Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ten ducklings today!

colored pencil & watercolor

Well, they're hardly ducklings anymore! No parent in sight and they were all huddled together on these submerged granite blocks. I think this is the remains of the brood of twelve that I saw a few weeks ago. Two have left or gone to duck heaven.  After drawing this group for about 30 minutes, they hopped up one by one, and plopped into the water to dabble in front of the arches of the Pleasant Street Bridge. As I left they were below and into the flat, sparkling riffles below.

On another, mostly-unrelated note, I've been drawing (doodling) whimsical cars. Just for fun. I like taking a basic concept and running it through the art machine and seeing all the variations that I'm able to create until I just run out of gas. I like the thrill of discovery. Some of you may find it tedious and surely, we don't all need to know what goes into the sausage! So, proceed at your own risk and go here to see the big collection: "Les dessins d'automobiles".

And so on and so forth!
Bonne journée!

Friday, July 30, 2010


There is still one family of ducks that has stayed near the island below the dam. I guess it's reasonable to assume that the small island offers enough protection from predators (Which: turtles? large fish?). The proof is in the pudding: this mother and her brood of nine ducklings continue to explore and dabble in the pools and riffles of the river. A few weeks ago I studied a family with a dozen young but I haven't seen them since they went downstream below the arched bridge.

This group surprised me actually. I had become engrossed in drawing a heron and was alone with my thoughts when the duck family splashed into view. If you just sit still for a while and mind your business, you never know what you might be privileged to see.

The heron was graceful and comical. Without any regard for me, it gingerly stalked from rock to rock, at times carefully feeling the bottom of the riverbed. It positioned itself before a little "chute" of moving water and was soon eying the flow for fishy morsels. In quick succession, two small fish were caught and swallowed whole. These, of course quickly followed by a drink of water to wash it down (I wonder how long the fish live as they slide down that long heron throat… at times like this I'm glad I'm not a fish!). Eventually, he caught a larger fish and I observed the eating process again. I'll spare you the details but it does seem more difficult than actually catching the fish!

Here's a larger view of my heron sketch.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Low water

It's late-July and the water is very low in the Charles River. Here's a drawing in purple colored pencil that I made late last week. Near the rocks in the upper right at the face of the dam is a family of ducks: a mother and nine ducklings.
I sketched these very rapidly with ball point pen. The ducklings are in constant movement dabbling in the gentle swirling water. The mother is vigilant but relaxed.

We had a bit of rain yesterday but it has been rather dry this summer so it should be safe to raise a family of ducks at this small dam. There has been another duck family settling in; they have a dozen babies!
That's all for now

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rhode Island ducks

sketches of boats (and more) at Beavertail State Park overlooking Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island
Last weekend, my wife and I visited a couple of Connecticut galleries that are showing my work. On the way home, we detoured through Rhode Island and enjoyed a hot breezy afternoon overlooking Narragansett Bay. We could see Newport in the distance and by sunset, we were wandering along the famous Cliff Walk, ogling the mansions and imagining the gilded age they symbolize. Most seemed deserted for the weekend although there was a softball game happening at one of the estates that was in our price range. Perhaps the other owners were looking for cooler weather like us. Ironically, next to one of the larger mansions was smaller house in some disrepair. The grass was un-mowed and various objects were casually strewn about the back yard. Several people relaxed in lawn chairs and drank beer while the bbq grill emitted lazy tendrils of charcoal smoke. A man relieved himself in the bushes; the party must have been going on for a while.
The spelling is incorrrect: It should be "Narragansett"

I love drawing animals but always feel inept. I think I made a reasonable sketch of this fellow. His eyes were better than mine and soon, he'd plucked a crab from the waves and seaweed. The crab wasn't too happy about it and made several successful escapes. The gull kept at it and soon landed him. How'd you like to eat things that were in the habit of pinching your face?!

Speaking of birds and water, I can't end this post without following up on the ducklings I drew a few weeks ago near my house.
July 4, 2010

July 17, 2010

All twelve are still safe and growing. I resisted giving them names but I was reminded of one of my favorite children's books.

Have a wonderful summer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fish for dinner

My wife and I witnessed this Great Blue Heron catching and attempting to eat a large fish the other evening after a strenuous canoe trip on the Charles River.
The heron eventually succeeded after several unsuccessful attempts. The fish was larger than the heron's head and consuming it seemed to be a very specialized art that required precise placement, a little body english and a careful use of gravity to get the dinner to slide (awkwardly) down the hatch. I wonder what a good wine would be to serve with that?
Bon appetit Monsieur Heron!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The view downstream

I'm always here at the park by the dam early in the day. And this day the sun was glaring off the water as it flowed among the rocks in the now-shallow river. What's happening? Just a few months ago the water was as high as the arches of the old bridge!
July 2, 2010: Canada geese (colored pencil)
I don't think that the geese mind the low water flow of summer. It makes it easier for them to stand on top of the dam and tend to their plumage that always seems to need a little fixing.

Every once in a while, you see some careless goose or duck absent-mindedly get too close to the edge and they suddenly have to scramble back up or get airborne as the water sweeps them over the edge. We use to feed them and purposefully try to lure them to the edge: just to see what would happen. There were usually hungry ducks stationed downstream who benefited from our silly experiments.

It's early July. It's the middle of summer. The sun has stood still and now the days start their march back to the winter solstice; the days are getting shorter and canicules will come and go and eventually, the truly sweet days of summer will be here. Those late August days with low sun and cool nights. Can the bittersweet glories of September and la rentrée be far off? Get your seatbelts ready but don't latch them yet! The living is easy and life seems forgiving and green.
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