Friday, February 26, 2010

Ole dog learning new tricks

Down to the crunch with barely a day to spare. Tomorrow I must hand deliver submissions to a gallery in St Albert as the deadline is 5:00 p.m. It has been a whirlwind learning experience for me these last two days as I frustratingly spent them trying to figure out how to size images to burn to disc. Now my fingers are crossed for acceptance for a 2011 exhibition. I sure as heck hope I did it the right way. The disc is readable so I guess that counts for something. My daughter is back from Australia and I am anxious to see her. So looking forward to her arrival with her sweetie, who I promised to make ginger cookies for and my grand-puppy, who does not get cookies. We are going to have some art fun while she visits. I intend to play around with mono-printing.

I've been working on my submission for an Emmaus Art Group show coming up end of March in Calgary based on John 5, 22-24. I spent more than a month trying to wrap my head around the theme. I emailed members and was given input on what it means to them. I still floundered. Finally I decided to let the flow go and quit getting caught up in a literal translation. I decided to use photography as a collage and Gerald cut me some boards so I could build a shallow Retablos to affix the photos into. I sealed the plywood and printed off some proof images on scrap paper to see how my idea will work. I went looking for quality rag printing paper but it was too freaking expense so now have decided to see how the images will look printed on thin watercolor paper. I will post some images as I get far enough along to have something to show.
Hugs to all, one can never have enough.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Challenges of a "normal day"

 Having a physical disability adds a few extra challenges to overcome in ones day.  Have you have ever dislocated a knee, shoulder, wrist, or sprained an ankle, do you remember the pain that was associated with it? Well that pretty much describes the pain I live with 90 % of the time to varying degrees as I dislocate extremely easily as the soft connective tissue, the glue that hold a body together is a bit faulty. So on the humorous side I give new meaning to the term "coming unglued", but hey, if I can't laugh at myself then I have a far bigger problem. My condition can get so painful that its excruciating to walk, move or even sit; well, that about describes today. My hip partially dislocated this morning as I was sitting down, ouch, well more like ARGGGGHHHH, yes I screamed, cried, got frustrated, packed my low back and hip with ice. Cried while making my breakfast as it was so excruciating each time I attempted to move, but I know having a belly of food helps give me strength. Thank goodness for day old pancakes that are easy to pop in the toaster and reheat.
I work pretty hard at keeping a positive attitude as its real easy to slip into the self pity pot when immobilized for days on end. I believe everyone has some type of challenge they have to overcome, whether it be physical, mental or spiritual. My mother used to say "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" I always thought that was a weird statement, but growing up there was never a shortage of old cliches, seems they were on the tips of every tongue ready and poised for an action to fit. As I age I find myself remember more an more of these and wonder how many generations the same old saying get presented for new experiences. On that note I retire back to the ice packs before my screaming sets the birds to flight. Have a great blessed day filled with Hugs, we all need them.
"Biting off more than you can chew"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Afternoon Walk Along The Ravine

Walking the ravine today brought a few sweet surprises, first of which was a beaver gnawing the ice away from its river entrance. This being the best shot I could get as for the most part the straw you see in the foreground was blocking his face. Its kinda ironic that he was frightened into the river by noisy people exclaiming how much they loved seeing beavers on the river.

So we continued on. Where we stopped so I could rest had seed scattered about so there were plenty of red breasted nuthatches and chickadees. A downey woodpecker made a momentary guest appearance while we munched our homemade ginger cookies. It was really neat watching a nuthatch check Gerald out real close. It came face to face with him two times. I thought the bird was going to land on him. Maybe he liked the look of Gerald's cookie better than the bird seeds.

On the trail back we saw a photographer across the river looking up the bank and lo and behold was a pileated woodpecker hammering away. Once again not a great shot due branches between me and her. The brilliance of her skullcap is so deliciously vivid, aren't the colors of nature grand. I have so many birds I want to paint portraits of. Bird watching has become an enjoyable addiction. 

