Sheltering in Place, Part 9

5 Minute drawings from Wednesday, during the Draw Breath virtual livestream figure drawing group on Facebook I’ve joined; Platinum Carbon fountain pen in a Strathmore Windpower Drawing sketchbook

I guess the big news here is that, at least for now, we’ve “crushed” the virus and plans for a partial reopening of businesses are being developed. We’ve only had a couple of new cases in the last couple of weeks for a total of 54. No deaths, currently no hospitalizations. We are required to wear masks now when out in public and to observe social distancing. Our public health dept. is doing a wonderful job, not only in dealing with Covid-19, but in the quantity and quality of their public communications about it. Locals can currently take a survey on what businesses they think should open first.

We’re going out for groceries, but otherwise keeping busy at home. On Sunday we’ll swing by the North Coast Native Plant Society place to pick up an order of….native plants. The ordering was done using a plant list on their website to make one’s choices of plant and quantity, then you downloaded the order form posted on their website, filled it out, photographed it and attached it to an email back to them. This was only one of four ordering options they offered. We will drive onto the property being used for the sale at noon on Sunday, pay with a check and then load up our plants. Everyone has a separate pick-up slot. It’s all been very well-thought out and organized so that they can still have their sale, but keep everyone safe.

In art news, I’ve been doing extensive repaints on some older paintings I’ve done of African subjects. I’ve entered three in an online animal art show and will get the results on the 5th. Here’s one of them:

“Playtime” oil on canvas 20×30″ (price on request)

And for serious fun I was invited a week or so ago to join a Facebook group called “Draw Breath”. Since live figure drawing isn’t an option now, a group of mostly illustrators who also attended or teach at my alma mater, the Academy of Art University, have arranged Monday, Wednesday and Friday livestreamed “virtual” sessions from 4-6pm. It’s a three way split screen with the model in the middle and an artist on either side drawing in real time and chatting about what they’re doing and why.

3 minute figure drawings; Koh-i-Noor Versatil 5340 clutch pencil with multicolor lead, 12×9″ Strathmore Windpower Drawing pad; I posted about this very cool pencil with a multicolor lead in my previous post

And, here’s some photos of the garden I just shot this morning. Things are really starting to take off. We’re supposed to get “real” rain tomorrow which is great.

Rhododrendron and forget-me-nots
“Citrus Splash” rose

And down by the pond on an old chunk of stump…

Finally (I have to pay attention to what my last image is because WordPress’ or some algorithm uses the final image in a post for the preview on other sites) here’s another of my Kenya pieces, a warthog…

“Ready to Run in 3…2…1″ oil on canvasboard 20×30” (price on request)

Sheltering in Place, Part 8

“Moose”

It’s been an uneventful week for us since I last posted, which is a Good Thing. Our four days with no cases (as per my previous post) turned into six days. Then there was one new case a day for two days, bringing the total for Humboldt County to 52. We’ve now gone three more days with no new cases. I think we’ll most likely stay under the shelter in place order through the end of the month. When we went grocery shopping at the Arcata Coop on Thursday almost everyone was wearing masks and being distance-conscious. Despite the ridiculous, ginned-up by right wing donors, protests a few days ago it’s clear that order or no orders most Americans get that social distancing is working and that doing so and otherwise being mindful is the fastest way to beat Covid-19. Someone posted a photo on Facebook this morning of a beach in Jacksonville, Florida that had been reopened and there was almost no one there.

In art news, I finally got around to experimenting with a new, very cool drawing pencil, a Koh-i-Noor Versatil 5340 “Magic”, which is what I used to do the drawing of the mooose above, plus the ones below.

Koh-i-Noor Versatil 5340

What makes it special is that, as you can see, the leads themselves are multicolor. You can see in the moose’s head how the color changes as one moves the pencil. Below is the first drawing I did of a skunk who visited our backyard a few years ago. I simply scribbled to see what the pencil would do. This was fun but I think I like the effect of the more simple use in the moose.

“Skunk”

In other news, the weather has now warmed up so the 2020 gardening season officially began late last week. I got four varieties of beans started in six-packs and planted a few things that I’d started last year. It will be late May/ June before the ground is warm enough for the beans to be happy in the ground. Ditto the squash. I weeded the pea beds, which are a row on either side of a salvaged cyclone fence gate, and found a gopher tunnel running the length of one side. So we will be lining each row with gopher wire before planting.

