Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ben and Bailey


I don't have time right now to post the WIP to go along with Ben and Bailey so I am just going to go ahead and post their finished portraits for now...and I will post the WIP pics that I did manage to take on the WIP page....(((sigh))) after Christmas!
... (when will we learn to not do renovations in December!)


...aren't they just gorgeous animals, and very much loved by their happy owners

Ref photos and WIP's to come!

Please leave a comment if you enjoyed Ben and Bailey!

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's been a while...

OK, I suck at blogging! I knew I would which is why I hesitated for so long to start one.  Even though I look at lots of other peoples blogs - art blogs, quilting blogs, gluten free blogs etc and read with interest what other people are "up to" I just can't wrap my head around the idea that there are people out there who want to know what lil' ole "me" is doing day by day.  Do you care?  If you do please leave me a comment...that is if anyone out there is still interested enough to be following! LOL

I really didn't mean to be gone for so long...I was away for a while, well a couple of weeks actually, after hubby and I caught a miserable flu "bug" that laid us flat for way too long. The start of it was quite interesting from a purely scientific point of view...within hours of each other we both realized we were SICK! 
...and there was only one time and one place that both of us were together and could have been infected simultaneously...but I won't mention which major fast food chain is probably responsible other than to say we won't go there again!

So we slowly got over that, we lost over a full week to doing nothing...but being sick...and then because we had lost so much time and were still functioning on only a couple of cylinders we had so many fall chores and "getting ready for winter" chores that had to be done that I just didn't have time or energy for quite a while.

Late fall is of course harvest time, and thank goodness we had such an extended fall!
Some of the bounty from my garden this year...I canned about 2 bushels of tomatoes in total, some into Roasted Tomato pasta sauce and the rest into jars ready to be added to soups, stews etc. Those 2 little pie pumpkins were from a couple of volunteer plants that seeded themselves into the garden...they went into our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, that we ate al fresco out on our back deck because the day was so warm.

And then we had to get through Halloween, I added a couple of new guys to my Halloween decor this year, these 2 make me smile every time I look at them and even though we are into the Christmas decorating I still haven't put them away! LOL

I was going through my bird photo uploads, there weren't really a lot of those either, I didn't feel like hiking much and not much of interest visited the yard this fall, at least that I noticed and got pictures of.  We did have a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker spend about a week with us and I was able to get some good shots of it one afternoon while it systematically drilled rows of holes in our crab apple tree

My birthday is in November, and I can only remember one other year when it was as warm as it was this year, a good 75% of the time it is snowing and miserable on my birthday but this year the weather was still warm and sunny...and I still had roses blooming in the garden!

Now how often do you have roses still blooming in the Ontario snow belt in November?

....and I guess the rest of my time in November was taken up with Christmas commissions, and again I was so far behind that I didn't even stop to take pictures of them until the last 2 that I just completed, and even then I only managed to get a few step by step shots of them.  When you're in the flow and working it is hard to remember to stop and take pictures.  Even though all have been delivered to their owners I will upload the photos I did take in a couple of posts yet to come....

See you soon!

Please leave a comment!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daylily E-Packet

I had a wonderful time this past weekend down in London ON teaching my coloured pencil method to a great group of ladies.  The Trompe L'oeil lily is a fairly simple repetitive piece in that if you grasp the method for one petal, you can complete the rest the same way but at the same time it has the detail and realism that demands your attention and concentration....if you want it to turn out looking like mine!

Everyone did a fantastic job, even those who were absolute beginners to the media and I am looking forward to returning to Krafty Kennedys next spring with a new project. Special thanks to Barb and to Pam for organizing the seminar.

I have added the Daylily to my E-Packet page for anyone who might be interested in giving it a try.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Cherry Tango winner!

First thing I have to say Happy Anniversary to my husband, 33 years seems like a long time when you say it, but it truly has gone by in a flash and I wouldn't have wanted to have spent those years with anyone but You.
Love You Forever!

and a big Thank you to everyone who sent greetings along to us, all of your warm wishes made the day even more special for us!

...and now for the winner of Cherry Tango...

