bestiary – the kelpie

Did some more work on the bestiary even though my motivation in these covid times is terribly low. I managed the portrait, bits of anatomy and a full body watercolor. Not sure if I’m happy with them but it’s all I have at the moment.

Kelpie Head by Linda Saboe
Kelpie Head by Linda Saboe
Kelpie Anatomy by Linda Saboe
The Waterhorse by Linda Saboe

next stop, Dragons!


i’ve been remiss

I have been so taken over by malaise since the covid plague that I’ve completely let this little art/life blog go. Not necessarily to the dogs, because if it had gone to the dogs, I would have thought to post a little watercolor I did called Plague Dogs. Here it is. It’s weird and got totally out of hand and ran away with itself.

Plague Dogs by Linda Saboe

plague bird

Just a little 5” x 7” ink drawing of a plague bird.

Plague bird by Linda Saboe

Plague bird by Linda Saboe

 


bestiary to be

I’ve wanted to do a Bestiary for the longest time. Now, with the plague upon us, I can think of nothing better to do with my time.

The list of beasts I want to do are mostly mythical but I’m sure some beasts living in our touchable dimension will make it into the mix. Not sure how I will arrange it, how many beasts will inhabit it, well, actually I am not sure of anything at all except for the first beast I have started is the Phoenix. The Last Phoenix.

Head of a Phoenix by Linda Saboe

  Head of a Phoenix by Linda Saboe

Anatomy of the Last Phoenix by Linda Saboe. Ink and watercolor on paper, 5"x7".

Anatomy of the Last Phoenix by Linda Saboe. Ink and watercolor on paper, 5″x7″.

And here’s an anatomical page that looks at the skull, foot, and some of the feathers found on the Phoenix. Held in the foot are branches from the Frankincense tree which the Phoenix uses to build his funeral pyre.

I’m hoping to include a full color image of the entire bird. Then onto the next beast which might be a dragon? Kelpie? Maybe a unicorn?


plague art

Since the plague hit and we’ve been self-isolating, I’ve had a tremendously difficult time creating any art whatsoever. I’m motivated but have the focus of a gnat. I sit, I look, I think, I try and I quit and go play WoW. And even then I can only play the game for an hour or less. I wonder if anyone else has “corona brain syndrome?”

The other day I managed to actually finish something. This to me is huge given the condition of my brain.

I started with making watercolor puddles on a tiny 5″x7″ piece of watercolor paper. I made bluish, grayish, yellowish and reddish puddles of very wet paint and tilted the paper around until they moved and bled and did those things pigment in water do.

Then I started picking out random shapes and suddenly I had a painting. It’s called “Plague birds” and I really like it. I hope this means my focus is returning and my brain is mending.

Plague Birds, watercolor. 5″x7″ © Linda Saboeart

I plan on doing more art in the time of plague and will put them up here and create a plague gallery. Sounds like fun, eh?


pick a little, poke a little, cheep cheep cheep

well, it certainly has been a while.
anyway…

It’s a new year and I think I can start working in my office/studio in the new house. It’s not “finished” but it’s now a place I can do some artwork and goof off on the computer.

So I decided to do some exercises to get my creative juices flowing. Since the move, I’ve been totally blocked with all the crazy stuff of setting up a new house and trying to figure out the lay of the land. I’d look at the paper, pencils, watercolors and just stare blankly as they stared blankly back at me. Thus the exercise.

I made messy, splotchy, watery gobs, drips, and drabs on a piece of watercolor paper and then cut them up into tiny bits. After staring at them for what seemed days on end (maybe half an hour or so), I started picking out shapes and colors with a small paint brush and a few watercolors. I tried not to think about what was happening. No drawing just picking and poking.

So here’s a pic of a few pieces of paper and what happened with the first one.

art exercise 1

And a close up of the little phoenix that happened to be hiding in the first piece of paper that I played with.

art exercise 2

Wonder who else will be revealed.