I also potted up six packs of sweet peas yesterday, all heritage varieties:
‘Painted Lady’
‘Lady Grisel Hamilton’
‘Miss Wilmot’
‘Chatsworth’
‘King Edward VII’
‘Black Knight’
‘Spanish Dancer’
‘Beaujolais’
‘Prince of Orange’
‘Winston Churchill’
‘Spencer Supreme’

Sweet peas, like most plants, go in and out of fashion. For awhile it seemed that mail order nurseries either had none or just a few varieties. Last year there was a sudden splurge of choices, so I stocked up. I plan to let some of each go to seed so I’ll always have some on hand. One of my favorite seed suppliers in particular, Select Seeds, had a great selection and most of the ones listed above came from them. Also worth checking out for interesting seeds in general is an English firm, Plants of Distinction, which will happily ship to the US and at a reasonable price. Both are potentially dangerous to one’s pocketbook so consider yourself warned. :0)

Finally, here are two more of my “magic” multicolor drawings. I’m also back at the easel doing repaints of some older African wildlife paintings. Hope to post a few of those by the end of the week!

“Bison”
“Zebra”

Sheltering in Place, Part 7

Hot off the drawing board! “Warthog”

More about the warthog in a moment, but first some good Covid-19 news. As of this past Saturday there were no new cases in Humboldt County for four days in a row! I don’t think any of us expect this to last, but it suggests that by following the shelter in place order for the past three weeks, we’re at least flattening the curve. There was no update on Sunday but there should be one today after 4pm. I’ve seen estimates now of a five or fourteen day incubation period, so we’ll see. In the meantime we’ve got plenty to do around the house and property and it’s sunny!

Now on to the warthog. During an art workshop safari I went on in October 2004, with the late Simon Combes, one of the places we went to was Lewa Downs Conservancy. The lodge was on a hilltop with a great view. We were watching Simon do a plein air demo and then set up to do our own. This warthog walked right in front of us less than 20′ away and stopped. I got some great photos, including this one.

My model

This week’s Inktober52 prompt is “Red”. I don’t have any “red” ink as it turns out (that will be remedied, I hope, on Friday when my order of Dr. PH Martin’s Bombay inks arrive). But I did have a small sample container of Noodler’s Ink Burgundy and that’s what I used, as seen above. The nib this time was a Hunt 22, a good sturdy drawing nib. I started out by doing a graphite drawing. This solves all the drawing and value problems first so on the final drawing I can focus on the penwork.

Graphite on Strathmore 300 vellum bristol

I overlaid the drawing with a piece of Clearprint Heavy Vellum. It worked well but I prefer to do pen and ink work on paper so experimentation will continue.

In other news, I belong to a Facebook group called Sunday Paintout, which meets around 10am on, well, Sunday mornings every week. It’s not the best day for me but I participate when I can. Because of Covid-19, the paintouts are happening virtually. Members are going out on their own on Sunday morning and posting images of the art they’ve done and maybe the location they went to. Our ornamental cherry trees are in full bloom and I’ve had the itch to paint them so yesterday morning I got out my watercolors for the first time in ages and did this quick sketch. I used Winsor Newton watercolors on Saunders Waterford 140lb coldpress paper. It’s 8×8″.

Sheltering in Place, Part 6

Prompt: “Green”- hope we see at least one this year

Sheltering in place continues with no drama other than Peregrin, one of our rough collies, getting skunked right in the face a few evenings ago, so his temporary nickname is Stinky. I got the deskunker on him right away but here’s still a whiff of it up if we get close.

Peregrin, age 3, aka Stinky Dog

This afternoon I’ll start making a few masks for us to wear when we go out. Did a lot of research and dug through my fabrics for tight-weave cottons. We’ve got coffee filters and some old vacuum cleaner bags for filtration. The local grocery stores seem to be doing their part to keep carts and conveyers sanitized. We’ve also got almost an entire box of disposable gloves that my husband bought for his airplane modeling. There will be a trip to the store tomorrow.

We had one last corker of a wintry storm come through over the past couple of days with good, heavy rain. Nippy this morning, but yesterday afternoon really felt like spring has sprung. Which means plenty of exercise in the garden coming up. Daffodils are almost done. Roses are leafing out nicely. Apple trees have flower buds on them. Tulips are in full bloom.

Here’s an update on the international online art event I’m participating in called Inktober52. The original event called for doing a pen and ink drawing a day for the month of….October. This time it’s one a week for the whole year. So far I’ve had no problem doing my weekly piece. My intention had been to post them in one month batches here on the blog, but that kinda got lost in all the pandemic news and prep. Things have settled down into a routine now, so in this post I’ll get caught up. You can see the first batch here. And I posted a few last time here. The one at the top is the latest, just done yesterday and posted on Instagram and elsewhere this morning. If you want to follow me on Instagram I’m here. There’s a board for them on Pinterest here.

