Ant Man Sends a Selfie

From Barro Colorado Island, Panama, with love.

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Catfish Weather and Voodoo Lilies

Voodoo lily, Dracunculus vulgaris, abloom by the front porch. Its magnificence is only exceeded by is putrid odor. Awesome flower. Watercolor over pencil, 8 1/2" x 11" Stillman & Birn Alpha Series.

Voodoo lily, Dracunculus vulgaris, abloom by the front porch. Its magnificence is only exceeded by its putrid odor. Awesome flower. Watercolor over pencil, 8 1/2″ x 11″ Stillman & Birn Alpha Series.

We’ve had two feet of rain this month. Yesterday, an early morning storm arrived with a tornado warning that sent me and Gizmo splashing down into our flooded basement. Our yard may be squishy, but some of our neighbors could raise catfish on their lawns. That’s a real thing- locals have been reporting catfish and carp around their houses. It’s just a good thing we don’t have alligators in these parts.

Not in my backyard. But a few houses down, it's catfish-ready.

Not in my backyard. But in the backyard a few houses down, all is catfish-ready.

After all the rain, my poor garden is a hot mess. But a few years ago my friend Kiki gave me a mysterious “voodoo lily”, and the other day it finally came into bloom. The huge flower was fantastic- deep red, frilled along the edges, with a long, nearly black spathe. Gorgeous- and it stunk like a dead raccoon. Flies crawled all over, pollinating. I held my nose and peered down into the hollow bulb at the bottom of the spathe where the plant’s sexual parts are hidden. It seethed with black beetles.

The aftermath. Must have been a good party. Dracunculus vulgaris, voodoo lily.

The aftermath. Must have been a good party. Dracunculus vulgaris, voodoo lily, spent.

The next day, Dracunculus looked a little, well, flaccid. The fetid odor was diminished somewhat, too. A one-day garden wonder, but what a performance.

The weather forecast over the next few days looks pretty good, so far. Maybe a thunderstorm or two, but basically okay. A little sunshine would go a long way. And I can’t think of anything better than a day in the garden.

Happy Friday.

Posted in Adventure!, garden, Nature, Oklahoma Weather, plants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Friday Figures: A Few Small Gestures

Stretched across the page, resting. Pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15". 6 minute pose.

Stretched across the page, resting. Pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″. 6 minute pose, I think. It’s all a blur.

Did these drawings using only a single strong light on a stand. Room lights shut off, blinds closed, drawing in semi-darkness. You can really see the figure that way. A single light source, simplicity itself. Every pose starkly beautiful.

Stretched across the page, looking up, one knee raised. Pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15". This, I think, was a 3 minute pose.

Stretched across the page, looking up, one knee raised. Pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″. This, I think, was a 3 minute pose.

I’m thinking about trying a few oil sketches based on the drawings.

On side, back view, one hand under her head. Pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15". Another 3 minute pose.

On side, back view, one hand under her head. Black nail polish helped pinpoint the fingertips in the drawing. Pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″. Another 3 minute pose.

I have a bunch more of these from the same session, but it’s time to go sit out on the porch with Ant Man and a glass of wine and enjoy the end of the day. I’ll keep scanning and posting. Something to look forward to.

Resting on crossed arms against the seat of an orange armchair. Not that you'd know if I hadn't mentioned it. Pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15", 6 minute pose.

Resting on crossed arms against the seat of an orange armchair. Not that you’d know it. Pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″, 6 minute pose.

Happy Friday.

Posted in Art, Art Studio, figure drawing, life drawing | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Solid Afternoon of Life Drawing

Drawings from today's session with my favorite model. After I get them scanned I'll post them individually. Two hours of three and six minute poses. Nineteen drawings, fourteen keepers. All 11" x 15" on Rives BFK paper. Awesome day. More tomorrow.

Drawings from today’s session with my favorite model. After they’re scanned they’ll be posted individually. Two happy hours of 3 and 6 minute poses. 19 drawings, 14 of them keepers. All 11″ x 15″. Those are the stats. Graphite on Rives BFK paper. A very good day. Tune in tomorrow.

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Wood Stork Colony, 16th Hole

The course at Spring Island features sand traps, water hazards and wood storks. The 16th hole includes the rookery. Pastel on sanded paper, 14" x 12". Demo for the advanced pastel class, Spring Island.

The course at Spring Island features sand traps, water hazards and wood storks. See those tiny white dots in the trees? The 16th hole includes the rookery. Pastel on sanded paper, 14″ x 12″. Demo for the advanced pastel class, Spring Island, South Carolina.

I’m not a golfer, but some of my best friends are. Spring Island has a top-notch course, designed by Arnold Palmer, who, I hear, comes back to play from time to time. The greens are hemmed by pines, palms and marshlands. Alligators love the water hazards, and so do wading birds. The 16th hole is colonized by wood storks. Golfers come through here, too, and they’re interesting to watch, but the storks have them beat by a birdie.