Happy New Year, everyone.


dawn redwood tree

Next to the new house is a majestic tree that was unknown to me. My tree guides were all packed away so I searched the internet with a description of the reddish, cedar-like bark and luckily I found it fairly quickly. The tree is a Metasequoia, or the Dawn Redwood Tree. Native to China, it’s in the same family as our towering redwoods and considered a living fossil. I love that name, Dawn Redwood Tree. Here are a few pictures I took today.

The Dawn Redwood Tree in front of our house.

The Dawn Redwood Tree in front of our house.

She’s a pretty big tree! Even though the smallest of the redwoods, they can grow to over 150 feet tall. So, my feeling is that this tree is the guardian of our place. I took a closer picture of the bark. When it rains, the red of the bark becomes a fiery orange-red. This picture does not do it justice.

Metasequoia bark

Metasequoia bark

Since moving to this house, I’ve been getting up rather early each morning and this morning I was greeted by a stunning dawn sky outside my kitchen.

Morning sky

Morning sky

Settling in is slow going. Unpacking is daunting (so many boxes of books!) and figuring out where things go takes time. As I get used to the flow of the house, I have to tweak and make changes. The other morning, Brni asked, “So where are the glasses today?”

We also don’t have a clothes dryer yet so I made Brni dig a hole and plant a clothes dryer. I haven’t hung clothes outside in a very, very, decades-long time. I kinda like it.

no dryer yet

no dryer yet


trying to not be part of the problem

I had a moment today. It seems that no matter how long you’ve been established in a home, or how much stuff you have, when you move to a new place you end up needed different stuff. Like a different dish drying rack or trash can because the ones you have don’t work in the new space. I tend to make due for as long as I can but when the jury-rigged rack ended up almost destroying the counter in the new place, well, I broke down and went out to buy a couple things for the new house. Since there’s a Bed Bath & Beyond not so far away, I headed out there.
(now this is not the moment I am writing about, this next bit is)
As I exited the highway to route 100, I saw a young man standing at the side of the exit. He had a sign stating that he was having a very hard time and any help anyone could give would be appreciated and “god bless.” I looked at his face, and he was just so young, and so sad with such a despondent look in his eyes, I waved him over and gave him a twenty. He took it, said “thank you and god bless,” then he looked at the bill. His eyes grew very wide and he looked at me and exclaimed an incredulous thank you and started to say more, but I just waived at him and said, “It’s okay, take care.” Then I went to Bed Bath & Beyond but I was terribly shaken and tears almost happened.
And they wanted to charge me $80 for a dish drying rack and $200 for a goddamn trash can.
Really? After seeing a young man, so broken he had to beg for help on an exit ramp, and acted like a twenty dollar bill was a gift from god, you think I’m going to pay these crazy prices for a trash can?
I was so incensed, I left.
It is just not right, that in a country with so much wealth that this sort of thing should ever happen. So I will continue to help when I can, one person at a time. Just like I did when I was doing wildlife rehab, helping one animal at a time.
And I will not be part of the problem of spending money mindlessly or on things that just aren’t that important when that money could be better spent helping ease another’s pain.

three small paintings

tiny watercolor paintings

tiny watercolor paintings

experimenting with watercolors on a very small scale. 2.5″ x 3.5″


another small thing

small bumble bee

the start of a little bumble bee. 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches.


small things continued

Ladybug by Linda Saboe

Ladybug by Linda Saboe

So the little ladybug is done. I really enjoyed doing this very tiny watercolor. Only 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches.


small things

Just a tiny ladybug in progress. 2½ x 3½ watercolor.


getting to know you

An old internet friend commissioned me to do a double portrait of his sweet dogs, who have sadly passed on. Rooney, a chocolate lab and Magic, a black lab were my subjects. I’d never met the dogs, so only had pictures and my friend’s description of what the boys were like.

It is a funny thing but as I draw, I feel like I’m actually getting to know who or what ever I’m drawing (yes, if I draw a rock, I start to feel I know the rock) and it was the same with these two. Rooney seems such a hopeful, serious sort and Magic goofy and playful. Both seemed open and loving and most of all, loved.

