Friday, March 31, 2017

More Hummingbirds

Brief hummingbird update:  yesterday morning I went to the Montlake Fill to check on the hummingbird chicks.  One of them was flexing its wings.  Got some pics of the mother feeding them. Probably won't be long before they fledge and the wonderful show will be over.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

In Which I Once Drew People

I had occasion to dig through some very old storage boxes in search of something that I didn't find, but during the hunt, I came upon some drawings dated 1974 -- and they were all of PEOPLE (!).

I vaguely remember playing around with this simplified, cartoonish line way back then, and what fun it was to do.  I invented these people out of whole cloth -- something I sure don't do now and doubt if I could, since I prefer to draw solely from reality.

I love the liveliness of the line work, the way the line connects people and objects, and I love the expressiveness of the characters.

I was clearly trying to imply little stories behind the characters -- the viewer could easily make up some tale about what they were doing or thinking.  Then there was one based on the Frankenstein story -- sadly missing its bottom right portion:

I did not continue with this style of drawing -- not sure why not, as I find these pictures delightful.  Maybe next time I try to draw people, I can recapture some of this light, lively feeling.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Unplanned Outing, with Eagles

The forecast for this entire week:  "Showers.  Rain.  Rain showers."  So yesterday, when it was just a little gray and not actually raining, I decided to tootle off to Swanson's Nursery to get some annuals.

This is the topiary dinosaur that greets visitors -- his name is Humphrey.

After admiring the many colorful displays, I bought some marigolds and snapdragons.

Did you notice the blue in the sky?  And the sunshine?  So did I!  It looked as if the weather was going to stay nice for a while, and I always believe in taking advantage of unexpected sunshine, so I continued on down the road to Golden Gardens Park.

High above us, two eagles soared, often getting quite close together, at times looking as if they were practicing for a Blue Angels show.

Truman seemed happy with the impromptu outing:

This morning I see that the forecast is for "Showers.  Rain.  Rain showers" all day long.  We shall see!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sketching Here and There

Last Thursday, Nicole and I went to the UW campus to sketch the cherry trees and the buildings in the Quad. The trees were not yet in full bloom, but they had enough color, and as it was Spring Break, the place was not overrun with students.

We would have done more sketching if the sun had not vanished behind the clouds, making us chilly.  It has been a most inhospitable March, with far too much rain, clouds, and low temperatures.

Luckily we did get sunbreaks on Saturday, and Truman and I were able to jaunt to Magnuson Park with Michelle, Winston, and Chloe.

On Sunday, the rain returned.  Tina and I headed to the Woodland Park Zoo, where there are enough areas under shelter where we could get some decent sketching done.

At the Australia exhibit, the kangaroos were avoiding the outdoor area and the rain, and were lounging lazily inside:

In the Northern Trail exhibit, the grizzly bears were also lounging by their pool, where we could see them easily from the covered, heated viewing area.

On our way out, we stopped by the Komodo Dragon exhibit.  We always like to sketch an animal that doesn't move around much.

Next, we went to the Norse retirement home where Tina visited her mother while I popped up to the sixth floor for a view of Ballard.  I drew this scene once before, not terribly successfully, and had a second go at it from a slightly different angle.

It's a bit better than my first effort, though I think I need another go at it some time.

The forecast for this week is, of course, "showers/rain" every single day.  I believe I will get a lot of reading done.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tiny Hummingbirds!

After several visits to the Montlake Fill trying to get a good view of the hummingbird chicks, I finally succeeded!

Yesterday morning I got there just as the mother was finishing up a feeding, with her back directly blocking any sight of the babies.  Rats.  Since it can take up to half an hour or more between feedings, I took off for a stroll around the Loop Trail.  Over by the lake front there is some temporary fencing, and I spotted a large bird strolling around inside it, foraging.

It was the female pheasant that's been living at the Fill for at least two years now, successfully avoiding the coyote.

Next, I spotted a group of Green-winged Teals on the southwest pond.  They are a favorite of mine with their lovely plumage:

The female is typically not so colorful, but she does have the distinctive teal-green feathers that give them their name (this section of feathers is called the speculum).

When I got back to the hummingbird nest, the mom was nowhere to be seen.  So I parked myself for a while, and got a lot of practice with the camera, seeing how quickly I could zoom in on the nest.  I waited.  And waited.  I was nearly ready to give up when two women stopped by -- I'd met them a few days earlier and had shown them the nest, and they wanted to see the babies, too.  So we chatted and watched a bit longer, and I'm so glad they turned up to keep me there, for after another five minutes or so, the mother returned.

For once there was no twig blocking my view, and the mom did not block my view of the chicks, who lifted their heads up enough to be seen, and thanks to all that earlier practice, I got zoomed in and focused in time.

I took about three dozen photos but they all look pretty much like this one.  There were at least two, and possibly three chicks.  I also managed to take this short video:

Hurrah!  Such a wonderful sight.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sunday Urban Sketching

This past Sunday the Seattle Urban Sketchers ( hosted their monthly get-together at Hale's Ale Brew Pub, and Tina, Nicole, and I joined in the fun.  We arrived at 11am, and as it was close enough to lunch time and we were hungry, we started our sketching in the restaurant.

