Our Squirrel Buddy

Last week I was sitting outside and enjoying the hot and humid weather we were having. I noticed our neighborhood squirrel was paying us a visit. He quietly made his way towards me and hopped onto one of two bird baths we have in our garden.

This was the first time I have seen a squirrel on our bird bath. I was curious to see if he was going to take a dip to cool off. This little fella was keeping an eye on me.

No bath today. He must have been quite thirsty.

Our First Snow of the Year

Our furry friend striking a pose for me

The snow is pretty to look at. You can see from the picture how the snow has settled nicely on our tree.

Yes, I enjoy taking pictures of our neighborhood squirrels. I plan on creating a few watercolor or pen and ink sketches of our furry friends.

A rare snapshot with two furry buddies. Normally, they would chase each other around our yard.

More Beach Life!

We have been experiencing overcast cloudy days since we arrived at the beach. Added to the 40 degree daily high along with the 8-10mph winds, it was doggone cold when we walked along the beach and even along the boardwalk.

One early morning the sun appeared! We knew it was the right day to go exploring!

We took a drive and ended up on Assateague Island. Here the beach is wide with plenty of sand dunes.

There is something about watching the waves and listening to them crash against the surf.

I enjoyed seeing the footprints in the sand

We had a lot of photo ops on the beach.

Watching the water erase the footprints

It was so peaceful to wander along the beach. Except for a handful of people, we had the beach to ourselves.

We headed south to find some trails. We were on the second trail and a beautiful Assateague pony came out of the woods and startled us.

We gave enough space for this wild pony to wander in front of us. I was thankful to already have my camera lens set at the right distance and managed to capture this magnificent pony before moving away from us.

As we were heading out towards the parking lot, another pony was on the trail ahead of us and we had to step off the trail to let the pony walk by.

Two wild ponies arriving at the entrance of the trail
Looking back at each other

I still have a few pictures to add about our adventure. Will be right back!

Squirrel Shenanigans

I’m taking a break from my hobbies and decided to write about funny things that surround me. Hubby and I are always laughing about something. Stories we share of funny things that happen while he’s at work or for me while at home.

So I grabbed my camera. Oh. That’s a hobby. I suppose I’m not taking a break after all. I saw our neighborhood squirrels gathering around. Looking for something to eat. Naturally, they stopped in our yard.

Here’s a picture for you to create your own caption/thought:

What was the first thought that came to your mind when you saw this picture? Something funny, right?

Squirrels are clever. They are silly too. Some are bold and wait for me to come within inches before they run off. Hubby gently says to me “you know, they might jump on you”. Now he tells me.

This one is clever. He can’t get to the food source at the center of this bird feeder. He does reach across and “scoops” the remnant pieces of seeds close to his mouth. At least he’s getting some exercise.

We have several bird feeders scattered around our yard. This will be our first time feeding the birds through the winter months. I’m looking forward to seeing who shows up and getting some photo ops. In the meantime, squirrels will have to do.

I had a funny feeling that we were playing a game of “red light, green light” and when I pointed my camera, he just “froze” in place. Hahaha!
Poor guy! He’s frustrated that he can’t get to the caged feed cake, while his buddy decides to climb up to the open platform feeder.
He’s finally figured it out, but not for long. The squirrel eventually pushes from the bottom and the feed cake moves up and away from his reach.
I enjoy watching them go up and down and getting a good workout.

Eventually the squirrels get frustrated/tired and leave. A few minutes later, the birds arrive.

Coming in for a landing!
I think this one is having a bad hair day.
The smaller birds feel safe inside this wide cage.
This one likes to “grab and go” with his seed selection.
I see you!

This slim feeder is a favorite for the larger birds (blue jays and cardinals) and it’s also somewhat squirrel proof. When the heavy squirrel grabs the wire cage, the cage slides down and covers the openings.

I’ll be back later with additional pictures. Enjoy your day!

The Start of Another Art Class: Color Explorations – Working with Oils

Before my next art class started I received an email suggesting I bring photos to work from.  If I did not have any, the art center would have some available.  We are supposed to be working with three mediums:  oils, acrylics, and pastels.  Should be a long, but interesting week.  

We are having class on the second floor of the art center.  It’s an open room with tables setup in the middle.  I see there are suppose to be a total of six students taking the class.  I strategically pick a seat at a corner of the table and not in the middle.  Since we’ll be working with several mediums including painting I want to make sure I have enough elbow room.  

I brought two photos with me.  One was a coneflower and the other was the infamous habanero peppers from Grand Cayman.  On instinct, I selected the pepper picture to use during class.  I wasn’t too sure how much time we would spend on each medium and so I thought peppers could be quickly drawn.  

I was watching the other younger students pick out landscape scenes that include beaches and mountains.

Our art instructor tonight was Emily.  She also taught the Drawing Explorations class I took back in May.  

We were given sketch paper (8×10) and told to do a rough sketch of our photo.  Once that was completed we had to flip our paper over and cover most of paper with graphite.  Ahhhh…we are going to trace our design onto our canvas.  Clever.

I carefully placed my sketch paper over my 8×10 canvas and drew the outlines of my peppers.  Here’s what I ended up with:  

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Next, Emily did a demonstration on how to prime our canvas with a light brushing of burnt sienna and a small mix of walnut alkyd (thins the paint and increases drying time).  Like giving the canvas a good light wash of color.  That way we are not staring at a white canvas.  So merrily I went with my brush across my canvas only to find that it was not a light brushing I produced.  I guess I have a heavy hand tonight.  I could barely see the outlines of my peppers.  No worries.  I know these peppers very well and could probably draw them with my eyes closed.  