A wood stork sits back on its heels on the groomed fairway. The storks like to hang on the grass and will clumsily get to their feet and stalk off when golfers arrive. Pencil on paper.

A wood stork relaxes. Pencil on paper.

Triangular bills pushed leafy branches ahead of great black-and-white wing canopies on the glide-path down to their bulky stick nests. They preened, tussled, slept, copulated, and pushed each other off perches. Egrets and anhingas snagged smaller spaces between to build their stick nests. They gabbled and croaked and copulated, too.

Intimate moment between two wood storks atop the nest, gently pressed together, one shading the other and giving her (?) a little shoulder massage. Pencil on paper.

Intimate moment between two wood storks atop the nest, gently pressed together, one shading the other and giving her (?) a little shoulder massage. Pencil on paper.

It’s our last morning in South Carolina. We’re off to Savannah for the day, then flying back to Oklahoma. Sorry to leave, glad to have been here, hoping to come back soon.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday afternoon at Little Neck Crossing, where the palm tree meets the pines. Spring Island, SC. Plein air pastel, 14" x 12".

Wednesday afternoon at Little Neck Crossing, where the palm tree meets the pines. Spring Island, SC. Plein air pastel, 14″ x 12″.

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I Prefer The Alligators

Charming spot on Spring Island this morning. Set up and went at it with pastels. I love the palmettos and palms along the marshlands here in the Low Country, as they call it. Tried to capture the scene. The sun came out and warmed the light and the sand underfoot. Suddenly, I began feeling hot stings all up and down my lower legs...Pastel on sanded paper,

A view of palms at Callawassie Creek, Spring Island, South Carolina- with the marsh at high tide. Pastel on sanded paper, 12″ x 15″.

There's a bushel-basket-sized fire ant mound in the foreground, and I was inattentive enough to stand next to it for a few hours, until the sun got the colony activated and scouts run up the sides of my boots, over the battlements and down into the inner soles, where they scooted up under my tucked-in pants legs and got my shins well- populated. before striking en masse. There was much hopping and slapping and cursing and boot knocking, then quick breaking down of art setup and packing away and leaving. I sent Antman a message, which he turned into a poem: "They crawled up my boots and down inside. Then started their evil siege."

This fire ant mound was a few feet from my easel and nearly the size of a bushel-basket. Didn’t notice it, and painted happily until the warm sun woke the colony and sent scouts afield for breakfast. They reached my feet, ran up the sides of my rubber boots and  invaded my socks, where they found bare flesh and struck. Later, I sent Antman a message, which he turned into a poem: “They crawled up my boots
and down inside.
Then started their evil siege.”

 

Posted in Adventure!, Animals, Art, Artists, bad poetry, Diversions, entomology, Environment, landscapes, natural history, Nature, painting, Pastel, plein air, Stupid Critter Tricks | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Postcard from Spring Island, SC

Tidal Creek, right before the water ran out. A yellow crowned night heron landed on the fallen drift log in the foreground and I tried to paint it in but this picture is way too tiny for more than a heron-shaped dot. Bald eagles and red tailed hawks soared overhead, an osprey plunged in right behind me and came up with a fat perch, and two alligators floated like innocent dead logs nearby. Pastel on sanded paper, 5" x 12".

Tidal Creek, right before the water ran out. A yellow crowned night heron landed on the fallen drift log in the foreground and I tried to paint it in but it basically turned out as a heron-shaped dot. Bald eagles and red tailed hawks soared overhead, an osprey plunged in right behind me and came up with a fat perch, and two alligators floated like innocent dead logs nearby. Spring Island, South Carolina, where I am this very moment, sitting in a twig chair on a screened porch and listening to crickets and night herons squawking in the dark. Pastel on sanded paper, 5″ x 12″.

The tide went out like someone pulled the plug. The yellow crowned night heron walked over the mudflats and peered into the little channel, looking for stranded critters, or maybe a fiddler crab. Spring Island, South Carolina. Pastel on sanded paper, measurements approximately 14" x 12"

The tide went out like someone pulled the plug, and by turning slightly to the right I caught this version of the same marsh. The yellow crowned night heron stalked across the mudflats to peer into the little channel, looking for a stranded flounder or maybe a fiddler crab. Spring Island, South Carolina. This week and next I’m teaching pastel classes in this beautiful place. This is pastel on sanded paper, measurements approximately 14″ x 12″

The tide poured back into the marsh before the sun went down. This is at a spot called Palmetto Point. Very flat. The muddy bottom was dry when I started and when I finished, the water was up to the treeline. Not because I paint that slow, but just because the water comes in really, really fast. Pastel on sanded paper, approximately 14" x 12".

The tide poured back into the marsh before the sun went down. This is at a spot called Palmetto Point. Very flat. The muddy bottom was dry when I started and when I finished, the water was up to the treeline. Not because I paint that slow, but just because the water came in really, really fast. Pastel on sanded paper, approximately 14″ x 12″.

Happy Friday!

Posted in Art, Nature, Pastel, plein air painting | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments