Tag Archives: nature

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.

 

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research

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

flamingo


close avian encounters of a surprising kind

so…

Having finished planting some tomatoes and peppers in the deck boxes, I was leaning on the railing, contemplating nature and stuff, when a young blue jay swooped up from the gully and landed on the railing about 4″ from my elbow. He looked at me, I looked at him, and then a big male robin bombed him and a lightning quick scuffle ensued.

Blue jay beat wings to the other side of the deck with a broken tail feather and the robin, beak full of feathers, perched on the telephone wire and pooped his displeasure.

 


undergrowth

This fall we decommissioned a large wooden planter where we grew our vegies. When we emptied the planter and turned it over, we found an abundance of new and disturbing life forms living there. If anyone knows what type of fungus this might be, I’d love to know.

Here’s the bottom of the planter

undergrowth

and here’s a closeup of the “colony” of ???

undergrowth 3

and here’s a less disturbing picture of the inside of the planter with embedded roots and if you could see the larger size, tiny worms and snails.

rooted

you can see larger pictures of these on my flickr page.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/thereallinda/sets/72157602817929775/detail/


some notes on recovery and a ramble about the wisdom of plants

My husband does everything for me. He feeds me, feeds the animals, goes shopping, cleans the house, cleans me! and has generally taken over all the big and small things of daily living. And, he doesn’t complain or show a whiff of irritation. I have failed to catch even a small sigh of regret. I thank him and my gratitude is laden with guilt and angst with a tinge of embarrassment coloring the edges.

Yesterday, I told him he should be proud of himself. He said, “There’s nothing to be proud about. I’m just doing what should be done. I’m just doing what is right.” I said, “I know others who would not be so patient and giving,” and my amazing husband said, “Then they should be ashamed.”

I do not know what I did to deserve such a person in my life, but I humbly thank the universe for my good fortune.

~~~

Bodies are amazing things. I’m so glad I have one that works so well. Granted, I feed it real food, but I’m not obsessive about it. I’ve done terrible things to it over the decades, especially back in the 60s and 70s…ok, I was pretty terrible to it in the 80s too, but not as wantonly as in the two decades previous. I got serious about yoga and started feeding it better in the 90s and with the turn of the century, I gained some wisdom and found my way back to a more earth-centered style of living. My studies of how to live with more kindness in my heart and a lighter foot on the earth has strengthened me in ways that I’m just now beginning to understand.

~~~

Two or three years ago I began studying herbalism in earnest. I chose to study in a tradition that spoke to me of the ancients, of old earth magic and lore, the Wise Woman Tradition. This gives me a real and deep connection with nature; a connection that is intimate and personal. I look at what is growing in my yard, in the woods close by, and choose the plants that have come to me of their own volition. I encourage these weeds of opportunity: dandelion, plantain, feverfew, St. John’s Wort, yellow dock, chicory and other “lawn weeds.” I plant perennial and annual herbs and flowers and vegetables that support me, my family and the birds and other critters who live here. I make my medicines from these humble but powerful allies.

If interested, read about my experiences with Poke


tiny moments

sometimes it just doesn’t matter if you get to work on time.

as i was walking to the library from the parking lot, i saw a tiny olive green bird lying on the sidewalk. this is the third or fourth little thing that i’ve found dead on the walkway after smacking into the large windows on the side of the building. always the same spot…always the same species of bird. typically, i pick the poor things up and find a place of repose for them under groundcover or tucked into the ivy.

so i bent down to inspect this little one and found he was still with us! i scooped him up to inspect him and found nothing broken. he was just stunned and covered in fine webbing. i gently removed the webbing as best i could and kept him cupped in my had for warmth and reiki. he gradually perked up and after about 15 minutes, he stopped panting with open beak and took a look at me. he stared at me for quite some time (must have been a very long stare in bird-time). i bent down, placing my hand on the ground. he waited a minute or so then hopped off and flew up into the oak tree.

i found a picture of a similar bird…a black throated green warbler.

so, no matter what else happens today, i feel that i’ve accomplished much.


sunday morning

i like to take my morning coffee out on the deck. if i find myself out there before 7:30 i usually see deer foraging for breakfast or resting. this morning i had the good fortune to see the young buck and his mother lying down in the shady thicket. one yard over, a skinny red fox darted along the fence down to the stream and then out of sight.
the chipmunk family was cavorting in back of my neighbors above-ground pool. two chickadees were chasing each other in circles around the almost empty bird feeder and a couple crows flew in just to make a racket.

i ran for my camera, but my attempts at getting a good clear picture of the deer didn’t work out so well. although i love my little digital, it just isn’t up to the job of taking nature shots over long distance or in shady conditions. i need to resurrect my old bottom of the line pentax and see if i can get some decent photos of the animals who live in the gully.


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