Do you even know what a pawpaw is?

A single paw paw hanging down

A single paw paw hanging down

I sure didn’t until earlier this summer. When I was out picking blackberries with a friend, she noticed that there were a lot of small pawpaw trees in the field we were in.  There was no fruit on the smaller trees she pointed out, but I knew I had seen them before.  As we walked our path around the property, I saw literally hundreds of pawpaw trees.  We started looking for fruit and sure enough we finally saw some.  It is not like domesticated fruit trees where there are dozens hanging down.  Most trees had none and when we did see some, it was usually only one or a very few.

The mother lode

The mother lode

Still, with so many trees we have found dozens. I got myself dizzy walking the path and looking up at the same time. LOL    The tree trunks are slender and very bendable.  I could grab the trunk and literally pull it over to reach the high hanging fruit. I managed to pick one that was ripe a couple of weeks ago and the consensus was that it tasted somewhat like a ripe banana.  I picked a few more today.  The smallest  one is ripe but  I am not quite sure about the other two.  Still, I picked them just to experiment on how soft they need to be before they can be eaten.  I am going to go on line and look for some recipes later.  I am not fond of ripe bananas, but John liked the way they tasted.  I’m thinking that I might make a banana bread recipe and use the pawpaws instead.  The consistency was about the same.

I picked these today

I picked these today

The size variation is pretty big as you can see.  And in the picture above with the four, the largest one has to be close to 5″ long.  The pawpaw is the largest native American fruit according to Wikipedia but I hadn’t ever noticed them before.

I have been working outside some and straightening up in the studio lately, so not much creative work has been accomplished except for a few gift tags and cards to list in my etsy shop.  I have been talking to several people about commission work so maybe the holiday season purchasing has begun.  With any luck we can work out the details and I can start something very soon.  Or maybe I’ll just paint the these.  There probably aren’t too may paintings of pawpaws out there, do you think?

Home portrait update

The Nashville house

The Nashville house

After a short delay due to the end of summer and finishing the last commission, I finally got back to the last house portrait in process.  I worked on it several days and it is just about done.  I need to work a little bit on the shadowing still, but since I had not posted in a while, I wanted to get it up.

I worked hard on the colors of the siding and the brick.  They are a bit unusual and I had to mix and blend several pastels to get the hues I wanted.  I also want to re-delineate with some more ink.

In an update on the pieces I had accepted into the gallery show, we went to the artist’s reception last Thursday.  I didn’t win any awards, but the Nashville scene I submitted was used on the face side of their advertising postcard.  They lightened the colors so the informational writing could be easily seen, but they showed almost my whole painting.  The back side had 1/2″ thumbnails of some of the other artists.  The artwork exhibited was good so I felt honored to be accepted too.

Texas, colored

Pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor additions

Pastel, colored pencil, and watercolor additions

I have been working on the coloring of this one for a couple of hours each of the last few days.  The house is a pale-ish orange red and I didn’t want to over color it so I took it nice and slow.  Today it was so hot and humid outside that I was unable to take  photographs without the lens totally fogging over in about 5 seconds.  I had to take this under the studio lights which is never quite as good. I corrected color somewhat so it’s not too off, but I really prefer to photograph outside in the morning light.

This is a combination of ink, pastels and a bit of colored pencils and watercolors.  There were so many tiny white flowers in the beds that I decided to use watercolors for them.  When I spray the fixative, the pastel and the pencil whites tend to fade out.  The opaque watercolor stays right there.  I think the mailbox and the expanse of lawn turned out fine.

This week I drop off my accepted gallery works in an all day trip that will include taking some more small town photos on the way.  I wish it were going to be less hot and humid for the journey, but the weather tends not to ask me what I want.  It has been a surprisingly cool summer overall – almost an extension of last winter’s weather.

I have to get this into the mail too.  Maybe tomorrow if I can find the right box.

I’ve finally finished the inking

Texas ranch house

Texas ranch house

After a mishap in laying out one of the windows and having to redo, I finally finished the inking.  I rather like the little courtyard in the front.  I will delineate more of  her extensive flower bed plantings with the colors.  She has some nice hanging baskets on the garage eaves and just off the front door that I want to make more visible.  There is also a colorful petunia pot on the stoop.  We shall see what happens.  It is at rest until tomorrow when the colors come into play.  She specifically wanted their mailbox in the portrait, so the house is set back a bit more than I would ordinarily have done.  I have to make sure that the lawn doesn’t overpower the house.

