lighter.  I also added Viridian to some of the green mixtures as well as a little of the Quinacridone Pink.