Friday, February 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, Eric

                        Eric with Courtney and Seymour

It was good to see you  today and give you a birthday hug.  Enjoy this year, your last one as a teenager.

Remember the year you went to Beaver Camp at Aullwood?

And remember all the times you and I played Harley?

I liked the game because it was a game where we played together to help Harley find all his buried treasures.  It was a good game because there was no winner and no loser, just Harley helpers.  He did have a hard time finding all his treasures sometimes because of the nasty Briar Patches and the Skunk and other prowlers along the paths.

For those of you reading this who like games like this, you can find this game and others like it at

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Weather...It's Winter, It's Almost Spring, It's Winter Again

We had three more inches of snow on February 14.  (7.6 cm)  And here is how Charleston Falls looked on February 15 about 8:30 AM.

The park staff hadn't cleaned off the trail when Jeanne stopped to take a photo.  Abby and Emmy waited patiently.

The maintenance man blew  the snow off the stairs and retreated to his truck.  I don't know if he was going back for a shovel, gravel, or deicer.  Probably all three.  The staff does a good job of keeping the stairs free of ice and snow.  The park was closed on Friday because of the ice and snow.

Here is Octagon Prairie on February 15.  Jeanne, the dogs, and I broke a path through the snow as we walked.

The following Friday, Tom and I took a birding trip to Lake St. Mary's.  The day was mostly sunny but the wind was strong so the temperatures in the 40s F (4.44 C)  felt more like the 20s F (-6.6 C).  The lake was ice covered except around the spillways and the few places where large amounts of water flow into the lake.  In one of these small areas of open water, we saw this Redhead.  Tom took the photo in a moment when the sun was hidden by a big cloud.

As we were driving slowly down the country roads, Tom turned to me,  "I think I just saw a Red-winged Blackbird sitting on that wire with the Starlings."  I didn't see it but I hoped he was right.  Red-winged Blackbirds are usually the first migrants back from the south.  They are in our area for spring, summer, and  fall.  American Robins, which many Ohioans consider the first migrants to return, are  seen in Southwestern Ohio all year around though there are fewer of them during the winter..

The 40s were warm enough for the snow to melt even if we felt cold and by Saturday morning, large areas of fields and lawns were free of snow.  The ice at Charleston Falls had started to melt leaving tall freestanding pillars of ice.

Octagon Prairie was clear of snow but we waded through  water streaming across the trail in a couple low areas.

As we passed a young tree, I heard a bird sing.  It was a Red-winged Blackbird sitting on the topmost branch of the tree.  Jeanne tried to get a bit of video of it as it sang.  But, the sun was so bright that her camera screen was black which made getting a photo impossible.

But...the Red-winged Blackbird males are back.  Spring is on the way even though we have been told to expect  11 degrees (-11.6 C)  for our low temperature tonight.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 22, 2014, Fifty-three Years Since That First Bouquet

This bouquet that commemorates the one Tom sent fifty-three years ago to my college dorm room.

As usual I was dense.  I wondered why he was making an elaborate meal and why he asked me to put out candles.  Even the North Carolina wine on the table didn't jog my prosaic mind as to why this was a special day.

We were ready to sit down to lunch when the front doorbell rang.  Tipp Florists delivered  a dozen roses.  Then I remembered.

Tom!  He did it again.  Surprised me with a dozen red roses just as he did fifty-three years ago.  You would think that I would come to expect a bouquet on this date but I guess I am not the romantic sort.  I'm glad I am married to Tom who is.

So that was why he slaved away in the kitchen this morning!  He made spatzle, red cabbage with apples, and beef stroganoff.  For dessert, he put  fresh blueberries and red raspberries in a Cool Whip and cream cheese filling.

After lunch, I asked him to set his camera and take a photo of us together.

I will remember next year.  February 22 is not important because it is George Washington's birthday.  It is important because it is the day of the roses.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The North Wind Doth Blow, February 17, 2014

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  Photo by Tom Persing

    The North Wind Doth Blow

The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then,
Poor thing?

He'll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing,
Poor thing.


Juncos are snowy weather birds.  In this part of Ohio we see them only in winter.  They come to our ground feeder.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  Photo by Tom Persing

Northern Cardinals are here all year.  This is a male.  The females are grayish or brownish, tinged with red  on their crest, breast, wings, and tails.  Tom took this from our dining room window.  The bird was on the far side of our back yard.  Once again, his new camera with the image stabilization did the trick.

