Monday, March 31, 2008

They Love Each Other

Last Friday I went back to Maple Lake because it was warmer and sunny and I thought I might still be able to enjoy the loons. Oh boy did I! These two swam next to each other the whole time.....I think they're in love!
Not just a spring fling they have, because I hear loons mate for life. Good luck Mr. and Mrs. Loon, I'm rooting for you!

Here is a handsome fellow. Do you see his bill, it's rather white. I can't figure out if that's the sun's reflection or if it was really was lighter because their bill does turn gray in the fall/winter.
I do not know if they are still at Maple Lake or if they started their trip to the North.
Someday when I retire, I want to retreat like Mr. and Mrs. Loon to the North, where the air is clean and the surroundings are peaceful and my neighbors are the Loons!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Just a Bit Loon-y

OH BOY guess what!!!
Today I saw my first Common Loon, (Whooooo Hooo!) thanks to my bloggie buddy, Dave...whom I met the other week! Dave emailed me a message saying some loons were spotted at Maple Lake in Willow Springs, IL. I read my emails on my lunch break at work and knew what I had to do...

After work, I jumped in my car, blasted my classical music and a dramatic fashion....through snow, sleet, rain, and then sleet again to Maple Lake (well, not really raced, but I was excited). The weather condition was nasty, but that didn't stop this (never seen a loon) gal!
Here is what awaited me:

WHAT'S THAT!?! What is that? Let's zoom in.....

Why, it's my first loon! Not only was I blessed by the beautiful sight of 6 loons, but I actually heard one call! I heard it!!! Now, all you nature lovers out there that had the benefit of hearing a loon call, knows exactly why I'm so excited! That beautiful sound!
I watched them while standing in the sleet for several minutes with only a spring jacket on because darn it, yesterday was so warm!
The loons were looking for food by diving underwater. When they dive underwater, you expect them to pop back up in the same spot, but they don't! They swim as they dive, for a very long time and pop up somewhere else! It was very fascinating to follow them and guess where they were going to appear.

Here are some pictures of the area. This is a great spot to fish. The Cook County Forest Preserve District did a great job building this area up and creating an area where fisher people can sit, for it use to be just a shallow shore of marshy reeds.

Well, I have to say the loons picked a great spot to rest during migration. The loons do not live around here, but they are migrating to Canada to spend the summer. I really don't know how long we are going to have this terrific opportunity to see them.
I am just so fortunate to have had the chance.
Thanks Dave!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hocus Pocus Crocus

One day, there's nothing.......then the next day....Hocus...Pocus.....


At least I haven't noticed them until, viola!
I love these purple crocuses. Of course they are not mine, as I am never that organized in the fall to plant bulbs, but they are my neighbor's. I mean well, I say to myself, "Oh, I should buy some bulbs." Then the ground freezes.
I wait too long.

Anyway, good job Mr. Neighbor (not the hand feeding squirrel neighbor), you're crocus brought a spring smile to my face.

Changing the subject......

April with Nature at My Doorstep (BC Canada) has tagged me with the six word memoir. Please visit her site, she's pretty amazing.
Here is mine:


I do believe that best describes it in 6 words.
Nature never bores me, I'm amazed at how much I've discovered about our world and the One who created it for us.

I'm supposed to tag 5 more people, but everyone I know has done one of these!
Thanks April!

Also, I made Drowsey Monkey's day (also Canada) a few posts ago and I'm so grateful....she makes me laugh all the time! For a real hearty laugh, you must see her "Cheesus", it's hilarious! Thank you Drowsey!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Welcome Spring Watercolor

I don't know...this maybe hopeful wishing because there is still snow on the ground, but today I felt inspired to paint this picture from earlier this month.....

Remember this post on "evidence of spring"?
Now in my painting, I used my artistic license and made the female sparrow larger and the birdhouse a little smaller, removed the wood fence background, and added nice watercolor drip marks representing rain for the spring season.
Oh it's so much fun to paint!

This watercolor painting is called "Welcome Spring" and will be on display at the LaGrange Art Gallery on March 31 through May 2nd 2008. If it does not sell, it will be made available after May 4th on Christine Kane Art.

