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!

 

Santa Barbara

With the Santa Ynez Mountains as a dramatic backdrop on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other Santa Barbara is a sketchers paradise. Everywhere you look there’s a sketching opportunity.

Even on a short short trip I got a lot of sketch time in. As always I’ll start with the views from my window. A few cloudscapes to start with.

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And I simply love the perspective of mountainscapes from 35,000ft. It’s totally mesmerizing. I see fractals everywhere!

I’ll follow up with more sketches of the Santa Ynez Mountains, sunset on the beach and downtown Santa Barbara in a later post.

Blue Mountains

Continuing with sketches from a few weeks ago, the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania. It’s a befitting name for these mountain ranges in western Pennsylvania, for as far as the eye can see is all shades of blue and the distant haze, and just a pop of bright green where the sun hits the Valley! Of course I had to stop to sketch.


Then on through into the Allegheny Mountains and the colors change to softer shades of greens.

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. 

 

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

Dalias, Dalias and more Dalias

Day 21/31 – # WorldWatercolorMonth

As the days roll deeper into summer the dalias are blooming at Longwood, and oh so many colors, shades, shapes and species. Here are just a few…

Wildflowers on the Meadows

Im still awaiting the arrival of the Monarchs, the Swallowtails, the Orange Sulfurs, Cabbage Whites, and the list goes on and on… Each year we see more species of butterflies on the Meadows Gardens at Longwood. As the meadow matures and the wildflowers multiply and spread, the wildlife here has abundantly exploded! And along with the butterflies and bees, so have the birds and other wildlife. You are more likely to spot several species of bird without even looking for them. Or hear the bull frog in the pond below, and occasionally if it’s  real quiet you’ll spot the Great Blue motionless on the Hour Glass lake patiently awaiting his supper to arrive. The songbirds serenade you as you walk along on the winding pathways and quite oblivious to your presence. A walk in the meadows is no longer just a walk, it’s a passage through time. Although it might appear to the novice that these meadows just magically stay alive there’s a silent crew of gardeners and specialists that tend to it to keep it healthy and going strong! A big shout out to these great people hard at work who make our lives just a little bit richer.