Not knowing what we were going to do with our day I thought I would get the business out of the way early so I have actually known who won since this morning.  I had seen "random number generators"  before on other blogs but hadn't really gone to look for one until this morning so I typed it into Google to see what I would get and....I had no idea that so many of them would show up! 

I picked one, plugged in the numbers and  #23 came up as the winner....isn't that a hoot!  now how did it possibly come up with the day of our wedding???
...maybe it had something to do with the random number generator I chose

Random numbers generated Sep 23 2011 at 8:53:29 by 
Free educational resources for parapsychology, psychical research & mind magic.
(cut and paste from the page)
maybe they really are psychic and random numbers aren't so random after all? LOL  our day started off with a good laugh over that one!  hmmmm...mind magic???

#23 was a comment by Randy McCord - Congrats Randy!

Thank you to everyone who came to visit and left a comment, I hope that everyone will continue to drop in now and then to see what I am up to, there will be more give aways coming up!


Saturday, September 17, 2011


To find the post with the Cherry Tango original art give-away scroll down.

If you have ever wondered if you are the only one that is going grey and tearing your hair out from the stresses of raising a family in todays world, I think that I have found proof that will reassure you that you are not alone... in fact, as many know it is not only the human race that has to deal with the demands of keeping a family fed, sheltered and out of harms way.

3 short weeks ago I posted this photo on my Nature page of a male Northern Cardinal that I had taken in my back yard. At the time, "Mr C" had been coming steadily to our sunflower feeder for about a week numerous times during the day, stuffing his beak with seeds and flying off again...Cardinals mate for life, but all we saw was the male no lady Cardinal around, so although we had seen females around previously we didn't know if this was an unattached male or if something had happened to his mate.  After another week or so of this behaviour, we again observed a female cardinal at the feeder, sometimes with the male but usually the 2 of them were a tag team of red coming and going all day long.

Hmmmm.....this behaviour made me think that they had a nest somewhere and when "Mrs C" was absent she was sittin' and he was busy carrying seeds back to the nest to feed her. Once the 2 of them showed up together and started stuffing seeds greedily into their beaks and quickly flying off I knew they had a baby cardinal stashed somewhere.

Moving forward a couple more weeks and now we have the whole family coming to the feeder, there isn't just one baby cardinal (which is all they have had in the past) they have 3 babies this year!!! They are noisy and fussy and demanding and they sit in the apple tree and chirp and flap their wings and open their mouths wide for the seeds that Daddy and Mummy Cardinal can hardly split open and feed fast enough! go back up and take a look at the Daddy on August 26th.....isn't he a beauty, so red and proud!
...and here is a shot that I took of the daddy today:

 (((sigh))) Can you believe it!  Poor fellow, his beautiful crest is completely gone and he is going grey, and not just on top of his head! LOL!

and here is a photo of the Momma with the 3 babies in the apple tree, the mother is the one on the left side of the 2 sitting together on the branch. Observe that the babies are as big as her but a lot fatter and fluffier! Momma is looking a little ragged but she hasn't lost her crest like her mate.

and here is a shot of one of babies closeup, no idea whether a he or a she, they all pretty much look the same right now! very pretty colouring they have, almost a peach colour with grey and touches of olive.
I am very pleased to have been able to help this family to get this far, I hope the babies stick around at least for the winter, we have only ever had one pair over the winter in all the years of feeding the birds.

So, there you go, if you ever wondered.......8-)


Friday, September 2, 2011

Cherry Tango!

Cherry Tango is finished and photographed, my notes are finished and ready to go!

If you are a Coloured Pencil artist (or would like to try coloured pencils) and would like a free copy of the instructional packet for Cherry Tango then mosey on over to my E-Packets page for more information on how to get your copy.
(I have a few days of family commitments coming up so if I don't get back to you right away be patient please)

Not finished yet!
If you would like to be entered into a draw to *win* this original artwork then all you have to do is leave a comment right here on my blog any time between now and September 23rd, 2011 which just happens to be the 33rd anniversary of my being married to my best friend and the best man in the world . 
On the 23rd I will plug the total number of comments into a random number generator to find the winner.  

