Feeling better and seeing fourteen deer in the yard

Well, I hope to get back on the regular posting schedule this week. My UT troubles should be resolved soon and life get back get to normal. This is the first time since I had my children that I have had a significant physical issue and I guess that I have been spoiled. I think that it was all due to the calcium supplement my doctor suggested to protect from bone loss. Anyway, while I haven’t spent a lot of time in the studio the last week and a half, I have finished inking and started coloring my next picture. If all goes well I should be able to post it this week.

On the wildlife front, we did see a very large herd of does and yearlings this week. There were fourteen of them in the woods and crossing in front of the lake. That’s about the biggest herd we’ve ever seen here. About half crossed to the other side of the yard but we kept seeing more and more in the woods. After a while some decided to rest just inside the the edge of the trees. I’ve never seen that before -deer resting in sight in the woods. Fortunately, I always keep my trusty camera within reach and I was able to take pictures of them bedding down. In the past, my dog and I have scared up resting bucks while we were out berry picking. I don’t know who was more surprised – the buck, the dog or me.  Definitely an adrenaline moment for everybody.  And funny too as the stag leapt away with brambles hanging from his growing antlers.

Interestingly, we also have been seeing areas in the yard where the deer have pawed away the snow to get down to the grass.  We had a major drought here from August until Oct/Nov.  I think we got less than 2 inches of rain total and I don’t know how that affected the browse that deer normally eat.  We have consistantly seen this all winter when the snow has covered the ground, which has been too often IMHO.  Let’s vote that Puxetawny Phil doesn’t see the sun, even if we have to give him blindfolds. 

A few of the deer and yearlings


Does bedded down


Pawing through the snow to the grass

Flying turkeys

Well I haven’t done too well this week, either in the studio or on the web. I have another  good excuse though. On Wednesday I was diagnosed with a UT stone. I am on the mend now and although it will take two weeks to recover, I am glad to be where I am now, versus the last month.

Since I have barely started  inking on my next piece, I thought I’d give another peek at Wild Crane Overlook’s wildlife. The turkeys have been in hiding for a while it seems, perhaps for hunting season. We have often seen two toms roaming the area and courting the females.  I like to call them Tom and Jerry. Those of you old enough may recognize a cartoon reference there. I saw one tom down by the pond about a week ago. He was looking around, back and forth, before he headed down to the water. When he got down to the water’s edge, he took off and flew clear to the other side. Suddenly, two other toms emerged from the forest edge and flew over the ice to follow him. I guess that was what he kept looking around at. So Tom and Jerry seem to have found another friend. I hope this spring that we can see them courting the hens again. Before we moved here, I had only seen a tom displaying to hens one time in 25 years. Now, we see it almost every spring. It’s pretty exciting. Perhaps this year I can get a photo too.

Turkey by the lake

Pygmy Goat Portraits with the Nib Pen

I’m a day late on posting, but I have a good reason. The whole weekend was taken up with the football playoffs, and unlike last week when we went 0/4 on our favorites, this week we were 3/4. And our team won for a change. Hooray!

I had a productive time in the studio last week. As I said, I was going back to the nib pen for a change and I finished four small animal portraits. I like the feel the pen and ink gives to the animals and only one didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped and is destined for the circular file. I remember at a watercolor class I took a few years ago, I made a comment that a few of my paintings were destined for the circular file and the teacher was horrified. After all these years I certainly have a good idea of what I like and seems successful to me and what is hopeless. I was particularly uninspired by this teacher and her subject matter and it showed. She just couldn’t believe that I said out loud that I didn’t like several of my paintings. I am not such an egotist that I think everything that I do is great or even just good.  Sometimes, in the art world, I think that more could be culled from the beginning and placed in the circular file.  I don’t believe that something is art just because someone says it is.  Or maybe it is art, just BAD art.

Anyway, back to the animal portraits I did last week.  I really enjoyed working with the nib pen again.  It has probably been close to 25 years since I used them.  Once I got heavily into architectural art in the early 80’s the animal art kind of fell to the side.  I became somewhat enamored with my Rapidograph pens.  They were easy to work with and seemed well suited to use on the buildings.  Since I have been spending more time in the studio, I think the animal art is refreshing for me.  They are the opposite of the linearity of architecture.

