Saturday, April 30, 2011

Colorado National Monument...


The Colorado National Monument celebrates it's 100 year anniversary this summer. The Monument (possibly soon to be a National Park) is in our valley's 'backyard,' on the western end of the valley. It is a beautiful place! The Blue Pig Gallery is doing its part for the birthday celebration by hosting a special Monument exhibit in May, the birthday month. This is the painting I have done for the exhibit. I didn't want to do a landscape, as Monument landscapes are quite common here. So this is to be called "View From the Monument." It is of a yellow-headed collared lizard, looking over the valley toward the Grand Mesa, at the east end of the valley.

When my sons were young, the best part of a Monument hike was seeing the lizards (and occasionally catching one, then letting it loose.) They are fast, and reminiscent of the dinosaurs that lived here in our valley long ago. They skitter across your path in abundance on a hot summer day.

The painting is 11x14" and is oil on canvas.


A number of years ago I did a tapestry of the Monument. It is 31"x26", and it sold long before I was really ready to let it go. It is called "Grand Valley Starry Night," and is, obviously, a tribute to Van Gogh, in addition to being a tribute to our valley. I wove it when my youngest son was taking a humanities class in high school, in which Lust for Life was required reading. At that time, we would go to the Monument to get away from city lights to watch the comets: Halley's, Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake. So this tapestry was also about our family time, sharing the wonders of the night sky. In the tapestry you can see three of the big landscape elements of the valley: Independence Monument towers in the foreground, with Mt. Garfield to its left and the Grand Mesa in the background right. These three large mountain formations define and oversee our valley. The orange/yellow spots between the monument and the mesa represent the city lights on the valley floor, and the green 'mound' shapes beyond that represent the orchards and vineyards at the east end of the valley.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Owls at four weeks...


We went to see the owlets again this morning. One is as big as Mom, the other seems a bit smaller, yet. Maybe the 'bigger' one was just expanding to look bigger, and the 'smaller' one had tucked in a bit. I can't see ears on the smaller one (the one to the front), so they must be tucked in, too? I really don't know that much about owl development, but these are fun to watch! They were all dozing, but a pair of very loud geese flew right over their tree and splashed loudly into the river behind them, which woke them up. So we got to see those gorgeous golden eyes again!
(Click on photo to enlarge it.) We especially love watching them through my binoculars. Their nest is on the trail, so they are easy to see with the naked eye, but up close through the binoculars they are truly beautiful and spectacular creatures. The little one kept scratching herself with her talons. Must be 'nest-bugs' keeping them company!

They have more color on them this week, and are a bit less 'fluffy.' You can almost not distinguish them from the mother owl, who stayed to the back of the nest this morning.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gateway


Last week my husband and I went for an overnight 'retreat' to the Gateway Canyons Resort. Gateway is about an hour from where we live. It used to be a tiny farming community, with a Post Office, and a gas station/grocery store. It has become a resort, nestled along a river and surrounded by beautiful canyon walls.
We weren't there long, but we took a picnic along the river, then my husband went biking from there, while I sat and did a small oil sketch of the Palisade that looms over the canyon, from the back of the pick-up, which I had set up as a comfortable mobile 'studio.'


The next day, we took a terrifying drive up into the steep muddy mountains, then came back (thankfully) to the valley, where I set up my truck-studio and did another small painting while my husband hiked a bit. These two sketches are just 5x7". The first one I did on a gessoed masonite board, and the second is on canvas. I wanted to see which I preferred for this kind of quick oil sketch. The canvas won! It was much easier to paint on, and I like the effect better.




This is a view of the Palisade from our hotel room. We were just across the way from it.


And this is taken in the other direction. The resort has beautiful landscaping, and, while the flowers are not yet in bloom, a lot of the trees were blooming.

On a totally separate topic, yesterday was my day to paint with Alzheimer's patients again. I found that one of my two regular gentlemen has passed on to a better place, but the other one was there, and he was still painting his crocus when I left, after an hour. He is very methodical, and I believe he enjoys painting a great deal. I am so glad that I go to paint when I see him walk into the activity room! There was a new man there, along with all of the women. He did not paint this time, but watched with interest, so I think I can get a brush in his hands when I go again in two weeks. This volunteer work is not an easy thing to do. It pulls at my heartstrings every time. But I know the time passes so slowly for many of the people with this horrible disease, and when we smile and discuss their paintings together, and sometimes we sing, and often they tell me of events in their childhood (which is the point of the activity; to bring out memories), I am so glad that I am there. If anyone is interested in doing this, too, contact your local Alzheimers Association. The program is called "Memories in the Making," and they are glad to train new volunteers. Painting often takes place at the association facility with out-patients, giving their caretakers a short break. I paint at an in-patient facility, and activity directors at such places are also grateful for new volunteers and programs.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What is it with the cows?


I have never had a cow. I have never really wanted one. But I occasionally seem to become obsessed with them. They are probably the most often seen creature here in the west. I love their big soulful eyes.


They have been cropping up in my sketchbook this past week. And also on the iPad.


I guess my obsession with them is because the next calendar tapestry I will weave has cows in it, and I am itching to get to it! I have painted cows in the past, and I am sure to paint them again. In fact, I have a canvas that is saying to me, 'put some cows right here!' I will probably paint more cows before I get to the tapestry. In the meantime, I have been shooting lots of photos of cows; red ones, black ones, golden-retriever colored ones, and beautiful white ones. And my sketchbook has a few more blank pages that a cow or two will surely show up on. But, oh my, I believe to weave a cow is really what my heart is desiring...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Oh, babies!


Two owlets can now be seen in the nest with Mom. (Click on photo to see them better.)


Mom, plus one. The babies are still fluffy and light, though they are starting to show color on their wings.


Watching me 'out the back door.'

Saturday, April 9, 2011

An Owl update....


We took a short walk along the Riverfront Trail, Audubon section, this morning to see if the Owlet(s) had hatched. Evidently it, or they, have! Mama Owl is perched mostly beside the nest now, rather than hunkered down within it, as before. And we caught glimpses of white furry movement in the nest! So there is at least one baby owl there, and the nest is large enough to accommodate several.

The sounds along the trail are beautiful; quacking ducks, trilling blackbirds and cooing doves. A heron flew over. And I took this photo of a dove, just because she was so lovely, camoflaged against the blue-grey rocks and sticks.


It is a grey day, and the high spring winds of this past week seem to be picking up now again. A day to run some errands, and maybe clean and bake a bit, then work in the studio, where I have a painting in progress.

Have a lovely spring weekend! Ms. Owl and I will be hunkering down in our nests to ride out the wind and rain.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Update...


I am back from my trip to Taos, my quince is in FULL bloom (oh, if only each of those blooms will produce a fruit for me this year!), and I am itching to weave! However, there are a few details that need to be agreed upon for the commission tapestries to begin, and it may take awhile, due to scheduling, to get together on that. So, in the meantime, I am cleaning my studio, have designed the "April" tapestry in the Calendar series, and have some painting I need to get done.

... Not to mention yard work..... and certainly I'll not mention spring cleaning, which is actually haunting my dreams lately. And nobody wants me to mention the canine good citizen test we are trying to prepare Booker to take.

Speaking of Booker, here is a recent photo my husband took on a hike. Booker hates the heat, and managed to find this mudhole to cool off in before my husband could stop him. Now does this mud-puppy look like a good citizen, or like a dog who will totally mud-wallow my husband's new pick-up? He did get another cool-off in his bath a bit later.

Ah, spring is in the air, and a young dog's fancy turns to tracking in mud!