Tales From The Field: The Magnificent Frigatebird and I


In March of 2011 I was one of thirty artists invited to go on a “dream junket” to San Carlos, Mexico to paint, sketch and shoot reference for a Sea of Cortez exhibition at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona. And of course I happily accepted the chance to spend a week in a beachfront condo with 29 fellow artists.

One of the truly special things we got to do was to spend a day in a boat cruising some of the islands. There were birds everywhere and just about every one of them was a new species for me.

At one point, fishing lines were put in the water. I didn’t pay much attention since I was riveted by the bird life, which included brown pelicans blue-footed boobies, gannets, cormorants, frigatebirds and wonderfully graceful tropicbirds.


We cruised around near this outcropping on one of the islands.


A gannet flew by.


And, at a distance, a magnificent frigatebird flew by. In the meantime, someone hooked a yellowjack and hoisted it onto the boat. We were all gathered around admiring it when I looked up and spotted a frigatebird flying towards the boat, coming closer and closer. I had my camera with the long lens and started to shoot photos as fast as I could as the bird came right over our heads.


Frigatebirds mostly make their living stealing fish from other birds and this one had spotted ours, hoping for an opportunity to snag it. Alas, no. But I snagged enough good photos to create a triptych I titled “Magnificent Flyer”. I was honored when it was chosen to be used for the exhibition and direction banners at the museum.

“Magnificent Flyer” oil triptych each panel is 25×16″ (price on request; not sold separately)

Tales From The Field: In Which I Explore An English Garden Shop

garden shop 3

Two years ago, in 2015, we spent a some time in England before going on to a business meeting my husband had in Bucharest, Romania ( you can read about my adventure there here). My main hobby is gardening. In England it’s a passion, to put it mildly. And one of the things I learned on our first trips there in the 1990s was about the GARDEN SHOPS. Oh my. We may have big garden centers in the US, but I’m pretty sure there are few, if any, that are anything like this typical one, Stewart’s Garden Centre, just outside of Christchurch.

I had a list of seeds I was looking for…

Garden Shop 2

This was one of about eight display racks from various companies. I managed to not limit out the credit card. I love the quintessential English wallflower. In the tiniest pocket garden in the front of an attached house, if there’s anything planted there it will probably be a wallflower. So I made it easy for myself and got a packet each of every color I could find. The English also love, love, love their peas, so this was the place to pick up some. It was late in the season and there weren’t a lot to choose from, so I got three and hit the jackpot with Hurst Green Shaft. The best pea we’ve ever eaten. Had plenty of seed left from last year so growing a bunch of it this year.

garden shop 4

But what really grabbed me, starting with the display of everything barnyard at the top,  plus gnomes, was the vast number of animal species available, many quite exotic. Really, have YOU ever seen garden statues of meerkats in four sizes available at Home Depot? Didn’t think so.

garden shop 5

Seriously, how cool is this?

garden shop 1

And of course there are plants. Lots of plants. Hibiscus. So very English.

garden shop 7

MUST have red geraniums, of course.

garden shop 14

Bedding plants. Petunias front and center.

garden shop

Part of one aisle, about halfway down. I think there were at least four, plus various side areas. And of course a place to get a cup of tea.

garden shop 8

But back to the animals. This juxtaposition of species stopped me in my tracks.

garden shop 11

It was a little overwhelming. Oh, look! a lion on plant pedestal. I think staff is having too much fun.

garden shop 12

This display is what the fine old English word “gallimauphry” was invented for. A nude, an eagle and a modern sculpture fountain thingie.

garden shop 9

The English do love their hedgehogs. And I know you want a closer look at this one.

garden shop 10

Finally, after all that one needed a good tipple. And it just so happened they had “Hairy Potter Beer”.

garden shop 15

“Well-seeded” we were finally done and ready to head north to Stonehenge. You can see more photos from the trip here.






