Category Archives: wildlife

dune painting and wildlife report from VA Beach

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When I was driving down the Sandbridge Rd. this morning a deer crossed the road in front of my car. I saw it from far away, a doe, as it walked across the ditch. It didn’t jump, just walked. Then as I was driving down the Back Bay rd. a big sand crab crossed the road.

A couple days ago I had to come to a stop on that road for a big turtle.

One day last week I was walking down the gravel road to my overlook and I saw something brown in the grass next to the road, not moving, and I wondered what it was. It was a big rabbit and not your ordinary wild rabbit but one with real pretty tortoise shell  colored  fur. As I got closer it didn’t move but kept on eating the grass. I walked by it only 3′ away and it didn’t run.

There is a bumper crop of dragon flies down there and one flew right into my neck! You can see hundreds of them buzzing all around this scene.

It was hot when I got there at 7:30 but there was a nice breeze which made it more tolerable. Now it’s hot as hell out there.

I’m almost finished with my dune painting triptych. This is the center section, finished.

Today’s wildlife report from Virginia Beach

Oysters spit.

I was walking at Pleasure House Point and stopped to look at some oysters. A bunch of times I saw little jets of water shoot up. It was kind of funny. I never knew they did that.

Human wildlife

I found another good place to sketch that I didn’t see before. There were boats beached on a sand bar and people out on the sand in the middle of the inlet. The tide was low. A boat was blasting country music.

Birds

I saw an egret, a sand piper and a small heron.

I think the osprey chicks in the nest out back are learning to fly. I saw one fly to the ground and then back up to the nest, and I saw one fly around the nest in high circles. I think those were this years chicks, but I’m not sure.

This photo was lifted from stock photos

Ok. this is my second try using the new editor. It took some time to find the right place for categories and tags. This editor seems more technical or complicated to me.

I’ve seen a lot of ospreys lately

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I lifted this photo from free stock because I’ll never get a shot this good.

That 10 nights I stayed at the oceanfront when my lease was up at my old apt. and I didn’t know where to go, then that same day they announced VA needs to go on lockdown, so I went to a hotel with a good view, I saw an osprey fly past my balcony 3 different times with a fish in it’s talons. Another time I saw the bird on top of a street light pole eating a catch.

Then I moved into this apt which is quiet and safe and has a real private balcony with 2 big old cedar trees blocking my view of an empty baseball diamond out back, and I saw ospreys flying around.

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Yesterday I saw 3 huge birds on that pile of sticks on top of that light pole on the left, and there’s another smaller pile of sticks on a pole on the right with an osprey hanging around. A bird is on top of the “nest” on the left but it’s not showing up in my photo and you can barely see the bird on the right. That’s as far as my camera can zoom in.

I didn’t even notice the pile of sticks until yesterday when I saw them flapping around it. I thought I saw a little white head popping up a few times. I don’t know for sure that the stick pile was there all along because we had a gale force wind here on Mon. How did that pile not blow down? Or did the 3 birds just make that since the day of the big wind? I didn’t see them on top of the sticks again yesterday but this morning I saw one fly in and the other one leave.

At first I thought it could be that the 3  birds going to the sticks on the left were last years chicks who haven’t paired off yet but want to practice their nest building skills. I don’t know. This morning I saw one fly from the pile on the left over to the smaller pile on the right.

Also, I was sitting on the balcony at the oceanfront hotel and 2 pigeons landed right in front of me on the railing. I looked at them. They looked at me. One flew away then the other flew away but came back again. I think they were searching for me because pigeons like me, but that’s another story. Once I gave a pigeon shelter from a storm and it hung around my house in Richmond for a week or so.

It was a tame banded pigeon hopping around on my porch. When the storm came up I opened the door and the pigeon hopped in onto my foot and I put it on a shelf where it stayed overnight. The next morning it was easy to catch and put back outside. I got the number from the band and looked up the owner. The pigeon escaped from a bird show in Richmond. (one of those trick ” rolling “pigeons)  It was pretty. I fed it for a few days but then it was gone. The guy told me a hawk probably got it.

That’s the wildlife report from VA Beach today, and a brief story about a strange bird encounter.

I’m making good progress on my pastel of Rudee Inlet, but I’m posting this so my blogging friends won’t worry if they don’t hear from me. I’m safe. My stuff is safe.  I’m still healthy. I hope you all are ok too.

marsh with egret / art theory

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This is watercolor with Inktense pencils in the grass. I’m not sure if I should work on the egret more or stop now.

When I see a beautiful place like this, I want to paint all of it. I wonder why the trend in art is to simplify. I need bigger paper so I can put more of the scene in the picture.

My theory is this, if an artist’s life is complicated they feel the need to simplify their art. Most peoples’ lives are complicated. My life is so extremely simple most people would die of boredom. That’s why I enjoy the complexity of nature so much.

I look at this scene and think about things like, that’s a great habitat for an egret but inhospitable for a human. How many snakes are down there? How many of those snakes are poisonous? Is the light better in the afternoon? Because the parking spot close to my little overlook will be full and I’ll have to walk a mile with my art supplies if I don’t get there early. Why did the trees die? An inlet is on the other side of that row of trees and the path floods. Did the marsh water get saltier, killing trees? Or did beetles do that? I might never know the answers to my questions but that’s the kind of things my mind goes to.