Cherry Tango will come signed, dated and matted ready to be framed!

Good Luck, and I look forward to your comments :-)


..and to whoever the lucky winner is, I will need an email address to contact you, if your profile doesn't show your contact info just keep checking back here after the 23rd to see if you have won.

you don't have to be a blogger to leave a comment...just click on comments below and a window will pop up for you, check anonymous but please leave your name and remember to come back after the 23rd to see if you have won. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

on the river today....

Remember I mentioned a week or so ago that we had seen a Great White Egret do a fly by when we were out in the canoe?  We both thought that he was just passing through and we would never see it here again as it just isn't a "known location" for such birds. Well, today Sandy was walking back over the Mitchell dam and there was the Egret sitting on a log in the river!  It eventually flew away but I thought well, I just might give the "Orange devil" a break from taunting me and my camera (see my last post) and go see if it was still around and to my delight there he was below the dam having lunch!

Great Egret
I ended up sitting there for an hour or so watching him catching little fish after little fish...he must have been getting a full belly by the time I left, but he was still at it although I saw at least 20 little "somethings" going down the hatch. 

Immature Green Heron

There were 2 immature Green Herons also fishing in the same area and Kingfishers bopping around but not landing anywhere convenient for me of course!  I estimate at least 5 pairs of Kingfishers on the river above the dam...still hoping for a few good shots of them this year.


The "Cherries" are finished but I haven't had time to write up the notes with all of these distracting photography opportunities this week, hope to get at it this evening and will post again soon!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Orange throated Ruby throated hummingbird

This fellow showed up in the garden this morning, I have been trying to get a really clear photo off and on all day but he is being chased away by another male so this is the best I have so far. From just looking on the internet this is apparently uncommon ...maybe he spent the summer sipping too much orange liquid from oriole feeders! LOL  All 3 shots are from different attempts so the light and angles are different in each - the last shot was in shade under the apple tree (and he did have to back away so the string from the niger bag was in front of him!!!)  


Friday, August 26, 2011

Hummingbird photos

Hummingbird happy dance!

This is the time of year when we start to see young Hummingbirds in the garden, they love the scarlet runner beans and sitting in the apple tree watching the other birds at the seed feeders. Yesterday was drizzly and cool most of the day and last evening a little guy sat on the feeder for a good half an hour, sipping sugar water and looking around my garden..was almost dark before he flew up into the apple tree where I presume he spent the night.

This fellow sat right above me on the clothesline "digesting" his sugar syrup lunch.

and I have loaded a photo of a Cardinal on my photo page - a pair have been coming to the feeder almost constantly for the last 2 weeks grabbing seeds for feeding to some babies they have hidden away somewhere.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

New pages, new photos and CANDY!

I have a couple of new pages added. One is a collation of Work In Progress photos so that you don't have to weed through all the chat to see the progression of a piece from start to finish, and one is a page with E-packets that I have for sale.

I've also put up a few more photos on the wildlife page, I got lucky last week with some "neighbours" of ours..and I have a few new backyard birdie shots that will be coming in a day or so.

My trusty Nikon D300S hasn't just been busy taking bird and flower shots, I usually spend a fair bit of time in the summer shooting still-life set-ups of seasonal fruit and veggies that I eventually plan on using as paintings (someday...I have enough to keep me going for a while LOL)  A while ago I purchased some irresistibly photogenic cherries in Cedar Springs on the Lake Erie north shore (down home to me) and spent a pleasant afternoon arranging and re-arranging them.

Tomorrow I am making relish from the cucumbers that are growing fast and furious in my garden - they love all the rain we have been having lately - and once I get that out of the canning pot I am going to start a little ATC sized rendering of the 2 cherries pictured above which I plan to use as my first blog freebie!
...for those of you who work in CP's  I will put together a little instructional packet  that you can have totally free for the asking...and  I will be also giving the finished ATC away as blog candy to one lucky person who leaves a comment!....more info once I get the piece finished and the packet typed.

...until then, enjoy the new photos!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Woot! Woot! Lucy is finally finished!

