Tuesday, November 4, 2014

After The Storm

Lisa Point after the storm,  8x12"acrylic painting

The good news about our fabulous fall weather having turned to its wet and blustery normal is that I can finally get back to revisiting SE Alaska!  So here's a little painting to warm you up.  A bath tub smooth evening calm after the storm, remnants of a turbulent sky reflected in a mirrored sea.   Big weather changes happen in an instant around here.  The edges of those changes, weather both coming and going, can really be spectacular.  It's not just how the landscape looks, it's also about how it feels.  Ominous, glowering skies bring with them a sense of anxiousness, a heaviness that is not just due to falling atmospheric pressure.  During a stormy temper tantrum just hunker down, don't draw attention to yourself.  Await the aftermath, often glorious and always worth the price of admission. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"In Wildness is the Preservation of the World"


Somewhere in our collective human soul we harbor a memory of Eden.  The mundane of every day life may suggest that we can separate ourselves from the source of our being.  But the memory of our origins, the connection of body and soul to the landscape lingers in our dreams.  Wilderness provides space to reconnect with that sense of place.  Especially today, on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we give a thankful nod to those stewards before us who were wise enough to know and appreciate the importance of wilderness to the human spirit.

How do you measure the value of the haunting cry of a loon, the wolf chorus at dusk?  How do you measure the value of locking eyes with a bear, or walking a caribou highway?  What is the value of a dollar bill against the snowstorm?  The legacy of US park and wilderness systems is one that places a tangible net worth on wild lands and the creatures that live there.  It elevates human experience and opportunity to it's rightful place as a value added commodity.  In our broken economy of here today and the hell with tomorrow, our commitment to wilderness is a touchstone of integrity.  The greatest challenge of the generation before us was to designate wild spaces and the greatest challenge for us now is to keep them intact.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Rainforest Flowers



Our timing is perfect for the floral extravaganza on Kuiu and surrounding islands.  From the deep dark forest, to stream banks or above high tide on the shoreline, flowers are blooming everywhere.  Old friends and new, they are content to pose for their portraits to be sketched.  

In the Beginning


50 years ago the Wilderness Act was signed, and our country began a new chapter of conservation and preservation of wilderness areas for future generations. When he signed the Wilderness Act, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

An Artful Evening


"Art is in what happens within us, and the photograph is what points to it."  
Sean Kernan (paraphrased)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Why do fish jump?


On longer paddles you have time to ponder, why do salmon jump?  What is easier to figure out is how they contribute to this amazing ecosystem.  The book, Salmon in the Trees by Amy Gulic tells it all right there in the title.  The unique life cycle of salmon drives the ecology of this place.  As luck would have it, our timing is in between salmon runs.... late for spring steelhead and too early for the summer sockeye.  Even during this pause when the fish aren't running, here in Alecks Creek estuary is all the evidence you need.  Huge thriving forest, flourishing and diverse understory, buzzing insects, eagle and bear waiting to play their parts.  You can feel anticipation, the frenzy of life reaching its peak of seasonal productivity.  We can feel the black bear watching us from the forest edge.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

America's Second Best Ideas



Gates of the Arctic NP and Tongass Wilderness, SE Alaska
This year celebrates 50 years of the Wilderness Act, America's ongoing contribution of Best Ideas, along with establishing the National Park System in 1916.  If that was the best, then implementing the NPS- Artist in Residence and Forest Service- Voices of the Wilderness programs must have been America's second best ideas.   After all, artists were integral in selling the whole NPS thing in the first place.  Today the artist advocate and interpreter has a similarly vital role in reintroducing us to our national wilderness heritage as pressures of expansion, commercialism and climate change push against the NPS mandate to conserve, protect and leave unimpaired. 

I'll share more information about this wonderful program and my own experiences in the upcoming Sketch-Journal workshop at the Gig Harbor History Museum, Sept 6 and 7th, 10am to 2pm (take one or both classes)  Call 253 858-6722 extension 5 or stop by the museum to register.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Elena Village Site


There are no signs of people out here now, even the intrusions of air traffic are relatively few (if notable).  Notable mostly because that's part of our job... to write down any and all human oriented contact, we are official "solitude monitors".  I've been known to covet the job of outdoor gear tester for REI, but I gotta say that solitude monitoring is my new favorite job description!

