Monday, June 24, 2019

Not So Still Life

Lately the Urban Sketcher group has been challenging -- one time it was goats, and this week it was horses.  And I haven't been able to draw either critter.  It is most vexing.

This is the Eastside Sustainable Farm in Kennewick, where the sketchers met on Wednesday:

There were turkeys roaming around.

They definitely did not sit still.

And there were plenty of horses around.  These two were fairly quiet:

They stood in one place for quite some time, and I still couldn't draw them. 

The most vexing part of this animal-sketching challenge is that I used to be able to draw them.  In fact, many years ago I completed a 9-month certificate program in Natural Science Illustration, during which I received professional training in how to draw moving animals!

Yet I couldn't do it.  I think the horse below is giving me a disdainful look, don't you?

My current theories on why I'm having difficulty are:  a) I'm out of practice, b) I feel too much time pressure with the group, and/or c) I feel too much peer pressure with the group, which is silly, since there's no competition or critiquing and everyone is very kind.  But perhaps I need to find some moving animals on my own to practice on extensively before trying it again in public, so to speak. 

Here's what I drew instead -- it was very, very stationary:

My other art project for the week was to do a watercolor painting in monochrome.  This was a challenge set by the Mid-Columbia Watercolor Society, and we are to show our work at the next meeting in July.  It could be any subject, and any color. 

Having just visited the Gingko Petrified Forest at Vantage and snapped some pics there, I decided to paint the overlook view, using a subtle color called Shadow Violet.  It is manufactured by the Daniel Smith company in Seattle.  I like the results. 

So that was it for art this past week. 

On our daily walks, we mostly went to the river, but one day we ventured over to the Uptown shopping center, where a car show was in progress.

The entire parking lot was taken over by vintage automobiles.

Pippin preferred the food vendors to the cars.

Finally, a house project (well, actually, a yard project).  The back yard fence was in need of painting, so I painted it.  Having seen a lot of red fences about, I decided to try that color on one side.  It looked fine. 

However, for the back side, I opted for a brighter, cheerier blue, because there are two red shrubs there and I figured it would show them off a lot better. 

As for the third side, the fence there is in poor shape and not really worth bothering about, as it should be replaced.  So I'm not going to worry about it for now.

That's all for this time -- have a happy Monday!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Another Busy Week, with Dachshunds on Parade

First there was art, and then there were birds, and then there were dachshunds on parade, and then there were more birds and a marmot.  What a week!

On Tuesday I went to the monthly meeting of the Mid-Columbia Watercolor Society, my first time there.  I knew several people from the sketcher group, and everyone was very welcoming. 

One woman gave a presentation on an artist she likes, and gave us a project -- to recreate one of his paintings.  She divided it into squares, and each of us painted that square.  Then we put them together -- only there weren't enough of us to do the whole thing.  Below is our unfinished effort, with a smaller photo of the original painting.

This was the square I got:

Every month the group has a "challenge" to paint for the next meeting -- the previous challenge was "pets".  Here are some of the group's pet paintings:

Our new challenge is "monochrome"  (any subject, any color).  I'm thinking about that.

On Wednesday the Urban Sketcher group met at a gourmet food store, which was quite fun, as I enjoyed shopping there after the meeting.

Here I am sketching away:

I chose to draw a decorative display, to which I made a few edits to simplify it.

We had quite a good turnout!

On Thursday during our regular morning riverside walk, I was entertained by two American White Pelicans looking for breakfast.

They are not the most elegant looking birds at times....

Our big adventure happened on the weekend.  Every year the town of Ellensburg hosts Dachshunds on Parade, an event which is just what it says -- people bring their dachshunds to walk down the main street.  There are also races and a costume contest.

I didn't think we'd be able to go, as poor Pippin had a tummy upset on Friday after eating something weird (no idea what -- he eats stuff he finds in the yard, including his own or Truman's poop). 

