Sheltering in Place, Part 8


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.


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’
‘King Edward VII’
‘Black Knight’
‘Spanish Dancer’
‘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!


Inktober 2018- “Bison”

Inktober 16 "Bison

Inktober 16 “Bison”– I love drawing bison! Especially the big bulls who are attitude from one end to the other. I saw this one in Yellowstone National Park. Went international with the supplies this time…a Yaroslawl “Orgtechnika” nib from a Ukrainian seller on Etsy. The nib has a hammer and sickle stamped on it so maybe they bought or acquired the inventory of an old Soviet era pen nib factory since they offer lots of different types. In any case it’s a great nib for drawing even though I’m sure in was intended for writing only. Perle Noire ink from Herbin in France. And a Global Arts “hand-book” Kona Classic sketchbook.

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.

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

Sketches And Watercolors From My Trip To Wyoming


Pronghorn from taxidermy mount
Pronghorn; water soluble colored pencils from taxidermy mount

I’m back home now from my two week trip to Wyoming, where I spent three great days in Yellowstone National Park, a day and a half in Jackson Hole and five days at the Susan K. Black Foundation Workshop (SKB).

I painted and sketched along the way and at the workshop, trying out a variety of combinations of paper and water media. Here’s an album of some of my pieces, all done on location:

Goose Lake sunset
Goose Lake sunset, done is about 15 minutes; watercolor

Goose Lake
Goose Lake mountain and sunset; watercolor

Bison; pencil and watercolor

Bison in the Lamar Valley, Yellowstone
Bison in the Lamar Valley, Yellowstone; watercolor

Yellowstone trees; watercolor
Yellowstone trees; watercolor

Since I don’t really paint North American wildlife anymore, I found it liberating to not worry about getting “the shot”, although I ended up with lots of great photos, but instead to focus on sketching the live bison.

Bison sketches; Sakura Micron .01 pen
Bison sketches; Sakura Micron .01 pen

Cottonwoods and a snowy morning, the Lamar Valley, Yellowstone
Cottonwoods and a snowy morning, the Lamar Valley, Yellowstone; watercolor

The third day I was in Yellowstone it snowed in the morning. I drove out to the Lamar Valley and set up my watercolors on the passenger seat of our VW Eurovan camper, then just looked out the windows to do these three studies.

Lamar Valley snow and bison; watercolor
Lamar Valley snow and bison; watercolor

There’s a huge mountainous cliff on the east side of the park that is known as a place to spot mountain goats. And, sure enough, I spotted this nanny and kid with my binoculars. I got out my spotting scope (a Leica Televid) and managed these two quick pen sketches before she and the youngster got up and moved off out of sight.  Then it was back to bison.

Mountain goat nanny and kid; bison; Sakura Micron .01 pen
Mountain goat nanny and kid; bison; Sakura Micron .01 pen

One of the locations at the SKB workshop was a ranch that has been in the same family for over 100 years. Hope to be able to go there again next year.

Cottonwoods, Finley Ranch; watercolor
Cottonwoods, Finley Ranch; watercolor

Cattle skulls
Cattle skulls, Finley Ranch; Precise V5 pen and Koi water brush

Next week I’ll share photos and stories from the workshop.

3 Great Days at Yellowstone National Park Last Week

Saw a lot of these huge bull bison in the park
Saw a lot of these huge bull bison in the park.

I’m now in Dubois, Wyoming at the Susan K. Black Foundation Workshop and having a inspiring time, chatting, networking and painting with old and new friends and colleagues. I’ll be posting more about that next week, but this time I’d thought I’d share some of the photos I took at Yellowstone National Park last week, starting with the big guy at the top. I never get tired of seeing these huge bulls.

One of the famous Yellowstone "bison jams".
One of the famous Yellowstone “bison jams”. Back-ups can be very long, but the animals have the right of way.

The third day I was there a snowstorm came through I was in the area known at "Little America", just to the west of the Lamar Valley, when, right next to a pullout in a hollow was this small group of bison, hunkered down and waiting it out.
The third day I was there a snowstorm came through I was in the area known at “Little America”, just to the west of the Lamar Valley, when, right next to a pullout in a hollow was this small group of bison, hunkered down and waiting it out.

Young bison calf born very late, but I've been told even these little ones are tough enough to survive the winters.
Young bison calf born very late, but I’ve been told even these little ones are tough enough to survive the winters.

The Lamar Valley is known as the "Serengeti of North America" because it's where you can see scenes like this....a very big herd of bison moving through
The Lamar Valley is known as the “Serengeti of North America” because it’s where you can see scenes like this….a very big herd of bison moving through with pronghorn antelope closer to where I was. And a single male pronghorn closer yet.

Yellowstone scenery.
Yellowstone scenery.

On my way out of the park, I spotted this pair of trumpeter swans floating on the misty river.
On my way out of the park, I spotted this pair of trumpeter swans floating on the misty river.