Of Treespeak

I love trees, always have, I can’t walk by one without looking up its spine, and as a kid couldn’t walk by without climbing up one either, and have the scrapes and scars to how for it.

Biologists, ecologists, foresters, and naturalists increasingly argue that trees speak, and that humans can learn to hear this language. (If only we would listen…) They speak constantly, even if quietly, communicating above and underground using sound, scents, signals, and vibes. They’re naturally networking, connected with everything that exists, including you. There’s a fascinating article on how “Plants use acoustic vibes to find a drink”

Literary and musical history is speckled with references to the songs of trees, and the way they speak: whispering pines, falling branches, crackling leaves, the steady hum buzzing through the forest. Human artists have always known on a fundamental level that trees talk, even if they don’t quite say they have a “language.”

Have you not walked in the woods and head the murmur in the canopy, stood under a tree in early spring and heard the soft crackle of a new leaf bud bursting out, or the whistling and rustling of leaves in the wind, and wondered!

Read more on this in Euphrates Livni’s article here.

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Fall On Campus Way

Fall was in the air when last I went sketchwalking on Campus Way. There were quite a few runners, some skateboarders and some dog walkers. The air was crisp, the grass was still green but the trees on the distant hillside were turning and the colors of fall were peeking through. I managed to capture a few quick sketches on a somewhat sunny day, but got drizzled out by the end.

The first two sketches are of an extended clump or should I say stand of some really tall trees. I’ve yet to determine what species they are, but their presence is unmistakeable as most of the area around them is open grassy farmland, and they stand sentinel at the end of the stretch. I was fascinated by their intertwined branches outstretched high above and over the pathway,

I tried to convey a sense of their height and the atmospheric mood – the first sketch was the reflection of the bright sunshine atop their crown done on my way out, whereas the second one done on my way back was when the rain clouds had set in and turned everything to an almost grey scale. How quickly the weather does change around here!

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From here you get a clear view of Mary’s Peak, granted there aren’t any clouds of Course! Once again the sketches were intended to capture a specific mood and not a photographic representation. It was a clear day but had turned cold and windy by the time I caught the sunset over Marys Peak, and of course the rained out sketch with the rain’s contribution is obvious!



This last sketch here is the distant hillside, and yes the light drizzle by then had turned to rain!

 

Vying for a Sopt of Alignment

Three celestial bodies vie for a spot of alignment! In preparation, here’s my take on totality!

Less than 16 hours for the first ‘Totality’ to appear in Oregon. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible from coast to coast in the United States was in 1918. Total solar eclipse was when some of the most fundamental discoveries in science were made – like the first proof of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, the discovery of the element Helium and solar storms or Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) to name a few! And now a chance for new discoveries, new information, new research into the sun and its atmosphere, and of course a great show put on for everyone in it’s path! I’m ready…
#totality #totalsolareclipse2017 #totaleclipseoftheheart

A Different Perspective

This is the last posting for #WorldWatercolorMonth -Day 30 &31/31

The meadows have come to life now that we’re into mid summer and with the mega downpours we’ve had, it’s as though each day brings about a drastic change. The brush seems to grow in leaps and bounds and there’s a burst of wildflowers everyday, ever changing the colors and hues of the landscape. The vibrancy on the Meadows is an artist delight. Nature paints a splendid palette be it in the early morning light, mid afternoon glare or at sunset. I love sketching the meadows at all times of day and at all seasons, but the bright hues of summer are especially my favorite. But even summer brings such rapid change, if you blink you miss the nuances. Two days ago the colors were mostly greens with dabs of white. Now as you look across over the undulating landscape you see brush strokes of yellow from the goldenrod and rudbeckia with pops of powderpuff whites of QueenAnne’s lace swaying in the wind.

Often I take paper in different sizes with me to sketch in the field. This forces me to sketch a subject matter within it’s constraints,  makes me look at it from a different perspective. Painting landscapes typically is done in landscape form to capture the vastness across a broad sheet of paper, but what if we took a vertical perspective of the same landscape and potrayed the vastness in another way. It’s quite refreshing to paint this way.

Here I’ve done the same scene both in landscape and vertical perspective. What are your thoughts, Id love to know.

 

 

Catching Butterflies

Well figuratively…

Day 27& 28/31 #WorldWatercolorMonthThe meadows are filled with life, birds, bees, butterflies, and rabbits of course! They’re everywhere, enjoying the fruits and flowers and seeds of the land around them. 

I’m spending more time these days seeing, really seeing not just looking, so I can learn the nuances of the subjects before I begin to sketch. For me the best way to see something has always been to sketch it, with whatever tool at hand. I started with the wildflowers, I now know more about the native plants around me here than I ever did before. This year I’ve just managed the few that are currently in bloom, and more are on the way. But then I’ve gotten distracted by the butterflies. It started with the Tiger Swallowtails in mid-June early July and now the Sulfurs, and soon there’ll be Monarchs, dozens and dozens of them fluttering about among the wildflowers. 

