Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ives and May

Oil, 4 x 4 inches

Ives is a Yellow-crowned Night Heron from J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. While sight-seeing the area on a bicycle, I noticed this bird enjoying morning winks cozied inside the leaves of a mangrove. My reference photo of Ives is from my 2012 archives. It’s a painting I’ve wanted to do for several years.

In other art news, a painting of mine has been accepted into Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum’s 2017 Birds in Art exhibition in Wausau, Wisconsin. More details will be provided in another post closer to the show’s opening in September, or you can read about it here.

Just like the last few years, May continues to be my busiest month living in Duluth. Continuing along the lines of the last two years, Terry and I planted 150 native trees and shrubs May 11-13th, adding to open areas in the woods, the ditch, and in our yard. This year’s plantings included white pine, jack pine, white cedar, white spruce, pin cherries, peach-leaf willows, silver maples and hazelnuts. I’ve included some photos below, both of this year’s plantings and prior. The plants are from South St. Louis County’s Tree and Shrub sale held every spring. Most are young seedlings, and some just look like sticks, but that makes them affordable.

Prior years’ plantings are doing well overall. Three are worth mentioning: white pines, jack pines and nannyberries. The pines are doing great, and after seeing almost all of them growing strong last fall, I quickly, and somewhat frantically, caged them before our first snowfall. Given the density of the wood’s ground vegetation, I was thrilled to see these little trees poking out after all of the other flora had died back in November. Nannyberries were purposed as a ditch plant, but did not do well. This spring, I found only five out of twenty-five plantings. Pin Cherries and pussy willows have joined the remaining nannyberries in the ditch, as I work to return this area back to nature. Anything else, except invasives and tall trees, that lives in the ditch can grow to its heart’s content. Beware of the lawn mower no more.

In birding news, yesterday was a huge migration day here in Duluth. Most of my day was spent outside staring into the trees. Do you think I get strange looks from neighbors and passersby? Two birds were added to my life list: a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and a Connecticut Warbler. As mentioned, May is a busy month, and what better way to end it than spotting two birds that I’ve never recognized before? These latest additions bring the total number of bird species identified at my home to 89. And I still haven’t seen a Palm Warbler here yet. For goodness sakes! Enjoy Memorial Day Weekend everyone! Don’t forget to take in some art along the way.



Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Moonshine & Little Big Show Opens Friday

Oil, 4 x 4 inches

The American Bittern is one odd bird. Secretive and sloth-like with its movements, the Bittern creeps through tall grasses and blends easily with its surroundings thanks to its neutral-colored feathers and lime-green feet. And when it feels it might be in danger, it will stretch its neck straight into the air and hold this pose in an effort to camouflage with its swampy, weedy habitat. I did not go searching for this bird, but happened upon it in a marshy area in Madison, WI, and witnessed all of these behaviors. Its sound is very unusual, too, similar to a big gulp of water. Such are the wild adventures that are the most thrilling and memorable to me. When the unexpected happens, nature can really be fulfilling.

In additional news, MacRostie's Little Big Show opens this Friday, 4-7 pm, in Grand Rapids, MN. The show is part of the city's First Friday Art Walk when businesses are open later than normal. Wine and music by Sam Miltich from 4-6 pm, artist talks begin at 6 pm. Free and open to the public. Sponsored by Bill Rutherford. My miniature of a Hermit Thrush is in the show, highlighted in a previous blog post. Other miniatures of mine are for sale throughout the gallery. Below is my miniature painting of an American Goldfinch that recently sold at MacRostie.