Northern Cardinal, Photo by Tom Persing

These photos were taken late in the afternoon.  The temperature was 29 degrees, Fahrenheit (-1.7 Celsius).  A few minutes earlier rain was pouring down.  It left trees and birdfeeders and eaves of houses trimmed with icicles.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Using a Commercial Gray Scale to Recognize Values

I find keeping a  gray scale handy helps when I am painting.  You can make your own as I showed in an earlier blog.  I find making a gray scale made me more aware of the infinite variations of grays.

You may decide to buy a commercial gray scale.  The grays are ten percent gradations.

Another possibility is to use your computer to change your painting to gray scale to get ideas for continuing or to confirm that you have a variety of values in your painting.  Here is an example of checking values by changing a color painting to gray scale.

From color to gray scale

It helps to know the value of colors as they relate to the gray scale.

Here is the same photo but changed to gray scale with the computer.  You can see that the bit of neck surrounded by  the 10 percent gray keyhole is even lighter than 10 percent gray.  The third value down, 30 percent gray is close to the bit of scarf in the keyhole.  That orange is close to 30 percent gray.

Using  value contrast is one key to making a  painting that attracts the viewer.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Relating Complementary Color Studies to the Gray Scale

It is February 18 and I am revising this post.  I'm still trying to clarify what I am saying in my own mind.  I probably will revise this again.  Thank you, Far Side of Fifty, for your input.  I  realize the original post was as clear as mud...generally a very deep value in this part of Ohio.

Value is an important aspect of color.  I have read many places that a painter can use colors that have no relation to the actual subject but if the values are correct, the painting will seem "right".  I've chosen to select complementary colors to simplify the color choices.  I noticed when I started looking closely at complements that while they are always opposite one another on the color wheel, their values can be similar or very different.

Let's start with a gray scale.  This is the eleven step one that I made. If I leave off the first square which is white, the scale is one that is  commercially available in a number of different forms, ten steps with 10 percent gradations.

Cadmium Red Medium and Pthalo Green are above and below I have turned them to gray using the computer.  You can see that they are very close in value.  

The entire range of Cadmuim Red Medium to Black to Pthalo Green tends to be filled with  values from midway  toward the black range on a value scale.

If you paint a picture or decorate a room using this red and green, chances are you will want to add a third color with a paler value or add white to the red and /or green.

.Here are portions of  the same scale, Cadmium Red Medium to a mixed black using Pthalo Blue.

Here is the other side, Pthalo Blue to black.

Let's look at Cadmium Yellow Light and Dioxazine Purple, two other complementary colors.

Here they are in gray scale.

This time the complementary colors vary widely in value.

And the resulting value scale looks much different from the Cadmium Red Medium to Pthalo Green scale.  A lot of dabs of purple can be mixed into yellow to make various values before the mixer arrives at black.

Here is the Cadmium Yellow Light side as it progresses to black.

Here is the Dioxazine Purple to black side.   It doesn't take  near as much yellow to change purple to black.

With this complementary choice, a picture could be painted without using white or another color and there would be a wide variety of values.

There are many more complementary color combinations.  Each one has its own characteristics. And one of the characteristics that varies is value as one complementary color mixed with its opposite moves toward black.

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Different Look at Charleston Falls, February 1, 2014

On February 1, our area had a welcome day of relief from the cold, the snow, and the wind. (34 degrees Fahrenheit at 7 AM or 1 degree Celsius)  Jeanne and I walked as far as the falls and then through Octagon Prairie.  The trails were still too icy to take our normal hike up and down the ravines.

The falls looked different than I have ever seen them.  Here is a closer look.  The snow flurries had left the falls looking as though there were draperies on either side of the icy tubes through which the water was flowing.

We are back to nights below zero ( 0 Fahrenheit equals  -18 Celsius).  This has been a record breaking winter in our area.  Like many people in America's Heartland, Tom and I are ready to see a glimmer of spring.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cadmium Yellow Light to Dioxazine Purple, Another Set of Complements

I am showing you another example of mixing black from complements mostly because by comparing the Yellow Cadmium Light to Dioazine Purple examples with the Cadmium Red Medium to Turquoise (Pthalo Green) examples I mixed in the last art blog you will see an interesting way they relate to the Gray Scale.

As we learned in the Red to Green Complement mixing, mixing complements can result in black.

Here are the original sheets of mixes.

As you can see it doesn't take much yellow to turn the purple to black but it is possible to get many yellows and browns before reaching black.

These were the best of the purples I had mixed by adding yellow little by little.  If I were mixing for a class assignment, I would redo my purple to black mixes and hope I would get a better selection of purples to choose from.

It was much easier to mix a wide variety of yellows as I added more and more purple.

Here is the entire lineup.