The Tiger Swallowtails and the yellow Sulfurs sketches below are from the meadows. The Black Swallowtails have been fluttering about in my garden. Last summer there were four in my backyard and I had hoped they’d be back again. I’ve already spotted five this year! That’s a good sign. 

 

Favorite Mile Marker

One Grand ole’ Tree – Day 26/31 #WorldWatercolorMonth

When I go walking in the meadows, its easy to loose track of time, the early morning mist, the dewdrops still clinging to the leaves and blades of grass, the gentle crunch of the footpath, the sweet birdsongs that fill the air, and of course the changing colors of the season that envelop you! During summer, in places you could be completely dwarfed by the wildflower brush.

I’ve walked these routes enough to know my mile markers, and when I get to two miles on my route, before entering the meadows, I pass by this giant tree with a trunk and lower branches of such character. The photo and sketch do not do it justice, but I’ve been facinated by it and have wanted to sketch it for quite some time now. Here are a few of my first attempts. I’m certain I’ll be doing more in the days to come.

 

Gardening day

Day 25/31- #WorldWatercolorMonth

Yesterday was gardening day. It was the perfect day, cool (by summer standards), slightly breezy and partly cloudy, and the day after a summer shower! So perfect! Lots of pruning, dead heading, and light weeding.

‘Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade’ said Rudyard Kipling and he was right! But in between the work I did take time out in the Shade – to sketch. I’m rarely in my garden without my sketchbook or pad so I’m never caught off guard when something catches my fancy.

I had some hostas I planted years ago. Interestingly the deer don’t seem to want to eat them and the hummingbirds love them. They have large pale purple flowers and the hummers are always at them, dawn to dusk. So, today was the day for sketching hostas. It was a lovely time, the birds were singing and some were busy scratching for food, the day was cool and sketching was peaceful. ‘How lovely is the silence of growing things’ – unknown.

I spent quite some time studying the dark shadows between the leaves and flowers. Heres one sketch thats all about shadows, while the other two sketches are more about the flowers. The photo doesn’t due justice to the depth of the shadows, but I thought I’d post it anyway.

Giant Pots!

End of my Walk  – Day 24/31 – #WorldWatercolorMonth 

Here’s just one of a multitude of these giant pots lining the walkway to the garden path at Longwood. The lovely bluish-green cupric oxide patina like color is just one aspect of its beauty. The size, the vibrant color hues and shadows on them in sun and shade, and the ever changing contents of the pots keep me coming back for more sketching. While sketchwalking, as I walk toward these they also signal the end of my walk!

 

Baldies with Big Mouths…

Early last spring, I saw a little wren at my bird feeder pecking away with all his might. About an hour later I noticed squirrels having a feast on the ground and the bird feeder was empty. I proceeded to take it down to fill it up again when I noticed a bunch of twigs inside, which I promptly cleared out and refilled with sunflower seeds. Later that afternoon, the same spectacle, there he was again pecking and spilling out the seeds. It then hit me, this little wren had just found himself some prime real estate and was not about to give it up. So, I gave in!

A few weeks later I was rewarded to the sound of five hungry chicks screeching inside the bird feeder. The wren had succeed in building his nest, finding a mate and successfully raising a brood! I never got to see the fledglings leave the nest though, as I was traveling most of the summer.

This year spring’s arrival brought back the wren, and his sweet song filled the air. And then it went silent. Sure enough there were six eggs in the nest and a few weeks later six little chicks. I was away a few days and I missed the fledglings again! Not to disappoint, the wrens have had a second brood of five eggs this year and with a camera setup I did get to take a few pictures without disturbing them. This past Sunday I got to steal a few minutes in between their feeding times to sketch them. And boy are these fellows hungry all the time!
They are quite a sight with their big bald heads and wide open mouths! Here’s my rendition of Baldies with Big Mouths!JPEG image-C43030992490-1

Swallowtails on the Meadows 

Day22/31 – #WorldWatercolrMonth

Watching Tiger Swallowtails is exhilarating, following them is exhausting and sketching them live is simply a feat in itself. Saturday afternoon I got a chance to find out. The Monardas are in bloom everywhere on the Meadows and the Swallowtails skirted from bloom to bloom, crossing paths and disappearing into the bushes then re emerging completely elsewhere. It took patience and perseverance and a Saturday afternoon in the sun, but here they are captured in quick brush strokes, my very own Swallowtails!

Oh and have you ever seen the dance of the Swallowtail, it’s quite a sight to watch. When two of them meet at the same bloom they start dancing. What looks like a dance is just two butterflies competing for the nectar on that choice flower and are battling it out till the winner returns and the loser flutters off in search of sweeter grounds.