Not the Last Afterall

Whatever happened to posts about birds or flowers or trees? There will be more of those to come, I promise. But first, just a few more mushrooms which, as you will see, were worthy of paint. First, the pear-shaped puffball, whose smoky spores release when gently squeezed. And then the inconspicuous tannish-brown clitocybe. Who would have thought lavender gills would be hiding underneath that unassuming cap? Tips and Techniques– Use your sketchbook to try a variety of artistic approaches. Part of what’s keeping me going on mushrooms week after week is not… Read More

Until Next Year (maybe)

Okay. This is it! The last of the mushrooms for 2022. I don’t think I can paint any more, try to identify any more, read any more. I must clean my desk and turn a new page! But then, who knows, I haven’t gone outside yet today to see if anything new has come up. Tips and Techniques– For this page, I thought it might be fun to try something different and just take a top down view of mushroom caps. This gave me a chance to look at patterns, texture, and… Read More

Mushroom Time

After 48 hours of rain earlier this week: BOOM, it’s mushroom time. I’ve been cataloging mushrooms in our yard for several years (2018, 2020, 2021, 2021) and I am constantly amazed by the number and variety that appear. Most come up under a small grove of oaks along our driveway, but a few show up in the lawn, or in piles of mulch. Mushrooms are the fruiting body of a much larger network of underground thread-like filaments called mycelium. This network is either breaking down and recycling dead stuff, feeding on weakened… Read More

In the Shoal

The thrill of being at the beach is not only experiencing the ocean, it’s also about never knowing what you might find. While treasure hunting last weekend on the south coast of Massachusetts, I was hoping for perfect shells or shorebirds, but instead found beautiful purple and silver colored fish recently washed up on shore. The fish were small and not long dead, one here, two there, all told, about ten as we made our way along the beach. Later, while swimming nearby, huge shoals of these same fish moved all about… Read More

Vegetable Explosion

It’s the season of abundance! Farm stands, farmers markets, and gardens are at their peak– full of rich color, variety, and freshness the likes of which no supermarket can match. It’s time to celebrate! Pick your favorite vegetable and you are likely to find it feted somewhere: there are OkraFests, GarlicFests, Potato Festivals, even a Butterbean Festival in Alabama, a Great Northern Squashfest in Wisconsin, and an Eggplant Festival in California—every veggie, it seems, gets its due. My personal favorite was a family celebration held each August called Corn Sunday, a gathering… Read More

Of Maps and Meaning

Maps convey both a sense of place and the experience and agenda of their maker. This map commemorates my trip to Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine this summer for the Arts and Birding workshop. It’s one thing to have your daily schedule or itinerary on a piece of paper; quite another to illustrate it and imbue it with additional meaning and memory: puffins flying overhead, the sound of the sea gently lapping on shore, moss carpeted forests of spruce and fir, winter wrens trilling their song in the silence. I hope… Read More

The Things We Take for Granted

The gallbladder— like so many things— is something you can take for granted and forget about, as long as it is functioning properly. Frankly, I hadn’t given it a moment’s notice since high school biology…until this week, when my husband urgently needed to have his removed. Suddenly, I needed to know where it was, what it does, and what happens when you don’t have one. So, naturally, I drew it. Fortunately, it seems that this little organ is something that many people live without and don’t miss at all. Alas, I am… Read More

Full of Life

My garden is full of life this month! Butterflies, bees, hawkmoths, and hummingbirds are coming daily to feast on July’s main attractions: coneflowers and beebalm. I’ve seen swallowtails and skippers, fritillaries and whites. What a grand display! Mind you, my garden is not perfect. There are gaps here and overcrowding there, some plants didn’t come back this spring and others are looking meager. But it is enough for me to pick out a bouquet or a painting, or to simply enjoy the show. Tips and Techniques- I always find that adding wildlife… Read More

Bits and Pieces

I traveled to Maine last week to direct and teach the Arts & Birding workshop at the Audubon Camp at Hog Island. The workshop is an intensive five-day program that includes bird walks at dawn, a variety of art lessons, hikes, evening programs, and a day-long boat trip to see Atlantic puffins and other seabirds. We welcomed a wonderful group of artists this year who sketched, learned, shared, and produced beautiful artwork. Because my job includes teaching and ensuring that everything is running smoothly, my painting time is limited. Still, I managed… Read More

Beach Chicks

Unless you live near the coast or visit frequently, there may only be a few times in your life that you will get to see hatchling shorebirds scampering at the surf line. I count myself fortunate to have visited the coast of Massachusetts last week at the perfect time to see piping plover chicks. Running around on stilt-legs, the tiny puff balls were foraging at the water’s edge, already managing to avoid getting swamped or stomped on by beachgoers. These birds were at least several days old, though piping plover chicks can… Read More