Sunday, February 19, 2012


These fish live in a pool in the Wellesley College greenhouses which I visited yesterday morning.

It's had to draw the constantly swimming creatures.

I would draw a basic shape and return to it when the fish returned

This deep red fish breaks the water's surface


Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Silk Mill Dam

A view of the Charles River and the mill buildings at Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts.
Feb. 4, 2012
The Silk Mill Dam in Newton Upper Falls is a two-tiered affair with the water cascading over the initial edge and then off of a shelf below. You can see the side channel (is this what is called a millrace?) to the left of the main flow.

Below this dam, the Charles River enters Hemlock Gorge with its steep banks and stately hemlock trees (this is a public reservation with parking available for hikers and picnickers). A beautiful stone bridge, called "Echo Bridge" soars over the intimate gorge. The sensitive acoustics under the arching span are quite remarkable. It would be interesting to sing or play a musical instrument underneath it. Maybe on Halloween night or when it's foggy…!

Click here for a map.

Echo Bridge (photo by Doug Cornelius)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Cruelest Month

"A dead frozen swan, Lake Waban"

By this time of Winter, when Spring seems just around the corner, life in the world beyond our front doors is getting desperate. Forage is scarce and delivers less energy for the amount of work expended to get it. The bodily reserves (fat) of most animals is nearly depleted. A huge expenditure of energy is looming too: Spring mating. This swan had gradually separated itself from the larger group that calls Lake Waban home. For several weeks it lackadaisically foraged in a quiet corner of the lake, a nook that freezes over before the rest of the lake. After a week or so of this behavior, it died and lay frozen on the ice near the shore.

It was odd to see the solitary swan poking around in the roots and muck along the edge. It looked so serene dabbling in the dark, cold water. But it didn't look well. As I drew this posthumous portrait this morning, a man struck up a conversation and said that he had seen this swan two days ago. The water was frozen and the swan rested on the ice with its head down. He clapped his hands and it raised its head but didn't really move. Was it sick, old …lovelorn?

I imagine the body will winter here, frozen in place until the lake can reclaim one of its most majestic residents.

a small log tossed on the ice to see how strong it was

The dead swan


Monday, February 6, 2012

Good Light

Sunlit greenhouse
Winter is just the best time of year to spend in a greenhouse or conservatory. And the best time of day to be in a greenhouse in the winter is late afternoon when the light streams in through the frosted windows. The light just billows in and reflects everywhere and comes out in little glowing patches. It all seems alive in a kind of passive way. Very solar. And then the sun begins to decline and the magic drains away. Bye. Time to get serious and button up.

I had about thirty minutes to make this sketch yesterday.
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