Although our encounters are with critters for now, we definitely are not the only humans to have inhabited this place.  You can see a welcoming beach and the wide green bench of cow parsnip above it which marks the old Elena Village site from a long way out.  A good landing place, protection from storms and a reasonably close water source are the same criteria for locating a village or for finding a good campsite.  This fits the bill, especially in the mild conditions of summer.  Adjusting to the stillness, you can almost make out soft voices and laughter on the bench above high tide that once was home to a village of Tlingit.  Shell middens, sometimes old house posts, sprouting new growth as nurse logs and flat pads of thick moss are what's left to see, but your other senses tell you this is not an empty place.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Wilderness Morning

Close your eyes, hear the sea otter?  Babies are mewing and adults are crunching their breakfast.  A more serene morning would be hard to find. Heading out across Elena Bay, joining the otter, seal and loons.... to see what this day will offer.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

BearBones Beach to Totem Island


Ahhh, summer solstice days, perfect for after dinner excursions... and we're anxious to test the boats.  Here I will reiterate my heart felt appreciation to Nick for volunteering to skipper the Klepper.  If you have ever packed one of these boats you'll know one of the big reasons he deserves good karma for his chivalry.  Plus I don't think his knees ever really fit under the deck combing, most of the time they were sticking up under his chin!  Anyway, maiden voyage a short paddle to a neighboring island to check out an old Tlingit totem pole.  The Tlingit people (say "Klinkit") have lived here forever and there are several archeological sites scattered around.  Their name for themselves is Lingit, meaning "people of the tides".  Their semi-settled lifestyle included extensive hunting and gathering on and around Kuiu Island.  I've always thought that it's too bad our culture doesn't use more poetic names.  Slapping on some old dead guy's moniker, who probably never saw the place is just wrong somehow... but the mapmakers have their way.  Then again, I'm a mapmaker and on mine our first camp is on BearBones Beach with Totem Island just to our west-northwest.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Feathercrafting

This is one of the 2 new Feathercraft boats that we had the good fortune to use.  Folds up all tidy into a backpack that weighs in at around 55#.  This expedition boat is similar to the Klepper in the general mechanics of its skeleton, but it uses a plethora of hi-tech materials including; aluminum tubes, hard plastic (HDPE) cross ribs and fiberglass combing.  The hull is welded urethane with numerous strategic reinforcements.  Go to their website for all the techie details!  The boat design has an upswept bow and a "V" hull that both tracks well and is very stable.  It does come with a rudder which (I learned the hard way) is decidedly useful in a cross wind.

This was the maiden voyage for these boats so a calm, no hurry afternoon was welcome.  The encouragement of persistent little "no-see-em but feel-em-plenty" biting buggers did keep the project moving along.  We ended up with some pretty nifty transportation fairly quickly and with only a minimum of bloodshed.  We were anxious to try them out.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Let's Build Us Some Boats!


Tents up, it's time to put the boats together.  Much as I love my own fiberglass kayak, it would be tough to bring her here via float plane, so we're using a backpackers version, frame and skin kayaks that fold right up into manageable packages. To give appropriate credit to an amazing original design, let's start with the tried and true, if slightly cumbersome Klepper.  

"Alongside the VW Beetle, the jukebox and Vespa now there is presented another design icon of the 1950s: Klepper Wandereiner. The archetype of the Klepper folding kayak was invented around 1900 by a Munich architecture student. In the 1920s it was refined to become a very early example of system design, which did not become widely accepted until the 1950s and 1960s. Its easy handling, great flexibility, diversity and reasonable price made the elegant ash wood boat a popular choice, and in the decades after World War II it was used the world over. For many nature enthusiasts and sports fans it became a symbol of regained freedom." 

So here we are in 2014, using the same (or a very similar) design.  Truth be told kayak crafting is really much older than that and credit goes where "necessity is the mother" and the inventive genius of the Aleut people and their elegant Baidarka and the Inuit, Greenland style skin boats.  Made of driftwood and sea mammal skins, these were effective vessels in treacherous waters.  Personally, I am ok with some of the modern improvements!  The next post will show you more recent modifications to the "state of the art" according to Feathercraft, another folding boat manufacturer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

