Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Interview

photo: Ken McGagh
An article about me and my sketching appeared in the newspaper the other day. During the interview they took some pictures and video and we got to sit by the river on a beautiful sunny day and talk about Art for an hour or more. Not bad work if you can get it!
Thanks to Metrowest Daily News reporter Chris Bergeron for taking an interest in me and my work!
I drew this view of the dam a day after the hurricane passed through town. The water's too swift for dabbling ducks but the heron  would magically appear, grab a fish and magically disappear to a hidden place  to swallow his meal.
08-29-11 colored pencil
© 2011 Rob Dunlavey


08-29-11, colored pencil
© 2011 Rob Dunlavey

Saturday, August 27, 2011

City & Suburb

Boston CIty Hall Plaza, 08-26-11
I found myself in Boston briefly yesterday afternoon and had an hour to fill while my daughter had a  rendezvous with a friend at Faneuil Hall. I could spend all day trying to draw views of the city. If I lived there, I would do topographical renderings of the buildings and spaces.  I don't think I would tire of it at all. But I don't live there. I live close to a river instead.
South Natick Dam, 08-27-11
I draw the river a lot. I was there for over an hour this morning drawing this view of the dam. I love the loud rush of the water and the occasional views of the wildlife have their business below the dam. The heron was in the middle of a circuit around the island and I also spied one of the young mergansers. They are very frisky birds that dive and hunt underwater. I wish I could have included the flock of mallards that zoomed above me to the pool above the dam. They just kept on coming. I wonder if they have premonitions of the impending hurricane?

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Log

Recent heavy rains have rearranged the driftwood at the dam. One log was swept away and another has gotten stuck at the top. Four mallards and one busy sandpiper like the change. The rate of change seems to accelerate at this time of the Summer… Autumn is a little more than an idea.
A big log has become stranded on the top of the dam. Four mallards rest and preen on top of it. The partial shape in the foreground is a "fish ladder" for migratory fish to swim upriver.
© 2011 Rob Dunlavey

This morning I saw a tiny sandpiper poking around in the riffles just below the log.
© 2011 Rob Dunlavey

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Canada Lake

I'm sitting on a dock early in the morning drawing the water and the distant hills. Two specks float into my field of view. What are they? Small birds perhaps …or a loon maybe?

They are two insanely small spiders about a foot from my nose and they are parachuting through space from a tree on the shore. They do not know fear. It's that simple. I think they are unable to experience this emotion which I am all-too familiar with. They just cast out a line and step out on the morning currents. What if they land in the water? In the grand scale of evolutionary time, the fact that a wooden dock or a human (me) is there to intercept these spiders, is completely undependable.

At least one of the spiderlings was lucky: I saw it scuttling away on the page of my sketchbook. I blew a little and sent it on its merry way.



As dawn gave way to morning, the lake became the stage for other animals on different errands. These boaters motored along like arrows to get bread, milk and the newspaper from the local store at the far end of the lake. Their only problem, from a cosmic perspective is that they knew where they were going. What if they, like the spiders, stepped out on the currents and let the breezes take them to a new shore? Could they walk on water like Jesus?

Nice day for a walk!

Canada Lake 08-17-11
© 2011 Rob Dunlavey
colored pencil


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Perspective

Several days of rain have added to the water budget in my neighborhood (unlike the country's economic budget, Nature's is logical). The river is carrying a big load of water today which is a stark contrast to the usual lazy August scene. In low water, ducks, geese and herons and the two young mergansers rest, fish and dabble in pools and riffles. Now they've all been chased to calmer waters by the torrent. I love the rush of the water but I miss the birds.

However, there are plenty of frogs above the dam and the water is less murky. Of course, I do not actually see the frogs; I just see a swish and a swirl and a suggestion of their presence. I wonder if they appreciate the blowsy yet elegant flowering mallows and other late summer plants growing along the stone wall above the dependable duckweed that obscures their periscopic goggle-eyes…
I guess it's all a matter of one's perspective.

Mallow, Hemlock?, a unidentified grass and Cat tail (Typhus latifolia) growing in the water above the dam
© 2011 Rob Dunlavey 8/11/11, colored pencil 
High water rushes over the dam obscuring  the pools and rocks where fish and herons hunt
© 2011 Rob Dunlavey 8/11/11, crayon

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

White noise

Low water and a heron at the base of the dam
conté pencil 8/8/11
Yesterday morning I sat above the dam on the opposite side near the fish ladder. The sound of the water pouring over the dam canceled out most of the other sounds. The high-pitched bird songs got through but the growls of the commuters and trucks were subsumed in the white noise. I often wonder what the heron's experience is like fishing up close to the torrent. Does the white noise help it focus on the fleeting fish as they dart and dance before him?

Looking downstream toward the bridge. There was so much happening with the light and reflections! I fail every time to draw it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mmmmm… slime!

a group of geese dabbling in the shallow water and mud
© Rob Dunlavey 2011 crayon, watercolor
While observing and drawing this group of geese feeding near the muddy edge of the river a few mornings ago, I met some men heading out on a short canoe ride upriver. They were so pleasant and comfortable to be around. Just a couple of good ol' boys: cameras and paddles in hand and many miles of river covered between them.

Making Nature central to your time spent on this planet is a good thing.


The geese, of course could care less. They ignored us completely and eventually meandered over to the top of the dam to have their morning toilette. A little slice of summer.
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