I have taken on a part time job as a newsletter editor as well as holding down my full time job. This may cause me less time on the computer as I am realizing there are too little hours in a day! Posting may decrease, I hope everyone understands.
Thank you!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Winter's Grip

Look at what I found in a puddle right by my work this morning! It's a half melted / half frozen puddle.
What's so special about this puddle?
Notice how it melted, the left side is obediently melting like a good piece of ice should. The right side however, is rebelling all the way...leaving shards so sharp you don't want to go near it!

Why do I like the right side better? Is that bad?
NOPE, just a lot more interesting! Here is a close up....

How can something be so fragile and look so dangerous at the same time? What lovely ice structures that formed in the night. What do you think was the cause of such a difference in melting patterns?
How nature keeps my interest at all times! Fascinating!

This winter is behaving like the right side, very rebellious. During the night tonight, we are to receive another winter storm with several inches of snow. How winter has it's grip on us! Easter is in a few day and it feels surreal. How can the Easter Bunny find his way through all that snow? When I think of Easter, I think of spring! Winter will once again put us in our place and once again I am humbled.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

End of Day Pastel

© 2008 Christine Kane Art

This pastel was created after I was driving home through the country, passing many farms, trying to get on the highway and suddenly fell in love with these trees against a setting sun. I pulled off the side of the road, ignored my family's moans and groans about having to stop, and took a beautiful picture. "Nature doesn't wait for us...." I explained to them, "You have to be ready or else it's gone!"
Well, I'm ready!

What is it about this winter picture that I liked so much?
The best feature is the dramatic skeleton shape of the trees against a warm sunset. I love warm sunsets (reds, oranges, yellows) in the winter time, it's such an ironic contrast. Next, you can still see the rows that the farmer left behind after harvest....proof of man. The cool colors (blues and purples) accented on the field, I placed to represent the cool night quickly approaching. "Hurry home!" It says, "Before the cold night takes over!"

This painting is titled, End of Day. It is available at Christine Kane Art on the pastel page.
Hope you enjoy

Sunday, March 16, 2008

White Tail

Hey, what's with this mourning dove's tail?

Do you see the one on the left has a normal tail and the one on the right has a short stubby white tipped tail? Here is a close up of his tail.....

Maybe this dove was injured by a hawk and is regrowing his tail feathers? Or is this a molting thing going on here?
I invite any smart birders out there to please comment with their knowledge!!!

Blogger Meet Blogger

Yesterday I had such a surprise! I went to volunteer at the LaGrange Art Gallery and who came by for a visit? It's Dave with Osage + Orange blog! What a nice surprise.

Here we are in this cheesy picture. lol. Dave is every bit as interesting and intelligent in person as he is on my computer screen. He is filled with interesting environmental information and that's a real good thing because he runs his own company, Osage Inc., which consults builders on restoration and landscape development.
So all you local builders out there, consider Dave!

It was so nice to put a face and a real voice to a person who's blog I enjoy. Nice to meet you, Dave!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Best Sky Ever

Another beautiful spring like day today with 52ºF and better yet, a sky that exploded in color and unleashed an energy of excitement at exactly 6:15pm.
Oh how fortunate am I, to be able to experience life's subtle pleasures and capture a fraction of time, embedding it into my memory....and sharing it with my friends.

You might think that the sunset is reflecting off of a lake, but no, that is a puddle of melted snow in the middle of a large field. I spotted this puddle, across the field from a parking lot. I decided to take a chance, grabbed my camera and started to walk towards the water. I'm so glad I did, I was able to capture these beautiful shots. Here is a solitary oak leaf submerged in that melted snow...

You can see how shallow the water is in this picture. I love that single oak, it must have traveled quite far, because there is no tree close by.

I held the camera almost all the way to the ground for this picture. It creates a nice perspective and the grasses in the foreground really come into focus. Not only that, but it gives the puddle a real lake like quality, making it look huge!
I get real excited when I see such beauty. Jumping up and down is not out of the question when overcome by the excitement nature has to offer. Believe me, I was jumping! Just a little.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Little Pond

With temperatures finally reaching 57ºF and a blue sky I couldn't refuse, I decided to take a walk to a nearby pond on my lunch break today. I shall name this man made pond, Little Pond, because it is little and I don't know the name of it.

