Thursday, November 29, 2007

Beautiful Sky x2

Do we live on a beautiful planet or what?!? I mean, Mars is all red.....Venus is sulfur acid yellow, aren't we lucky with our fascinating ever changing spectrum? That's what I thought when I saw this beautiful sunrise yesterday morning. I love how quietly the sun gently presents itself in the morning. Although I have to admit if it weren't for work, I would still be snug in a bug at this early hour. How lucky ducky am I, just today I witnessed this beautiful sunset......

Let's take a deep breath of tranquility.....ahhhhh. Do you see that right angle line in the sky? That was man made, it was from a plane, but everything else is God's handiwork for our happiness. Some might not believe that but I appreciate every little "gift" I can find.
If your interested in planet colors, you can click here. Ours is the best one by far!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nature Sculpture

This is a life size nature sculpture done by artist Patrick Dougherty. It is on exhibit at the Morton Arboretum until the end of this year and it is as much fun as it looks!
This life size twig house isn't just for kids but for us big people too. You can run in and out of the rooms and nobody will laugh at you. It is expected you regress in age the minute you step in and play as if you were 10 again.

Here is what the ceiling looks like inside, a big hole! I mean, natural skylight...where is my imagination! Perhaps it is a portal to the stars? Who knows maybe it is where the smoke escapes when cooking inside?

Here are the inside walls, there are many windows and places to hide. If only it were in my backyard!
It took Patrick Dougherty 3 weeks to build and used 3 semi-trailer loads of 15 different kinds of small trees and shrubs . WOW, that's a lot of work!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Autumn Tree with Nest

I absolutely love when autumn trees look like this. I made my poor cousin take this picture from her phone before work one day.
I saw a million reasons right away, why I had to have this one on "film". I knew when driving by that I wanted to paint this tree someday because I fell in love with the way all it's leaves have dropped right below itself, I fell in love with the way the top is bare and the lower branches are clinging on to leaves yet, I feel in love with the yellow color and I also fell in love with the November sky behind it. This morning was a typical November morning with a little drizzle, with clouds meaner than they really are, and cool temperatures. My favorite.
Do you know what else attracted me to this tree? The fact that it looks like all the autumn trees Charles Schulz painted in his "Peanuts" cartoons! My all time favorite cartoon.

In my interpretation, the top of the tree has a nest exposed remember the post on exposed tree nests?
I had to give it one even though this tree really didn't have a nest. I pulled out my artistic license right here! This painting is also an action shot, see the leaf falling from the tree? LOL.

Any who, I'm please at how this watercolor turned out, not overworked at all, just the right amount of paint and light. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and a lot of turkey leftovers!

For more info on how to purchase this painting click here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Henry Immortalized in Watercolors

Henry shall live on! Forever! He is now immortalized and embedded in watercolor paper.
Because I love him so, I painted him balancing on the suet feeder cage from the post a week ago or so. I sprayed the background with a misting water bottle sprayer, so that it was a little "out of focus" and Henry was able to come in loud and clear.

I love the patch of red on his head. Do you know Emeril, the cooking guy chef? Do you know how he says, "BAM!" When he throws in some spice?" Well, that is exactly what I said when I painted the red male trait part of Henry's head!

Anyway, I'm pleased at how he turned out. If I wasn't, I would have said so!
Henry is available for sale by clicking here.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Turkey Day tomorrow! Enjoy it with your family and friends.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spruce Plot

This is one of my favorite spots at Morton Arboretum, the spruce plot. Can you see how dark it gets down that trail? It gets me excited every time! The spruces were planted so close together that the sky is a canopy of pine needles which blocks out the sun. If you can only smell what I could smell standing on this spot! It's wonderful.

Looking up you can see small pockets of blue sky. Right here is where I heard a woodpecker pounding away, but I couldn't find him. Which tree do you think he's on? There very well could be over a thousand pines, but I really couldn't count.

Poor little maple, you really don't have a chance. I respect your determination and your bright color in this dark section did give me a smile, but those guys aren't going to share any light with you. All the best of luck to you...

Doesn't this look like a post card? You can rest on this limestone bench after a nice long hike and lay your feet on three inches of pine needles. I just love how dark and quiet it is in here. When looking beyond the plot, everything looks so bright. It's like a different world in here, one that aids in quiet contemplation and deep reflection.

Happy Hiking!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Morton Arboretum Field Trip

Let's go on a field trip! Today we are going to Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. Morton Arboretum is a nature Disneyland for grown ups and kids, more for grown ups though. It is one of my all time favorite places. If you're in the area you must dedicate a whole day to enjoy all 1,700 acres of nature goodness. You will also have to shell out $9 each adult at the gates, unless you're a member. Believe me, it's worth it.

