Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Birding Weekend in Sanibel

Hello my friends!
Finally had my first birding outing of 2013 with Lita. We spent the weekend on Sanibel, a place we both love not only because we met there but because it's so full of nature and wildlife. It's a dream locale for photographers, nature lovers and of course, birders. And we are all three! ;-) We had a great weekend which included a couple of really magical moments gifted to us by the universe as well as lots of great birdy sightings. We ended up seeing about 33 different species of birds and Lita added 7 or so to her life list and I added 4. We also ended up with dozens of bites that welted up on our face, hands, chest and legs thanks to a constant attack by no-see-ums, little biting bugs that, you guessed it, you can't see. However, they were so thick we could see them plain as day! They even attacked our scalps. I have itchy hair now. ;-(
And, I have tons of pictures to process. I promised myself I would keep up with the processing this year. Um, yea, right...I can already see how that is going to be a challenge!

Alrighty then! On with the highlights from the weekend in Sanibel:

On Saturday, we arrived in time for a quick drive through Ding Darling before having lunch at The Greenhouse Grill. I was able to add two birds to my life list while at Ding Darling, a Dunlin and a Red Knot. Later in the afternoon we hit Bowman Beach for a bit of shelling and then headed to Captiva to capture the sunset. There was no sunrise that morning at my lake due to rain so I was very happy to at least have a decent sunset.

A sweet Dunlin. They are so cute!

 Beachy Blues

 Sunset 1.19.2013

One of our magical moments was watching a Bald Eagle snatch a fish from the ocean and fly right over us! It was the highlight of day one but unfortunately both Lita and I had no time to adjust our manual settings and we just pointed and shot and none of our pictures turned out (I think we were shooting seashells or waves or some such thing). I managed to salvage one enough that I could add in some clouds I shot earlier along with some texture so that I could at least have a shot to remember the moment by. Not that I would was a one in a million chance sighting there!

Bald Eagle with Catch

On Sunday we got up before sunrise and headed to Ding Darling, unaware that what lay ahead would be misery in the form of no-see-ums. It was completely overcast so once again, no sunrise. That makes three days this month that I didn't see a sunrise. Hopefully the rest of the month will shine on! At Ding Darling we met other birders who were kind enough to let us use a roll-on eucalyptus bug deterrent which didn't work at all. We also met a nice photographer named Tom Brennan who gave us some no-see-um spray which didn't help either. Lita immediately welted took my body about 12 hours before the allergic reaction set in. Even as I'm typing this I'm in a state of itchy misery. But, the real question is, was it worth it? And the answer is a resounding YES! The highlight of our day included interacting with a Yellow-throated Warbler and this amazing private performance we received from a Stand of Tree Swallows:

Wrong Way

We actually had to sneak into Ding Darling because it was 30 minutes late in opening. There was a line of cars waiting to get in but we were walking so we squeezed around the gate. We later went back and paid our $1.00 to the attendant who said the back of her alarm clock fell open and the battery came out. She felt terribly bad about it and we in turn, felt bad for her! 

Me and Tom with his serious birding lens!

Yellow-throated Warbler

After the morning at Ding Darling, we head to our favorite breakfast cafe, Over Easy for a delicious and filling meal. Of course I had eggs benedict with a side of not only bacon but also sausage! Piggy plate alert!
And, the Over Easy cafe has the best coffee. It was just what we needed to push through the rest of the day which included a hike along Baily Tract which is where we saw the Stand of Tree Swallows (I just love using collective nouns!) and a teenage gator. After a couple of hours there we headed back to Island Cow for a delicious dessert before heading off the island and back to the west coast.


Eggs Benedict, my favorite breakfast 

A Stand of Tree Swallows

Shadowed Selfies

Decadent Dessert

Greetings from Florida!

And, also from last week my sunrise collage:

Week 3

I continued drawing my giraffes for The Year of the Giraffe class with Carla Sonheim. I also did one in pastel. This is our last week for the drawing portion. I hope to add a few more pages to my giraffe sketchbook before the end of the month. 

Next up...a week with Phoebe! I can hardly wait for our adventure! See you all soon!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Week 2 in Creativity

This week I began my Year of the Giraffe online class with Carla Sonheim. This month it's all about drawing the giraffe. Giraffes are so cute! I dug through my pile of unused journals and found a nice handmade one with a cover that seems suited for all the giraffes that will live inside of it. Eventually, I can go back and add watercolor to all of the drawings but for now, I'm just doing various drawing exercises and my goal this month is to draw as many different giraffes as I can. Here are some practice pages I've done this week, in a collage form because I'm currently obsessed with making collages:

Drawing the Giraffe
This week I worked on blind contour drawings, drawing with the wrong hand and gesture drawings. Next week will be all about realistic drawing of the giraffe!