She has actually been done for a couple of weeks now, but with summer activities I just haven't gotten around to processing photos or updating either my blog or Facebook page until today. There are about 35 different pencil colours listed in my notes, some used heavily like Gingeroot (and white of course) and others that I only used in one specific area to add that little "something" that was needed. I can't wait to see her framed up!

I have also completed another piece that I will be teaching at Krafty Kennedys in London Ontario this September. You can visit my Classes and Seminars page for more info if you are interested in attending.

Trompe L'oeil Day Lily

The ref for this Burgundy/Orange day lily is out of my garden, it is the only summer flowering day lily that I have other than large masses of "ditch lillies" on each side of the stairs up to our deck. I brought this plant with us when we moved to this house, it is quite an old variety and much more delicate in form than some of the newer plants.
Most of our ditch lilies are the usual orange but we have one small area of the patch that produces double or actually triple lilies that are quite spectacular.

I tried cross pollinating these with the burgundy lilies and small pods did form but for some reason they have shrivelled and turned brown,  I guess I will have to try that experiment again next year!
My camera has been busy this summer, whether we are away or at home it is never too far away from me.  I have spent the better part of the day today processing the few hundreds of photos I have taken in the last month or so and some of them are now up on my photo pages. 

Here is one that I particularily like.

I'd love to hear your comments on my artwork or photography!

I'm not sure what is next for me in the studio, I think I may switch over to acrylics for a while or maybe oils...well, maybe not oils...I can just see Sherman walking through them! (((sigh))) He is 4 months old now and gets into everything!

Love my kitties!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2 New CP works plus a Lucy update

I guess I will start with the Lucy update, she is back on the drawing board now for a while but I still have a couple of commissions to complete as well so she might get bumped again!

...she certainly looks much better with a bit of fur around her face doesn't she!

The next 2 pieces will be used as teaching material,  I will also put them up on my Classes and Seminars page.

Sun-lit Peace Rose
 The ref for this is in my garden, it hasn't flowered as yet after having a rather slow start this spring but the bush seems to be coming along now and has a couple of good sized buds that will probably be out in a week or so.

Eye of the Tiger
I have been asked many times if I paint big cats and up to this point the answer has been no...I thought it was about time I gave it a go, the ref is from a photo on Wet canvas.

...and this is Sherman, my new studio kitten who I rescued a month or so ago and still haven't had any luck finding a home for. He is the sweetest little dear who just loves to be near me and has found "just the right spot" underneath my easel when I am working on a CP piece.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The shoemakers children?

You know the story about the shoemakers children that never have any shoes....well, poor Lucy has become something like that, not that she needs shoes LOL, but I keep having to put her aside for other things! (She actually does have a pair, or 2 pair rather, of expensive winter booties that we bought for her a couple of years ago thinking that they would help with the "snowballs" she gets in her toes in the winter, but if someone knows how to keep them on her feet short of double sided tape, which wouldn't be nice, I would love to know!!!)

I've been busy in the last month, there are always garden chores to be done, I am now faced with the pruning of all the shrubs and bushes and a 2nd wave of clean out of the perennial bed now that the iris have finished flowering. The garden always goes into a lull after the iris, there are some flowering plants (roses, clematis, bellflowers, primroses, loosetrife etc) but not quite the big colourful show of the spring. Just waiting on the black eyed susans, shasta daisies, garden phlox and echinacea (cone flowers) to come on to fill the garden with colour again. I can't believe how fast the summer is going!
...oh! and we already have tomatoes the size of my thumb in the veggie garden!

I ordered a custom made canoe with my prize money from my "Best of Show" this spring, we took delivery of it on June 16th and left on a canoe trip up to the Sauble river on July 20th.  We have stayed at Sauble Falls before and thought that the river might be a good baptism for the canoe, and a pair of "rusty"  paddlers, and it turned out to be a great decision.  The Sauble river above  the falls is about a 3 hr paddle before you get to the first "swift" and have to either end your trip or turn around and head back.  We only got out for a long paddle once because the weather just didn't cooperate but we will definitely go again. I am hoping to be able to get lots of pictures of shorebirds with a bit of luck!