I sure am tired now though, I never can seem to gauge what I can handle and what becomes too much. If I over-do I get wiped out,  which sadly immobilizes me for a few days of rest. But the pleasure I gain watching birds and the excitement of seeing the beaver and the pileated gives my soul such strong nourishment.

Friday, February 19, 2010

beauty in organic demise

Playing with the camera settings. Last summer I bought a Canon 50D and it has been pretty exciting as I challenge myself to learn the fundamentals. I'm not a technical person and I'm numerically illiterate in that numbers do not equate in my brain. They never have, and at this stage in life I believe they never will. So that being said I struggle with numbers representing f stop, exposure, etc. So I keep playing, keep reviewing what I have done and what the end image looks like. The one thing I have going for me is intuitive composition. So all in all I figure I don't do too bad with my handicap as I have been getting some decent shots, though I persevere to do even better.

A black blanket set across a chair behind the flowers gave a plain background to shoot against. Out of about 200 shots these are the best. Flowers past their peak of perfection are far more beautiful than when in fresh full bloom.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Northern Oriole

Getting closer to completion. I have since darkened the background but don't have the light to photograph it tonight so I am posting this stage. This painting is a challenge to break routine and work on a long narrow canvas. I had purchased two canvas but did not inspect them closely. When I pulled off the plastic wrap I  found one canvas had been stretched on a chipped stretcher bar and it is sadly very noticeable, so that one needs exchanged. It also was to be a birds and blossoms painting. 

I was so excited to capture the image of the Oriole last summer while we were out looking for grouse. A few Orioles flitted about the tree tops. One was brilliant yellow. I am not sure if it was a different type from the Northern or just a variation in color. I was notable to get a good look as it was not as obliging as this fella who came nearer to check us out. The blossoms were so abundant last spring I am so glad I took the time to take a few reference shots.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mysterious, Elusive and Silent on Wing

Finally, after two winters of searching we hit the jackpot. We have been going out for winter picnic drives every couple of weeks with high hopes of getting a clear shot of a snowy owl. 

 I had taken a few shots in auto focus and was just about to switch to manual and attempt to get closer when a farmer astride his big ole tractor drove up behind us to see what we were doing. Well of course with all that commotion going on below this beauty took to the air. I started shooting continuously but, true to the name "silent ghost of the north" this lady glided swooping to the snow laden earth and vanished instantly like a stealth bomber. So amazing to observe. There was no way the camera could distinguish between owl and overcast gray sky reflecting to the snow, in fact there was no way my eyes could either. Earlier in the day I had one other opportunity to capture the owl in flight and was then using manual focus. I could not keep her in my sights as she would glide so low she melded with the barren fields.

Snowy Owl, female. (males are almost all white)
The image is greatly cropped to give you a better viewing.

Here she lifted just enough to make out her shape against the trees as she flew away.

She perched way off across the fields. 

Raven shadow jumping. Ravens are so much fun to watch as they jump about in the snow. This one kept lifting and dropping every few feet. There were two out in the fields acting like Heckle and Jeckle.

Monday, February 8, 2010

More bird sketches

Yellow Shafted Flicker

Another little doodle. I felt like I had a nice little pencil piece going here then ruined it by adding the color. I believe I may do it over on quality paper yet stick to graphite without adding color. By using these little watercolor pencils I now have a hankering to pull out the good watercolors again but presently I have many acrylic paintings on the go. 

The peacock is an idea for a piece that has been gestating for about a year now. This color sketch has helped solidify the direction it will take. I was going to paint it in acrylic as I already bought the canvas but now looking at the design I just may decide to paint it in watercolor.