I'm still recovering from the flu with a lingering cough and some plugged sinuses but I was able to have a Creative Saturday with my friend Cynde who had the flu over Christmas. We figured she was safe to hang out with me in my art room. We worked on making our own Spirit Cards...these are cards that have words to encourage the spirit such as Healing, Dreams, Hope, Faith, Learning, Love etc...My cards are going to be themed with birds and the words are based on the myths and legends that each bird is associated with. I worked on The Blackbird first, which is a bird of Prophecy, so my word for the card is DREAMS. Just like a regular deck of cards, the backs are all the same. That is going to be time consuming because I chose to design this as my back:

Birdy Love

Here is the front of the Blackbird card:

i giorni della merla means The Blackbird Days which are the last two
days of January and the first few days of February. I put the saying on the card because I loved it, but I depicted the Blackbird at night since it is associated with prophecy and dreams. :-)

Here is an artistic shot taken with the Hipstamatic using my newest lens/film obsession:, the Tinto 1884 lens and the C-type Plate film:


Cynde worked on a teacup design Spirit Card with the word "healing". After working for a few hours in the morning, we had some healing comfort food trying a new restaurant in town that has grilled cheese as it's main theme...yum, grilled cheese!

Adam Good Bar & Grill'd restaurant. The menus were attached to old album covers! How cool is that as a way to reuse and recycle? Pretty darn cool! And the food was damn good too! :-)

Some damn good grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch!

Finally, Cynde and I headed to Barnes and Noble for some dessert and some inspiration. I ended up getting a cute new journal to record my birdy sightings, as well as Carla's new book "How to Draw Imaginary Creatures". I already have her Drawing Lab book so this will be a perfect companion piece! I also found that one of the blogs I follow Creative Thursday has a book out! So of course, I had to get that too. Throw in my favorite painting magazine from Britain, Leisure Painter as well as a bird magazine and I'm good to go!

Creative Inspirations

I continued to process images from my archives. I feel like I'm making a dent, deleting more than I am processing which is a good thing since I'm almost out of room on my laptop!

I can't wait to be at the beach again...just one more week and then a birding getaway with Lita!

And finally, I continued getting up early enough to take pictures of the sunrise. This week had some pretty dramatic skies so missing out on extra sleep was totally worth it!

Sunrises, Week 2

This week there won't be anytime to be creative as home improvement projects are taking the front seat. I will however finally be on my first birding outing of the new year so I am definitely looking forward to that. I just hope I keep the flu from coming back! 

Have a wonderfully creative week dear friends!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Forest Magic, Movies, Sunrises and Giraffes

Hello my friends!
I am still recovering from the flu but feeling better everyday. I can't wait until I am 100% and can get out and about again in the world of the living, although if anyone gets me sick again I will be very ticked off. ;-)
This week I found out my sprinkler system has not been coming on for two months! Thus, not only is everything dead in my yard but the stuff that is living has a white-fly infestation. Let me tell you, those buggers are voracious and not easy to get rid of. I was very depressed about the whole thing for a day or so until I realized this is a perfect opportunity to replace the dead stuff with native plants that will attract even more birds and butterflies to my yard. So, I'm trying to look at the bright side of the buggy situation. Maybe by next summer, I will have a lush garden again and new flowers to take pictures of!

So, what have I been doing since being stuck inside with the flu? I've worked on art of course! I finally finished my first illustration done completely in Photoshop. It was a learning experience for sure. I used all my own textures except for one from Distressed Textures for an overlay on the background. Picking out the textures was quite the fun part as I didn't know after making it into a pattern stamp what it would look like on the page until I started painting it on.

Forest Magic

I first drew a rough draft by hand and scanned it into Photoshop. I realized two things at this point: that I drew her two elbows (haha, talk about double-jointed!) and that drawing this directly into Photoshop would have been much easier as I had to go over all the lines anyways to create the "piece" look I was going for.

Rough Draft

I then began to paint in the textures. I ended up with a total of 40 layers! I used textures I made by running ink off of old Nat Geo pages. I then scanned them into Photoshop and created textures from them. Using the Pattern Stamp, I then created a paintbrush effect and added them to my selected areas, one at a time. Yes, that took forever!

As I began to redraw it in Photoshop, some things got erased and some things got added to improve the overall composition. Finally, background textures where added and some of the line drawing layers deleted. I used an old map texture to create the ground. I loved how it looked!

When I finished, I printed it out on my printer on high quality paper and let me tell you, it's gorgeously rich and delightful! I'm going to giveaway the print so if you comment on this post, telling me your favorite part of the piece, I will put your name into a hat and will draw a winner on Sunday. I will send the print matted, signed and ready for framing! What a fun project! I can't wait to attempt another!