First things First



Here we are on the north end of Long Island.  At first glance it’s about as far from New York scenery as we can get, but there are some similarities.  Spruce skyscrapers tower above us and there is a traffic jam of sea otter milling around the best kelp restaurants.  Sadly, there are also a few shadowed areas where muggings have occured.  We’re talking ursine muggings here.  The first task for our field expedition is to evaluate this site for human use & impact since this location is frequented by bear hunters.  Clearly they have forgotten the prime wilderness tenant of  “Leave No Trace” so our job is to clean up their mess.   I’m not commenting about the practice of hunting for fun, it’s enough to say that wilderness is not a place to muggle up with the evidence of your passing.  It seems that “leaving our mark” is a very difficult human characteristic to subdue.  Unfortunately peeing on a tree just isn’t enough for many humans and thoughtless actions are a blight if not outright damaging to both the concept and reality of wilderness.  It’s important that we evolve beyond the ego-centric need to mark our presence everywhere we go.  It’s time to consider the higher value of maintaining the pristine quality of a wilderness in short supply.  For wilderness to exist in the face of ever increasing humanity, we all need to embrace the LNT (Leave No Trace) mantra.  That doesn’t mean we abandon our creative outlets, in fact it means we become more creative in how we share them.  Go ahead, make a wilderness kitchen to use while you visit, but use what’s there and return it as you found it... the bears don’t need a kitchen and I can make my own.

Karisa planned our trip to take care of the less pleasant business first but I have to say that in comparison to what we see in WA wilderness areas, this was not so bad.  I want to give a thankful shout out to ALL those hard working Forest Service & NPS personnel (and volunteers) who clean up after the human mess makers and for the rest of us.... remember that LNT and wilderness go hand in paw, flipper & wing!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

VFR


The workhorse of the float plane stable is the Beaver and since an Alaskan style “road trip” is often by air or sea, it is a favorite mode of transport.  Our departure day dawned with typical Petersburg weather - unpredictable. We were bumping the ceiling with clouds advancing from the south, but still working within the Forest Service’s well defined VFR (Visual Flight Rules) so we quickly load up John’s plane, don our flight jackets, get the safety run down and off we go into the wild grey yonder.

I’m not going to lie, I am not the best on land, sea or air when it comes to a bumpy ride in stuffy, confined spaces.  I had a moment of panic realizing I hadn’t come prepared with my trusty ziplock barf bag.  What to do?  This pilot was supposed to pick us up, it seemed very poor form to hurl all over his airplane.  I settled on my baseball cap, since I could always rinse that out later.  Thing is, I really love flying in small aircraft and looking down at the scenery..... There’s Port Camden & Bay of Pillars.... that’s our pick up site near Happy Cove, but I’m afraid I did have to invoke zen concentration mode for part of the ride.  I managed to hold it together and we dropped into calm waters off the north end of Long Island.

Wow! look at that estuary system and so many islands to explore, woohoo!  Welcome to Long Island and Tebenkof Bay!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Prep, Plan, Pack



I know you’re anxious to get out into the wild but attending to the three “Ps” comes first.  Good preparation, packing and planning make for safe and successful wilderness trips.  While we will carry a satellite phone and Forest Service regulations require regular check ins, we need to be our own 911.  Personal gear has already been packed (reliable rain gear, layers (no cotton) and Xtra Tufs top the list, don't forget camera and art kit).

Food is our next priority.  It’s true, I eat way better when I’m on an outdoor trip than I do at home!  Eating is an all day affair, hot breakfast to get us going, first lunch to keep us going, second lunch to keep us happy, hot dinner (with local embellisments as available) and chocolate, what more could one need?  Everything gets repackaged, either to eliminate packaging redundancy or to put in resealable bags.  Wow there is a lot of packaging!  It’s ideal to buy in bulk when possible.  I rarely ever eat as much as I think I will, except for the chocolate, but a litte extra garlic mashed is efficient back up in case we get stuck a few extra days.  (it’s always a good idea to plan for that possibility.)

Karisa and Nick have already delt with many more requisitions, protocols and check lists.  There’s just some FS paperwork and getting up to speed on flight requirements for me to do.   Only thing left is to collect group cooking gear, tents, med kit and folded up kayaks (more on those soon), paddles & skirts and pack up the truck for tomorrow’s flight out.  Then I get to do a little more exploring in Petersburg.