So, here’s Rooney & Magic, approximately 16×20 in graphite. It was great getting to know you.

Rooney & Magic

Rooney & Magic, 16×20, graphite.


a most imposing bird

There is this awesome place in Utah that I hope to visit before I die.  It’s the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City. They have a FB page where they post wonderful photos of their birds. I saw a photo they posted of their Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus), Zelda. I fell in love with her and wanted to draw her very badly. I requested permission to use their photograph as a reference and they granted it. So without further ado, here’s Zelda.

Zelda. Colored pencil, appx 14"x17". Reference with permission of Tracy Aviary.

Zelda. Colored pencil, appx 14″x17″. Reference with permission of Tracy Aviary.

I think she’s the most difficult bird I’ve attempted so far. I hope I did her justice.


dog gargoyle found a home

My little dog gargoyle was in a show recently at the JAM Gallery in Malvern. This little boy has been yearning for a forever home and he found one.
Thanks JAM for the sale!

Dog Gargoyle by Linda Saboe

Dog Gargoyle


pastel by fire

Many decades ago, I bought a set of pastels at a fire sale. It was a real fire at a local store where I lived at the time. The owners sold everything in stock that was not too badly damaged. Mostly, things just smelled of smoke. I scooped up a 90 color set of Rembrandt soft pastels for a song (no dance). I recently looked up the going price for the set in today’s market and it was something over $300.
(ack! I did get a deal)

Anyway, I did of few pictures with them, teaching myself as I went along and they were okay. And then my mom died, life got way busier shuffling home, work, kids, 2 jobs, and all the rest that goes with being a single mom with no money. There was really no room (or time) for art. I did a few pastels now and then for friends but nothing worth noting.

So now with my kinda-sorta project of producing works on paper of animals that are endangered, maligned, or misunderstood, I thought I’d break out the pastels and see if I remembered how to make them work. Here’s the test, on a baby robin that I snapped a picture of while he was perching on the cable wire outside my window. Even though his mom was still feeding him, he felt quite proud of himself and his new found freedom.


white on white

I have an online friend who is an amazing artist, sculptor, and photographer. Her wildlife photography brings me to tears (literally) with it’s beauty and sensitivity. Recently, I asked if she’d allow me to use some of her photos as art reference for my work and she said yes.

When I saw her photograph of an egret, I wanted to do a minimalist, “white on white” drawing. Not sure if I pulled it off to my satisfaction but I think it’s okay for a first attempt.

Egret by Linda Saboe

Great Egret by Linda Saboe. Graphite, 9×12″ reference photo by Pat Lillich.


my heart

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. This is a hard one because my heart is broken. My dear, sweet Loki passed away on Nov. 17, 2016. She was just shy of 16 and the light of our lives from the day we rescued her from a (then) kill shelter at around 6 months old. This month, I was able to finally sit down, go through the many hundreds (maybe closer to a thousand?) photos of her for a portrait. I settled on a photo that I’d taken of her in Feb. 2016. So through my tears, here’s my sweet girl.

Loki looking back by Linda Saboe

Loki looking back © Linda Saboe, colored pencil, 8″x10″


not that wolverine…

The Wolverine, Gulo gulo, lives in the most severe climate in the far reaches of the northern hemisphere. The largest member of the weasel family, looking more like a bear than a weasel, she lives a mostly solitary life. Fierce, stocky and strong, she can bring down prey much larger than herself but due to the harsh climate, the wolverine will partake of most anything she can come by from Elk to rabbits, mice, carrion, roots and berries. Of course, this makes her terribly misunderstood and maligned as noted by the name we’ve given her: Gulo, latin for glutton.

Wolverines need a large territory in which to hunt and mate and are not willing to share with others. A lucky male will usually form lifelong bonds with a few females, whom he will visit from time to time, mating and hanging out with the young until they are weaned. Sometimes the young will go traveling with Dad when they get older until they settle in their own territories.