Tales From The Field: A Stroll Through Egan’s Creek Greenway, Fernandina Beach, Florida

The starting point of my walk

Not all good tales come from exotic locales. You don’t have to have a passport to get to somewhere worthwhile. And good adventures don’t all have to be exciting, much less life-threatening. Just getting out into nature wherever you live or travel to can yield fun, amusing and interesting stories. I’m known for my adventures in Mongolia, but I love to get out in nature and animal watch wherever I am. For instance, last March I spent over a week exploring southern Georgia and also some of the northern Florida barrier islands like Amelia Island and the town of Fernandina Beach, Florida, which turns out to have a wonderful and clearly much-loved community amenity, Egan’s Creek Greenway, a park braided with trails that run right through the town. Kudos to the townspeople who had the will and vision to set aside this natural area. You can read more about my March 2016 trip here and here.

We live in a rural coastal county in northern California, where the biggest reptile one is likely to encounter are large but harmless gopher snakes or a watch-your-fingers-cause-they-bite Pacific giant salamander. So it was a bit of stopper to see this sign upon entering what is essentially a town park…

gater sign

I walked most of the way to the northern end and back.

It was late afternoon and the light was getting better minute by minute.

which trail

The trail split. I followed the one to the left, saving the one along the stream for the way back.


It was March but a few wildflowers were already blooming.


I really liked the three different textures of the grass, water plant, and trees.


I saw a movement around twenty yards ahead. I had my long lens so was able to get some good photos of what I believe are marsh rabbits (Silvilagus palustris). I noticed that they stayed in the shade, which makes sense for a prey animal. They are similar in appearance and size to the brush rabbits we have here in Humboldt County.

turtles 1

Turtles! This was a big deal for me since I’d never seen any in the wild before other than sea turtles in Hawaii. They are yellow belly sliders (Trachemys scripta scripta).

turtles 2

These were to the right of the ones in the first photo, all catching some last rays before sundown.

trail 2

I had learned about this trail while chatting with my Airbnb host and this was my only chance to check it out. I couldn’t have come at a better time since the light was great and there was almost no one else around.


I came upon a great egret in soft cool light.

egret 2

It took off and I got a good shot of it in flight.


After that sign at the trailhead, this log stopped me for an instant.

trail 4

I came to another open area adjacent to a deep water-filled depression where the trails went off in different directions, I was getting pretty close to being back to where I’d started. I happened to look down into the pond…

gator 1

And what do you know? An alligator! At least six feet long, also catching the last of the day’s sun.

gator 2

Can you spot the gator?


I walked on and a short time later came upon another grazing bunny who quickly hopped into the brush. I caught up to where I thought he’d gone and there he was, holding very still.


A few minutes later I spotted this male cardinal. We don’t have these where I live so I always get a kick out of seeing them even though I know they’re quite common.

feron and turtles

A short distance more and I was out of the greenway into the open and here was a big pond with not only a great blue heron (we do have them here on the west coast, too), but  more turtles!

Red-tailed hawk 3

As I photographed the heron and turtles, I spotted something in the sky. It was a red-tailed hawk circling around. I took a lot of photos and finally got a few of the bird as it turned and caught the light.

What a day. But there was one more treat in store.

Palm warbler

As I walked back to the parking area I spotted a small bird hopping around in the chain link fence and managed to get this one photo. It’s a palm warbler, a new species for me.

The whole walk was at most three hours. I had nothing in mind, just to explore a new area and see what was there. What places are there where you live that you’ve never gotten around to exploring? We tend to take where we live for granted, but nature is ever-changing and no walk or hike will ever be exactly the same. If you’ve discovered a local gem where you live tell me about it in the comments!

Tales From The Field: An Ibex Day At Ikh Nart

I spent over an hour watching this group of ibex nannies and kids, six or seven in all; I’m working on a painting of them is this great setting of rocks and green grass

I was staying at the research camp at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve in September of 2012. It’s one of the best places in Mongolia to see argali mountain sheep (Ovis ammon) and Siberian ibex (Capra siberica).

I went out walking one morning for a day of hiking around and it quickly turned into One of Those Days that wildlife watchers and artists dream of…nine separate sightings and three times spending an hour or more with an entire group.

