Is it Spring yet? No…but I can still paint it.
Spring births slowly here on the Puget Sound. and it takes its time. Usually, the coldest part of winter is pretty much over by early January, and is heralded by the blooming of the Fragrant Sweetbox bush by the front door, whose tiny flowers exude a gigantic jasmine-like scent that carries all over the yard. Temperatures climb into the high 40s and 50s during the day, without much wind, and even the rain is lovely and soft.
But it has been a chilly winter for the PNW this time around, and surprisingly reminiscent of the winters I remember on the East Coast. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but then I hate the cold so much that anything below 40° is agony for me.
The Sweetbox bloomed later than usual, but it got there. And the heather on our front hill is now teasing with faint pink and white buds moving slowly towards opening.
And the lambs! We live across the way from a farm, and watch the sheep, goats, and cows all year long. A sure herald of spring, the lambs have finally begun to arrive, in pairs, singles, and occasional triplets (those poor mamas!), already frolicking together, not too far from their mothers’ watchful eyes.
Spring will continue until the end of June, if things move as I hope. Into July, if not.
While I continue to wait for warmer temps, longer daylight, and the coming blooms, I have been amusing myself with looking through spring paintings I have done. These Merganser ducks are migratory and only spend part of the year with us in Port Orchard. In spring, they come to breed and raise their ducklings. I haven’t seen them yet this year.
“Cold Morning Swim”
Oil on board, 11″ x 14 “
200 total views, 1 views today
02/13/2023 @ 7:30 pm
The Mergansers are a favorite this time of year. We have quite a few already. Lots more through May is what I recall.
02/14/2023 @ 12:14 pm
I never saw one before moving to the Puget Sound, so I didn’t know how large their habitat is, or anything about them. Beautiful birds…
02/14/2023 @ 8:15 am
Ducks! Birds–always great subject choice 🙂 Are you thinking of a series? I loved your description of early spring and am envious. Except for a minus twelve day and a half, winter in NE has been weirdly warm with teeny one inch snows that melt before you have to shovel.
Are hunting permits required in your state? They are here, and MA holds a yearly competition for a duck painting to feature on the permit. The winning artist gets lots of money, I forget how much, but something in the thousands. Everyone keeps telling me to enter it, and sometimes I do think about it, but then the image of hunters blowing away ducks with my painting pinned to their hunting vests squashes that. I’m guessing you feel the same, but if not, you could enter your mergansers as we get them in MA too.
Any lamb paintings in the chute? I am here for the lamb paintings 🙂
02/14/2023 @ 12:36 pm
I thought this one might catch your eye. 🙂
Actually I’ve done many bird paintings over the last few years, but usually other stuff has come between each painting so I never thought of them as a series per se. Your question made me go and look for all of them.
I’m actually working on a painting that includes a pileated woodpecker, for an Ars Poetica event coming up in April.
02/14/2023 @ 2:44 pm
Yowsa, Rose, these are lovely. The great blue heron is a real coup. So is your water treatment in that last girl duck.
I’m in big love with corvids, so my favorite is the pair strolling down the sidewalk, owning it. There’s a gang, maybe a dozen individuals, who live on a section of my daily walk route, and I got to know several during the times when everyone was shut in during covid. Corvids in covid 🙂 There are two that when I stand under a tree they are in and stare right at them, they stare right back. I can’t tell if they’re curious or telling me to keep moving buddy.
I also really like your Rousseau leaf treatment in the flamingo painting. It would be neat to see a dedicated leaves painting. I’ve been following the Society of Botanical Illustrators on IG because when they post, it improves my day twenty percent. They’re incredibly skilled at detail, also master designers of the page. In case you don’t follow them, I’ll DM you their link.
02/14/2023 @ 6:19 pm
Ha! I’m so glad you noticed the leaves in the Flamingos painting. I was going for exactly that- I love Monsieur Rousseau’s leaves!
I realized, looking at all of these together, that seven of these paintings sold almost immediately after they were finished, including that heron and the flamingos (which had to dry before the buyer could have it).