Highly endangered through hunting, trapping, climate change and shrinking habitat, the numbers worldwide are not known but according to Defenders of Wildlife there are approximately 250-300 individuals in the contiguous United States.

I’ve been fascinated by this animal for many years though I’ve not attempted to draw, paint or sculpt her until recently. This newest sculpture took me a long time but then it takes time to get to know this beautiful, misunderstood creature.

Wolverine by Linda Saboe

Wolverine by Linda Saboe

Here’s a closeup of the face. Everything about the Wolverine is sort of solid and square.

Wolverine (detail) by Linda Saboe

Wolverine (detail) by Linda Saboe

Here also, the charcoal drawing I did a while ago.

Woverine Watches by Linda Saboe

Woverine Watches by Linda Saboe. Charcoal, 12″x14″.
Resource photos: Dreamstime/Dennis Jacobsen and Dreamstime/Vladislav Jirousek.

 


no space plus flamingoes

For the past 5 or 6 years, I’ve been concentrating on learning to sculpt in clay. I think I’ve managed to get a handle on the medium and looking back on my sculptures, I believe I’ve progressed reasonably. I’m even rather proud of a few of my pieces, and that, for those who know me, is quite a statement.

but

There are issues. One is that the art center I go to has become prohibitively expensive. I would buy a kiln but there is no safe place to install it in this teeny, overpacked house. So, my plans to sculpt a series of endangered, misunderstood and maligned animals has become undoable.

Before I began sculpting, my medium was oils, but here again, I have a logistical problem with space. I am working in a tiny corner of the tiny “sunroom” which is actually just an enclosed porch with a lot of drafty windows, ugly paneling and because of its shape, is more shaded than lighted. I share this space with my parrot, Milo. The fumes from turpentine and linseed oil are not so good for parrots. Also a very steeply sloped ceiling makes setting up my easel impossible. Oils are right out.

so

I decided that I need to develop my ideas using not-toxic materials that can be done in a small setting without spending a fortune. My solution was to learn how to use watercolors and colored pencils. I’m already quite adept with graphite — drawing with graphite is like breathing for me. I used to use charcoal all the time when I was younger, so despite being hideously rusty with charcoal, that’s in the new mix of preferred media.

The first animal I chose to research was the wood stork. By all accounts a most ungainly bird. Ungainly appeals to me. I did some preliminaries and then a graphite portait and a small watercolor. I am proud of  the portrait and not too displeased with the watercolor. Here’s the portrait… what an impressive bird!

Wood Stork by Linda Saboe

Wood Stork, pencil. Resource photo: © Tammy Karr, with permission.

After I worked on this guy, I decided to look for other ungainly birds (I will return to the Wood Stork, I promise). As a lark, I started sketching flamingoes without giving them any serious thought. Suddenly, while trying to figure out that incredible beak, I realized that I needed to research this magnificent bird who has become not much more than a tacky lawn ornament to most in this country.

so here’s some stuff about flamingoes

  • Their name means flame.
  • As far as anyone can tell, they may or may not be related to grebes, storks, ibises, spoonbills, pigeons, doves.
  • There are 6 species, 4 in the new world, 2 in the old.
  • For the grebe-flamingo clade, the taxon Mirandornithes (miraculous birds) has been proposed.
  • Their color comes from the caretenoids in their diet, they filter feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae.

as i was drawing their beaks during research, it occurred to me that their beaks reminded me of baleen whales.

  • The Ancient Egyptians believed them to be the living representation of the god, Ra.
  • Ancient Romans considered their tongues a delicacy.
  • They were worshipped by the ancient people of Peru.
  • They are the nationals bird of the Bahamas.

and in the United States, we have turned them into cheap, pink plastic lawn ornaments.

Wiki entry for flamingoes is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamingo for more info.

So, this is the work I started with the flamingo. The flamingo (who was once a god) is teaching me watercolor (slowly and painfully), colored pencil (slowly but not so painfully), and a revisit with my old friend, charcoal. I hope you enjoy the flamingoes, and I hope you notice that this magnificent bird is anything but tacky.