About halfway through the morning I’d come along the top of the valley and was now walking down a draw towards the valley, intent on heading towards the western end rock formations and following a very narrow path left by various animals, both wild and domestic. I was maybe ten yards from where the draw joined up with a larger one which would drop down to the valley when, with no sound or warning, two ibex nannies came running at full speed around the corner of a rock straight at me! They pulled up fast, gave me a look and turned. One bolted back up the way she’d come and the other, which I now saw had a kid, ran off down the direction I intended to go. Everyone involved was equally surprised. Needless to say I didn’t get any photos of the actual encounter, but I can see it in my mind’s eye. all of us standing there for an instant looking at each other. No idea, of course, why they were running so hard and fast.

At the fork of the “y” where we all came together. I’d come in from the left, the ibex had come barreling around those rocks that are also on the left. I’m standing with my back to the draw I was heading for.

And, as you can imagine, my heart was pounding. They could have easily run right over me. But everyone was fine, they were gone, so I continued on down the draw. And, believe it not, there was the nanny and kid…

The nanny  was straight ahead of me

Amazingly, the ibex had stopped running, had gone up on a rock formation and was just standing there.

Siberian ibex nanny and kid

I walked forward a slow step at a time and got close enough for a few shots and her youngster. The photo above is not cropped. It was taken with my Nikon D750 and Nikon Nikkor 80-400 lens. She looked around a bit then she and her baby vanished on down the valley. I waited a bit to let them get ahead of me and be able to go where they wanted to go. I think she’d seen enough of me for one day.

Here is a far more common way of seeing ibex. One learns to spot them from quite a long distance because the pattern of head and horns doesn’t match the rocks.

This was the first sighting of the day, very typical, just a head above the rocks.

And here are some more photos of other sightings that day. I finally got down to the rocks on the south side of the western end of the valley and found a large group of nannies and kids, who I hung around with for over an hour.

There are seven ibex in this photo

Farther down the valley there was yet another group. A couple were wearing radio collars. Once they settled down I sat in plain view, photographing and sketching them.

There were a number of kids who were playing and jumping around on the rocks, which was great fun to watch

They finally moved off out of sight, but I’ve learned to hang around and wait. This time I was rewarded by having the whole group reappear and cross in a long line along the ridgetop, finally disappearing out of sight for good.

Ibex nanny group against the sky

There were a couple more long distance sightings of one or two ibex on my way back to camp, but they were either too far away or in the shade for photos anything other than “I saw them” shots, which I always take as a memory jog, if nothing else.

And that’s the tale of my “Ibex Day” which I will long remember.

For Veteran’s Day…A Bit Of History And A Tribute

American GIs look over the hastily put up Wall

My husband joined the Air Force when he was seventeen. After training he was assigned to the Air Force Security Service and posted to Berlin six months after the Wall went up in 1962 (and if I tell you any more I’ll have to kill you). At first he worked at Templehof, the obscenely-scaled airport designed by Albert Speer. The building was wired with high explosives. If, as the saying went at the time, the flag went up, meaning the Soviets had invaded, then they had less than 30 minutes to destroy what needed to be destroyed and get out. They didn’t actually expect to survive. Later he was at the Marienfelde Operations Site at the southern edge of the city. He served his hitch and came back in one piece.

While he was there he had time to wander about West Berlin, sometimes taking photos. He’s given me permission to share some, which I appreciate since it gives me a chance to honor his service to our country. He has an enlargement of the one at the top in his office. I call it “the Life magazine cover shot”.

The wall went up very fast and sloppy at first, which is what you see in the photos, and was later replaced with the taller, permanent one (so the Russians thought at the time) that we brought home pieces of when we were in Berlin two months after reunification in 1990 (we got together in 1983). He got to see all the familiar sights fr0m his time there and I saw them for the first time. Checkpoint Charlie was gone and there was already a United Colors of Benneton store on the corner on the east side. We drove south of the city and David saw Berlin from that direction for the first time. I did a blog post about that trip with photos I took. You can read it here.

