Friday, October 30, 2015

From the archives (sort of)

I haven't posted much this week because the only thing I have to say is, "Got up.  Went to work."  Now, if I had an exciting job, I could write about it, but what I do is sit in front of a computer answering emails and it's just not that thrilling.

Since I have nothing new to write about, I decided to post about older stuff instead.  You may recall that I recently painted Oregon coast lighthouses on my bathroom door.  You may even remember far back enough to recall the woodland pond mural I painted on my bedroom wall.  Ah, but do you recall all of the stuff I've painted on the walls of my home over the years?

Well, you might, especially if you pop over for visits now and then, so this post is really just for any newer readers out there.  It's a recap of the Murals of Dog End. (And if you don't know, "Dog End" is my home's name, as in, "There have always been dachshunds at Dog End.  There always will be.")

First, the bathroom door, in case you forgot what it looked like:

Here's something I did several years ago -- it's a tree on the living room wall.  I'm ever so fond of it.  I've been pondering the notion of putting a few more around the house, on a smaller scale.

Earlier this year I painted the woodland pond mural on the bedroom wall, and so now I can never move.  It's ever so delightful.

This small bit of decoration is something I put above a hallway closet ages and ages ago:

Then there's another mural on the bedroom wall -- it's a scene stolen from a folk art jigsaw puzzle, and there was supposed to be more stuff on the beach at the bottom but I ran out of steam.  Oh, well.  I can live with it the way it is just fine.

And finally, there is another bit of decoration above the kitchen door.  I put it there to remind myself, whenever I feel philosophical ponderings about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything -- all I have to do is glance up at this admonition to remember what it is that I really ought to be doing:

And so I do!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Ordinary Birds are Pretty Nice, Too

After Saturday's fabulous sighting of a Sandhill Crane at the Montlake Fill, Truman and I headed back down there Sunday morning to see what else might be about.  Goodness, the place was practically overrun by a huge flock of Birdus raritanus.  In other words, birders from all over, chasing rarities -- not just the crane, but a Clay-colored Sparrow reported the day before.

While I enjoy sharing "my" local patch with others, this felt more like an invasion.  Every hundred feet or so there was a birder or two or a whole pack, scoping out the brambles for the sparrow, or asking if the crane had been seen.  Tru and I walked around the loop, and saw very little other than a Cooper's Hawk that one of the invaders excitedly mis-identified as a Northern Harrier.  Most of the birds seemed to be hiding -- well, I would be, too, if there were a party of strangers in my living room.

We went home to peace and quiet.  Turned out nobody saw the crane or the sparrow that day.  Truman and I went out again in the afternoon to Meadowbrook Pond to admire the perfectly common ducks, with hardly any people around.  It was ever so lovely.

Here are some perfectly fine and quite ordinary Northern Shovelers:

No bird chasers were interested in this pair of Mallards:

Nor did these American Wigeons draw much attention:

But Truman and I admired them greatly.  Here is the male wigeon:

And here is the female wigeon:

Of course, Truman's admiration of birds only goes so far.  Here he is giving me his trademark "WHEN DO WE GET TO GO HOME???!?" expression:

A fine afternoon indeed!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ready for its close-up

In December 2014 I saw my first Sandhill Cranes -- two adults and two juveniles foraging in a field in Snohomish.  They were WAY far away and I couldn't get any closer, and they were just small gray blobs through my binoculars.  Another birder let me look through his scope, and I got slightly better views.

I was happy to add Sandhill Crane to my life list, though with a "BVD" notation ("Better View Desired").

On Saturday, I was able to remove that notation.

One of the six subspecies of Sandhill Cranes migrate this time of year from the far north (Arctic/northern Canada) to California via our lovely state, and will stop over to forage here and there -- mostly there.  It is unusual for one to stop in the Puget Sound region -- and the Montlake Fill had only a handful of  "fly over" records before, never one landing to forage.

This one turned up at the Fill on Friday -- which upset me, as had it been any Friday over the past twelve years, the one day of the week when I got to work from home, I would have driven there on my lunch hour to see it.  Alas, thanks to a re-org, I no longer have a telecommute day.  So I sat there at the office on Friday thinking, "Please stick around, please stick around just one more day!"

