I’m continuing to have fun with my weekly Inktober52 pen and ink drawings. We’re over halfway there now and so far I haven’t missed a week. What I’ve ended up doing is taking whatever the “Prompt” word for the week is and filtering it through using an animal of some kind. The current one, a sythesis of three species of tarsiers (a very small primate-like mammal), has gotten quite a satisfactory reaction, including a query from the Esterbrook Company Instagram account.
Otherwise, I’ve been finally getting around to delayed studio reorganizing, preparing some new offerings in my Etsy shop (stay tuned!) and working in the garden. We’ve only been going out to get groceries, pet and house stuff and haircuts. Definitely stayed home over the 4th of July. After a hiatus during which we had no covid-19 cases or just 1-2 a day the number has increased to up to 9 a day, often 4-5. Our public health officer says it’s because of locals traveling out of the area to places where the virus is prevalent and then bringing it back. Not sure what they can do about that. Mask compliance in our community is essentially 100% but we still will order sushi delivery and won’t be going to restaurants or brewpubs any time soon. But I do have a bodywork appointment next week so we’ll see how that goes.
In the meantime, this juvenile peregrine falcon circled around near a large sitka spruce on July 2 screeching his/her head off. I posted a couple of photos on my Facebook page and, as I hoped, within a few minutes a couple of serious “bird people” showed up, gave me a positive ID and said that it was young enough that it was still around its parents, so that meant a nest was somewhere not far away. We’ve been here fifteen years and this was a first!
The vegetable garden is taking off and I’ll post some photos of it next time. For now here’s a collie “lurking” in the grass, actually just “our” Peregrin being silly and posing for me.
It’s been three weeks since my last post. This will be the last one focused on Covid-19 news because here in Humboldt County we’re only getting one case every 2-3 days or so, no hospitalizations and no deaths beyond the four that occurred in previous months. The great news is that our county went to Stage 3 on Friday, June 8, which means restaurants can do dine-in and hair salons, massage places and a variety of other “non-essential businesses” have been allowed to reopen after applying to the state and getting certified. Groups of up to 12 unrelated people are now free to gather. We still have to have masks with us but if we can maintain social distancing we don’t have to wear them. Many of the state parks have reopened, as have lodging facilities, so there will be some kind of tourist season.
We’ve continued with our regular daily routine, working, going to the grocery store and maybe the feedstore or hardware store as needed. Took the collies to Hiller Park last Saturday for the first time since the pandemic hit so they could run around in one of their favorite places. The wild roses were in bloom. There was almost no one else there which we found a bit surprising.
In art news I’m still happily participateing in Inktober52. Haven’t missed a week so I’ve now done 24 pen and ink drawings. All of them are on my Instagram page here. Below is the one I did for the prompt “Stranded”.
I’m also joining in on the Draw Breath Facebook livestream on Mondays and Fridays. We had an excellent model a couple of weeks ago when the protests were going on, as you can see from the 2 minute sketches at the top.
In studio news I’ve replaced my Canon TS9120, an all-in-one that was cranky, cheap-feeling and unreliable. I also kept bumping up against the small platen for scanning. So I am now the much happier owner of an Epson XP15000 inkjet printer and an Epson Perfection V550 large flatbed scanner. Both were a snap to install and talk to the Mac just fine. The scanner is pretty fast and does a great job. Have only used the printer a couple of times but it is also clearly a step up.
Below is the vegetable garden on June 5. I’ve had to battle the slugs to get the beans to the point where the leaves have hardened off but otherwise it’s doing well. Once things are really up and coming I’ll be doing a post on our food growing efforts. The gooseberries are almost ripe and we picked the first blueberries and strawberries yesterday.
Finally, here’s an example from yesterday of the kind of “product testing” I do. I’m looking for the “perfect” sepia or bown ink to use in both my fountain pens and with dip pens. More are on the way but I did this sample sheet yesterday with the ones I currently have. All the animal heads are done directly with no underdrawing and are from my 2004 trip to Kenya.
There were four cases yesterday all connected to a single contact. No new cases yesterday. The total is now 98. Sadly, there was a third death, a 97 year old resident of the care home where there’s been a cluster of cases. “Advanced” Stage 2 reopening has started. The really good news is that lots of local business, around 850, have gotten their certifications and have reopened or soon will. Restaurants can now offer dine-in service and churches can reopen with limited capacity. Masks and social distancing still required. We’re doing fine, in our usual routines. We chat with the neighbors who we encounter on walks and they’re ok also.