But here’s what it was like in 1962 (photos were scanned but were not processed or retouched):

The Wall cut right across the city
Tributes for those who died trying to cross to freedom
Berlin was a divided city. There were American, French and British sectors on the western side. The east was part of the Orwellian-named German Democratic Republic
View into East Berlin. Bombed out building on the right, unrepaired since the end of WWII
The Brandenburg Gate

Art And Memories From The Susan K. Black Foundation Workshop In Dubois, Wyoming, Sept. 2016

Mt. Moran; pen and ink, grey felt tip brush on paper

I got back home at midnight last Saturday from two days in Grand Tetons National Park and five days at the 15th Annual Susan K. Black Foundation workshop. Both were a resounding success. You can read about my time in the park here. This post is about the workshop, which I’ve attended four times in the past and plan to go to next year.

All the previous instructors had been invited and almost all of them where there, including nationally known artists like James Gurney, John and Suzie Seerey-Lester, Greg Beecham, Mort Solberg, David Rankin, Jeanne Mackenzie, Andrew Denman, Guy Combes, Ann Trusty Hulsey and John Hulsey, all of whom I know personally or have studied with or both.

One of the main events is the Quick Draw, a traditional name but almost every artist at this workshop did paintings. Here’s some photos of the event in action. It’s followed by sketches and watercolors that I did in the Grand Tetons and EA Ranch.

James Gurney, known best for his “Dinotopia” books, painted a portrait of this pronghorn antelope in casein, gouache and colored pencil
David Rankin, who I worked with most during the week (more on that in a future post) painted an osprey
Guy Combes did a lovely painting of a cheetah
Andrew Denman created a graphite on paper drawing of a barn owl
Although he’s better known for his sculpture, John Phelps painted a portrait the old-fashioned way…from a study drawing
John Seerey-Lester chose to paint a moose, one of the very popular animals to see in the Grand Tetons
John Hulsey who, with his wife Ann Trusty Hulsey, publish the online art website and newsletter The Artist’s Road, went for a late light landscape in watercolor
Greg Beecham chose to paint a polar bear, bringing in the whites over a toned canvas

The weather was partly cloudy while I drove around Grand Tetons NP, which meant interesting light that could change very quickly. The aspens and cottonwoods were turning to their fall colors, too. All in all a perfect time to be there.

Both of the first ones were painted over the course of a couple of hours along the Moose Wilson Road.

Aspens- watercolor on Saunders Waterford paper 8×8″
Aspens with storm clouds- watercolor on Saunders Waterford paper 8×8″
Clouds and light
Scenery at EA Ranch, near Dubois- watercolor on Arches cold press paper 8″x4″
Pen and ink sketches- Sakura Micron .01 pen in a Beta Series Stillman and Birn sketchbook
Pen and ink sketches- same media as above
Contour sketches at SKB- same media as above
Contour sketches, SKB and the Denver airport- same media as above


9-18-2016: I’m In Dubois, Wyoming For The 15th Annual Susan K. Black Foundation Art Workshop/Conference

a grand tetons
The Grand Tetons on a fine fall afternoon

I flew to Jackson Hole, Wyoming last Wednesday and spent a few days cruising the art galleries, the annual auction art and a stop at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Also had time to do some wildlife watching and location sketching and painting. I drove east to Dubois yesterday afternoon and had dinner with an artist friend and colleague who lives on a ranch.

I’m going to try to post something every day of the workshop, which begins this afternoon and runs through next Saturday morning. There are instructors and artists here from all over the country, including James Gurney of Dinotopia fame. He was the featured artist the year before last, when I also attended.

Here’s some photos from the wildlife watching in Grand Tetons National Park:

