Friday, April 14, 2017

Countdown to Spring

04-05-17 detail
Hooray! The geese are pairing up. They are camping out and picking out curtains for the babies' room. Soon, the park will be home to toddling goslings. Grackles rush back and forth across the river; how these mobs disappear as soon as they encounter tree branches intrigues me. there streamlined black birds are not silent as they fidget on their twiggy perches. And then they blast off again.

Robins of course rule the season at all levels of my interaction with them: in trees, up on wires and branches, and the fascinating chess game they play on the greening lawns. They chatter and sing from sunup to sundown.

The river roars past in a full Spring spate, fishermen tentatively test the quieter eddies for fishy nibbles. Some are rehearsing. Others are acting.

Two Canada Geese
charcoal, ink
Canada Goose
charcoal, ink
colored pencil, ink, charcoal

Saturday, April 1, 2017

March Birds

We say "Hello!" to April by looking back at a few birds seen in the past few weeks of March. Contrary to the folk adage, March is going out the way it came in: roaring like a snowy and sodden lion. The new season takes it all in stride: robins flit giddily and troops of grackles suddenly take over and move into places they haven't visited in months. Perhaps as Spring wanes and Summer settles in they won't need each other's noisy encouragement so much. But I welcome the advent of birdsong– even though it's accompanied by a lusty pelting of wet snow.

ink wash, charcoal
ink wash, oil stick, charcoal
ink, charcoal
ink, charcoal, crayon

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Claude Monet

I just read a fun book about Claude Monet. Ross King's "Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies" dives into Monet's personality and circle of friends in the period of the first World War and the painting for his grand decoration: the prodigious cycle of water lily paintings.

So, I've gotten Monet on the brain a little as I draw and dabble in the studio and elsewhere. Ross King's other art historical books are entertaining and I always recommend them. Even his short-ish biography of Machiavelli (not exactly an art historical figure) is fascinating reading. 
chalk, colored pencil, charcoal
crayon, ink
charcoal, ink
inkm charcoal

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sings of Spring

The days are becoming longer and there is a certain quality in the air. It's an attribute that seems to herald the warmer weather of Spring. But for now we just have this "quality": some mist in the air catching the light, tree buds swell just a little more and catching the light in a different way.

And this morning, something very special: the furtive scamperings seen in broken sunlight and newly occupied shadows of a mammal on the island below the dam. I think it was a weasel; it seemed too small and fast to be a fisher cat. What on earth was this fellow doing on the tiny island surrounded by rushing water? I wonder. I saw this same phenomenon 1-2 years ago: a noticed change in the patterns and a suggestion of some contrary indicated motion. A scrambling and frantic wriggling, lithe and purposeful like a fish trying ascend the dam. You should have seen it. Here and gone.

ink, charcoal
ink, charcoal
ink, charcoal

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Big Birds

Despite the snow and ice (and my winter aches and pains), the birds are more getting active as the days grow longer. There is singing and territorial intrigues in the bushes and undergrowth. Hawks and falcons are lingering within striking distance of bird feeders. The swans ("Romeo and Juliet") hang around like nonplussed but obviously lustful teenagers. It would seem that winter weather is a passing thing and we shall not take it too seriously. And the earth spins on its tippy tilted axis and brings us all this entertainment. It's so simple. Yes it is.

A crow walking in the snow
charcoal, ink
A swan walking in the snow
mallards seen from above
ink, charcoal
solo swan
Swans and geese

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