There’s supposed to be a corker of a storm rolling in tonight, complete with thunderstorms, which is unusual here on the coast. Going to spend most of the day getting the vegetable garden planted and tidied up. From 4-6pm I’ll be sketching from the Draw Breath Facebook group livestream. It’s a public group so anyone can watch or join. Here’s a couple of pages of three minute sketches from the last couple sessions. These were done directly using a fountain pen.
Here’s another of my Inktober52 pieces. The prompt was “Bubbles”:
And here are a some of the roses currently blooming-
Like so many gardeners we are in a constant struggle with gophers. But not everyone has a collie to help find them. Peregrin can clearly hear them when they’re moving around underground and will immediately start digging. Which provides me with great photo ops like this…
It’s been thirteen days since the last post! That went fast. The good news is that the county went to Stage 2 on Friday the 8th. This meant some “non-essential” businesses are being allowed to reopen if they can offer curbside pickup. Masks are now required in public along with continuing social distancing, but many outdoor activities are now encouraged. Since then our run of almost no cases since early April ended on the 9th. Two cases that day, four the next (including two in an assisted-living facility and three yesterday. All appear to be community transmission.
This past Sunday we had good weather (it’s been raining quite a bit) and drove up to the Redwood Creek levee at Orick. We like it for walks because the collies can be off-leash, we can see all around us, there’s almost never been anyone else there and the gravel walkway ends at the mouth of the creek so we’re right near the ocean. It’s about a three mile round trip.
Our collie boy, Peregrin, turned four on the 6th. Hailey’s father is one of his grandfathers. They’re both from Romany Collies up near Portland.
The pond is looking good, nice and full (pics next time). The yellow flag iris (not invasive in California) I introduced years ago on the west side of the pond has now moved to the east side (more sun?) and is happily blooming away. I’ll do some life studies, maybe a watercolor, on Friday if we do get the predicted break in the rain.
As I mentioned above, it’s been raining for the last few days, which is great for the garden. During one of the breaks, the dogs started whining and circling around a tree behind a cinder block compost bin. I peered and peered up into the tree and then ran for my camera. When I got back I found myself looking into the eyes of a opossum! I took a bunch of photos then I and the collies went back into the house to give the opossum a chance to safely come down and move on. But I hope he/she stays around. We don’t have ticks here near the coast, which they are famous for eating, but help with snail and slug control would be greatly appreciated.
We’ve since taken the suet feeder down for the year since it attracts a family of crows who are welcome but not right next to the house. But last Thursday “our” black-headed grosbeak family showed up for the summer! And not just the male and female but what look like a male and a female juvenile, possibly babies from last year?
Not very many bees or butterflies yet. And we haven’t had many of the latter for a number of years. The bees are either bumblebees or another native species of honeybee or European honeybees, which means someone not too far away has hives.
But this big butterfly showed up for a short time three days ago. It’s a swallowtail but not sure what species since it’s so much lighter in color than the tiger swallowtail. It also looked a little beat-up around the edges.
Finally, here’s my latest entry (at the bottom) in the Inktober52 pen and ink drawing event. I really had fun with this one although I was not enthusiastic at first because I’d done the same praying mantis a month or so ago for the prompt “Green”. But I’ve just gotten a selection of Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay inks and, although I have a couple of greens I decided the heck with it and used teal, red-violet and yellow instead.
You can see the rest of the drawings I’ve been doing since the first week in January, including the “gree” mantis on my Instagram page here.
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.
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 batchhere. And I posted a few last timehere. 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.
Yesterday, March 16, kind of feels like the first day of the rest of our lives. And, as is true for so many, we’re now sheltering in place due to the coronavirus. Fortunately, we’re in a northern California county that had one confirmed case back in January (a person who had just arrived back from an infected area of China) and none since then. But people here are preparing just the same since it’s almost sure to make another appearance.
Not sure why, but I’ve found that I want to record what it’s going to be like between now and when the “all clear” is sounded. I’ll be posting whenever I have something to say or show you. My husband and I are fortunate in that we are in good health and we work at home. He’s the Executive Director of a tech consortium with members in a variety of countries. Their April meeting has already been pushed back to June, now with the expectation that it will be pushed back again to fall at the earliest.
I’ve been an art professional of one kind or another (sign painter, graphic designer, illustrator, now fine art painter) for over forty years, so my art will be part of this record. I’m also an avid gardener and have an acre to play with. All our travel is cancelled so the garden will get my full attention, including the vegetable part of it. We also have six apple trees, three dozen blueberry bushes and a raspberry “patch”, so I’ll be posting photos through the year of all that. The blueberries are already flowering. We get between five and six gallon bags of berries from them every year.