Brief History of Morton Arboretum:
Joy Morton founded the arboretum in 1922, it was his family's land.
You know the name Morton, from Morton Salt
Remember the little girl with the umbrella and salt pouring out??? That's the company.
Joy's father is J. Sterling Morton the founder of Arbor Day (1872)

Points of Interest:
West side
Four Seasons Garden, France Garden, Wild Garden, Sterling Pond, Lake Marmo, Schulenberg Prairie (100 acres!) and many trails.
East Side
Children's Garden, Maze Garden, Hedge Collection, Juniper Family Collection, and Northern Illinois Collection, and many trails.

Back to our regularly scheduled program:

This is the inside of the visitor's center. There are information displays, the Ginkgo Restaurant, Cafe, and Arboretum store.

Here is the Children's Garden. It is awesome even for adults. There is a large shallow pond you can walk in, many tree houses, gadgets and gizmos to play with, and little tunnels to crawl through.

Here is the maze. Those shrubs are about 6 feet tall, tall enough for me to get lost! In each section of maze, there are story fragments to read to form a nice nature story. I'm not going to give it away.

There are manicured paths......

And my favorite, natural paths. Look, it's a tree that still has leaves! I only found about 4 trees on the east side that were at their peak, most deciduous trees there have lost their leaves. This was on Main Trail Loop 1. It is about one mile long. The path is unbelievably soft, bouncy actually under my hiking boots. On this trail I saw one very large hawk, a large female hairy woodpecker, heard a cardinal, and saw many russet colored squirrels.

More pictures of Morton Arboretum this week.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Old Country Lane Road

This is the beautiful Old Country Lane at Country Lane Woods.
This use to be a happenin' street back in the day! Now it serves as a really neat gravel trail, you can walk it or ride your horse for miles. Today it was about 45 and drizzly. Drizzle won't stop my fun, no sir.

Isn't this beautiful? This is a small pond right off the trail. It's hard to see but there are many exploding cattails. Good for the Chickadees, which I did hear in this area - no joke. Maybe tomorrow I'll try to zoom in on one of the cattails. When walking towards this pond I did hear activity by the edge. Perhaps it's warm enough for the frogs to still be out, I'm not sure.

Everyone needs a walkin' stick! We find a stick.... we use the stick.... we leave the stick! My grandpa always made sure the grandkids had a walkin' stick, everyone of us. I'm keeping the tradition going.

I hope you enjoyed this brief visit to Country Lane Woods.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blown Away

Chicagoans may wake up tomorrow morning to find non of these! Beautiful leaves!
It's a mild 43 degrees but very strong winds are now moving through the area. It is the very thing I dread every autumn. It seems that just when autumn reaches it's climax, a wind storm always sneaks in at night to steal all of the leaves. Its bad enough the season is too short but to steal all our leaves, now that's just mean. Don't be surprised if on your way to work tomorrow you ask yourself, "Hey, where did autumn go?"

I did however enjoy one bit of the wind. I stood under my pine tree, the one you see behind Henry in the previous post and held on to the trunk as the mighty wind whipped around. Now, I know standing under a tree in a wind storm isn't the smartest, but the pine is healthy and the boughs were actually making a whistling sound when the wind raced through the needles, it was loud and mesmerizing. I needed to stand underneath it. Anyway, I held on to the trunk and actually felt the tree sway back and forth in a dramatic fashion. I've never felt a tree move so much, it was very exciting and you probably had to be there. It's hard to comprehend the energy, the powerful force that was strong enough to have such an effect. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Srooms at Spears

I love when srooms attack a decaying log. I don't even know why.
They are beautiful, you know, with their darker gray colored rings. Can you see them?
Maybe they're a little mysterious...conditions must be right, why did they choose this section to attach to and not another, and why are they on this log and not the one next to it?

Maybe I just appreciate the job they need to do. Nothing goes to waist in nature. After the tree dies, it becomes food for a host of animals and birds, even shelter for larger animals as shown in the post a few days ago. When the tree collapse, these mushroom break down the tree's matter to speed up the decaying process so this tree can become nutrients to the ground.

This log also had some woodpecker holes in it. Wow, two attacks on one log and I'm sure a billion others under the microscope!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Art Site Up and Running

Yeah! After many hours and going cross-eyed my new art website is up and running.
To view click here.

Some folks might ask, Why did you feel the need to change it?
Well, its been a year and a half and it needed a face lift. I also will be able to update more frequently than before, that means more paintings! Faster! Weeeeee!

Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Got U Henry!