 Wild edibles that may spice up our outdoor cuisine include salmonberry.  Unfortunately we are a bit early for some of the more delectable berries like thimbleberry and blueberries.  The lower image features Wrangell Narrows emptying into Frederick Sound.  Fishermen in Petersburg are haunting the harbor waiting for the spring salmon run which appears to be late this year. The ubiquitous Cow Parsnip in the foreground decorates the edge of sea and shoreline throughout the region and is very showy this time of year.  The last shot is of the FS bunkhouse compound where I stayed both before and after the trip.  This is where seasonal rangers and volunteers are housed... very comfortable, even if I am having trouble with daylight showing up at 3 AM.  It is the summer solstice and nights are short around here!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Moving Forward

Looking back and reliving my recent wilderness jaunt is wonderful, but life continues to move forward.  Here's a little painting I made to honor Kelsey Weeks high school graduation.  Not a perfect likeness, but the feeling was right as Kelsey & Sport look forward to a future of big changes on the horizon!  Time, like the tides seems to ebb and flow, but it is certainly relentless in its passing!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Petersburg Alaska

A quick shuttle from the ferry dock to downtown Petersburg finds me in a great apartment at the Forest Service Bunkhouse where the seasonal staff and volunteers are housed.  It's about 9:30 or so but still light and a soft, warm rain falling.  I unpack and go for a walk in the stillness of a rain washed town asleep this Sunday evening.  My first impression is that this is the cleanest and tidiest downtown I've ever seen!  Bright rosemaling, hanging flower baskets and numerous wall murals brighten Nordic Ave. the main street paralleling the harbor.  The Federal Building, housing the FS office where I'll meet Karisa in the morning, has two Tlingit totem poles displayed in front.  There is public art everywhere, I like this place already!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Wrangelling the Narrows


It takes the better part of the afternoon to dry my gear after the SoWester in Ketchikan, then we arrive at the infamous Wrangell Narrows.  The ferry is the largest boat to negotiate this channel, effectively keeping large cruise ships away from Petersburg.  Between current, tide and wind it takes a skillful pilot and watchful crew.  We pass the Rocky Point fishing lodge and get a fireworks salute.  


Karisa picks me out of the handful of folks coming down the ramp, already advised about who I am since I had become notable for sketching while on the ferry.   Seems a little sad that sketching is noteworthy,  since it's such a great way to relax and pass the time.  You can see by my sketch that reading and photography were other popular pastimes.  


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Time to Reset

Not being particularly attuned to entrapment on a confined vessel with thousands of people, holiday on a mega cruise liner has not been high on my bucket list.  That said, there are distinct advantages to traveling up the inside passage via ferry.  For one thing it helps reset your clock, not just to Alaska time (yes, they have their very own), but to that of the tides and the light and the weather.  Attune-ment takes time and the monotonous drone of the ferry engines acts as a pacemaker. (and provides white noise so you don't hear all those people harping at their children, stop running, don't do that, sit Down!  A few restless souls did join me on the outer wind swept rail, letting the rain slap our faces instead of the voices inside.

Endless shorelines, a refreshing damp mist, the way real air should smell and wildlife that we disturb more or less along the way all mark time passing. (two nights and a bit over 2 days to Petersburg)  Pacific white sided dolphin surf our wake, orca & humpback blow fish breath on us.  A black bear swam all the way to the middle of the channel to meet us (and then was turned away).  I'll remember those powerful strokes when I'm in my kayak and he has a say about who passes where and when.


Near Wrangell, where the Stikine River meets the ocean there is a prominent "halocline" caused by the dramatic difference in salinity as fresh water meets salt.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Traveling the Alaska Marine Highway

Alaska Marine Highway on the MV Columbia
I wouldn't go so far to say that getting there is half the fun, but the prep and travel is an adventure of its own, especially if you're talking about a relatively remote location.  That's one of the reasons I'm so thankful for the NP-AIR (National Parks, artist in residence - see my GAAR sketchbook in the link) and the Forest Service's  VOTW (voices of the wilderness) programs.  Without their assist it wouldn't happen for me, so it's my responsibility to come prepared.


Traveling to SE Alaska is not nearly so arduous as it was in the not-so-distant past, but it does require several modes of transport.  Packing the XtraTufs can be a challenge, not to mention tent for the ferry, sleeping bag & pad and plenty of rain gear.  Let's just say, it pays to be a "have tent, will travel" sort of person.  Travel Tip #1;  the Kitsap Airporter is a wonderful service, it takes you to SeaTac where you can pick up the BelAir Shuttle which takes you directly to the AK ferry terminal in Belligham... auto transport, check!  Waiting for the ferry we were entertained by search dogs (please do not pee on my stuff) examining our bags for bomb makings or drugs (one fellow was busted, good dog).  A sunny day to apply your tent to the ferry's back deck is a good thing.  Travel Tip #2;  I recommend Gorilla Tape.  We developed the perfect secure staking method, no tent flying overboard thank you, believe me it was tested!  (Ask me if you'd like details)  There is really only one weather report for SE with minor modifications and that is rain: possible, likely or downpouring now.  That is after all why god made goretex and we are greatful.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Transition; Back to Front


