Monday, April 30, 2007

Holy crabapples, Batman!

NOW we're talkin'. The plums and the crabapples have gotten showy in the last few days. We've a nice pink tree out front of the building, the crown of it square in my front window. Now that it's covered in blooms, it screens my view of oncoming traffic... a double bonus.

I'm glad I got out early to walk, since now at mid-day it has gotten cloudy and windy... a possible portent of thundershowers. Thunder. When did we last hear THAT?

I'm in a bit of a holding pattern on projects today- waiting for feedback from clients. Just as well, since I'm on my way out of town again on Wednesday and I might now think about what to pack. It's running-amok-with-artist-chum-from-France time again. Twice in one year! Twice in the same season! Unheard of. But Denis has a show opening at the Mass Audubon Visual Arts Center this weekend, and it was a good excuse to visit both with Denis and with artist friend Pat Burson, who lives in Boston and was a fellow artist-in-residence at Acadia National Park in 2005. There are a few other friends and colleagues in the area, too, so who knows? Could be one big brush-wielding bruhaha.

So, 'tis possible we're heading into the blog equivalent of radio silence (blogdio silence?) again. Fear not! I'm sure there will be all sorts of ridiculous stories to tell when it's over.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Exhibition Madness

Sometimes it feels as though I spend half my life shuffling artwork in and out of my car. Linocuts will be everywhere the next couple of months. The short list:

Cultureclash Gallery in Salida, through this weekend.

Greater Arkansas River Nature Association, Celebrating Place, Bongo Billy's Salida Café, now through May 14. (Not linos, two watercolors!)

South's Gallery, 6560 S. Broadway, Littleton, Colorado, beginning next Friday and running through late May.

Impact: 20 Years invitational at Art Students League of Denver, 200 Grant Street, Denver, May 11 through July 20.

Artists for Nature Foundation
and Het Utrechts Landschap Windmill Project exhibition opens at a new venue in the village of Loenen aan de Vecht, Netherlands, May 12.

Avenue Gallery, Business of Art Center, Manitou Springs, May 30-June 26.

Bongo Billy's Salida Café, Salida, June 14-August 14.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cathedral willows

Between meetings and workshops and deadlines and goofy weather... not a whole lot of bloggable natural history or art going on around here lately. One day last week my car and I celebrated some milestones together: the car turned its 100,000th mile. I turned significantly more miles than that. We (the car and I) were headed back home from Colorado Springs meetings, so I stopped for a mocha granita to celebrate before turning up Bighorn Sheep Canyon for home. The car will get an oil change. Whoopee!

Yesterday morning it was snowing and raining. (See below.) Miserable. But this morning! (See below also.)

It's always good to get out the day after a storm and see what the wind blew in. Avian arrivals today included hermit thrush, common yellowthroat, a Wilson's warbler.... and some peeps which I am pretty sure were least sandpipers. But, SHEESH. I struggle to ID those little buggers.

At the "peak" of the trail (farthest point from home) I found that the wet snow and wind had pretty seriously battered a large willow tree. Branches and catkins littered the trail, so I carted a chunk home to draw. (You know what a sucker I am for catkins.)

I'm not a particularly good identifier of tree species-- at least not past their obvious family names: pine, willow, cottonwood. This particular tree species may or may not be related to two other large willows near Sands Lake... but in my own personal field guide they are the same. They are enormous, graceful, luminous. They inspire a hush and a reverence and compel me to look up. I dunno what an arborist would call them, but I like think of them as "Cathedral Willows."
Yesterday morning.

And today.
The weather's almost as neurotic as I am.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Not to be missed

It rained last night. A real, honest-to-goodness, drumming-on-the-roof sort of rain. By the cloud-covered light of day we can see that a scant 1000 feet above Salida they got snow, and it's still precipitating here and there. It's been one of those years where I wish I had tallied how many days have been like this. The tourism board and third grade social studies books say we get 300 days of sunshine out of every 365. Maayyyyyyybe. This year it seems like a stretch.

But, weather or no weather, I daren't miss a morning walk just now. Things are happening out there, and from now until June I will live every indoor moment with the nagging fear that I'm missing something.

Yesterday, for example, was the first black phoebe day of the year. It's only been in the last 3 or 4 years (that we know of) that they've been making regular attempts to breed in the county, so it's nice to see them still enthusiastic about their chosen real estate. About once a year an American avocet passes through here... and that day was also yesterday. (Today? Gone.) The white-faced ibis, on the other hand, are still being coy. They should be here NOW. Today. But so far no sign of them. (Little voice says, "Don't miss them.")

Leaf-out is progressing agonizingly slowly. Rabbitbrush stems are turning green and willow stems are turning yellow and orange. A few of last season's leaves continue to cling stubbornly to branches, but their successors are squeezing past them. Some day soon we're going to wake up and notice the color scale has tipped from gray to green. (Little voice says, "Don't miss it.")