Prompt: Spider- a visitor to our backyard
Prompt: “Wave” – reference from local beaches
Prompt: “Elf”- the bole of a very old red alder tree on our property
Prompt: “Tower”- me in front of a redwood tree in Prairie Creek State Park, just north of us
Prompt: “Elephant”- an elephant I saw in Kenya

Two Juried Show Acceptances! In One Day!

Watchful (Saiga Antelope)
“Watchful (Saiga Antelope)” oil 24×30″

December 3 was quite a day. First I got an email from Focus on Nature XV informing me that “Watchful (Saiga Antelope)” has been accepted into their exhibition. A couple of hours later I got an email from the California Art Club letting me know that “Elephant Seals, Piedras Blancas” was going to join fellow members’ work in “Magnificent Migrations: A Journey Through Central California”.

The first one is a big deal for me since scientific accuracy in appearance and behavior is required. Here’s the criteria:

“The Focus on Nature jury selects original works of natural and cultural history subjects (in whole or in part), excluding human anatomy and portraiture, that demonstrates:

  • a high degree of technical skill
  • scientific accuracy, including taxonomic definition
  • aesthetic qualities, including composition
  • a unique scientific and/or artistic viewpoint, techniques, medium, or format (organic depiction, schematics, diagrams, etc.) including traditional, mixed and multimedia, or computer-generated images
  • a broad representation of artists”

So my saiga piece was in competition with artists who have degrees in scientific illustration. I have a BFA Illustration. I saw my subject, a young saiga antelope, in Mongolia when I was at Khar Us Nuur National Park in 2015. Generally, saiga run away the instant they spot a car or human, but this fellow stayed close enough for me to get some good reference photos. The mountain in the background is Jargalant Hairkhan Uul, which is sacred, as are all mountains in Mongolia.

The exhibition will be at the Roberson Museum and Science Center from July 21, 2019- January 12, 2020. You can find out more here.

Elephant Seals, Piedras Blancas
“Elephant Seals, Piedras Blancas” oil 8×10″

My second accepted painting “Elephant Seals, Piedras Blancas” will be in the California Art Club/Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History exhibition “Magnificent Migrations: A Journey Through Central California” from January 18-April 14, 2019.

What makes this acceptance special is that it was open to all members and that means I was competing with nationally-known. long established artists.  I just rejoined the Club this year which one does at the entry level of Associate Artist member. There is a review once a year in November for which one can submit work in hopes of getting a “promotion” to Artist Member and then beyond that are the Signature and Master Artists. That’s one of my goals for next year.

I saw these elephant seals on a trip to southern California many years ago. We were heading home up the coast on Highway 1. There was a big parking lot right on the ocean with a long stretch of beach on the south side, where I took this photo (which is closely cropped from the original) and a rocky area with tide pools on the north side. That day there were hundreds of elephant seals all over the place on both sides. And it was noisy! Young bulls were jousting with each other on land and in the surf, the pups trying to stay out of their way. My painting is from a long “pile” of seals who were laying about along the waterline. When I was going through my reference to find animal subjects from Central California, these two were an easy choice. I liked their expressions, colors and marking variations, plus the variety of colors on the ones around them.

You can find out more about the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History here.

I’m Now On RedBubble!

C is for Create- 900
My RedBubble shop is open just in time for the holidays!
Fifteen images of my work, including paintings, illustration and pen and ink drawings, are available on a variety of products…prints, cards, journals, pillows, clothing, scarves, phone and tablet cases and much more. So if you or someone you’re shopping for is out of wall space, but love art, you may find the perfect gift on RedBubble.
Come check my offerings here!
(The image “C is for Create” dates back to when I was a freelance illustrator)
 

TBT: “Hayden Valley Thunder

Hayden Valley Thunder

TBT (Last one till Inktober ends on Oct. 31, then it will become an occasional feature) “Hayden Valley Thunder” from 2003, Oil 30×15” Private collection: I had a great piece of reference from the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park of this bull bison standing on the hill with clouds behind him. I’ve always love Maxfield Parrish. So I decide to try combining the two by changing out white clouds for sunset colors. I also added the cow from another reference photo.

Watercolors From My Latest Trip To Mongolia, Part 2. And Horses!