I'm home with my "Fernwood wolf" and already the demands of the front country seem to overtake my recent incredible back country experience in SE Alaska.  I won't give it up that easily though!  As I catch up with town life, my plan is to revisit my experience of a Forest Ranger's life in the Tongass Wilderness with you here on this blog, so stay tuned for more photos, sketches and reflections.   FYI, If you're reading this on FB you can get a more direct version by having the blog delivered to your email, see sidebar on the right.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Alexander Archipelago


Arch-i-pel-a-go, the name rolls off my tongue more adventurously than just "an island chain."  The southern most islands of SE Alaska are called the Alexander Archipelago.  This group of about 1,100 islands are the tops of a submerged section of the coastal mountain range.  Named for Tsar Alexander of Russia, they extend about 300 miles, from Glacier Bay south to the Dixon Entrance.  The folded and fjord-ed shorelines separating them from the mainland form the spectacular "Inside Passage" of the Alaska marine highway system.  

The Alexander Archipelago wolf (canis lupus ligoni) is a subspecies of the gray wolf unique to this area.  The wolf, like the spotted owl has become a key player in the fight to preserve the old growth forest of the region.  As recently as March of this year the Fish & Wildlife Agency has agreed that there is cause for concern.  Much as I'd like to stay out of the politics, the wolf is linked to the trees, is linked to the salmon, is linked to the bear, is linked to the insects, is linked to the birds and the bugs and berries and…. well, you get it.  It's an ecosystem, a life web where every link is important.  We are not separate from that linkage, since we all breathe the same air, drink the water and share the sunlight and rainfall, we need every part of the web intact and functional for our physical well being…. and that isn't even considering our soul and the value of wilderness to our quality of life.   

"People joke about tree huggers, but no one laughs when old-growth woodlands are described as cathedral forests. We stand in awe amid columns that soar toward the light. The air takes on weight. It feels preternaturally close and still, yet behind the silence, is alive with faint rustlings, as in the moments before a hymn begins. I wondered whether groves of grand trees didn't in fact inspire the design of humanity's first temples and later edifices: the architecture of praise."   By Douglas H. Chadwick, check out the whole story here  National Geographic   
The issue of logging old growth in the Tongass is happening right now, it's for us to decide.  It will be unconscionable if we are the generation that dooms this old growth rainforest to extinction, whether it's by ignorance or by apathy.   I guess that's my cue... whatever else the opportunity provides, it definitely feels like a privilege to able to go into the wilderness and report back with all the means at my disposal.  The sketchbook & camera get packed first!
I'm anxious to start showing you some visuals of the real deal, but right now it's time for some packing.  All thats gotta go in 2 bags, yikes!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Countdown to Wilderness


It's countdown week!  Tying up major JWD's (jobs with deadlines) and gathering the gear for my Tongass artist residency adventure.  

Here are some fun facts about where I'm heading;  The Tongass National Forest, at 17 million acres, takes up most of SE Alaska.  It is a temperate rainforest, the earth's largest still remaining somewhat intact.  It encompasses coastal mountains, glaciers, fjords and islands of the Alexander Archipelago.  Approx. 75,000 people live here, most in cities like Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Ketchikan.  Tlingit, Kaigani Haida and Tsimshian native groups have a long history in the region.  (The name, Tongass, comes from one of the groups of Tlingit people that live near Ketchikan.) 

It's the biggest managed US forest and soooo there's rather a lot of politics involved.  This is all I'm gonna say about that… I believe that it is time for all old growth forest to be listed as endangered and off limits to logging.  Beyond that, I'm much more interested in the natural history and the intrinsic value of the place as it is, without being muggled up, so that's what I'll be focused on.  