Here are two of the three portarits that I did  (the fourth really is destined for the circular file).

Resting pygmy goat

Pygmy goat kid

I have listed them in my etsy store.



Just a quick note for today

Just a quick note for today. I have been working in the studio the last few days. I’m very proud of myself as I have completed two animal drawings and am working on a third already. No photos yet, but soon, so I can take them all at once. I decided to work them with the nib pen and am fairly happy at how they are turning out. It has probably been close to 20 years since I used the nib pen, but I really like the effect with the animal work. The texture is very different from the technical pen, but seems quite appropriate so far. I may even get inspired to try a small architectural drawing with it. Perhaps that is the project to plan on for card stock. I can see using it on a small drawing, but it would probably drive me crazy to have to keep refilling the nib on the larger streetscape drawings.  We’ll see.

Second start to the new year and the Buck stops here

Well, because of all the things that have been going on since January 1, good and bad, I have decided that my New Year starts today. I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because I try to live each day the best I can, but I am going to resolve to spend more PRODUCTIVE time in the studio this year and somewhat keep a log on what I do every day. I think that perhaps this will help me not to fritter the day away so much, especially on the computer which is one of the greatest time sucks ever. When I worked many, many years ago in a medical research lab, I listed tasks for the day and with great pleasure crossed them off as they were finished. Must be the Virgo in me. Perhaps I should try that again.

Since I don’t have much on the recent art front (although I plan to do some animal art with the nib pen later today maybe with a color overlay), I thought you might like to see pictures of the elusive big antlered buck. I looked out yesterday and saw a deer about 200 feet away near the lake. When I got out the binoculars to get a better look, I saw it was a buck, so I got the camera out and took his picture. Then I saw another one – this time the big buck – all in the daylight. I hope the pictures are clear enough to see. At first I didn’t notice that I had a picture of the two together so you can compare. I still couldn’t count the tines, but you can see the rack is huge.

Little buck

Two bucks together

The big buck

The Studio

Because of the holidays and some other things, I haven’t spent more than a few hours of productive time in the studio for the last three weeks. I thought it might be nice to show a few pictures of my studio instead. After almost 30 years of just me, my table, and a set of plastic roller shelves squeezed into a corner of our home, I finally got a dedicated studio space. I was able to set up a large work table as well as have my drafting table, a nice set of rolling shelves with a butcher block top to put my art materials on, and a wall to hang my artwork. To make it easier to move things around and change things out (hopefully from sales) we used painted pegboard  and I think it turned out well. I put in daylight flourescents and have an Ott light over the table. I really enjoy having the space to spread out and not to have to put anything away.  I even have easy access to water.   I have a 1980’s vintage 13″ tv when I want a little background distraction and my trusty boom box for radio and cds.  If you look closely you can see the stained glass on the floor waiting to be foiled and soldered.  The kids took over that side of the area and I have managed to clean most of it up now. And that is a 2005 White Sox World Series win baseball cap on the light.  I can die happy.

Left side of the studio

Right side of the studio

The pegboard wall

The Start of a New Year

Now that the holidays are basically over , I have been thinking about what to do next. I have been considering doing something new, but with an old technique. When I first started pursuing pen and ink drawing, lo those many years ago, all I had was an old fashioned nib pen and dipping ink. Many of the animal portraits I did back then were made with this pen and it really does give a different feel than the technical pens. I got started with the technical pens when I went seriously into architectural art. It was way easier to just be able to draw and not keep dipping the pen in the ink repeatedly. I liked the flow of the rendering better too. Since I would like to alternate a few of the animal portraits in with the architectural work, I think it would be an interesting contrast and good for the brain to try something “new.” I might even try to set a color overlay of pastel or watercolor on them. I do get tired of the black and white sometimes and I did enjoy the color tiger picture I posted earlier. Here are some older examples from my animal art using the nib pen. Can you tell the difference?

Florida pelican


Also, here is my latest listing on etsy.