Ikh Nart 1

I go to Ikh Nartiin Chuluu (Ikh Nart, for short) Nature Reserve on every trip to Mongolia. It’s where I went on my very first one in April of 2005 to participate in an Earthwatch Institute-sponsored expedition to assist in research that has been carried out there since the mid-1990s. For the two weeks the team of ten of us were there it never got above 32F/0C (not exactly spring weather on the north coast of California where I live), with almost constant wind. Loved every day of it. As of 2016 I bought my own ger with furnishings and have been given permission by the reserve director, who was one of the argali sheep researchers on the Earthwatch project, to set it up in the reserve. So I’ve known him for a long time and am very grateful for being able to “live” in this very special place for a week or more a year. When I’m not there he has the use of the ger for the reserve’s guests.

This year I was allowed to set up at the research camp, which was very convenient since it’s one of the best places to see wildlife. The caretaker, Ulzii, and I have also known each other since that first trip, so I had a trusted back-up just in case I needed it. Which was good because Ikh Nart had gotten no rain to speak of when I got there and then had three corking good storms come through in five days. I got to watch the land go from brown and parched to green with flowers blooming. I also watched the dry streambed turn into quite a “raging” torrent for an hour or so. Many photos and video, so that will be the topic of a future post and a YouTube video.

I did my usual tramping about wildlife watching, also sketching and painting. I still need to scan my journal, which I do a lot of drawing in, but here are my watercolors.

Ikh Nart 2
The research camp valley’s west end where it opens out onto the steppe. I’ve always loved this view. Watercolor 9×12″ on Arches 140lb.cold press block

Ikh nart 7
Ikh Nart view west to the steppes. Watercolor 9×12″ 140lb. Arches cold press block

Ikh Nart 5
Ikh Nart rocks. Watercolor 8×8″ Waterford 140lb. cold press

 

I was out hiking the south edge of the valley and spotted this dramatic overhang. Found some nice flat rocks to sit on and lay out my paints. Looked up and there was an animal standing under it looking at me. Grabbed some quick photos. Then it lay down with just its head showing. Before I finished the painting it left, so I added it from memory. But, when I got back to camp and downloaded the day’s images onto my MacBook Pro I saw that it hadn’t been an ibex, but was instead a female gazelle! Twelve trips to Ikh Nart over the years and this was the first time I’d seen a gazelle in this part of the reserve. But for the painting, an ibex she will remain.

Ikh Nart 3
Looking back up the valley to the research camp. Watercolor 8×8″ Waterford 140lb. cold press

Ikh Nart 4 (2)
Elm trees. Watercolor 8×8″ 140lb. Waterford cold press

It was getting hot so I left the top of the valley and went back down into it to look for a location with shade. I found it in a clump of old elm trees and did this study, along with the view towards the research camp. When it hasn’t rained a number of species lose all their leaves and look like they’ve died. But add any amount of rain and they seem to almost instantly leaf out again. I was working away totally focused when I heard a noise behind me. I turned and saw this…

horses

It was a “burrrr” and a snort from this herd of domestic Mongol horses who wanted to get to the spring to drink. And I seemed to be in the way. I looked at them. They looked at me. Then the stallion made his decision.

horses 4_wm

horses 2

The herd split and went around me on both sides as I madly snapped as many photos as I could.

horses 3_wm

They rejoined and continued on to the spring. As you can see they were very thin from lack of graze, especially the mares with foals. This was the third dry year in a row. But the storms that came through, I hope, brought enough rain to let them fatten up for the long, very hard Mongolian winter. There are no horses tougher than these, so they’ve got a good chance.

My Blog Is Now My “Journal”. Watercolors From My Latest Trip To Mongolia, Part 1

Arburd Sands 3
Yarka watercolors on Waterford cold press paper

I returned on July 31 from my twelfth trip to Mongolia since 2005. I traveled to a number of places, starting with Arburd Sands ger camp in Bayan-Onjuul Soum, Tov Aimag, about two hours south-west of Ulaanbaatar. The area features a 20km stretch of dunes running east-west, the northernmost extent of the Gobi. I enjoyed capturing the clouds as they drifted by.

Arburd Sands 2
Yarka watercolors on Waterford cold press paper

 

Arburd Sands 4
Yarka watercolors on Arches cold press paper

A group of camels was nice enough to move through the scene.

Arburd Sands 1
Yarka watercolors on Waterford cold press paper

This was actually the first one I did as a warm-up. A relatively overcast day in a country that gets 250 days of sunshine a year.