Thursday, May 31, 2012

Artwork--"By Any Other Name"

Have a new piece done just in time for a show this weekend, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts' Art Fair.  I did a grosbeak years ago when I was playing around with acrylics.  I believe I gave it to my aunt, who is an RBG nut, for Christmas.

"By Any Other Name." Rose-breasted grosbeak, colored pencil and ink on Bristol board.  8" x 10" framed to 11" x 14"  $395.00

This beautiful bird shows up at our feeders in early to mid-May.  Sometimes he brings a lady friend, and at least once they had babies--I know because I found a dead fledgling under my feeders behind my studio, compliments our neighbor's cat.  Anyway, I love the detail in this piece, there are so many colors that one misses when this bird is viewed from afar. I'm glad I finally got around to revisiting this gorgeous bird.

The name of course comes from the (I believe) Shakespeare quote, "A rose by any other name is still a rose."

Ironically enough, the Woodson Museum's Birds in Art exhibition is currently at the KIA.  I applied this year but did not get selected.  I'll have to go check it out while I'm in town.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Quick Trip to Sleeping Bear Dunes

Between show season madness and editing Holly Wild book two madness and gardening/planting madness, Lori and I managed to find a few days last week to make a quick trip up to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  Like so many of our trips, this one combined some fun and relaxation with work.

Lori had been Artist-In-Residence at the dunes in 2007 and got to know the park's director fairly well.  When we published book one of the Holly Wild series, Lori contacted her and asked about getting the book into their gift shop. They ordered 18 copies!! So while we were up in the park we stopped by the Visitor's Center in Empire and dropped the books off.

Before heading into Glen Arbor to make a stop at Cottage Books to drop off more copies of Holly Wild, we stopped at the D.H. Day campground to get our site and set up.  There are a handful of sites in this rustic campground that are quite close to--although not right on--the beach, and these are nearly always full.  We found a great site though that is much farther back into the woods than the others and really gives a feeling of seclusion, especially when the park is mostly empty as it was on Wednesday.  That changed by Thursday evening as the holiday weekenders started to arrive, but for about 24 hours it was our little slice of heaven.

After going into Glen Arbor we came back to the campground and walked down to the beach.  The Lake Michigan side of the state is very sandy and covered in places with dunes 400 feet high.  This area, Sleeping Bear Bay, is close to lake level, although one can see large dunes at either end of the bay.

The dogwood along the boardwalk were blooming.  The boardwalk is meant to keep people from trampling the fragile dune habitat but many people ignore the the signs and run willy-nilly across the sand anyway.

It's been very dry in the area so far this year, and already plants were looking a bit yellow and tired out.

We stumbled upon this sweet sentiment someone left on the beach.  We both very nearly stepped on it.

The afternoon was cloudy and the sky a little hazy.  While they really needed rain, we hoped it would wait until we had gone home.

Sleeping Bear Bay, with South Manitou Island on the right.

As soon as we set foot on the beach, we were besiged by swarms of these tiny insects.  We have no idea what they are, and thank goodness they didn't bite, but they made being by the water unpleasant to say the least.  They got into everything, including my hair, clothes, nose, behind my glasses, and inside the hood on my camera lens.  We spent only ten minutes or so by the water before we gave up and went back to camp.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Trail Cam Images

This past Christmas Santa brought us Bear Track girls a trail camera.  We'd talked for years about getting one but never got around to it, so I was very excited when one showed up under our tree.

We have five acres of mixed habitat.  Historically it was black oak barren, but years of human abuse have left it covered with autumn olive and other invasive species.  It's part open grassland, part shrubland, part mixed hardwood/conifer woods.  We have lots of critters, some we knew, some we only suspected.  The trail cam would help verify who is here and when they come around.

The biggest challenge was figuring out where to put it.  We first put it by the chicken coop, but didn't get any pictures of anything but the dog.  We next tried behind my studio, where the bird feeders are, thinking they would draw in critters.  We did get a few good shots, like this white-tailed deer...

...and this terrible twosome, angling for the suet and getting a drink from my wagon bird bath. 

But mostly we got pictures of me filling the feeders, or of the dog, or of nothing at all.  I think most of the action took place so far away the sensor just didn't pick up the movement.

It is recommended that the camera be placed where it faces north to reduce glare from the sun on the lens.  We were finding it hard to find a tree of the right size in the right place facing a worn path, but finally one day, out looking for morel mushrooms, we found the perfect spot.  The trail it faces passes into our neighbor's property and through this sheltered spot, and it has proved to be a good choice.

Right off the bat we got lots of rabbit photos.  Rabbits are good because they're a prey animal and will bring other animals into this area.

Then the camera captured this wonderful pose by a doe.  I laugh because I could not have taken a better shot than this if I'd been sitting in a blind being eaten by mosquitoes.  This is much more pleasant!

This next image was a big surprise.  I have only seen a turkey on our property once in six years, so to catch this hen crossing the trail was a thrill.

Nice shot of two white-tail rumps.

Finally we got a shot of what we had been hoping for--an animal we knew was out there but had never seen on our property.  This gorgeous coyote paused briefly on its way to our neighbor's open field.  We have heard their cries and calls from time to time, sometimes distant, sometimes no more than a few hundred feet from the house.  This was validation.  Now if we can only get one facing the camera!

And just last week, this buck paused for his portrait.  More than just a button buck, I'll be curious to see how his rack develops this summer.

 My show season kicks off in earnest this weekend at the East Lansing Art Festival.  Check it out at!