I will be visiting a very small portion of this large ecoregion, first stop Petersburg,  then by float plane another 50 miles SW to Tebenkof Bay Wilderness on Kuiu Island in the Alexander Archipelago.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Border Patrol



FernWood borders have been under threat of late.  Politely, but determinedly keeping track of the neighbors logging has kept Arne and I on our toes.  So now what was green and growing is red and ravaged... and all for a bit of toilet paper.  It's quiet again, mostly, and the birds are back.  That half a tree my "neighbor" owes me,  he can never repay it.  His karma may bite one day.  I still hold onto a wee small seed of hope that we will wake up from our Collective Confusion... equating value with money, looking with seeing and ownership with stewardship... before our Collective Karma has it's way.  Meantime, Arne and I remain happily on duty patrolling the oxygen farm.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sam

Sam was a happy old dog, now living in that puppy pasture of memory.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Peony and friends


I read somewhere that peonies need ants to help their buds open up.  This one had several friends working on it and it was opening as I painted.

How lucky we were to have a Maya Angelou among us!  Cheers to indomitable spirits and truth tellers, may they always rise to the top!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Into the Sunrise


I wanted to call this "The Map is Not the Territory" but it's too long and cumbersome.  Bottom line is no matter how good a map you start out with, it will never tell you exactly what the day will bring.  No substitute for the experience!  This painting was inspired by a trip through Gwaii Haanas in Haida Gwaii, aka the Queen Charlotte Islands.... should be on every kayaker's bucket list.  I've been twice and will die a happy paddler!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Coral Root

You have to get down and close to this tiny little orchid, I've painted it huge so you can appreciate it!  This plant has no leaves or chlorophyl so it's dependent on the forest around it.  We should be so smart.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Petroglyphs



Do you know the petroglyphs at Wedding Rocks on the Olympic coast?  There are more, but this group (whales and face figures that may represent the sun & moon) are the most notable. Although the interpretations of their "meaning" are basically guesswork, the "goosebumpy" feeling you get searching them out is very real.  They have weathered centuries about a mile south of the old Ozette village site in an outcrop of jumbled granite.  Look carefully so you don't miss them and you'll also discover the amazing artwork of wind, water and aquatic creatures that has made some spectacular rock art of the non-human sort.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Favorite Beach


A jumble of sea and sky.  The clouds float in and cover the Olympics like the incoming tide. Fortunately, my favorite beach is close to home, even so, I've not had much luck painting it.  This is about the closest I've come to one I like and it could still use more simplifying.  Too bad, guess I'll just have to keep going back.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Arabesque

Sunset illuminates the poetic heart of a coastal pine, remembering summertime in the San Juans.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Perfect Pony

Horse shows bring back lots of great memories for me.  I can't go to too many because I much prefer doing over watching!  It's wonderful to see those perfect partnerships, where the disposition of rider & horse suit each other just right.  Character trumps perfection here.  It doesn't really matter how they stack up in any particular class, it's much more about how well they learn from each other.  Best are the kids and their ponies.... where imperfection can be the most perfect thing of all.

Friday, May 2, 2014

This is Elderberry

....aka EllaBella.  She has particularly glorious ears, even for a basset.  I did not exaggerate their length.  Her portrait will soon join those of housemates, Boysenberry & Raspberry.  It's great fun painting basset hounds, thanks for the opportunity to paint yours Deb :)
 
.



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Past Her Prime


Even as they droop and fall apart, camellia pink brightens up this rain grey Sunday.  Painting from life, going for the gesture.  Better be quick, acrylic won't wait!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Thousand Shades

The greens are growing and changing as we watch.  When low light shines under a wedgwood blue cloud deck the effect is luminous.  Looking the other direction there surely is a rainbow.  Ahhh, a country spring.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trillium Trivia

After that last trillium post I learned that our lovely white stars start their blush after they've been fertilized.  Did you know that there is a trillium garden that grows all the trillium species found in the world! not so very far away at Cottage Lake Gardens in Woodinville?  Have a look at Catherine James wonderful watercolor paintings on this subject and more.  Her blog is certainly a fitting tribute to  Earth Day every day!

This painting acknowledges another woodland wonder, the salmonberry.... before the thicket becomes impenetrable there is the humming bird!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Ishtar!

Couldn't resist, sorry for stealing your photo Mark.  Happy Easter (or Ishtar as the case may be).  I didn't want poor Delilah to have suffered for naught!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fading Glory


I've never seen red trillium here in my woods, except for these bright pink-purple fading blooms. (Ironic that they "fade" from white to pink.) On the east coast I have seen newborns with dark read petals and wiki says there are over 40 species with quite a variety of leaf and petal color, pattern and size.  Our local species may be the great white, Trillium grandiflorum .  Anyway, the first chapter of springtime is drawing to a soggy conclusion as these trail blazing stars go out in a flash of pink and pollen.