Little pond has one very large tree on the property, I love it's character! Today a robin landed on one of the top branches and sang to me a tweet tune. That's the first robin I spotted this year! Tweet!

Here is a portrait style picture of Little Pond from bank to bank. I love this picture because of all of the colors it captures. From the top: Sky blue, russet, amber, sienna, green gray, blue, gray, reds in the berries (can you spot that?) and raw sienna! A full pallet of color.
I love the little pools of blue in the middle of the melting ice. How neat!

Little Pond also has some "lake front property". I believe it's vacant, but it probably comes with a hefty price tag and I'm scared to imagine the taxes! BTW, the neighbors are animals and being nocturnal, you might not catch a wink! Beautiful view though!
Haaaa, haaa, haa, ha!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How Now Brown Cow

Remember that phrase? I say it every time I see an ordinary plain jane (or joe) brown bird. Now, I love my sparrows, so a "how now brown cow" greeting is a term of endearment.
Look at his plump little birdie body...

Isn't he the cutest? Well fed indeed! When he realized a human was taking his picture, he became timid and flew in the pine. Maybe he's a birdie celebrity and doesn't want me to sell his picture for millions to the National Enquirer?

Or...maybe not. He's still cute at a distance. He still thinks I'm weird.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Class Painting

Last week in Gary Wick's pastel painting class, he had everyone paint from the same picture and had us finish it in 2.5 hours. Even though the size is pretty small (9x6), that's still pushing it, to complete a painting in such a short amount of time!
Well, he must have taught us something right, because everyone did finished it.
When Gary was in Italy taking a bus tour, he took a picture of a field and made copies so that everyone can have one.
Here is my painting:

Gary made just one restriction. You had to paint the picture upside down. From start to finish! Now, I can handle a few twigs upside down, but the whole entire thing? That's really hard!
The trick is just to look for shapes. Don't think tree, sky, mountains...think block, oval, and squiggly lines. It's like painting blind, your brain doesn't really make sense of what you're looking at.
Here is what I was staring at:

You really can only be sure of shapes and colors to succeed at painting in this manner.
It was so much fun at the end of the class to turn them right side up and see all of the beautiful variations the students came up with. No two paintings were the same, all of the colors were slightly different and some students decided to leave a few trees out. It was so fascinating to see the differences, I wish I had brought my camera!

I have decided to name this painting, Italian Countryside. The painting is 9x6 and mounted to fit a 14x11 medium wood frame with a 2.5" off white mat. It is currently not for sale right now, because I'm in love with it. He...he...he.
You might find it for sale in a few months at

You can tell Gary that was proud of us and I think we were surprised ourselves!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stella Likes Seeds

Here is the beautiful Stella, the female downy woodpecker, at the seed feeder! Usually I see her on the suet cage, but a few times more recently I caught her here. I love how she uses her tail feathers as extra support.
I welcome her to any of my feeders!

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Frozen Treat

This is the pier at Centennial Park....flooded and frozen. The retention pond serves as a dumping ground for several surrounding cities. With all of the snow, melt, rain, and snow again, this pond has reached it's limit. It has reached it and surpassed it. For some reason, I still love it. When I should be thinking, "Oh flooding, how horrible." I am rather thinking, "What a magnificent scene, the ice representing a cold and quiet solitude, peaceful even to me. A forceful rest."

Next to the pier are a few benches, where you can relax and enjoy the view. You don't however, want to rest on one today!

Frozen grasses trapped and flattened in the ice, make for some beautiful artwork. Terrific color combinations composed by winter's hand. Will spring loosen the grasp?

Perhaps we don't want it to? Winter's charm never ceases to entrap me, just like this oak leaf. There is beauty in the leaf's willful surrender.

These willow trees, surrounded by ice, make the best of the situation with a beautiful sunset reflection. How gracious am I to benefit from their lovely splendor even in the midst of their struggle.

I am listening to Gregorian chant right now and the relationship between nature and God is coming together very rapidly. For my friends who choose not to believe, you do not have an obligation to read any further. See you tomorrow! :)
For my friends that do (everybody is my friend you know...I don't discriminate), these images tell me a story of struggle and beauty. Every scene for me, echoes a truth of how victory conquered death.