Right now the clematis armandii and wallflowers are blooming, along with crocus, grape hyacinth, daffodils and early tulips.
We share our home with two rough collies Hailey and Peregrin (“Lassie” dogs) and two cats, Michiko and Alexander A Really Great Cat.
In other news, I’m participating in a fun art event this year called Inktober52. The original event, Inktober, calls on artists to create one black and white piece a day in the month of October. Inktober52, in its first year, is about creating one black and white piece a week for the entire year. I’m going to do my best to not miss a week and so far so good. All the finished art is posted first on Instagram herewith the #inktober52 hashtag, including mine. I’m also posting to my Facebook public page here and on Pinterest here. Jake Parker, who invented and runs both events, sends out an email on Thursdays with the prompt for the next week, so everyone is doing the same subject, but in their own way. Hundreds of artists from all over the world are participating. So, sheltering in place or not, I’m able to connect with other artists.
This is what I had to say about this week’s drawing: “After thrashing around I decided that I could use “tower” as a verb, but then what was towering over ? I tried a couple of different ideas and then “towering redwoods” came to mind. I grew up, and live in, Redwood Country so I dug out a photo I had of me standing in front of a huge coast redwood right by the road in Prairie Creek State Park. I started out intending to fully render the trunk, but had the thought of doing a “reverse”. Less time (a LOT less), maybe more visually interesting and different. I also create downloadable pdf coloring pages that I sell in my Etsy store and maybe this piece will end up there. I used a Gillott 659 crow quill nib (Joseph Pennell’s favorite), Platinum Carbon ink on Clearprint vellum.”
Finally, for now, the 12×16″ oil painting above has been accepted into the Fusion Art Gallery online exhibition “Sunrises and Sunsets”! The location is one of my favorite places in Mongolia, Ikh Nartiin Chuluu Nature Reserve. I own my own ger with all the furnishings and have been allowed to set it up in the reserve and live there for a week or so and that’s when I get to see sights like this and take photos that I can turn into art.
As the great old Rolling Stones song says “You can’t always get what you want but sometimes you get what you need.” In this case, what I wanted was to leave for seven weeks in Mongolia on Monday. What I got is having to cancel the trip due to having fallen last month and sustained a concussion. The decision came this past Monday when I woke up with a recurrence of mild symptoms, plus still feeling tired and a bit out of sorts. Mongolia, and the travel required to get there, is challenging when I’m at 100% and I am definitely not. Any problems en route or out in the deep countryside or even in UB could have been serious, possibly requiring an emergency air evacuation to a country with western-standard medical care. It is not a place to test “What can possibly go wrong?”. And I was struggling and not quite getting there with mentally gearing up for packing and the attention and focus that requires. So I did the adult, responsible thing *sigh* and cancelled.
The “need” part comes in with the fact that this will my first full summer at home since 2007. And, after three exhibitions in four years and, in retrospect, a little too much travel, I find that a break with a long stretch of unstructured time and no non-discretionary deadlines (there are juried competitions I want to enter) to be very desirable. Lemonade.
So, what will I do now with all this “free” time? Well, I’ll miss having gone on my 12th trip to what has become my second home, that’s for sure. The prospect of not seeing friends, well-loved places, new places, being with the Mongols and painting and sketching on location there is kinda hard.
OTOH, I have time now to let it rip in the studio, trying out new media and ways of working, experimenting with my painting, drawing and painting “on location” in my own garden. Having time to paint with my friends in the Sunday Paintout group. Sketching at our local zoo. Taking day trips to the beach or river with my husband and our two collies. Doing training with one year old Peregrin that he needs and deserves that was going to be delayed until I got back. Spending lots of time in the garden and my propogation projects (probably will do a plant sale this fall). Getting to go to a family reunion in August on the Oregon Coast that I was going to miss. Working on marketing/career stuff that’s been beckoning for quite awhile now. Sitting on the patio in the afternoon sun with a beer in a pleasantly vegetative state. But also, retrospectively, recharging from the past four years. And, of course, planning my 2018 trip to the Land of Blue Skies…
But, wait! There’s news! In either December or January (I’ll announce the date when I have it), I have been invited by the Sequoia Park Zoo Conservation Advisory Committee to be one of the speakers for their Conservation Lecture Series. The title of my talk will be “Art and Conservation in the Land of Blue Skies”.