Flamingo in White by Linda Saboe

Flamingo in White by Linda Saboe. Charcoal, 18″x 24″.
Resource photo: Unable to find valid attribution. Google search filename: Udivitelnye-flamingo.jpg

Flamingo Apart by Linda Saboe

Flamingo Apart by Linda Saboe. Watercolor and ink, 10″x 14″, resource photo: Dreamstime/Yinan Zhang.

Synchronized Flamingoes by Linda Saboe

Synchronized Flamingoes. Watercolor and ink, 10″x 14″. No resource, just made up in my head.

 

Flamingo by Linda Saboe

Flamingo by Linda Saboe. Colored pencil, 14 ½“x 18”.
Resource photo: American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) (cc) Robert Claypool.

Once, I was a God by Linda Saboe

Once, I was a God by Linda Saboe. Colored pencil, 16″x 20 ¼“.  Resource photo: Daniel Healy (still trying to contact him via Your Shot Photo Community, National Geographic).

One other thing I learned…I’m not very good at taking photographs of art. I also like wolverines.

Woverine Watches by Linda Saboe

Woverine Watches by Linda Saboe. Charcoal, 12″x14″.
Resource photos: Dreamstime/Dennis Jacobsen and Dreamstime/Vladislav Jirousek.

But more about her later.

 


research

Quick preliminary sketch to get to know this bird.  What a complicated beak!

flamingo


this did not go as planned

so okay…
I wrote a whole post, added pictures and everything and just before I was gonna hit publish, terrible things happened and I lost it. I can’t bring myself to write it all over again but I will post the pictures.  So just pretend you read an informative and witty post while you look at the pictures.
*sigh*

Here are a couple small watercolors I did of crows.

Crow Shine by Linda Saboe

Crow Shine, watercolor

Crow with Orange Disk by Linda Saboe

Crow with Orange Disk, watercolor

I’ve also been obsessing over Wood Storks.  They have this lovely white and black plumage topped by bald, prehistoric faces screaming for moisturizer. They make me want to do a whole series of large, gangly water birds.

Wood Stork by Linda Saboe

Wood Stork, watercolor

Wood Stork by Linda Saboe

Wood Stork, pencil

Lastly, I’ve done several sculptures but these are the two that are not disappointing.

The Red Fox is finished but the Wolverine is still in progress. The sculpting part is done but he needs to dry thoroughly and will probably not get into the kiln until September.

Red Fox by Linda Saboe

Red Fox, ceramic sculpture

Red Fox by Linda Saboe

Red Fox, ceramic sculpture, detail.

Wolverine, in progress by Linda Saboe

Wolverine, sculpture in progress

Wolverine, in progress by Linda Saboe

Wolverine, detail


new fun photography stuff

Just got some new software that works with Lightroom. It’s called ON1 and it’s proving to be rather fun to play with. Just a couple quick little shots of Loki with some ON1 enhancements, presets, and borders.

loki-bw-antique

Loki, b&w “antique” preset, border.

loki-tintype-2376-Edit

Loki, old tintype border.

loki resting

Loki, b&w “antique” preset, border with slight opacity adjustment.

I’ve just started playing with the software so I have a lot to learn yet. It’s fairly easy to figure out and is highly customizable, so you aren’t stuck with a fixed set of anything.

fun stuff


manual override

I love coffee. I love it so much I make a pot of it every morning. But, I’m at war with coffee machines. I hate most electric drip coffee makers because they are big, bulky and expensive. They never get the coffee hot enough and no matter how much money you spend on them, after two years they all either start leaking or stop working all together. Having to replace an appliance, especially an expensive appliance, every two years makes me very angry because I really dislike shopping and spending money. I hate shopping more than I hate being ripped off.  
wait. same thing.