I have left the front door partially undone.  She has a large initial hanging on it and I will use the watercolors.  It is too delicate for the pastels and quite important to her.  That will be the last thing I do on it.

Another architectural switch

Texas ranch house

Texas ranch house

I was about one third finished with the inking on the last architectural when I received a surprise commission in my etsy shop. Usually, before someone decides to have me draw a portrait, we have some back and forth e-mails on the project. Last Friday morning when I checked my etsy stats page, I saw that a Texas lady had bought a portrait listing. What a nice way to start the day. I contacted her back and gave her some hints on taking the photos for me. By evening I had her jpgs and was ready to start.

The pencil up is basically finished. I only have a few questions for her and then inking will start.  Sorry the picture is a bit dark.  I had to take it inside.  It is so humid outdoors that the lens fogs up immediately upon exposure to the warm air.

The path

I have talked about the path John and Justin cut on the southern half perimeter of our property and I thought a few pictures might be of interest. It took them several weekends of hard labor to clear a path 5-8′ wide, but it has been worth the work.  It is about 1.4 miles long according to the gps, but I don’t know if that is horizontal distance or includes all of the ups and downs which would make it a lot longer.  It sure feels longer.  The north perimeter is up next, maybe in the fall.  Eventually 3 miles of steep, up and down walking  will be great.

We have been trying to walk it as many mornings of the week as we can.  Some weeks are better than others of course, given the weather and various other activities (like berry picking which has priority.)  We haven’t scared up much wildlife yet while walking.  Probably that’s when they have decided to chew on my plants by the house.  Paw paw trees were just pointed out to me and I have seen quite a few, especially on the east end where a few actually had some fruit.  According to what I have read they are not ripe yet.  I have never tasted one so it will be interesting if we can actually get some ripe ones.  I don’t know what else might eat them before us.

The east entry, from the big field on top of the hill.

The east entry, from the big field on top of the hill.

Along the eastern border.

Along the eastern border.

Deeper into the woods.

Deeper into the woods.

Farther along the way.

Farther along the way.

Maybe the biggest tree on the property.  See one of it's fallen branches off to the left?

Maybe the biggest tree on the property. See one of it’s fallen branches off to the left?

My little wrist watch hung on the side to give a little bit of scale.  the diameter of this tree has to be 30-36".

My little wrist watch hung on the side to give a little bit of scale. the diameter of this tree has to be 30-36″.

This one cracks me up.  How did it fall straight on itself?  The top is longer than the trunk shown here.

This one cracks me up. How did it fall straight on itself? The top is longer than the trunk shown here.

Can you see the barb wire fence?  It used to keep the cows out, but they've been gone for a while.

Can you see the barb wire fence? It used to keep the cows out, but they’ve been gone for a while.

A different architectural

A funny thing happened on the way to redoing my own home portrait in the watercolors – I couldn’t find my reference photos. I have looked everywhere I can think of. I went through my big file cabinet, my little box of current work folders, the specific file where I keep the photos of finished work, the flat file…everywhere, and I just can’t find them.  I’m usually pretty good about these things and there were a lot of detail photos along with the main shot so there is a big folder out there somewhere with the pictures I need.  I just can’t locate it.  The only good thing is I cleaned out a lot of old things in the process.  I am sure as soon as I get them reprinted, they’ll turn up.

A Nashville house

A Nashville house

So I have had to improvise.  I did have some shots of another house that I have been planning on doing, so I’ll be doing this instead.  It’s about 13″ x 8″ so it’s not too big, but it’s not too small either.  It’s has both brick and siding and is on a nicely wooded lot.  The pencil sketch needs to sit for now but I’ll get back to it soon.

The berries are about done.  The raspberries were spectacular this year, but the blackberries, only so-so.  I had hopes of picking 4-5 gallons and will be lucky to end up with 3.  Not bad, but still disappointing, given what I expected.  The more I can freeze, the longer they will go into next year before running out.

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