I couldn't see much from my seat except a family at another table, and the brewery's logo on the wall.

After eating, I abandoned Nicole and Tina, who wanted to keep sketching inside the brewery.  The sun was shining and I wanted to be outside.  I found a view of an interesting building and settled in, only to discover that sunshine does not necessarily equal warmth.  I spent about fifteen minutes on this sketch before giving up due to chilled hands.

Back inside the brewery, I found a lobby view of some beer casks next to an old British phone booth.  I think I could have done a better job of this, because I was having trouble with my materials.  I had a new sketchbook, a brand I've used before with great success, but with different pens.  The pens I tried to use on it this time were skipping a lot and I couldn't get good, strong lines.

When the sketch group finished up and Tina, Nicole and I headed over to a nearby retirement home where Tina visited her mother while Nicole and I sat in their little patio garden.  It was warmer by then, and the sunlight was making lovely highlights and nice deep shadows.  Because of my earlier frustration with the pen, this time I opted to try using my brush pen to make marks where the shadows were falling, more or less.  This is a technique I learned in the Travel Sketching class at

I was happier with that drawing than anything I did at the brewery.

That was it was weekend sketching.  But wait -- there's more!  Earlier on Sunday I popped down to the Montlake Fill to try getting a better shot of the hummingbird feeding its chick.  She did not cooperate, so I walked Truman around the Loop Trail, where we saw lots of Northern Shovelers on Shoveler's Pond:

While admiring the birds, my attention was caught by a canine loping through the brushy meadow on the far side of the pond.  WHAT is that DOG doing running loose!? I thought -- until realizing that it was not a dog.

Blur E. Coyote

I haven't seen a coyote there for over a year.  It disappeared into the brush and I didn't see it again.  Typically they are skittish around people and will run off, though they've been known to defend their territory against dogs, so now I have yet another reason to tell the idiots who let their dogs go off-leash at the Fill to not do that!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled rainy weather.  At least I have baseball to watch.  So if you don't see any posts here for a while, just know that I'm in a Rain Delay!

Monday, March 20, 2017

At the Museum

Saturday it rained all day, so The Northend Sketchers (me, Tina, Nicole) opted for an indoor drawing experience at the Burke Museum (natural history and anthropology).

My first effort, of a wolverine showing a wide-open mouth of ferocious teeth, was not terribly successful.

So I gave up on that and moved on to the nearby "Terror Bird" skeleton, which turned out a bit better (perhaps I'm just  more inspired by birds).

Next I moved on to a lovely Northwest Forest display with an otter -- who can resist an otter?  Now I seemed to be hitting my stride, and I was happy with the resulting sketch.

Then I headed to the anthropology section for my last drawing of the day.  There's a very colorful, life-size exhibit of a Korean wedding ceremony that has always caught my eye on past visits, but I always felt intimidated by its complexity.  Plus the place was usually too crowded to get a good view.  This day, though, the museum had little traffic, and I felt it was time to give it a go.

Yes!  I'll admit to doing a light pencil sketch first to make sure I had everything in the right place (normally I draw directly in ink).  I spent a lot more time on it than I typically do on a drawing, and was very pleased with the effort.

On Sunday the sun came out in all its full glory -- tune in tomorrow for more sketching fun.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Wee Birds

Yesterday the SUN appeared -- miracle!  I dashed down to the Fill to check on the hummingbird nest, and found the mother still on it.

Then she flew off several times and returned to feed the youngsters.  Sadly, there was a twig in the way, which made things blurry right where I didn't want them to be blurry, but you can sort of see the baby hummingbird's mouth opening to receive food in this shot:

I hope to get back there on Sunday to try for a better viewpoint.  There was a better view just a foot or so to my right, but it was occupied by my birder friend Doug and his tripod and camera, and he was not planning to leave any time soon.  But he wasn't going to go there on Sunday, so I hope to snag that prime spot for a non-blurry-twig shot.

Back home, Truman and I enjoyed the early afternoon sunshine, which warmed up the yard enough for lounging.

Good times!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Rain Rain Go Away

Average total rainfall in Seattle from October 1 to March 15:  around 26 inches.

Total rainfall in Seattle from October 1, 2016 to March 15, 2017:  over 36 inches.

Number of completely clear sunny days (not partials -- thank goodness we've had those) in Seattle since October 1:  three.

Yes, that's right.  Three.  It was on KOMO news, so it must be true, right?

This is Truman looking out the front window, wondering when the rain will end:

And this is Truman after I read him the forecast for the next four days:

I'll admit that this Winter has been tougher to deal with than my first Winter in retirement.  I was able to get out and about more then.  Being housebound has been challenging.  I did enjoy the needlepoint project very much, but all that intensely close work made my neck hurt.   As for going somewhere to sketch indoors, that mostly means People, and you know how I feel about sketching People.  Blah.

I did get out yesterday for my annual eye exam (where everything was tickety-boo), and they let me hang out in the exam room for a little while afterwards so I could draw one of the cool pieces of equipment:

This morning a friend wants to meet up at Starbuck's, so I guess I will go there and draw People.  Blah.

Truman will just have to stay home and mope while staring out the window, which is precisely what he is doing right now.