It was on-again, off-again, but luckily by early Saturday morning he'd been free of upsets for over 12 hours, had all of his normal energy, and had kept down his breakfast.  So we went for it.

Ellensburg is a two-hour drive away, so we left around 7:00am in order to meet up with Michelle and her dachshund Winston at 9:30.

Here is Winston (right), a lovely long-haired English Cream:

There were hundreds of dachshunds in all colors and coat-lengths.  Pippin particularly liked this little girl, who seemed to be a good match in coloring and size:

He also enjoyed seeing other dogs in strollers.

After walking around the booths (there was also a farmers' market going on), we found the perfect spot to sit, right along the parade route. 

Winston and Pippin are good buds.


Pip jumped out of the stroller to greet this stunning standard-sized dachshund:

Some of the parading dogs were dressed for the costume contest (which we did not stick around for).

At one point, Winston began whimpering and acting as if he wanted to join in the parade, and I think Pip would have enjoyed it as well.  Maybe next time.

Our favorites were this hot dog vendor with his wares:

Next we headed to Michelle's summer home in nearby Ronald to drop off the hounds, and then we went to an antique mall.

You can see this place from the I-90 freeway just beyond Ellensburg, and every time I've driven that way (which is hundreds of times), I've thought, "That looks interesting.  I should stop there sometime."

But I never did, until now!

The fruits and veggies and gourmet foods were on the ground floor, with two floors of antique dealers above.  Fabulous place.  I bought a lighthouse figurine.

Our final stop was the Roslyn cemetery.

Roslyn was a mining town in the 1800s, and there are lots of miners buried here.

It's set in the hills above the town, very serene.

After a dinner out at the Country Cottage restaurant in Cle Elum, we had a quiet evening watching baseball (which we quickly gave up on, as the hapless Mariners got way behind in early innings) and then the latest season of the Great British Baking show.  We stayed overnight and got an early start home on Sunday morning.

I took the Vantage route back so I could stop at Gingko Petrified Forest to search for chukars, which are regularly seen there.

First we stopped at the visitor center to admire the Columbia River gorge views.

We also admired the Native American rock paintings there.

Then I headed down the road a ways to the Rocky Coulee Recreation Area, where a chukar was seen and photographed just a few days before (I check the reports on the helpful birding site

Alas, no chukars appeared.  But something else exciting did -- a good-sized, chunky critter emerged from a rocky den just as I arrived.

I had never seen this beast before!  It was nearly as big as a wiener dog, though a whole lot squarer.  I wondered if it might be a marmot, which I'd at least heard of, and sure enough, that's what it turned out to be -- a Yellow-bellied Marmot.  Sweet!

I did hear a lot of wrens singing away at this spot, and hoped one of them might be a Canyon Wren, which I've seen there before but never gotten a photo.  Wrens periodically flew about and landed on the rocks far far FAR in the distance, but they all turned out to be Rock Wrens.  I kind of figured that was the case, since Canyon Wrens have a distinctive downward trilling song, which I was not hearing, though I sure tried to turn a few Rock Wren calls into Canyon Wren calls.  Sigh.  Oh, well.  Rock Wrens are perfectly nice birds, too!

My final birding adventure involved a stop at the Vernita rest area, which I've always found reliable for Western Kingbirds and Common Nighthawks.

This is the kingbird:

And this is a nighthawk!

On previous visits, I had only seen nighthawks in flight, never perched.  They have great camouflage, and are very hard to find in trees.  But this time, I saw a few fly into the trees, so I knew where to look.  Hoorah!

They look quite different in flight:

While I was busy looking at the tree tops, a guy came over to ask what I was up to, and when I told him, he got very excited and ran back to his car for his camera (which was pro-level with a great zoom).  "I love nighthawks," he said.  "I used to see them here all the time as a kid!" 

He managed to get some good pics and was very grateful.  It was a swell rest-area encounter.

That was our last stop before continuing on down the road to Richland.  For the coming week, I shall return to my usual activities -- river side walks and artistic endeavors.  Have a good Monday!