This is a picture of Sauble Falls, our campsite was just on the other side of the bridge and right on the river so we just had to carry the canoe over, drop it in and start paddling.

The Sauble Falls, Ontario Canada

Our new Novacraft Canoe

One thing I especially like about Sauble Falls is that every time we have camped there we have had "friendly" chipmunks come to visit.  There were 3 (I think there were only 3?) this year that would all come right up and climb up our legs, sit on our laps for peanuts...and I came prepared for them with peanuts in shell and shelled. 

 This one is trying to stuff a 3rd double peanut in its shell in his pouch, he ended up just carrying it in his mouth back to where ever he was storing his "loot"

 Helping himself (note to self, don't leave the peanut bag out on the table unattended)

"Please Sir, May I have some more?"

...and this fellow we called Alvin...who would spar with the Chippies for peanuts but was
also happy to gobble down some cat chow

As I said, the weather didn't actually cooperate while we were at Sauble Falls, I honestly have never seen (or heard) rain so heavy! My husband had to stand outside under the awning with a broom pushing the water off the canopy and also sweeping the water away from the trailer.... rainwater runs downhill of course and having a campsite next to the river meant by the time it got to us it was a river of its own! (Lucy was not amused by the stormy weather) It was a good thing that the weather was slightly less than best because I had work to do on the easel...I started 2 new pieces that I have since completed...but it is getting late so I will save those for another I do have some progress on Lucy also! LOL 


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lucy update and a morning in the garden

Lucy finally has a completed face!  I know it seems like she is taking a long time...and unfortunately she is.  You only get so many days in the spring to get the "chores" done, this spring has been especially challenging due to the poor weather we have had. Now that some heat has arrived everything is literally growing before our eyes. ....and that includes the inevitable grass and weeds that find their way into the perennial beds every year, and I just have to get them removed before they set seed.

 Have you ever heard the old adage "one year of seeding makes for 7 years of weeding"

...when I was travelling to conventions I was gone in the spring to Pennsylvania and Toronto in late April or early May and then to SDP Nationals late May or early June ..... which is of course prime weed seeding time so (((sigh))) I am still doing battle although it's not nearly as bad as a few years ago when we took up to 5 landscape trailers of growth to the public compost pile . LOL
However most of the work is done, I still have to thin out a few overgrown perennials (Obediant plant is not very obediant!) and then we can lay the bags of mulch waiting to smother any remaining seeds.

Here is Lucy:
Most of the critical work is done, the contouring of her facial structure was tricky in a few places and it was slow going but I can now move back over to the left side and work a little out of focus which will hopefully go a bit faster.  I am finding the heat is changing the application of the pencils, they are much more fluid than when they are cooler, and the humidity made the paper buckle so badly that I had to untape all but one edge.


Regardless of the chores and other demands on my time, the light in the garden was just "perfect" yesterday morning and I had to take the time to shoot photos of the newly opened flowers. I had one camera focused most of the morning on one iris opening which was an interesting experiment, I haven't processed those yet but I invite you to visit my Floral page to see a few more flowers from my garden! 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My Modem is on the fritz!

Hi All!

Just wanted to leave a short note to ask you to not give up on me...our modem is on it's last gasp and has worked very haphazardly the last week or so and until we get it resolved I won't be uploading any photos as I am (((sshhhhhh))) using the neighbours unsecured network!
Lucy is coming along when I have the time, but mostly I am working in the garden when it is not raining. The veggie garden is all in, the front beds are planted as are all the pots in the shade garden next to the patio, next to tackle is the rose garden and the perennial bed!
Once we get the internet issues resolved I will post some pics of the garden and my progress on Lucy!


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Progress on Lucy

I tend to procrastinate quite a bit once I start a new piece of art because to me it's not a hobby and it's not relaxing, it's work...and sometimes it is a labour, but in case you might misunderstand is a labour of love and something I have to do!

