Monday, May 26, 2008


On this glorious Memorial Day, I decided to take a hike through Spears Woods, part of the Palos Trail System. What a beautiful day! It was supposed to rain all day but I got lucky, no rain, only cloudy skies and 82°F.
Last night we had a thunderstorm with heavy rain for over an hour, so today the forest was filled with a strong earthy aroma, oh how I love that smell!

Anywho....I slightly went "off track" and found this really cool handmade birdhouse. I could appreciate the time it took to spray paint all those polk a dots and attach a wire perch. Very creative! I don't know who made this birdhouse nor who placed it here, I assume it was a restoration club of Spears Woods.

Who lives in here anyway?
I found out......

Why it's a tree swallow STARING RIGHT AT ME!!!
Do you love his white chin and belly? So do I. Even better, he has this metallic blue back that is something to see in person!
This is a zoomed in picture, I didn't actually get this close.

How lucky I was to have seen the occupant of the artistic birdie residence!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ants on My Peony

I have a lovely pink peony bush that is about 8 years old. Every year gets better than the last, with larger blooms and deeper fragrance...I love it, can't live without it in the spring. I named this bush Natalie Peony, because it always blooms on my half sister's birthday, which is pretty soon!

Anyway, I was always under the impression that the peony needs the ants to eat off the waxy coating around the buds or else the flower will not bloom. THAT'S A MYTH!!!!
Read here for a great article.
The peony really doesn't need the ant at all. The ant is attracted to the sweet resin and does absolutely no harm to the peony at all, so no need to pesticide the poor thing!

I also heard another good tip:
To bring fresh cut flowers in the house, let the flower soak upside down in a bucket of water for 5 minutes. The ants get out and the flower isn't harmed. Only 5 minutes though!
Enjoy the wonderful fragrance indoors!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

If You Love Color...

Do you remember this photo?
I took this last month when I was walking in Tinley Creek Woods. I really love this spot which actually came as a surprise the first time I spotted it. I couldn't see the creek nor hear the creek until I was on top of it. Now, I'm not even really sure this is the official creek of Tinley Creek Woods, because the area is so large.

Inspired to paint this picture, I had a very large dilemma...there is NO color! The scene is very monotone on a cloudy afternoon. Well, I'll just have to create my own color. That's where the fun begins!

Using Wallis Museum Grade pastel paper, I decided to make an under-painting wash to set the mood. I usually block out shapes with pastel and then with a brush and turpenoid (a turpentine without smell), move the color around once wet. Today I decided to make a watercolor under-painting instead of a pastel under-painting because watercolors have such a mysterious look when allowed to do their own thing and I wanted this to show through the final painting.

©2008 Christine Kane Art

Here is the final painting which is titled: "Deep Forest Secret" 16x20 Pastel.
Can you see the watercolor drip marks on the bottom left corner of the painting? That is the watercolor paint showing through. I love it! These drip marks can represent a physical thing like tree roots, or it can convict a feeling like mystery or an oddity, which is what I was aiming for.
I used oranges and pinks which are clashing colors to represent excitement and that is exactly what I felt when I discovered this creek. Now, as you can tell by my photo, I had no color to start with. As an artist you can make up whatever colors you choose. They don't have to be realistic! What's your mood like at the time? How were you feeling? Were you happy, excited, depressed, sad? Let those colors set your's fun!

"Deep Forest Secret" will be matted and framed and made available at in a few weeks.
Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Well, I'm a lucky ducky!
During my lunch at work I sometimes sit outside in my car. One particular day, I noticed a female and a male robin take turns returning to a certain pine tree of a lower branch that had fabric or string stinking out.
"What's that?" I asked.
Why it's a nest! Are they feeding babies!?!
Why yes they are.....

Now don't you worry, I did not touch the branch nor the nest when I took this photo. I just stuck the camera in when the parents were away looking for more food! I wouldn't risk it just for a photo.
Let's take a closer look at the robin baby...

Individual wing feathers for us to see. The universe in such order and what a plan, doesn't come by just chance.
What a lovely word.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Starling Bully

The starlings have taken over the suet cage. Poor, poor Stella and Henry Woodpecker!
Now that it's spring, the starlings have returned in full force. Gone are the days when I would watch my little woodpecker friends visit every hour to have a snack. The starlings are bullies and scare my poor Stella and Henry downy woodpeckers away. Starlings are large and fight all the time. When battling each other for prime position on the cage, they make this really annoying screeching sound. "Screech, screech, look I'm bigger than you, go away!"
Since I rarely see my woodpecker friends and the suet cakes are disappearing in lightning speed, I'm thinking about repo-ing the cage and maybe replacing it with a nice orange and jelly holder as to try and attract Baltimore Orioles. I'll return the suet in the late fall early winter for my Stella and Henry, when the starling numbers dwindle!

Do starlings like oranges too?

Monday, May 12, 2008


Look! The chives are beginning to blossom!
I have many chive clumps in my garden, not so much because I can't live without them, but because you can't kill them even if you try, bunnies don't destroy them, and they have a pretty purple flower.
Chives are apart of the onion family and have a real subtle onion flavor. Cut them up with a pair of scissors and put them in salads, dips, or as a potato topping. Yummy.
Now for the fun part....