With Easter fast approaching, we are reminded of Christ's seemingly impossible situation of being condemned on the cross. A wrongful death? Evil overcoming good? Or was there a purpose, a meaning to this horrible act?
Jesus' death on the cross was meant by his enemies for punishment, but allowed by God to atone for all of our sins, which is His promise. This promise is brought to life every time someone asks for forgiveness.
Here is what Jesus said after his resurrection:
"These things I have spoken to you , that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Just like today's images....the willows trapped, the grasses and leaves as well, right now it seems like destruction, but beauty overcame and death did not have victory.

Happy Lenten Season.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My Friend Jim

My friend Jim Milkowski loves nature and creates beautiful pieces of artwork with various types of wood that he finds in the wild. How exciting! Where I merely copy what I see with paint, he creates art with actual nature itself!

picture submitted by Jim to

Here is how Jim describes his art:
"My work begins with an unfinished wood picture frame. By using natural twigs, Mother Nature provides an unlimited palette of color and texture to apply to the frame. The amber hues of weeping willow, the ivory-speckled deep-brown of birch, the olives of common willow, the brilliant magenta of dogwood, and the grays and browns of basswood are what first catch our eye. In most cases though, the original color is not retained. After a 3 month drying period, the twigs usually take on subtler, more subdued hues. Other times, the color change is striking. This can be either exciting or frustrating when the colors I sought to capture have changed.
Though tedious and time consuming, peeling the bark from the twigs is well worth the effort. It opens a whole new avenue of color and texture. It affords me the option of applying stain for color and leaving the inherent character of the wood unchanged."

picture submitted by Jim to

I love how he tells which colors come from which type of wood. Just fascinating!

picture submitted by Jim to

I met Jim at the Little Red Schoolhouse Art Show, where we were both participants. I really respect and admire his work and dedication to nature. Jim has shown his work throughout Illinois (including the Morton Arboretum), Wisconsin and Michigan. In May, he will receive this year's schedule, to which I will keep everyone posted. If you're a local, I hope that you can visit Jim and view for yourself such wonderful pieces of art!

I try to make it a point to encourage and promote any artist dedicated to nature and our Creator.
Thank you Jim for allowing me to use your photos and share your talent!
Great work!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Evidence of Spring

Here in Chicago we were cruelly teased with a bit of spring like weather yesterday. With temperatures souring to 53ºF and a much needed appearance from the sun...sure enough I thought spring was on its way!
"Not quite that fast!" Winter said.
Temperatures are plummeting as we speak with 3" of snow on it's way once again to blanket the ground tomorrow.
Now, I love snow and all, but when I saw this.......

I thought surely the birds know! The birds know spring is here somewhere!
This is a female sparrow on the birdhouse in my backyard. Notice the material in here beak. That birdhouse raised 3 broods of sparrows last summer. It was very exciting to watch them all grow. I felt like grandmother sparrow.

Peek-A-Boo...I still see you!

Here is Papa, he was cleaning the last bit of debris from the house. What a good man he is! I love the sprawl of his tail feather and his heart shaped doubt he is demonstrating his labor of love.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Gallery Approved

I am happy to announce that the LaGrange Art Gallery has accepted my work to hang in their gallery! Whooooo Hoooo!
Downtown LaGrange is a very charming area with an old world feeling. It has many specialty shops and classy restaurants. Speaking of restaurants, yesterday a few spaces from the gallery is Cafe 36 where they are currently filming a cooking show!

Remember this painting of Sunset Fire? Click here it see the step by step post. This month's theme at the gallery is "new light". I thought this painting was fitting for the subject. It looks really good framed, however I take really bad pictures of paintings after they have glass on them!

The second submittal is this painting titled, Dancing Shadows. This is also a pastel painting and was inspired by a visit to Maple Lake East early in the morning when the sunlight peaked through behind the trees causing shadows to dance on the grass. It was a great sight and another good "new light" theme.

For all the locals, you can visit the LaGrange Art Gallery and find directions by clicking here. The paintings will be on display and for sale from 03-03-08 through 03-29-08, the gallery is open M-Sat. 10am-5pm. I viewed the many paintings from various artists yesterday and they're all really good!