I'm finally getting into the groove with Lucy and making some progress. Creating a pet portrait in coloured pencil is a tedious process at the start (at least my process is) and it takes time to work out the colours and get comfortable enough with them to work along without confusion. When you are working with a handful of pencils, or a lapful in my case, it is so easy to grab the slightly wrong colour when working in a similar value and colour range as it is with most fur. And then there is the sharpening factor...the pencil must always be needle sharp to get the best laydown, so I am always sharpening, sharpening, sharpening which disrupts the flow from eye to hand. Never the less, it eventually starts to move along and gets comfortable.

On my lap while working on her fur is FC Brown Ochre, Bistre, and Burnt Sienna and from Prismacolour I am using White, Black, Ginger root, Light Umber, Sand, Chocolate, and Sepia. I expect I will stay predominately with these pigments for the rest of the piece, I might need a few more or a few different pencils if something isn't working but most of the difficult decisions have been made.

I have some family obligations the next few days so I will have to leave her for the moment, the weather forcast is calling for more rain on the weekend so I will probably continue with her then.

I've also put a few more pics up on my Birds etc page.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lucy is taking her time

Well, as I thought, I spent most of the last 2 weeks doing things other than in the studio working on Lucy or another wildlife painting I have on the easel.  We decided to take a few days and head out to Rondeau which is our favorite Provincial Park and a hot spot of activity during the spring migration of birds.

Unfortunately we got there a bit early this year to experience any big waves of warblers or other migrating birds but we still had a great time as always and I am happy with the pics that I did get.  I did take Lucy along to work on (and the real Lucy went with us of course) but after spending morning, afternoon and early evening walking the trails with 10 lbs of camera, lens and binnies around my neck the cozy little bedroom in the back of our Airstream was calling to me.....

So that I don't mess up the flow of WIP posts of my work I have set up a separate page for some of my bird and wildlife photos.  You might see some of them reappear someday as a painting or drawing! is back to being cold and very, very wet again which means no gardening this week unless the weather forcast is very wrong :-) so I should have more of Lucy to show you this week!


Monday, May 2, 2011

a bit of progress on Lucy

Just a little bit to show you since the last post, I had to spend most of the week preparing for my "Pet Portrait" class at the C2C convention in Toronto....the class went great, and all the students did a remarkable job on their kitty.  I am always so happy to see more artists turned on to the fun of working with coloured pencils!

As I thought there just weren't one or 2 pencils that I could put together to get the "right " colour for our golden Lucy dog, in fact she has been causing me quite a bit of trouble!  I tried this combination of pencils, Nope! and then another combination of pencils, Nope!...take it off and and try again, and then once again when I finally found the right combination that I feel gives an accurate rendering of her true colour.
 I ♥ my electric eraser!

I finally hit on the right combination of 8 pencils after 4 tries...sometimes it just takes a while when working with a translucent media like coloured pencils to get not only the right pigments but getting them layered in the right order.

you can see all my scribbles on the paper and at the top is the combination that finally got it least for this section of her fur, I know that I will have to make adjustments as I work through the light and dark areas.

The spring migrants are really starting to arrive now, I was greeted this morning by the sweet sounds of a native White Crowned sparrow calling outside our bedroom window, and upon rising noticed a few White throated sparrows, a number of female Purple finches and one female Rose Breasted grosbeak at the feeders as well. If the weather is good, I will probably be outside for most of the week taking photos or working in the gardens, hopefully I will still have some energy to work on Lucy in the evenings!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I sometimes have a hard time deciding what I should begin next, I have so many good photos to choose from I spend hours just going through them and never make a decision :-)

This time I finally decided to make an attempt at our own golden dog Lucy. She is 5 years old and a great joy to us, although she is rather spoiled and strong willed...(that's her daddys fault)

 Lucy reference photo

I can pretty well tell if the rendering is going to be successful once I get the eyes and nose finished, so far she is looking pretty good. Lucy is going to be a bit of a challenge to get her golden colouring just right, there isn't just one or 2 pencils that are the right hue so I will have to do quite a bit of swapping colours as I work.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weather! and some spring migrants

Is winter every going to end?  Usually at this time of year I am out in the garden all day, every day but this year winter just doesn't want to go away. Although I have been able to spend a few hours out doing a bit of weeding and cleaning up, the continual rain/snow/rain and cold temps are making it difficult to get things done in the garden and the thought of planting anything in the soaking wet, cold ground is just not on the books just yet.