Well, as you can tell, the bird clearly listened to my plea.  On Saturday morning I rushed to the Fill, where the crane was foraging not far from the trail.  I got lovely views -- at one point it was no more than 25 feet away -- a great improvement on the Snohomish experience.  

Beautiful bird.  I trust it has found its proper flight path by now -- no one reported seeing it there on Sunday.  Glad I got to see it!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Cars are hard to draw

At the car museum on Saturday, I tried to sketch cars, and quickly discovered that they are very difficult subjects.  It's easier to draw them straight on, but all of the randomly placed benches were opposite cars I didn't want to draw.  The cars I wanted to draw were always at an angle from the bench.  This was annoying.

Eventually I found this 1926 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost mostly straight on and had a go.

And I discovered the next annoyance -- cars are big, and I kept running out of room on the paper by not starting small enough.  So at the next attempt, instead of drawing the whole car, I sketched bits and pieces I found interesting.

I think I sat on nearly every bench in the museum, hoping for a straight-on shot of something I liked.  After about two hours, I finally found this car -- which wasn't too long for the page.  Alas, it turned out to be too tall, and I ran out of room at the top of the page.  Dang.

After grabbing lunch at the museum cafe, we visited the British car collection.  I wanted to do more in color, and found a vibrant red van to draw -- and of course, the nearest bench put me at an angle to it.  Drawing cars on angles is hard!  Didn't quite get it right, but the coloring was fun.

In keeping with the car theme, in a different outing last Sunday, we met up with the Urban Sketch group at a pumpkin farm, where I drew an old truck -- twice:

I think I'm done drawing vehicles for a while, though we didn't see everything at the car museum and it's definitely worth a second visit.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

And now for something completely different

Yesterday I took a vacation day, which also happened to be my sister Lynne's birthday, and in honor of her birthday, I went to look at really old things.

America's Car Museum is down the road in Tacoma. (One wonders how many people would think, without that specific name, "Hm, is this perhaps Canada's car museum?  Or perhaps Australia's car museum?")

It is cavernous, with 300 cars on three floors which involves a lot of walking.

It was Tina's idea to go there so we could try sketching cars.  We did try sketching cars, though mostly we spent three hours there admiring cars and sitting on benches a lot.

I was most attracted to the really old cars (Lynne, isn't this just like your first car?):

This one had curtains and a small flower vase inside.

I'm not sure where they had room for an engine in this little vehicle.

This is a Stanley Steamer -- cool!

There were also many (many!) cars from all eras up to the present.

And then there was the mock-up of the human-powered "car" from The Flintstones.

I don't remember now what this one was....

My friend Mary just posted on her blog about the fabulous things people miss out on when they drive around in cars, and mostly I agree wholeheartedly.  But when I saw this little Citroen, I wanted to hop in and drive it out of the museum and never stop.

The oddest two cars were this electric car from 1981 (!):

And this more recent solar-powered car:

Those are solar panels all over the top!  Not exactly a winner in the Pacific Northwest.

I am hardly a car nut -- I mean, come on, I've been driving a 1998 3-cylinder Geo Metro hatchback for the past 15 years.  But I enjoyed the museum very much, and I felt a little sad that none of those fabulous automobiles would ever get out on the road again.

This is long enough so I'll share the sketches tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Vegetable Medley

Tina recently snapped some cool photos of vegetables at the farmer's market, for later drawing and painting at leisure, and shared them so I could have a go, too.  This photo caught my eye for its lovely array of colors and shapes:

It was way too complex, so I cut it down to the section I found most appealing for a drawing.

I decided to work in colored pencil, which I haven't used it ages.

I have a 120-pencil Faber-Castell set of pencils, and used nearly every red, yellow, and orange one.

And a few greens and browns as well.

For the shadows, I did use black, which I rarely use in any drawing or painting because it tends to deaden things, and to keep it more lively, I shaded over it with either dark red or dark green.

It took a bit of experimentation to find the right combination of orangish-reds for some of the peppers, and more blueish-reds for others.

The cardboard box divider was the easiest bit to color in -- just a few shades of tan/brown.  All in all, it was fun though time-consuming.  I did a couple of veggies each day over 4-5 days.