Friday Features


Six or so red crossbills are still showing up most days. There was a group of fox sparrows last weekend. Our hummingbird-friendly plants are really starting to bloom. I was sitting here at my desk and look who showed up outside my french doors? I was able to grab the camera and get some shots through the glass. Sometimes lucky is better than good. Looks like a male Allen’s hummingbird to me.

Speaking of hummer plants, here’s my 50 cent, 4″ pot white verbascum that I rescued off an end-of-season sale table the year before last. Is that a happy plant or what? I’m going to have to move the poor little heather underneath it before it’s completely smothered. Or I may move the verbascum to a more spacious location. I didn’t think it would get quite this big.


I finished the bighorn painting and took it to the framer only a little wet in a few areas. When it was laying on the counter, I saw a spot in the sky I missed, which I’ll fix when I get it back. But it reminded me of one of my favorite artist stories:

Every year the Royal Academy in London has its Summer Exhibition. We were lucky to be in England and able to attend some years ago. The galleries looked like in old photos you see: work stacked from the floor to the very high ceilings. Those whose paintings ended up in “nosebleed” country called it “being skied”.

William Mallord Turner (b. 1755 d. 1851) was a regular participant, although his work mystified many of his comtemporaries and the general public. “Varnishing Days” were the three to five days before the exhibition opened when the artists could come in and put on a final varnish or touch up their paintings. Turner became somewhat famous for this and is said to have deliberately brought in unfinished paintings so that he could show off his technique. Imagine any of us doing that today? It would be like Robert Bateman showing up at the opening of his current retrospective, palette, brushes and paint in hand to add a few more snowflakes to his famous snow leopard painting. Turner showed up dressed for town and S.W. Parrott was inspired to create this permanent record, which is reproduced here in black and white. How do you dress when you’re in the studio?


Speaking of Robert Bateman, besides creating a lot of the best wildlife art of this or any other century, he is a tenacious advocate for the environment. You can read what he has to say at


If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.


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