Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Brush Footed Butterfly

This is a another brush footed butterfly that showed up earlier this month. It was all browns and grays and when it lit on a branch, it was very well camouflaged.

It has black and white antenna like the earlier brush footed butterfly I found in my backyard. I haven't been able to identify what kind of butterfly this particular insect is. However, I'm pretty sure it is a butterfly, rather than a moth.

It's been quite an experience going on safari in my own backyard. I've taken hundreds of photos of butterflies, dragonflies, flowers, beetles, leaves and spiders.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Man on the Moon!

Where were you when man walked on the moon?

A lot of you were not even born yet. But I was a youngster, allowed to stay up way past my bedtime and watch that historic moment. I still remember how absolutely awestruck I was. My school class has watched every Apollo launch.

Now that I'm an engineer, I have so much respect for the astronauts, the ground crews, the control crew and the thousands or engineers who came up with new materials, new methods, new ways of manufacturing, and new computational methods. Now, 40 years later, we still are reaping the benefits of the Apollo program.

I firmly believe, that we as a nation, need to head down this path again. The new industries and scientific discoveries from the space program are just what we need to push us out of this recession and put us in a position to have jobs again and be in the scientific forefront. Wouldn't part of the money spent on the war in Iraq have been put to so much better use in NASA research?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More Backyard Sketches

We had a good rain yesterday. Today I have huge Fireball hibiscus blooms. They are about 8 - 10 inches across and spectacularly red. These are cold-hardy plants and will die back to the ground after the first frost. They sprout up in late May, normally after everything else has come up. There are many varieties of these cold-hardy hibiscus now. These particular plants were ordered from Wayside Gardens and are growing in very large deck planters. But I need to divide them up and relocate a few this fall.

Did you know that hibiscus are in the same family as okra. If you look at an okra bloom, you will see the resemblance.

This sketch was done in the early afternoon in graphite and colored pencil. I was sitting outside working on this and I noticed that my colored pencil were really creamy - much more than normal. I was under an umbrella working, but the heat of the day softened my pencils.

While I was sitting there, a hummingbird came to visit twice and let me know that he'd like the deck feeder refilled as well. Too bad I didn't have my camera with me. Hummer photos are so hard to take.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Practice, practice, practice

I'm not traveling for any art workshops this summer. So I'm doing the next best thing. I'm working through Arlene Steinberg's Masterful Color: Vibrant Colored Pencil Paintings Layer by Layer.

These are the first three exercises/demos in the book. The iris is my current lesson and it's in the first stage of underpainting. I'm using Prismacolors and a Canson Biggie sketch paper - so nothing fancy here!

Working this way has advantages. No airfare, car rental, hotels, etc. I can stop and start at will. (But I'm trying to put in several hours a day on this.) I can do the same lesson a hundred times if that's what I need to understand the process. I'm in my own little studio with Mickey the cat offering criticism when needed. Being an artist is a solo type of profession. You have to be your own boss and set a schedule you can stick to. It would be nice to have a teacher occasionally, but times being what they are, this is good too.

I really like Arlene's work. She and Gemma Gylling own and run the forum for colored pencil artists. It's a great resource.