Monday, October 29, 2012

Big Weather

In advance of the visit of Hurricane Sandy, the local wildfowl have come back to the dam. Since late summer, the ducks, geese and even the heron have been unpredictable neighbors. I hadn't realized how attached I had become to the ducks. I made many drawings from June to August in ink, pencil, charcoal and watercolor washes of the duck families that flourished from hatching to fledging. In August and September they moved on to other shores. I had to console myself with smaller birds and the prospect of only drawing the landscape.

I stopped in at the dam yesterday. I wondered if the animals might be about and maybe offer some clue to me that they too were on top of the weather forecast. I'll never know, but I do know that there was a small group of geese at the dam. I haven't seen this number since early summer. You can see my charcoal drawing below of the geese endlessly preening. They were joined by a pair of busy mallards.

Today, Monday, the winds are getting much stronger and mist and rain are coming down …sideways. But it wasn't too bad so I headed back down to the dam again to get an update on the coming spectacle. Big wind-driven cat's paw ripples raked the river's surface and foam was blowing up over the top of the dam. A romantic couple stood by the railing huddled and smiling. The woman was in a yellow slicker while her friend was without and looked quite romantically windblown and ruddy. The wind would take them both or not at all.

My attention was also fixed by three mallard couples (below) resplendent in new plumage feeding and fidgeting below the dam. Once again, I haven't seen congregations of mallards here since the young fledged back in August. I'd like to think that these pairs were part of summer's class.

A technical note: drawing in these conditions (wind and mist) is exciting because it alters how the charcoal goes down on the paper. Where there are drops of water on the paper, the dry media soaks up the water and makes a dark spot. So it's all scratchy. I like the effect.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I wish…

colored pencil
I wish I could draw all the reflections and ripples going on in the moving water's surface this morning. Breezes came up and made a corrugated mirror. Where the river slid over the dam, the water's skin stretched like taffy. It was a mirror made of taffy that reflected the morning sky, the colorful trees and aloof cirro-cumulus clouds making up their minds way up above the river. It all was simply …lovely.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Old Same Place

An old millstone in the park

The Fish Ladder at the dam

Leaves floating and fallen

The water's surface

The pool above the dam and reflections

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Life is a tangled affair!
Here are a few recent sketches of tangles or from tangles of vegetation.

Chances are, I think, if you find someone else in a tangle with you, you will have much to discuss and may find a deep connection with them. I would send notes abroad with the sparrows who call the tangle home. The notes might say "I'm not lost, I'm just spending time in this thicket. You're welcome to join me!"

The first thing I spotted was the bird nest in the honeysuckle bush below the tree trunks.

A woodland path near my house

In a tangle…

a misanthropic Wood Duck seen this morning at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Canada Goose
charcoal, ink, ink wash
Sept. 27, 2012
The dam is mostly deserted these days. An animal appears and makes a home for a few days and then they leave. I rejoiced when I saw this lone goose because I wasn't mentally ready to resume drawing the just the landscape around the dam. I wanted animals.

There are busy flocks of sparrows and some activity in the trees on the island but I wanted the happy ducks and the skulking heron. I wanted a landscape with animal energy and animal presence.
Perhaps it's time to look hard at my misanthropy (a mild case I assure you) and settle into the fact that winter is on its way and my subjects will change in response to the wild calling --or un-calling!

Bonne journée, I'm off to New York city for the day. I guess that's appropriate!
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