snow

A recent memory. . .

fountain pen and w/c in 8 X 8″ hand.book w/c journal

At this writing the rain has melted all our lovely snow, and luckily the ice that made the grocery store parking lots dangerous and walk-taking impossible.

But oh the snow! There’s something so cozy about being in a neighborhood and imagining the nice neighbors across the street snuggling in with the winter white wrapped around so peacefully. I wanted to try a night scene so I chose this one from the living room window after the birds had gone to bed [where do the birds go at night??} 

So I made a diluted mixture of thalo blue and sepia and painted the entire scene with it, except for where the light shone. Then came back in with darker shadows of the same mixture and bright yellow for the lights. Just that, and then lifted a bit of color off the trees to show patches of snow. Ten minutes and I was done! Memory fertilized and archived for years to come. And without the reliance on cell phone picture captures which are handy, but capture only part of the story.

I apologize for the quality of my pictures of the art lately. For now I am left with going to a window (where there is not that much light coming in these winter days), holding the sketchbook up to the light coming in, and snapping a picture of it with my other hand. I hope it will improve when I move into the studio in a month.

Being more housebound lately I’ve had time to indulge in taking online workshops. I’ll be sharing my student work along with resources you may not know about. Stay tuned! 

Precarious

Precarious is the word for the season. It’s how we feel about our health with a new variant blasting its way through our illusions of safety. It’s how I feel when I go outside and encounter the slippy-slide-y snow and ice. It’s the extreme-weather-economic-social angst and a million other things in the news every day.

And it’s what I feel for the birds in their frenzied visits at our feeders.

One day when the birdseed supply had almost run out, I noticed a particular pattern of bird prints in the snow at the edge of our front door portico. Had they seen me emerge from there, even though it’s not visible from the feeders? I got the message and filled the feeders directly. They didn’t wait for me to depart before they started eating.

15 color medium point Posca Pens

So when I finished trying out all the flavors of Posca paint pens in my gift set, the birds outside my window jumped into the picture along with their tracks!

The problem was the hummingbird feeder, which froze solid so the Annas were out of luck. I should have melted it down each morning, but it was so cold I thought it would just freeze back up.

But then I saw a couple Annas on the feeder and realized I’d better try a little harder. Next morning was sunny and when I put the feeder out again with fresh nectar, I had a couple customers.

Next day though I found a one tiny body in the snow below. The heart gone from its 1263 beats per minute to 0, wings no longer beating 80 times per minute but now motionless.

Precarious. . .the life of such a small creature in the frozen world.

one male Annas hummingbird from three angles

Found you,  my tiny iridescent flasher

Beneath the feeder on a pristine pillow.

Did a snow clump fall and knock you out?

Did the cold stop your heart?

Did you, desperate with hunger, drink too much too fast?

Or did it the nectar come too late, after days of starvation and freezing?

My grieving took the form of an afternoon of study of this miraculous little body with the tiniest iridescent feathers that shone electric when in just the right light, but otherwise had become a dull gray. I hoped with my attention to unlock some secret of bird survival in a kind of artful homage to a valiant life.

Or was it a contemplation of the precariousness of life. 

Snowed In

And the snow keeps coming! draping us in a pristine white silence. We walk around the neighborhood in the fresh snow, taking care to avoid the layer of ice underneath. Today our neighbor Margo and I brought our two year old friend Ellis along for a sled ride, then helped older kids build a snowperson family of four on a front lawn. Memories of my childhood in Canada and Connecticut came rushing back. Hours spent absorbed in play and unconcerned as the fingers and toes grew numb with cold.

There’s the backyard discoveries of tracks in the snow – deer and rabbits – and Quon Yin sporting new winter garments. On a walk around the block the discovery of a street-side Christmas tree, labeled “free”, adorned with white and unclaimed. We live in Christmas tree heaven here where all the cut trees in the lot are full and perfectly shaped, with 6 or 7 species to choose from. Bob and I bought the first one we saw when we arrived in the big barn at the Hunter Family Farm.   

With temps in the 20’s the sketching is happening in the upstairs room where my watercolors and sketchbooks live.

It’s a cozy spot with a carpeted floor, a temporary art roosting spot until the garage studio is completed. Yesterday we had the electrical inspection, so things are moving along in spite of the fact that no roads around us are plowed. 

The windows on the left are being enlarged and there’s a door on that wall which looks out on the back garden.

And here’s the opposite view, with a sink going in where the black pipe comes down. And while the work is happening, the majority of my studio supplies have been stashed and unavailable in the rest of the garage. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. Being “snowed in” is highly conducive to art play!

Wishing you a joyful new year with an abundance of creative inspiration, tantalizing art materials, and fellow art lovers to share it all with.

Our First White Christmas

fountain pen, watercolor, Posca Pens in hand.book watercolor journal

No this is not a vacation cabin in the mountains. It’s the view out our dining room window the day after Christmas. . .a white one! And yes, it’s the first white Christmas I can remember since childhood. And the first snow this coastal California girl has seen in over a decade. At this writing there are about 6 inches and more on the way with this Arctic blast of weather lingering for a few days. 

Yes there’s been a certain amount of anxiety about what to expect, but we’re just staying home and so far I find it enchanting. The teens have skied down our street and you can hear the little kids shrieking with delight as they go down the hill across the street on their saucers. And yes, this is unusual for here in the Puget Sound area, about 20 degrees colder than usually this time of year. But my ski jacket from (ahem!) 30+ years ago does the trick to keep me comfortable. I’m so tired of hearing “there’s no bad weather, just bad dressing. . .” from everyone here, but it’s true.

So Andrew was folding paper and making sketchbooks across the dining room table from me and I was gazing out at the birds and playing with my new Posca pens, while Bob and Ben were working on a programming project.

I figured the Posca pens would be opaque enough to draw in the snow over the watercolor-painted foliage. But every watercolor artist knows the truth that the whitest white is the white of the paper. Lesson learned. But it worked for the snow in the shadows! More on the fun of Posca pens and painting snow next.