a little historical interlude…
Growing up, my family mostly made coffee on the stove with a percolator-type coffee pot. Somehow, my mother, aunts, and grandmothers were able to make really good coffee out of these always boiling over pots and cans of stale ground supermarket coffee. Also, since I’m from an Italian family, we all had those little stovetop espresso pots that made tiny amounts of espresso, but that’s a different story and anyway, we only made espresso when important company came over.

anyway…
Since we’ve lived in this house, I’ve gone through three or four coffee machines. The first expensive one was a Cuisinart, which after two years just stopped working for no reason. Got up, ground the coffee, filled the machine, turned it on and nada. Just sat there, staring at me as if I were invisible and not in great need. I cursed the machine, broke out mom’s old percolator, made coffee no where near as good as my mom’s, drank it, cursed some more, and went out and bought another coffee maker of the same brand but better (we’re talking around $200). Since the reviews for this machine were good, and it did make a good tasting cup of joe, I figured the first machine was a lemon.

Two years, almost to the day, with no warning that things were not going well, the 200 dollar machine turned it’s back on me and quit making coffee. This time I break out the french press and say, “Fuck you machine, I will not buy you again.” But then my sister came to live with us and brought her even bigger, better, and more expensive coffee machine, which was not yet two years old. Shortly afterwards, her bigger, better, more expensive, now definitely two year old machine started leaking. A lot. My sister hates french press coffee, so I went to K-Mart and bought a cheapo Mr. Coffee drip coffeemaker. Not the most cheapo one, but the middish cheapo one for just under $50.  It’s been about three or four years (cheaper lives longer) of drinking not so great coffee out of a leaky pot, but I’m too cheap to buy a better pot every two years.

But, the leakage is now so bad that I spend half the morning mopping up after the damned thing. So, that’s it — I’m done with these stupid machines that just want to suck the money and life out of me. Instead, I have decided to resurrect my mother’s old “dripolator” style coffee pot that is actually kinda retro-cool looking.  I think she got it when I was about 3 or 4 years old (hardly ever used it because, well, the percolator) so that definitely qualifies as retro. Maybe even antique. Anyway, here’s a pic:

coffee pot

My mom’s “American Stainless Kitchen Thermalloy” drip coffee pot from mid-1950s

The pot has two chambers. The top has a compartment to hold the grounds. It has a fine mesh screen and also an inner lid to keep the grounds in the chamber. You pour the water in the top which then slowly drips through the ground’s chamber and into the bottom. Because it’s all steel, it can be set on a burner set to low to keep the coffee hot.

Pictures of the innards:
drip coffee pot

 

IMG_2330

This pot makes the best tasting coffee I’ve had in quite a while. And the coffee is HOT. I forgot how good HOT coffee is since the stupid drip machines can never get the coffee hot enough. The only down side to this pot is that it only can make six cups at a time. Considering the size of mugs (does anyone drink coffee in the old little coffee cups anymore?), that’s not enough for three people who habitually drink 2 mugs each in the morning.  So I’m going to need to figure out some way to make more than that without dumping and regrinding more coffee beans. Maybe just topping off the old ones after pouring a couple cups and running a bit more water through? An experiment will commence tomorrow morning.

Right now, I’m drinking tea.

 


it’s possible i’m watching too many zombie shows

Several months ago, while in that misty, gray space between dreamworld and awakeworld, I felt my body completely at ease with no hint of pain anywhere. The sense of no pain shocked me fully awake bringing back to consciousness the accumulated pain of a 60+ year old body. I tried so very hard to find that place again, arranging my body parts in the exact same way they were when I was between worlds and free.

no luck.

I woke up this morning around 3am with a loud brain thinking disjointed thoughts, rapidly and in no particular order. Sleep was gone gone gone. Around 5am I considered getting up to make coffee. Instead, I remembered that place of ease from months before and gave it a second try. Arranging my body just like it had been before, I drifted away. My success was disrupted by the rudest, most gruesome nightmare — full of blood, pain, terror, and shit — that I think I’ve ever had.

next time, i’ll just go make coffee.


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