Since my life is so simple, I feel like my mind is more balanced, thinking about simple questions and not stressing about serious problems. It makes me look slow in comparison to other artists. I can’t call myself “prolific” because it takes a week to finish a watercolor. That’s ok. If I was an artist that felt compelled to make art in some type of frenzied state, (the other extreme)  that would be unbalanced for me.

As always, feel free to opine.

marsh @ Pleasure House Point

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This is watercolor with some Inktense pencil in the grass.

The tide was high all week and the sandy path to my overlook was flooded every day.  At least the water looked the same every day too, because it’s a lot different at low tide. A lot of people walked in the water, some fishermen wearing waders and others, including me, took their shoes off and walked barefoot  in the water. It’s still warm here.

A guy stopped and talked to me. He said Pleasure House Point is his favorite place for work and recreation. I asked him what kind of work he does and he said he tests water quality. Doesn’t that sound like a good job for a nature lover? He was interested in buying my painting and it was only half finished. He gave me his phone number.  I’ll call him tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed I get a sale. IMG_2389

This is what I did to my fan brush. I cut it zig zag so I could make waves. I was trying to figure out a way to paint the water with wind going over it and this was what I came up with. I think I’m on the right path with this and I’ll use it again.

In wildlife news, the birds were squawking loudly and I heard a fisherman yell out, “Shut up! We’re trying to fish here!” I thought it was funny.

 

Bald Eagle charcoal sketch

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My model is made of bronze. This is just a start. I couldn’t draw small enough to fit the whole bird on the page so I want to transfer it to a larger paper and go back tomorrow if the nice weather holds out. When I go back I’ll make some corrections. I’ll finish the feathers more and draw white feathers on him. I should look up eagles to be sure because the sculpture doesn’t have the white feathers colored white.

There are so many beautiful bronze animals around here. This one is at Norfolk Botanical. I bet they’re all made by David Turner. I love that guy’s work. At Seashore State Park they have a beautiful red fox in bronze which I also want to draw.

I’m one of those artists who think there’s nothing more beautiful than nature and it should be represented in art as closely as possible to reality.

 

Ghost crabs / charcoal/ with unscientific observations

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I can’t decide. Are they like heads with legs coming out the sides and no bodies? Or are they like bodies with no heads and eyes on top? Anyway, they have a ton of personality.

Last week I walked barefoot on the beach at First Landing State Park a lot, maybe too much because my right foot got stiff. I soaked my foot in water with epsom salt and it’s ok now but I’ll probably stay off the sand for a few more days.

One day I took my sketchbook along and at the end of the beach close to the Fort Story fence I saw a bunch of holes the crabs made. Some were large holes for big crabs. I sat still on the sand for a while and a few crabs came out of their holes pushing sand out and making piles next to their holes. They looked at me. They must have 360* vision with their eyes on top. When I moved they were in their holes like a flash. I saw a couple big ones. They were probably 3 or 4 inches from tip to tip, running back and forth at the edge of the gently lapping waves of the bay. I wished I had a sardine to lure the others out of their holes to pose for me. They don’t stand still long so I did a couple sketches from memory. I think it might be a good drawing exercise to observe them then sketch them from memory.

I sat there for about 1/2 hour and got these sketches then a lady walking on the sand scared them all back into their holes, so I gave up on sketching. I’ll go back another time soon because I want to do a painting of the bay with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel on the horizon.

pelican / charcoal and chalk

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It’s a throwback to the age of the dinosaurs isn’t it?

My model is a bronze sculpture.

Yesterday I got a start on my sketch but after working on it for a half hour or so I saw that I drew it too far to the left on my paper. I didn’t want his beak to crowd the edge so I decided to transfer my sketch to the other side of the paper and try again.

I worked on it for another hour or so and was starting to get hungry and lose my concentration. I took a break and went back to work on it a little more. Then a lady spoke to me and I jumped. She was very apologetic for startling me but I told her no prob. I was in the zone but I can go back. That happens sometimes when you draw in plain air. If it would annoy you too much to have your concentration broken, then plain air isn’t for you. I kind of enjoy talking to people who are interested, so no big deal if they scare me. I’m not on any schedule for finishing the sketch.

Drawing this pelican made me see the beak has an extra section down the center. And from far away the head looks like a squid to me. Can you see that shape in the head? I’ve seen live ones before but I can’t remember where. If I find a good spot with a nice background for this bird I might do a painting and enter it in the Audubon contest. (some day)

otter / charcoal and chalk

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My model is made of bronze. He’s at Norfolk Botanical Garden where I found a whole bunch of bronze birds and animals.

It was nice out this morning, not too hot and humid. I found a great place to stand and draw under a magnolia that is starting to bloom. When the weather gets warm I look for a shady place to sketch. There was a little breeze and the otter was in the sun.

It’s only drawing practice. I might never use this sketch in a painting, but if I ever want an otter for a painting I have one.