Monday, May 27, 2013

Learning To Fly

A little mockingbird fledgling who has fallen from his nest.  Doesn't he look frightened?  I know how he feels.  Freedom can be scary.

I am now officially unemployed.  I've known this day was coming for three years, and I've had lots of time to think about it; but that really hasn't made it any easier.  Much like this tiny bird, I feel the fear and uncertainty that comes with losing one's security.  But, I keep thinking that he wouldn't be so afraid if he knew what was in store for him.  He's about to start flying! Any day now he will be soaring high above the tiny nest he was clinging to and singing a joyous song of freedom.

I am trying to remember this as an uncertain future looms out ahead of me.  Yes, freedom can be scary. But it can also be exciting!  Who knows what the future holds?  Tomorrow is full of opportunity.

Yes, a chapter in my life has come to a close, but a new one has just begun!  I sure hope it's a good one.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future."  
                                                            Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My 58 Million-Year-Old Tree

Magnolia Macrophylla.  Literally means Big Leaf Magnolia. Latin is such a romantic language, no?  And is much more fitting to this woodland beauty.

Her leaves are the largest of any deciduous tree in North America.  They can be nearly 3 feet long and 1 foot wide!  And yet, she has such an airy, delicate appearance.

This particular individual lives at the base of the hill our house sits on.  I only discovered her last year!  I was overjoyed to discover that we had one of these somewhat rare and precious jewels on our property, and so close to the house!

Magnolias are among the oldest species of angiosperms (flowering plants) in the world.  This species has the largest simple leaf and simple flower in the western hemisphere.  It developed nearly 58 million years ago,  before the evolution of bees, and thus can only be pollinated by beetles.  This is one reason that they are somewhat rare.

It's also one of the reasons that these glorious 4 inch long blossoms are so incredibly fragrant.  Oh, how I wish you could smell this!  It is indescribably delicious!  Similar to a gardenia, but much lighter and slightly lemony.

I love how its leaves spread out like an umbrella.  This tree really looks prehistoric.  Sadly, her blooms last only a few days and they are gone.  Only a few precious days in May to be found and pollinated by just the right beetle.  Life is amazing!!  OK my nature nerd is showing (blush).

I hope you have enjoyed getting to know this lovely tree, and I hope you have the opportunity to see one yourself some day.

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Catching a Buzzzzzz...........


Actually it was more like trying to capture the essence of the bumblebee.

but that just doesn't sound nearly as interesting :)

More and more practice.  Today's subject was - you guessed it - the humble bumble bee.  So, I spent the better part of 2 hours making bumblebees until I was satisfied.  I was inspired by a poor little lifeless soul I found clinging to a board out on the deck.  And the wonderful, lovable little bumbles painted by the incomparable Marjolein Bastein.  My watercolor idol.    And, finally.....

Tah dah! My first handmade greeting card made for a dear friend.  Just a little white Dutch clover and a bumblebee.  Sweet and simple.  I hope it makes her smile. (And you too!)

Happy Weekend, friends xoxo

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Practice Makes......Better?

Playing with the watercolors again.  Can you guess which one I painted first?  Well, I'm still not satisfied with any of them.  Why am I so preoccupied with painting a thorny, noxious weed?  Well, first of all, they are very common in our landscape.  And, they're not all bad, really.  They make beautiful flowers, and when the seedhead opens, the most wonderful little balls of fluff fill the air.  My children chase them and catch them and make "pets" of them.  I did too when I was their age.  And second, the butterflies and bumblebees love them, so they can't be all bad :)

I photographed this one out in the meadow.  It's not one of the prettier purple varieties like the one I was trying - emphasize trying - to paint.  I couldn't even find one on the internet that looks exactly like these, so I'm not absolutely sure that this is indeed a bull thistle.  It might be some other variety, but I couldn't find it.

Anyway, the reason I'm trying to learn to paint one is because, as I said, the butterflies love these things.  Apparently those blooms are rich in sweet nectar.  Must be why they developed such an elaborate self-defense.

I've also been practicing my butterflies.  Remember this guy from my last post?  The plan is to eventually paint a butterfly sitting daintily atop one of those fluffy flowers, and who knows? It might even be turned into an embroidery eventually.

Clearly, I need a lot more practice.

Hope ya'll are having a lovely week, and that you are able to enjoy some butterflies and wildflowers wherever you are :)


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sweet Dreams and Love Notes

Sweet Dreams by Starr White
Decided to do a little practice with watercolors today.  Since falling in love with textile art and embroidery, I've kind of let everything else fall by the wayside.  I know that it would be immensely helpful to be able to sketch out my ideas though, so I've decided to pick it up again.  Just learning by doing.  As an artist, I feel a bit like this little fledgling.  Venturing out little by little.  Learning new things.  Dreaming dreams.

And I was noticing on my walk today just how many heart-shaped leaves there are in nature.  So sweet.  Like God is leaving us little love notes.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

And finally, this thirsty little guy drinking from the wet sand on the creek bank.  I think I might use him as the subject for my next watercolor practice.  So beautiful!

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Wonderland of Green

Green.  I actually forget how very green it is here until it happens all over again in the spring.  It's something I think I used to take for granted.  With age comes wisdom,  I suppose.  Not only does it look so very green, but it also smells so very rich and green.  I was thinking today as I walked that I wish there was some way I could share the fragrance with you as well as the images.  I so wish you could smell this.  Sweet earth.  Herbal, grassy greenness and flowers.  Indescribable and amazing.

The delicate beauty of the flower fallen from a tulip poplar.  This is the only way you get to see them since they are so very high up in the canopy.  It is easy to see how they get their name, isn't it?

It's also easy to see why these tall, straight beauties were harvested by Colonial entrepreneurs for the masts of the mighty sailing ships of those days.  They were a major source of revenue for the colonies in the early days of our country.  The British navy had a thirst for timber in those days - particularly tall, straight trees.

I love the thick, rope-like texture of their bark.

And their majestic presence in the landscape.  Tall, slender, and straight as an arrow with a high canopy of broad leaves and delicate tulip-like flowers in spring; they are a wonderful part of my woodland flora.  If you have these beauties in your landscape, keep a lookout for their flowers on the ground this time of year; and maybe take a moment to appreciate their quiet beauty.

Wishing you all the joy of spring very soon! Hang in there!  Happy weekend :)