Mule deer buck
As seems to sometimes be the case, it’s the end of the day, the light is gone and I’m heading back to the motel on Antelope Flats Road and suddenly realized I was driving between two mule deer bucks, one on either side of the road. I stopped turned around and drove slowly along side them. Then the bigger of the two turned towards the road and I stopped, shooting through the windshield as he crossed the road right in front of me
a black bear
Sometimes lucky is better than good. I showed up at exactly the right moment to be stopped by the ranger and photograph this young black bear crossing the road. Was this going to be a theme for this trip?
late light cottonwoods
The fall colors were at their height, these cottonwoods glowing in the late light
a bull bison
I saw no bison the first day. The second afternoon there was a BIG herd to the north of the famous old barn, way too far for photos. I hadn’t driven down Mormon Row yet, a dirt road with old homesteads on either side at one end which connected with Gros Ventre Road at the other. About half way was another herd of bison! And pretty close to the road. I stayed until the sun dropped behind the mountain behind me
a cow moose
I was driving through the Gros Ventre Campground in the morning, well-known among wildlife watchers as a moose hangout and spotted a cow moose laying in the bushes. Took a few “I saw her” shots and moved on. Really needed a restroom after hanging with the bison so headed back to the campground. On the way out, by golly, there she still was, only on her feet and browsing. I mentioned seeing her to someone in town and they told me that she’s always there
a bull moose
In all my trips to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons over the years the one animal that I had never got a full view or decent photos of was an adult bull moose. I was driving back to the motel, quite happy to have seen the cow, when I saw the row of folks with scopes and cameras on the riverbank. What the heck? I walked over just in time to see this big bull emerge from behind the cottonwood. It had gotten dark enough that I sat on the ground and used my knees for a tripod to get a number of shots of him.
Yesterday I drove north from Jackson and stopped at this iconic view of Mount Moran from the Oxbow, where the Snake River makes a curving bend. Then it was on to Dubois

Part One Of Two, In Which Susan Buys Her Very Own Ger…

The ton for my ger is the smaller one inside the larger orange one
The roof-ring, “toono” in Mongolian,  for my ger is the smaller one inside the larger orange one. I had originally planned to get the traditional orange, but Shuka (see below) observed that the clear wood was better because one could see the quality of construction. He’d already reconnoitered the various ger sellers before I got there and had picked this one as having the best quality for the money. I ended up really liking the feeling of the interior structure with the decorative painting on the lighter color.

On June 15, exactly one month ago, I got to spend some of the most fun hours I’ve had in eleven years of traveling to Mongolia, buying a ger at the Narantuul Market in Ulaanbaatar.  Not to bring home, but to use at one of my favorite places in the world, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve in Dornogobi Aimag, which I went to on an Earthwatch project (still going strong) on my first trip to Mongolia in 2005.

Before I left home, calls were made for me to get price estimates so I would know approximately how much things would cost. As it turns out, it’s impossible to get traveler’s checks anymore and foreigners are limited on how much money they can take out of an ATM per day. So I carried $1500 in cash with me, which was converted into tugrik, the Mongolian currency, before we went to the market.

I didn’t do this on my own, but had the expertise and assistance of two Mongols. One, Dr. Amgalanbaatar Sukhiin (Amgaa), is the Director of the Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve Park Administration who I’ve known for eleven years. He granted my request to be able to set up a ger in the reserve, designated some choices for the location and helped with the shopping (talking to the sellers, carrying the money and paying for things) and the set-up. The second is Batbold (generally known by his nickname “Shavka”), a herder who lives with his family near the reserve, in a ger, of course. He was kind enough to drive his truck to Ulaanbaatar, help with all the purchases, transport everything back to Ikh Nart and help with the set-up. This dream come true would not have happened without them, along with other helpers you’ll meet next week.

“Ger” means simply “home” in Mongolian, but it’s generally associated with the round “felt tents” that the Mongols have lived in for over a thousand years. It’s a structure that is perfectly adapted to conditions in the Mongolian countryside. I thought of buying and living in one for a week to ten days a year as a kind of final exam to see how much I’d learned over the years staying at the Ikh Nart research camp, tourist ger camps and visiting many herder families.

