A little while ago, The Zen Birdfeeder tagged me with a meme; to name 5 new birds I'd like to see at my feeders. I could name plenty, if geography is no object, but to "keep it real" I'll stick to possibilities from our own area.
1. Painted bunting. I was delighted enough to see indigo buntings (which come through on migration for a couple of weeks in April every year,) but to spot one of these increasingly rare & incredibly colorful beauties would likely make me jump for joy. 2. Bald eagle. Of course, one of these at my feeders would indicate the loss of one of "the regulars," but they're such a rare sight in my life that I could live with that (besides, nature's red in tooth & claw.) 3. Great horned owl. Ditto on the sacrifice mentioned above. 4. Red-cockaded woodpecker. We've seen just about every other possible woodpecker out here. I'd be delighted to see one of these unfortunately endangered birds taking advantage of our yard in any way. 5. Wild turkey. Not just delicious, they're lovely to see in the wild.
In considering this meme, brown headed nuthatches came to mind. My regular readers know that we've had these delightful, little, endangered birds around in the past. Unfortunately we stopped seeing them after Hurricane Gustav blew through, which made me kind of sad. Ironically, leaving for work the day after I thought of them, I saw 2 of them pecking at a pine tree along our driveway. It seems that they ARE still around, after all & they're planning on nesting here again!
The bird pictured above is one of our regular, Winter visitors--a goldfinch in non-breeding plumage.
Many thanks to Shauna Roberts for bestowing this award on me. The Prémio Dardos is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web. Unfortunately I must now break one of its rules, as don't have time to forward it to 15 others. I've barely had time to blog lately, to be honest.
My primary focus right now is getting ready for my February stint as "Artist of the Month" at Mandeville City Hall. The Mayor's been in a lot of hot water lately (see here,here, here, here or here,) so maybe his misfortune will translate into an exposure boon for me. This past Tuesday I cut a consignment deal with Half Moon Gardens for some of my paintings. Hopefully that will prove to be a fortunate deal for both of us. This past Wednesday I had 2 of my snow photos from last month printed on the cover of the latest edition of Alternatives magazine. Tomorrow I have a meeting of "Abita Artists" at the library (where I work.) Tuesday I have to meet with the Bayou Lacombe Art Center board of directors re; their website (which they've hired me to work on.) I need to clarify some things before I can do much more. There's also been the almost daily e-mails, research, inquiries & submissions for this, that & the other thing, not to mention that I'm working on a painting based on a photo I took of a black sand beach on the Tasman Sea in New Zealand; I've also had extra shifts at the library over the past couple of weeks (including the busiest day I've ever had there,) so life has been incredibly hectic lately. I miss seemingly longer, lazier days of sitting on my deck, sipping margaritas & watching birds. I must make time for that again. Soon.
A recent commenter suggested that I share my painting process. I'd been hesitant to do so, partly because of a natural resistance to show unfinished work & partially because of a feeling akin to "a magician never reveals their secrets." I thought about it for a while & realized that the commenter was right. I'm not actually a magician, after all.
Step 1; Choose a subject & a canvas. I picked this photo I took at the Flatwoods, (previously included in a SkyWatch post,) & a 12x16" canvas.
Step 2; Choose tools. For the background, I've chosen a 2" house painting brush & my favorite, 3/4" flat brush. Acrylic paints; titanium white, cadmium orange, alizarin crimson, prussian blue & dioxazine purple. I use lids from plastic containers as pallets, as we always have plenty of them, the lip on the edge keeps thinned paints contained & they clean up fairly easily (even after the paint has dried.) The washcloth is for blotting my brushes (to remove excess color or water.) I also put newspaper down. Most painters paint vertically on an easel. I prefer to paint flat on a table. This allows me to use thin washes of paint without them dripping down the canvas. The next photo shows the result of the 1st painting session. I left the bottom of the canvas blank, as that will be filled in later. During the 2nd painting session I darkened up the top part of the sky & scumbled in the details in the lower part (the pink cloud edges & the breaks in the clouds,) with small- & medium-sized round brushes. Looking at the photo, I noticed that a small bit of the bottom of the sunset had some yellow in it, so I threw down a wash of cadmium yellow. In the last painting session, I added the ground & trees in mars black, using a couple of small, round brushes. I also painted the outside edges of the canvas black to make it suitable for hanging without a frame.
"Sunset at the Flatwoods" 16x12" acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas (sold Nov. 7, 2009.)
Sunday afternoon we went for a hike at Northlake Nature Center. While there, it seemed we had appropriate atmospheric conditions for a lovely sunset. Since we weren't far from the lake, we headed over to Fontainebleau State Park (a couple of miles away,) where my suspicions were confirmed...
As we arrived, hundreds of white ibises (in different flocks,) took flight, going to roost for the night.
My chipping sparrow photo didn't win the contest it was entered into. I recently entered a great blue heron photo into a contest, so we'll see what happens with that. (Update; It didn't win.) Tonight I'm attending "Festinblanc" at La Provence restaurant in Lacombe, where I'll have 2 paintings in a "contest for white hot art" (featuring paintings that are mostly white.) Although I'm tempted to submit the painting above, I'm leaning heavily toward my Great Blue Heron & Ibises. (Updates; My Great Blue Heron painting won a "Peoples' Choice Award" at Festinblanc. May 2009; We gave this "Great Egret" painting to Charles' mom for Mother's Day.)