I continued the Sunrise shots this week...somehow that has turned into an iPhoneography series and I just hope I can keep up with it. I really only meant to shoot the first sunrise of the year but I've been up everyday in time for the rest of them. Probably not a good thing since I go to bed late and really need rest right now but honestly, who could resist seeing this:

Sunrise 1.9.2013

And wanna know what else has cheered me up this week? One of my goals each year that I put on my dream/visualization board is "continued learning". Last year I did this with gusto and took way too many online classes that I ended up not being able to finish because of all the traveling I did. I have the same kind of adventurous year ahead of me again but I didn't want to give up on the idea of an online class because I really enjoy learning and being pushed out of my comfort zone. So, I chose one that my friend Constance told me about. It's Carla Sonheim's Year of the Giraffe! It's a year-long art project all about Giraffes! OMG. I love Giraffes. How fun is this going to be? I love Carla's drawing. I would love to be more silly and free. I'm too technical with my drawing. I hope to loosen up quite a bit by the time the year and the project is over. And I can't wait to see what kind of giraffes end up being my companions. ;-)

If you would like to read about the Year of the Giraffe or sign up for the course, click here

And finally...I wanted to share a Kickstarter Project with you and hope you will help this talented group of students complete their film, The Furnished Room. The leading lady is my friend Constance's daughter. You can see the video and learn how you can help get this movie made by clicking here. I donated to the project and it feels good to not only give, but to support the arts. Every little bit will help them so don't be shy! You know you always wanted to see your name in the credits of a film. ;-)

I hope everyone has a great upcoming weekend and don't forget to leave your comment regarding the "Forest Magic" piece to be entered in to win the print!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Week One, 2013

As the first week of January comes to a close I am still battling the flu, although I am beginning to feel better. I managed to just barely make the sunrise this morning, one minute to spare, after waking suddenly from a dream where I was serving Sudafed at a dinner party:

Sunrise 1.6.2013

I made this little collage of the first week of sunrises on my iPad with an app called Insta-collage:

It makes me happy to look at it. These were the bright spots (no pun intended!) during my week of gloomy sickness. And it reminds me how amazing my little iPhone can be and how much fun and easy it is to process on the iPad. Since I've been down and out with the flu I have indulged in an amazing iPad game called The Room. It was rated the top game of 2012 and I highly recommend it if you have an iPad. It is gloriously beautiful with a touch of mystery and magic:

There is nothing creative on the agenda today. Just a lazy Sunday with football and naps.

Hopefully this upcoming week Charlie and I will both be on the mend and the creative energy will once again freely flow! And I hope to share another beautiful week of sunrises!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Being Sick in 2013 Was Not On My List of Goals

How is it, living in a nice humid, sub-tropical climate that I ended up with this cold? I am not good at being sick. And, my hubby is home sick too. That dastardly guy brought it home with him from Colorado, that's how I got it. I missed blogging yesterday due to the complete blockage of my sinuses and of aches all though out my body that sent me running to the Aleve and put me into bed by 8pm. Still, I managed to capture the sunrise yesterday and today, making it four days in the row I watched it rise and all four days it was so unique:

Sunrise 1.3.2013

I love that time of the morning. Coffee in my hand and all the birds are active, but the rest of the world is not. Today a flock of Ibis, a Seagull and a Hawk all flew overhead while the grackles sang their dawn song with extreme gusto. And lo and behold, today two neighborhood cats were sitting under a bush watching it rise with me. I could only get a quick snap from far away as the closer I tried to move, they got in their ready-to-bolt stance so I let them be as I enjoyed having company to view the sunrise:

Sunrise 1.4.2013

I have managed to keep up with my daily journal each day so far despite being sick. My goal is to keep it up for as long as I can this year. Here is a snippet containing my new hat again only this time in colored pencil:

Daily Journal

And, I was notified that I won second place ($90!) in a holiday contest I entered! It was this cute image of my elf making gingerbread that won:

Santa's Little Helper

Also, despite being sick yesterday, I grabbed words from my word box (yes, I am a collector of words!) and put them in my mixed media journal:

The Word Box

By the Light of the Moon

Another goal I have stuck to so far this year is cleaning out my archives by processing one photo a day. I have been working on pictures from 2009 and 2010:

Confetti Web

Beachy Selfie

Eat Your Peas!

See, yesterday was not a complete bust! And today, well, I'm blogging and that IS being creative, right? Looking back on the last 24 hours I'm amazed at what I accomplished despite feeling so horribly bad. Of course, there were a couple of goals that went out the window...clean eating and gardening! Sometimes, you just have to have a chocolate frosty from Wendy's. ;-)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Scenes from a Mall...the antique mall that is!

The second day of the New Year started much like the first, with hubby sick in bed and me with iPhone in hand capturing another gorgeous sunrise:

Sunrise 1.2.20

The rest of the morning was spent hitting thrift stores and my favorite antique store with my friend Gwen and of course I had to snap a few iPhone pics
For a Princess

A parrot named Charlie

Make a Wish...

Of course I found something I just couldn't live without...a new vintage hat! Once I got it home, the research began as I tried to figure out what kind of vintage hat I had and when and where it was made. Then, it was time for the first selfie of 2013:

1940's Bavarian hand-felted sheeps wool hat.
The beautiful bird feathers are held into place with a silver Gamsbart pin adorned with a boars head.

There wasn't much time for art but my new hat did inspire me to practice watercolor:

I love hats! I think I'll wear this one with my Maine Hunting Boots (on the dream board...I WILL have a pair this year) the next time I'm in Kansas during cool weather. Until then, I'll just wear it around my house and pretend I'm out on a lovely walk through a Bavarian forest!