Our first official instruction was to paint the dark values first.  Emily showed us how to mix the colors from the standard tubes we were given.  We were using M. Graham oil paints.  In our set was the basic Ultramarine Blue, Naphthol Red, Azo Yellow, Titanium White, and Pthalo Green.  The paint consistency is very smooth.  There was also tubes of brown available for us to use.  M. Graham paints are walnut-oil based and are non-toxic.  Solvent free.  Very much artist quality. Interesting.   

I grabbed some Ultramarine blue and burnt sienna and mixed a dark color for the shadows under and around the peppers.  For the shadows, I added some color to give a slight reflection of color under each pepper.  Once done, I squinted at my peppers to find their dark values.  I saw a dark green with blue, dark orange with a bit of red, and dark purple with some red.  I mixed my colors and made sure I had enough so I could complete the peppers.  

I worked the dark values over the peppers.  Before I knew it, it was time to clean up before class ended for the night.  We dipped our brushes into the walnut oil and cleaned out as much paint as we could.  Then we went over to the sink and used Dawn detergent to get the remaining paint out of the brushes.  

Unfortunately, my painting looked a bit weird/wonky and I forgot to take a picture of it at this stage.  

My take away from class:  the walnut oil is used to remove color from the brushes and also increases the flow and slows the drying process of the paint.  The walnut alkyd medium thins the color and accelerates the drying and enhances the adhesion between layers.  It also increases surface sheen.  Must remember to go lightly with the initial wash of color over the canvas.  

Canvas used:  8″ x 10″

Colorful Art: Pastels

For the past three months, I have been experimenting with different art mediums.  I would not have been able to do that without the help of the classes offered at my local art center.  I was able to dabble in graphite, charcoal, colored pencils, more charcoal and expanding my knowledge, acrylic painting on lotus leaves, oil painting, and pastels.  That is a lot of experimentation in a short amount of time.

I enjoy working with colors and mixing basic paint colors.  There is something soothing about creating new colors on a palette or plate.  While I like to paint, it is not my favorite medium.  For me it takes too long to setup or prep my painting area.  I am using a temporary space within my home as I have not carved out a studio area.

My past experience has been when I am ready to draw, I need to start quickly.  Grab my paper and graphites and start my creativity.   It is all about keeping the momentum going.  Oh and not think about it too much.  Just Do It!

This leads me to the topic of my post.  Colorful Art.  As in Pastels.  I think I found my favorite art medium.   How could I tell?  It’s that feeling I get when the right side of my brain tells my hand to go with it.  Be creative.  Draw what I see.  Don’t think.  Be fearless.

As you already know I like drawing from my photographs (since I own the copyright) and since I am intrigued with glassware, I thought why not draw something I like.  I knew which picture would be a good challenge for me.

I applied the pastels on paper and created this:

art_champagne_cork_pastel_9185

I was taken back at what I created.  Kind of like having a “wow” moment to myself.  That was when I knew I found my favorite medium.

Here’s the next stage of the drawing where I laid down the background colors:

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I need to do better in my previous posts and provide a picture of what I am drawing from.  Here’s my work in progress (with included source picture):

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Once I finish this drawing, I will be back and post the final pictures.  I will also be providing a review/post of the pastel I used.  Stay tuned!

Paper used:  Kona toned paper (11″ x 14″)

Playing with Pastels

I think I have found a new art medium that is just as much fun as drawing with graphite.  I was looking for another art medium where I can work with colors.  Something that I could cover the large areas of paper.  Quickly and easily.  PASTELS!

I was looking online and found an inexpensive set of pastels.  I am a person who firmly believes “you get what you paid for”, but I found a really good deal on a set of 24 Prismacolor Nupastel sticks for under $12.

So, I gave them a try.  All I can say is Wow!

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I worked on layering the colors.  I actually went from light to dark values on this apple and then applied some white for the highlights.

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Does this look familiar?

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Remember I had taken a picture of a still life from class (drawing explorations)?   I have been using it when I practice with different art mediums.

I had an enjoyable time using the Nupastels.  More to come!

Paper used:  Kona toned paper (11″ x 14″)

A Few Practice Drawings

I took a picture of a floral pitcher that I had sitting on my mantle.  It was the shape of the pitcher more than the floral design on it that spoke to me and said “draw me”.  Well, the floral design was keeping me from drawing the darker tones of the pitcher correctly.  So I squinted.  Oh, there’s a shadow on the handle.  You get the picture.

Here’s my graphite interpretation:

art_pitcher_graphite_8723

Then I decided that I needed a charcoal version of the pitcher.  I squinted some more and produced this:

art_pitcher_charcoal_8642

I left the charcoal lines in this drawing to show the contrast better.  Otherwise, I would have smeared it to soften between the light and dark areas.

Before I decided to take a class this year, I was making a few attempts at drawing.  Here’s a barrel done in graphite:

art_barrel_graphite

I have always been fascinated with pictures of glassware.  I never thought I would venture into drawing it.  I studied a few pictures I took over the years and figured it could not be too hard to draw.  Kind of like draw what you see.  Right?

With that in mind, here’s my rendering from my picture:

art_champagne_glass_pic_graphite_8520

I still need quite a bit of practice with drawing perspectives and mostly with circles and ovals.  The only way to conquer this is to keep drawing and learning.

Papers used:  Canson sketch paper