There seems to be a disconcerting weather pattern building with every weekend having the worst weather of the week...not good for those who work! 3 weekends ago we had a tremendous hail storm that caused a good deal of damage to our property. Broken windows, smashed flowers, and a great deal of damage to our vehicle and our beloved Airstream which had me picking up golf ball sized hail stones and bits of branches from the carpet in our bedroom!

Last weekend I taught another beginner Coloured Pencil class at Liz Garcia's studio in Mississauga ON.  We had a full house in Liz's beautiful studio, and I think we were all happy to have something to occupy our time indoors as the wind and lashing rain outdoors wasn't very pleasant. I thought we had some hope while driving home that evening, as by the time we arrived home the temp had risen from a steady 4 degrees for the day up to 11 degrees.  Unfortunately the wind turned from the north again and by morning everything was white once again!

Regardless of the weather some of the spring migrants are making their way north. This week saw the arrival of a few purple finches mixed in with a large flock of goldfinches who are busy fussing with the resident finches who spend the winter with us.

This fellow is "ripening" nicely! Some are very yellow and almost completely finished with their moult into breeding colours, and others are still rather motley looking!

This male Purple finch is glorious! He was much brighter and obviously the dominant male of the group, I brightened this photo because it was such a gloomy day but didn't alter the colours at all.  I saw him in the crap apple tree this morning, along with one female purple finch...their nesting range is a bit farther north than we are but maybe this year they are having other thoughts about moving on!

We have also had a pair of chipping sparrows arrive, we usually have one or two pairs of them spend the season with us in the neighbourhood but I have no idea if these are "our" chipping sparrows or just some that are taking advantage of our abundant bird feeders.  I know I took a pic of one must still be in my camera so I will save it for another post.

I read that hummingbirds have been sighted back in Ontario, it seems rather silly to be putting out feeders for them when there is a good chance the feeder may freeze up, but if they are here, there isn't much else available for them to I will be hanging out my feeder this afternoon and I might as well hang the Oriole feeder at the same time...the last 2 years we have had Baltimore and Orchard orioles in the yard just about now...although I love seeing them I hope this year they are lingering somewhere farther south where it is warm!

I will be back soon with some more bird photos, a photo page and also an update on what I have on the drawing board right now.

Chipping sparrows are the only "native" sparrows that tend to nest in our garden or close by, although we do get visits from many other types of native sparrows that stop off for some food on their way to summer nesting areas. American tree sparrows and song sparrows are often around in early spring and sometimes a fox sparrow will drop in, although they never stay more than a day. In a while I expect we will see White crowned and White throated have to be looking for them in amongst all the English sparrows that dominate the feeders!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Simon is finally finished!

I am happy to say that Simon is finally off the drawing board and I think he looks terrific!  After completing his copper name tag and green collar I started back in on his orange tabby a bit with cream, then swap out a few strokes of Sandbar, then some PolyChromos Raw Umber, maybe a few strokes of Light Umber, Sepia, Sienna Brown, Chocolate or Burnt Sienna...and then add some more Cream or White and start it all again, sharpening every few strokes to make sure that each hair is well defined.

He is almost finished here, I have completed all but the final "smoothing and polishing" to the fur on the right side of his chest.  The last step for this area was to finally pick up the Colourless Blender Pencil  and do a light, all over scumble...following the direction of the pencil strokes. I use Normal pressure to apply the blender, and just smooth and blend the pencil layers together. Then, since I have not used heavy pressure that would compact the tooth of the paper I can still go back and apply a few random strokes of cream, white or one of the darker values and then everything just pops!

His whiskers are added - gee, he has a lot of whiskers and some of them start out black and then turn white along the length. I cheat and use thinned acrylic paint and a very fine liner brush to paint the much easier than trying to indent and keep the white pencil white.

a close up of his pretty green/yellow eyes

and another close up of his copper name tag and the soft blended multi layered appearance of his fur.

I hope you like Simon as much as I enjoyed working on him!