Painting is Good Medicine

 I never finished my task of itemizing the etchings. Thought I would be able to get it complete in a couple of days but my body had other ideas. I lose focus due brain fog that comes with pain associated with EDS, it takes all my mojo just to fight the pain. Its frustrating to want things done yet not being able to function well enough to do them. I have learned the hard way that there is nothing to do but wait it out when that happens and get lots of rest. So while no painting had been getting accomplished either, I worked up some little sketches in my sketchbook while all cuddled up to a nice warm heat pad and wrapped in a warm soft blanket. I think this is a Purple finch. I am not sure, it could be a House finch
Yesterday was a good day, I felt well enough to cover a small canvas in a vivid blue. Though bugged on pain meds today I painted in the flowers and roughed in the Northern Oriole. To heck with itemizing etchings. I decided that can wait a while more as painting is meditative and healing, it soothes the soul like nothing else can. 
Anyhow this is my set up. As you can see I have on the left my sketchbook with my recent sketch of a Northern Oriole which I used to lay out the painting. You can see how I use it as a guide but when it comes right down to it I just start dabbing flowers in randomly, then add leaves, more flowers, more leaves and then thicken the paint and built up some of the flowers a tad more. I keep all my photo reference of blossoms and birds taped up around me, as well I had a little computer in the corner that had a few more birds and blossom images open for reference. All the photos are mine, taken by yours truly. I make it a point to use only my own reference material and am so blessed to have a dear friend who takes me bird searching. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Inventory, bah humbug

Bah Humbug I say, inventory is for the organized, and I am to far gone from that. I love to paint but recording what I have done is no easy chore. Presently I am amidst recording once again on my computer all my etchings. The last compilation disappeared with computer upgrade. The boring routine of makings inventory charts and filling an all those little details such as media, paper size, image size, number in the edition, number I still have left, and on an on. All day at it and I feel like I have barely scratched the plate (play on words, ie plate as etching plate, lol) Yes I am tired.

I need something nice and meditative right now. Ah to breath in the wonderful memories of camping at Lesser Slave Lake with wonderful friends last summer, It was so grand that after they had to head home we stayed on an extra 5 days. When this shot was taken the sound of gentle waves upon the rocks reminded me of the BC coast where I have spent many hours throughout the years walking the beaches; turning stones to capture little tickling crabs and to watch minnows dart between shadows. Shadows, the safety net of illusion of both human and fish kind. This photo holds duel memories which will layer with yet more shadows of life as I age. Its amazing that one photograph or painting instils the aroma of memory that life waifs about us. Memories that take on shades and layers that then bind one to another till at some point there is no separation between yesterday and years past, they become one and the same.
Hugs to all.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bird Sing Song

Early morning ushered in finch song that continued throughout the day mixed with occasional chickadee solos joining in. I opened the window a smidgen to let in the uplifting choir song while doing research. Unusually today many more birds joined the regulars coming for the black oil sunflower seeds. I noticed that the finches; regulars, and pine siskins; sporadic visitors and the squirrel who lives under the neighbors steps all raided the nuthatch cache of seeds which are wedged into the tree bark. With so many birds they were also unusually well behaved. The finches tend to stake claim to the feeder yet there seemed to be no rowdy squabbles as many finches along with the pine siskin's flew to the ground to gather fallen seed.  
 Pine Siskin above, note the tiny sharp beak. Generally these are found around the base of trees down in the Ravines where we go walking once in a while. I love the bright spark of yellow in their wings.

Finches below showing the variations of todays ensembles. Like paparazzi I was shooting through a dirty window just to capture the orange coloration, which is a bit different from the usual finch red I tend to see, I just love the variations nature provides.
The bottom finch is a female, she resembles the pine siskin, but the finch is larger, and notice that she has a thick rounded beak. Some males are heavily streaked on sides and other like the bottom one has only a few softer streaks on his side. I am wondering if some may be Purple Finches as well as House Finches. I have been going through bird books and only come to the decision that as of yet I still have so much more to learn; isn't that wonderful. I love learning. How I wish I could remember it all.

I got one quick shot off of the squirrel as he scurried along the snow covered fence below the birds I was scoping. By the look of his tail it looks like he recently narrowly made an escape. If you look at previous entrys post you will see how bushy his tail was last week.

Hugs to all.