So the little ladybug is done. I really enjoyed doing this very tiny watercolor. Only 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches.
Category Archives: nature
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.
Here’s a closeup of the face. Everything about the Wolverine is sort of solid and square.
Here also, the charcoal drawing I did a while ago.
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.
Here are a couple small watercolors I did of crows.
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.
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.
I have a tiny backyard that is mostly wild and out of control by design. We do minimal maintenance, almost no weed pulling since I tend to encourage weeds for their beauty, free food and medicinal uses. I tried early on to set aside space for vegetables but the yard is too shady and the deer, squirrels and chipmunks too plentiful.
I also like to take pictures of the things that grow in our tiny, wildish space. One of the plants I’ve been fascinated by this year is the massive Devil’s Walking Stick that moved in two or three years ago. It’s grown to be quite tall–at least 15 ft or so and it’s produced a whole crop of babies that are blocking the path down to the gully.
Devil’s Walking Stick, or more formally, Aralia spinosa is indigenous to the Eastern United States and is quite formidable in that it has very sharp thorns that grow all along the woody trunk and along it’s umbrella-like compound, pinnate leaves. It is a serious plant – no fooling around with this one. It’s flowers are tiny, delicate things that grow in huge creamy white clusters at the very top of the plant. I hear they smell like lemons, but they are too far away for me to sniff. From the frenzied activity of the bees and other pollinators, I suspect they smell heavenly. In the fall, it produces berries that are an important source of food for birds.
Here are some of the photos I’ve managed to take, despite the distance and my inability to hold my largest lens steady. This first one is the largest plant sending out it’s first leaves of spring. If you look closely, you can see the start of all the extremely sharp thorns that adorn this plant.
The next shot shows the budding flowers already attracting pollinators.
Devil’s Walking Stick in full flower. If you bring up the large picture (just click on it), note the round disk like things…those are the berries forming. They will turn purple when ripe. This is the second largest plant, but you can see the leaves of the grandmother plant in front of it.
I wish I could manage a picture of the entire plant from the ground up, but my small Poke forest (Phytolacca americana) is in the way, obscuring the first several feet of the trunk.
One of the not so good closeup shots of the bees flying around the flowers came out a little surprising. I do think this might be something other than an insect. Possibly a fairy?
I bought a new lens a few weeks ago. It’s a largish (for me) zoom lens (Sigma 70-300mm). As soon as I opened the box, I ran out to play with it.
and was very disappointed.
Not in the lens so much as the fact that I couldn’t seem to hold it steady enough to get a decent shot. It’s been a few years since I had a largish zoom and apparently, my ability to hold a steady grip has diminished as my years have advanced.
After much discussion and reading and research, I’ve been trying to play with the ISO, shutter speed and other settings in hopes to compensate for my pitiful hands.
two things that i used to be proud of was my exceptionally sharp eyesight and my steady hands. both are in decline and it makes me sad.
So today I spent the whole day working on this and I think I’m making some progress. I don’t like using a high ISO because I hate noisy photos, but I may have to learn to live with that in order to get reasonably good shots without hauling a tripod all over.
Here’s the best of the bunch from today and a few using smaller lenses from last week.
These three are of a cardinal who was very busy with his mouth full of seeds or bugs or something. I think he was trying to impress the little female who was flitting all over the yard.
This last one is my favorite.
This hanging basket is over on my neighbors deck. I shot it through a little gap in the bushes and trees that are between our yards.
This is from the other day/same lens. This is also the iron hook that fell off the deck and smacked me good. Luckily, I turned away and just got a nasty bruise on the side of my body and not a cracked skull.
And the rest of these are of flowers in the front yard, shot the other week using a smaller zoom, which apparently I’m also having trouble holding steady. <insert frowny face here>
It was a very nice day out today. I managed to assess the winter damage, put the grotto to rights, turn compost, ready the container garden on the deck and even uncover the back walk. And even even take some pictures of the feats.
Daffodils!! The story goes that my maternal grandpop won prizes for his daffodils.
more elder buds. This is the artsy stuff. See the artsy shadow?
Witch Hazel needs some help. It was a hard winter.
Not everything was all that wonderful. Winter was strangely harsh this year. Not a ton of snow (except in March) but a lot of frigid temps that killed off or distressed some of my plants and unfortunately, more than a few animals.
Upstream doesn’t look so bad, but…
Downsteram was a mess.
And the catbird skull which now lives in my office.
Winter’s leftovers will be dealt with next weekend.