The exterior of the door.
The exterior of the door, “khalgaa” in Mongolian. An unusual color and design that I hadn’t seen before. The doors come already framed in.
The vertical supports, called "bagana", being carred to the truck.
The vertical supports, called “bagana”, being carried to the truck.
I bought a "four wall ger", which means four of the standardized wood latttice walls
I bought a “four wall ger”, which means four of the standardized wood latttice walls, called “khana”. Gers are described by the number of walls, which also indicates how big in diameter they are. Shavka is picking out four sections.
Bringing out the felt cover.
Bringing out the felt cover. I bought one layer since it’s summer. More layers can be added as the weather gets colder. It’s a tremendous insulator. That’s Dr. Amgalanbaatar in the green jacket.
Choosing sturdy rope
Choosing sturdy rope for holding the rocks that will weigh down the ger to keep it in place when it’s windy.
Measuring out the rope.
Measuring out the rope. Shavka was very particular about every aspect and item.
Ger stoves.
Ger stoves. There are lighter, thinner ones that are for summer use and heavier, thicker ones that are used in winter. I chose the latter to not foreclose the option for cold weather use. There were two designs to choose from. I went with the one that had the flame motif and the vertical Mongol script, called “bichig”.
Stovepipes. They come in two sections to be assembled in the ger. There’s also a sheet metal piece that fits onto one of the openings in the toono which has a pre-cut hole for one.
Sink stands.
Sink stands. How to have running water in a ger. Mostly I’ve seen these in tourist ger camps, but having one for mine made sense and it came in very handy. I chose the one on the front left. I also bought a bucket which went underneath the sink to catch the water.
Ger furniture in the traditional orange.
Ger furniture in the traditional orange. I bought a bed, a table, two stools and a cabinet.
Kitchenwares. I got one of the aluminum pots with a lid like you see in every ger.
Water container.
Water container. I purchased a LifeStraw gravity feed water filter before I left home. The idea was that I would be provided with well water (for that I purchased two yellow rectangular containers that could be carried on a motorbike). The 5 liter filter bag would be filled from those and drain into the container that Shavka is holding. It worked quite well and drinkable water was no problem.
Plastic sheeting.
Plastic sheeting. There are two ways to rainproof a ger. One is covering the roof (and sometimes the sides) with what is called “Russian canvas”, heavy waterproof cotton. A bundle of it was included in the price for the ger. Shavka also bought enough of the plastic to cover the whole ger. And it was a good thing…
Vinyl flooring.
Vinyl flooring. The ubiquitous choice these days. I’ve only been in a couple of gers ever that had the old school felt rugs on the floor. I found that the sheet vinyl comes in different thicknesses. We got the thickest.
My first choice.
My first choice. I thought the rug pattern was cool, I liked the color and it was different than the very common fake wood floor pattern. But I let myself be talked out of it because Shuka and Amgaa said that it would be too dark. And I think they were right. The lighter, less complex pattern of the fake wood pattern one I chose worked well.
Miscellaneous purchases. There were lots of small items to get like a wastebasket, a doormat, steel basins and, in the red and white striped bag a fabulous tea kettle that was only 18,000 tugrik, about $9.00 USD. You’ll see it next week. Also a kitchen knife, flatware, cutting board, dishwashing supplies…
Cookstove. I left the choice of which one to my helpers. Shavka really went over them before deciding. I knew I wasn’t going to use the wood/dung/coal burning stove and had seen these in a few gers. It worked out great. The fuel comes in what look like spray paint cans. Simple to pop in and out of the receptacle. In the ger I set it up on the stove.
Housewares. Typical of the “mini-shops” one finds at the market. I got a couple of thermos’ (which turned out to be too big at two and three liters; will get a couple one liters for next year), four tea bowls and two larger bowls for morning cereal and soups.
Candles and propane cans.
Candles and propane cans. No solar panel yet, so candles for light if needed. A candlielit ger is very comfy. Also lots of matches. The cans are for the one burner cooktops. In a week I went through one, plus a little of a second, heating water multiple times a day for coffee, washing up, a batch of bansh (small meat dumplings) soup, etc.
Delivering the furniture to the truck.
Delivering the furniture to the truck. There were a number of trips back and forth. Once we’d finished all the shopping, we went back to the furniture seller, who had my choices ready to go on the hand truck, along with the sink stand. We’d also carried the small items to it a couple of times.
Felt pad for the bed.
Felt pad for the bed. I had a choice between a mattress and a felt pad. The mattresses have very stiff springs and thin covers with no padding. I always have my Thermarest pad with me, so opted for the more traditional felt pad covered in cloth. I got a big one that could be folded in half on the single size bed.
Buying the stove.
Buying the stove. Last stop was back to the stove merchant to make the final choice. The purchase price included the stove, stovepipe, stovepipe metal piece for the toono and a typical fuel box.
Last load.
Last load. You can see the stovepipe roof piece and the fuel box in front of Shavka. Once this delivery to the truck was done, Shavka re-packed everything for the drive to Ikh Nart, about five and a half hours. I went by train that evening.
Loading the truck.
Loading the truck. Although this was taken earlier when the furniture was being loaded (that’s the front of my bed in Shavka’s hands), it shows how the ger was loaded. Traditionally, the toono is ALWAYS on the top. This past trip I actually saw a couple of vehicles in which the toono was laying on its side against the side support. I was happy that mine was going to be carried correctly.