The last mile of my walk is along concrete-paved path, which this morning was littered with thousands of earthworms, stranded overnight in their quest for oxygen above rain-soaked soil. I always find it a little dismaying to come across such scenes, especially for an entire mile of trail. The path was quite dry by the time I climbed the hill and crossed the road to meet it, and most of the beached critters were just so much worm jerky. But since I had to watch where I was stepping anyway (
not always one of my greater talents), I kept an eye peeled for any sign of worm locomotion. (Yes, folks... she pinches tree blooms in the dark and rescues beached worms. A Nobel Peace Prize nomination is in the mail, I am sure.)

I'm afraid I didn't find more than 8 or 10 wrigglers in that morbid mile, but at least those decomposers who are not now decompose-ees are back at work in trailside dirt.

Where, now that I think about it, they will probably become bird food.

Still.... that same little voice says, "Glad I didn't miss it."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What the storm brought us

The first 45-bird-species walk of the season. Waves of mountain bluebirds, tree swallows, and juncos. Arrivals? An osprey. A barn swallow. Ruddy duck. Franklin's gull. Ruby-crowned kinglet. A mourning dove. And... joy of joys! Yellow-rumped warblers (both Audubon's and Myrtle ssp.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Springtime in the Rockies

Must be spring. It's snowing.

The good news is that I am absolved of meetings in far off towns scheduled for tomorrow.

The work for the Cultureclash show has been delivered and is hung smartly, waiting for an audience on Saturday. If you're in the neighborhood, come on up!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Easter Stick

We woke to a skiff of snow again this morning. The day unfolded in shades of gray, with brief bouts of sunglasses.

I walked anyway, binoculars that are older than I am hung hopefully around my neck, but there was little in the way of excitement to be spied. A nice flight of common mergansers and a pair of cinnamon teal were as dramatic as it got. Oh... and there was one small beaver in a place I don't usually see beavers.

An unusual number of family groups roamed "my" trail... presumably digesting their holiday indulgences. When I noticed hordes of jittery kids in these feral flocks it dawned on me that aside from a virtual trip to an Australian purveyor of Easter Bilbies, I hadn't even seen a single candied critter this season. No bunnies, no chicks. No marshmallow peeps in unnatural colors. No pastel-colored baskets filled with plastic grass. No malted milk eggs. No jelly beans. No chocolate. Have I really been so removed from the rest of the world lately?

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. In fact, I am feeling quite smug about dodging yet another sugar-infused, consumption-driven, bloated, commercial, retail fest masquerading as a holiday. (Don't hold back, Sherrie. Tell us how you really feel.) But I still felt compelled to celebrate the day.

So I did. The trail gave up a lovely piece of twisted old rabbitbrush stem to draw and that seemed sweet enough and holiday enough for me.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Monarch, milkweed and my week

I think I've finished the last new piece for the exhibition at cultureclash next week! Hooray! Now I just have to hope that it dries in time to get fit in the frame. It's a little reduction linocut of a monarch from a sketch I made last summer down by the river, and for once I had the presence of mind to take photos as the process unfolded.

In a reduction linocut, the entire print is made from one block. For each successive color more material is carved away, so there's no going back.

Step one:
The first color will ultimately only be seen on the underside of the butterfly's wings, but it lays the groundwork for the entire image. I carved away everything that was to remain the color of the paper. (Which is white, although in these shots it looks dark.)

Step two: A little more carving, and I can put down the color for the milkweed blooms and the underwing orange. That's the block on the left, the print on the right. Since the orange and pink colors are completely separate from each other in the final print, I can ink up both at the same time and save myself a step.

Step three:
A bit more carving, and the leaf colors can go down. The blended greens were created by careful rolling with the brayer.

Last pass:
Remove all the material from the block except those areas that will print black. And voila! Monarch and milkweed.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Life out the kitchen window

Too much going on in the studio to get out and enjoy the day... well, the 50mph wind gusts sort of cramped my ambition, too. The view from the kitchen window.... slightly odd color in the center since the journal won't lie flat in the scanner. North end of the Sangre de Cristo range.

Fishy business in the studio

Show looming. Brain racing. Fish leaping onto the linocut rack. Must be Monday.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

It's show time!

101 N 1st Street
Salida, Colorado

presents linocuts by

April 14-30, 2007

Opening reception
Saturday, April 14, 4-6pm

Second Saturday Adventures in Art Series

How to use all the colors in your paintbox

Paint the paintbox.

Yesterday I lost patience with the subtle charms of slowly advancing spring. Enough with the yellow ochre already! I want to use RED.

Whew. I feel better now.

Linocut in Progress: The Third Act

Time to wrap up this linocut ! And we are wrapping at warp speed (see what I did there?)... because there are deadlines. Exhibition deadline...