Lets sit here and enjoy Mr. Henry have breakfast at the suet feeder. I got you Henry, even though the littlest movement scares you off. Poor Henry, he's not as confident as Stella lately. Stella lets me go outside and stand a few feet from her and when she sees me gawking in the window she doesn't fly off. Be a man Henry, be a man! No pressure.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Spears Woods in November

When people ask, "What do you get out of walking around in those woods?" How do you answer?
I've met non nature lovers, people afraid of the outdoors due to the fact that bugs live out there, people who love the hustle and bustle of the city with as many people as possible, and surprisingly many just don't understand.
This is how I answer: Do you know the painting, "Creation of Adam" by Michelangelo? Where God's stretching out His finger touching the finger of Adam, breathing life right into him? Corny as that sounds, that's exactly how I feel. I am never more closer than when I'm in the woods, not even at church, oh that sounds bad.
When I'm as far away from people and in the center of pure creation, the communication highway is wide open and everything is so clear to me.
This is Spears Woods. I'm cheating a little and for the rest of the week, using pictures from Sunday's walk because daylight is short and I can't do much after work anymore. Spears Woods has several beautiful features...

Not only does the trail take you into deep forest, but shortly after you can visit a savanna and lake area. How I love when autumn colors give their last performance of the year.

Here is the lake. It wraps around an island of trees. I've spotted many deer in this area but not today.
This weekend, I have to paint some more autumn paintings in pastel, I will be using Spears' pictures for inspiration no doubt.

Oooo, I love the slime that forms at the edge of the water. Frog territory, I'm sure. Notice the ripple in the water? It was very windy that day. Leaves swirling in the wind and branches creaking as they bend. I loving it all, communing with the One behind it all!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Hey, What's Up That Tree?

Here I am, trying to fit inside this tree. I could have done it if I tried, ha, ha, ha. This beautiful tree is located at Spears Woods, part of the Palos Trail System
Sunday was the perfect day for an autumn hike, not too warm, not too cold, although it was a little breezy. Well, not even one minute into the trail did I spot this neat hide-a-way for animals and weird nature enthusiasts. I wonder what animals take shelter at night in this very tree? Here is a close up....

Doesn't it look like this tree has steps which lead upstairs? Only if I were that small, even for a moment! Doing the next best thing, I stuck my hand up the tree, turned my flash on and took this amazing picture....

Isn't it just the neatest!!! I get so excited just looking at it! Doesn't it look like the mouth of a cave? Now, if a bat flew out of here as I was taking this picture I probably would have had a coronary right on the spot. I'm happy I didn't disturb some poor creature, minding his own business in his home. When I got home I did zoom in to look at every inch up close like, in hopes of finding a spider or something, but I can only find a web and some fungus, I think. See in the center? That's not daylight, this was an incredibly large tree with many leaves on it, not completely dead. I think the center is white fungus. Any who, I just love this picture and now I'm on a mission to photograph every tree gut I can find!
Does anyone know what types of animals like to hide in tree hallows like this???

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Poison Autumn

Yesterday I painted this poisonous mushroom three times. When you don't succeed the first time, try, try again. Well I guess three's a charm, because I finally got it. Like I've said before, "You don't control the watercolors, the watercolors control you." The trick is to make it look airy and light and my previous attempts were much too overworked. We don't like anything overworked.
My inspiration for this painting was from a photo that Kurt took of this mushroom he found by his cottage in Wisconsin this autumn. He is a very talented photographer!
I am in the process or redesigning my web site, hopefully by the end of this week it will be up and running. This painting will be for sale on the new site.
PS Don't eat this mushroom!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Autumn Nest

Oh how I love when autumn exposes the heart of a tree and this is just the beginning!
Whenever I see a naked tree with a nest in it, the nest reminds me of a human heart. Just like how humans attribute love with the heart, little avian angels picked this spot for the heart of their home, in the tender arms of a protecting tree. Clothed in the leaves of summer, autumn settles and begins to expose all that was hidden.
Do you see the red berries hanging off the branches? It's as if the tree is saying, "I'm sorry for revealing your nest, here are some berries for your trouble!"
May you find many hearts this season.
And if perhaps you own heart feels low, look upon a nest and remember this:
"Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."
- Jesus

Friday, November 2, 2007

Tonight's Sky

I'm a sucker for a pretty sunset, I have to admit, so when I walked out of work at 5pm and saw this, I just had to grab my camera. High five to me, cuz I actually had my camera with me! Just one hour later, the sky looked like this...

Oooo, I love yellows, pink, and purples in the setting sky. So tranquil.
The only thing I don't like is how early it becomes dark, even earlier after tomorrow when at night we "fall back" an hour. hummph :( When you work full time and you arrive in the dark only to leave in the dark, it can get to be a real downer. I'm going to have to rely on all my nature buddies that can take pictures during the daylight hours to get me through winter!

Thank You

I want to say a special "thank you" to Drowsey Monkey who awarded me with this Break Out Blogger Award. What a treat and a surprise! She makes me laugh every time I read her post :)