(Note to self: you prolly should do more birdies iffin you want to make some money for art supplies.)
As to your question about hunting licenses- if Washington State’s requirements for hunters is anything like how it is for fisherman, then are are forms, rules and regulations up the wazoo.
I just looked- there’s a book…and permits, stamps, tags, and a safety certification test.
I have no issue with people who hunt and eat what they kill. We who prowl the supermarkets are too far removed from the sources of our meat to keep in mind that all animals we eat have to die first. It would be hypocritical to condemn those who are willing to do it for themselves.
All of which makes me wish I could be a vegetarian but I’m not there yet.
Yep, sounds like I would love those botanical illustrators. I follow a group named something like that on FB but haven’t seen anything from them in a while. And that could certainly be the inscrutable FB algorithm anyway.
02/14/2023 @ 7:49 pm
I love those Rousseau paintings too…you prolly know that he never left France and the jungles were his houseplants. Seventeen views of a philodendron.
Hear you abt the hunting, and agree, except I haven’t eaten a bird since 1973, and it might kill me to kill one. Hunting is pretty restrained in MA, various critters in various seasons, and nothing outside of that. I have a largish bone collection though. Once a creature’s passed, I’ll pick them up, drag them home, and draw them. I have two tupperware containers filled with owl pellets; every now and then, pull one apart and draw little vole vertebrae.
The SoBI is a UK group. Brits are master renderers of flora and fauna, seems it’s an honored tradition there, maybe like their gardening. Sir David Attenborough has one of the more important collections of natural history illustration, saw him interviewed with it somewhere. He was purchasing a bird print, and I thought oh man, Sir David, you can have one of mine for free, if we can sit by your stone fireplace and you tell me stories about sloths and kiwis and rhinos.
What are you working on now? I just started the final of the Adam and Eve blackbird crabapple smackdown (posted the sketch on IG), my first Renaissance Dutch still life mash-up. A friend saw it the other day, said no one will ever get it in a million years. That’s fine 🙂
02/16/2023 @ 4:46 am
Mergus Merganser makes you feel happy like an old time movie & would I consult Book of Stealth O yeah of course why not tap through ple*thor*a what the DUCK here I go again lime rinds rhymes rains it pours whatever color good to the road atlas drop back on top Flag Day little high little low drake’s eye when you’re smiling about to flutter a little silhouetto all known clouds salt-foam white snow don’t fly aswirls alive melts upon blue lit candle glass the color of dusk to dawn half my life whirled jet stream dream all in a row deaf wayfarer wanderlust whoa as Raquel Welch hipped the turnstile love eyes right now remember? Crushed granite Gibraltar twix shower soles that immense downdraft swooped as though St. Peter nordic-like pushed and pulled his trapdoor nation ALLITERATION I yelled (free at last) although my cold decade coat muffles the sticks and stones as they cut me till I cried out REALLY? Perhaps a parenthetical end: rainbow arched dolphin leapt penultimate silence ~~~ we slept.
02/16/2023 @ 11:33 am
Hello JP, thanks for reading this. 🙂
02/16/2023 @ 12:08 pm
Bones! Your collection sounds pretty cool.
I’ve been fishing countless times and hate the part where the fish dies.
If I’m not going to eat it, I throw it back alive or give it away.
On Long Island, we used to go fishing for snappers (baby bluefish) on the South Shore. Besides being plentiful and pretty easy to catch, snappers are lovely to eat. No license required. A lot of local people fed their families that way during snapper season. If we saw that where we were fishing, we would keep our “extras” and offer them to the other fisherfolk. We were never turned down.
I did not know that about Sir David, but it’s really not surprising, is it? The man is an icon.
Part of the charm of Rousseau’s work is knowing how limited his experience of the world was and still he was brash enough to paint it. He perpetuated the notion that he was unschooled in art but that turns out to be not true. He just didn’t “get” perspective or anatomy, giving his work a truly outsider feel…thought he could work it by careful measurements which didn’t exactly translate to a 2-dimensional surface. I think his imagination, idiosyncratic approach and his handling of color are wonderful.