Oooh, pretty purple flower! Look at all of those individual petals waiting to burst out! Surprisingly this close up was taken in the early evening. I like how the dark green background turned almost black against the flower. I don't know how that happened.
Let's get a closer look.....

Delicate, huh? I can appreciate this flower much more when enlarged this big. This could totally be a huge painting one day, cropped out just like this!
Yes, paint it then eat it!

P.S. Thanks Mom for letting me play with your camera....what a cool toy!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Towhee I Tink

Check out these photos:
Is that an eastern towhee? It was making it's presence known! He was pretty loud.
From my view I almost thought it was a junco, but it was much larger, especially the tail and I clearly saw red around the flank area (under wing but before breast).

Could it be?

Not that an eastern towhee is all that unusual around the Chicago area, but I've never caught one on film.
This little fella was flying in Teason Woods watching me pass on the trail. He was "barking" up a storm, which made me stop and look up in hopes of spotting him.
Spot him I did as well as get his photo!

To be a towhee or not to be a towhee...
I'll let you be the judge!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Springtime Wildflowers

Oh lovely little yellow (I don't know your name) wildflower, how the odds are against you! Choked by those rocks, you would much rather be by the others in the grass. Don't worry, I will step around you as not to do you harm and wish you some luck!
This wildflower/weed growing against the odds gives me strength as I understand it's hardship. Beautiful things come from struggle. I have to remind myself.

Look your friend, Mr. Purple (I don't know your name either) wildflower is having a swell time in his pebbly surrounding, you two have something in common!

If any wildflower/weed specialist can give us a name for these two, it would be like receiving a present! I always appreciate people who are smarter than myself (and there are many of them), to help educate this site!
Thanks ahead!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Isn't he beautiful and so kind to spread his wings for this photo!
After searching in my Butterflies of North America book by Brock & Kaufman, I discovered that this fellow is the Juvenal's Duskywing, typical in the eastern oak woodland. He is definitely a male because the female is much lighter and they typically fly in the spring.
Notice his little white spots on the top portion of his wings. They look exactly like my field guide!

We will name him Duke. Duke Duskywing.
Duke was fluttering on the ground near the steam of Teason Woods (tons of oaks are here). He's quite large, about 3 inches wide and was not shy around me. As you can tell, he let me get quite close!
Thanks Duke Duskywing, hope to see you again!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Because Monday Sucks So Bad

Yes, I know how you feel.
Monday is the worst day of the week, so to help with the pain of playing the rat race once again, we interrupt your stinky day to bring you these lovely pictures and video of Teason Woods, part of the Palos Trail System of the Chicago Cook County Forest Preserves.
Here is the best part of the yellow trail (all trails are labeled by color):

I just had to step off trail to get this cool profile of the bridge over a running stream. Oh how much fun I had! It never ceases to amaze me, just when I think I'm on a boring trail where all I see is the same thing I stumble upon something really cool and exciting. I love how the red contrasts against the spring green colored leaved in the background.

Here is what the other side looks like. At this spot I found many wildflowers, heard a frog (I don't know which kind), heard strange bird calls (I didn't recognize and couldn't see), and saw two butterflies.

To sit by a creekside in silence and just let it speak to you is something of which words will always come up short to describe.
So here is a little one minute video!

Hope you enjoyed even though it is still Monday!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Perfect Pose

No, this is not a lawn ornament. It is not a statue that has been painted, or will be dressed in ridiculous outfits for every season!
This was a real breathing male mallard that just happened to turn sideways for a perfect pose.
Thank you Mr. Mallard.

Notice those curly end feathers by his rump? I'm sure there is a nifty name for it. Any smart fowler is welcome to educate us on that nifty term...please?!?
Anyway, this gentleman was guarding a female who was digging in the grass with her bill for food...I guess. I thought I saw her with a worm, I'm not sure.
This male did a very good job protecting her from humans and other male mallards, walking with her every step of the way studying the surroundings, being very alert.
A protector, a gentleman, and handsome.....every female duck's dream!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Before the Storms

Oh how I love my storms!
Spring is the perfect time to watch the atmosphere change in the blink of an eye. One minute it's unseasonably warm and the next buckets of rain are released from a saturated sky. Blink again and the air circulates in cool currents, carrying fresh aromas.
Thunder sounds and excitement overcomes you....well it does for me!

Today was great for beautiful threatening skies and a surprise storm or two.
This was a picture I took today about one hour before thy sky opened and a super soaker drenched the earth. I love watching sheets of rain attack the ground during high winds. One after the other. Trying harder than the one before.

I don't know why I love them so. It probably started when I was a little storm watcher with my Dad. Sitting outside we would watch the storms get closer and closer, feeling the rumble in the ground before finding safety inside. Too bad he lives in the desert now where they get about a drop of rain a year! Too bad, that's gotta suck.

There's nothing like a Midwest storm!