So, how did I do on the budget? The ger cost 1.5 million tugrik…$750 USD. We were moving fast so I didn’t write down what everything else cost. All of it together came to $1200, pretty much what I’d estimated. I also paid Shavka’s gas and road fees and something for his helper and that took care of the rest.

Next week: Putting up my ger at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve.






Sketches and Watercolors From My Trip Back East

Alligators at Harris Neck NWR, Georgia
Alligators at Harris Neck NWR, Georgia

Here’s an album of the art I created while I was traveling last month. I had a lot of fun drawing the alligators at the Okefenokee NWR and Harris Neck NWR. They’re good models because they don’t move much. There really is no substitute for drawing from live animals, although I took a ton of photos, too. Other than the one at the top, they’re in chronological order, starting with New York. All but one pencil sketch was done with a Sakura Micron .02 black pen. I used a Pentalic Nature Sketch 7×5″ sketchbook, a very handy size. Drawings on white paper are difficult to scan or photograph. I lightened them as much as I could.

Central Park View
Central Park View
Calfornia sea lion, Central Park Zoo, New York
Calfornia sea lion, Central Park Zoo, New York
Resting grizzly bear, Central Park Zoo, New York
Resting grizzly bear, Central Park Zoo, New York
Turtles, snow leopard cub, Central Park Zoo, New York
Turtles, snow leopard cub, Central Park Zoo, New York
Pronghorn head mount and hat, Explorers Club, New York
Pronghorn head mount and hat, Explorers Club, New York
Cheetah mount, Explorers Club, New York; White ibis, Okefenokee NWR, Georgia
Cheetah mount, Explorers Club, New York; White ibis, Okefenokee NWR, Georgia
Ibis in tree
White ibis in tree, Okefenokee NWR, Georgia
Water lily, Okefenokee NWR, Georgia; River cooter (turtle), Harris Neck NWR, Georgia
Water lily, Okefenokee NWR, Georgia; River cooter (turtle), Harris Neck NWR, Georgia
Alligator 2
Alligator, Harris Neck NWR, Georgia
Alligator leg 3
Alligator front leg, Harris Neck, NWR. Georgia
Jekyll Island
Jekyll Island, Geogia
Alligator Crazy 4
“Crazy”, 12′ long, 800-900 lb. bull alligator, Okefenokee Swamp Park, Georgia
Farmstead, Okefenokee Swamp Park, Georgia
Alligator details 5
Alligator details, Okefenokee Swamp Park, Georgia
Bald Cypress tree
Bald cypress tree, Okefenokee NWR, Georgia
Cypress roots
Bald cypress roots, Okefenokee NWR, Georgia
Cypress and alligator
Bald cypress, American alligator, Okefenokee NWR, Georgia
Live oak and moss
Live oaks and Spanish moss, Fort Clinch State Park, Amelia Island, Florida
Savannah, egrets
Savannah NWR, South Carolina
Pencil birds
Birds, Hudson River Valley, New York State

When I got back north and was up in the Hudson River Valley, I visited Olana, the home of American artist Frederic Church. The house wasn’t open but the grounds were. It was windy and pretty cold, but I was determined to do at least a couple of watercolors since the view from the house is famous and has been painted by a number of artists over the years.

Hudson River from Olana
Hudson River from Olana, New York State; 8×8″
Catskills from Olana
Catskill Mountains from Olana, New York State; 8×8″

I also spent a couple of days with an artist friend at his home in the Hudson River Valley. We spent one morning on location at this lovely pond.

Pond wc
Pond, Hudson River Valley, New York State; 8×8″