What am I working on now? Well…lots of hand-built clay doodads. I’m making berry bowls and some mugs and other kinds of dishes. Trying different clay bodies and glazes…my kiln is for what’s called “low fire” work, meaning it only goes to about cone 04 (1960° F – still pretty fekking hot) so that limits me a bit as to what kinds of clay bodies and glazes I can use. It’s fine. The possibilities are still vast. I am still a rank beginner and have a long ways to go.
Gonna run the kiln tomorrow or Saturday. The thrill of opening it the next day is for me one of the great pleasures of life.
I do have a painting on the easel, half finished, a pileated woodpecker on the side of a house, banging away at the copper downspout. Needs to be finished by the end of March, so I have plenty of time.
Not being a procrastinator, I am not troubled by the time frame. I have two other surfaces ready to go for the next two paintings after that. A Puget Sound water view, and an old military storage building at a park that used to be a fort. The building painting is all about the huge rusty and lichen- covered door.
02/16/2023 @ 4:31 pm
He’s 92 but I’d still agree to be Mrs. Attenborough, that voice 🙂
Speaking of age, wasn’t Rousseau kinda up in years when he started painting, like Cezanne? I’ll google…..brb. Hah! He was forty when he first started, 49 when he quit his day job to paint full time. Perspective and methods of traditional realism take more than a couple years to learn. Knowing how to underpaint and glaze can mess some artists up, and just digging in instead can produce remarkable works. One of my favorite artists is Howard Finster, and he used old housepaint.
Your kiln Christmas sounds fun. If you made some crow bowls I bet they’d be hot sellers. I used to audit a wheel-working class at my college, the same class over and over for several years. Kiln day was the best– sometimes a goopy glazed heavy bottom bowl, sometimes a keeper. Plus, unlike handmade linen French paper, clay is cheap, and you can recycle your lumpy mistakes.
My fishing story. I adored my grandfather, who was an avid fisherman. When I was about 8, he took me out–little aluminum boat, cooler, tackle box, a small rod for me. I caught a few tiny sunnies, which he threw back, but he scored a few trout, and put them in the cooler where they thrashed and flapped around. I couldn’t bear it so when his back was turned, even knowing he’d be angry at me, I opened the cooler and slipped them back in the water. He never took me fishing again, which was actually a good thing. I should have just turned vegetarian then, the signs were all there.
Looking forward to the rusty lichen door!
02/16/2023 @ 6:06 pm
I do enjoy your responses. 🙂
As many as I can make of these little crow bowls, they all sell. Them and the octopus things.
02/16/2023 @ 8:05 pm
LOVE them crow bowls!! You are ten steps ahead of me, and of course everybody wants one. Imagining spaghetti in the octopus bowl…or cheerios!
Also enjoying our ongoing dialogs 🙂
02/17/2023 @ 3:47 am
ROsie OU are welcome! I spun the Blue Badger Blizzard Blues hoping to catch ‘Wildfire’ on the radio with thoughts of Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Seriously ought to have caught a Greyhound … albeit finally flicked through a focused dash film cam’eod of the O!My!G.oo.dness! ‘dem stalwart Billy Mitchell Field [MKE] SNOWPLOW CREWS poignantly harmoniously (lights*lights*lights) (once upon a time) synchronized to Sam Cooke: ‘I was born by the river In a little tent-Oh, and just like the river, I’ve been running.-Ever since…’ This time tomorrow Beulah and I intend to be smoothing out the world’s largest evah SNOWRABBIT centered on deeply iced Lake Geneva. (Huge round ball EyEs!) Photo OPs. Holly-Jolly. Sound over: Guantanamera. 1st prize is $500 in JFK half-dollars ~~~~~~~
4sure the Candy-Colored Clown beckons LO;}
02/19/2023 @ 2:49 am
Love how you use language to make the incongruous not just possible, but visible.
DECEMBER 18, 2013 11:05 AM