A few years ago I put in a few lilac bushes around the house in Rangeley. I've always loved lilacs....especially when they bloom in early summer. And so do butterflies! This summer there was a pair that hung out one day for hours around the lilacs and garden....giving me plenty of time to observe and shoot a few photos. I get quite a few requests for a butterfly paintings so I didn't want this summer to get away before painting one. Finally finished this one up today. Its a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a familiar butterfly native to eastern North America. Hope you enjoy it. Prints of the painting will be available on Centerpieces, Trivets and Coasters soon. Keep an eye on the Store and upcoming fall Shows.
The other day I decided to paint a turtle. Not really quite sure why except that I kept thinking about how the shell would make a nice trivet design and I think a lot about trivets. At first I was thinking big turtles...like a Sea Turtle... since I spend a lot of time in Florida. But instead I decided to start small. And it seemed appropriate that I would start with the Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)... little ones...about 4-6 inches and ironically just about the size of a coaster! So I settled on a Southern Painted Turtle usually found along the Mississippi River to the Gulf Coast....mostly in marshes, ponds, lakes and creeks. The Southern Painted Turtle will be available on Coasters (and Trivets) very soon!
Next up: A Florida Sea Turtle!
It looked like the perfect sunny day to till the garden but after several days of rain here in Rangeley the soil was just too soupy! So I decided to do some work potting flowers down by my storage shed and old wood pile. While I was working I saw what I thought was a crow fly into the trees behind the wood pile. But then a pileated woodpecker popped up and started foraging for bugs!
This 16" bird is majestic! Almost pre-historic in appearance. A noisy beast too. Always commands one's attention. I usually stop everything when I hear or see a pileated woodpecker. And this one was just a few feet away. So I grabbed my camera, took a few shots and he was gone.
On a walk in the area recently I saw the work of another, or maybe the same, pileated woodpecker.
David Attenborough, in his book The Life of Birds wrote:
"Woodpeckers hunt for insects which are beyond the reach of the tree creeper, beneath the bark and even in the wood below. The implements they use are not tweezers but chisels. A blow from a woodpecker's bills strikes a tree at about 25 miles an hour and does so with such force that the two mandibles of its beak would fly apart were they not, at that moment, held together by a special locking device. The shock of the blow is so great that if it travelled directly to the brain, the bird would be knocked unconscious".
Amazing what happens in our own back yard!
I was wearing a bright red shirt today when several hummingbirds started dive-bombing me! Their sweet little feeder was only a few feet away from the deck but I guess I looked like a much bigger flower! Ironically, I had just finished the hummingbird and hibiscus painting this morning and was enjoying lunch on the deck.
Other birds are coming around now too. Yesterday I had visits from a Northern Parula and several Black-Throated Green Warblers along with the more frequent visitors including Goldfinches, Chickadees, Juncos, Purple Finches and others. Its good to be back in Maine watching spring break out. Its a busy time...the garden got tilled and the lawn mower went in for a tune-up today. And I'm getting ready for the spring and summer shows with new paintings.... including the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Check out the Show schedule for upcoming shows....starting on Memorial Day weekend in Meredith, NH. Hope to see you there!
I think most of the snowbirds waited a bit before going back north this year. Its been a hard winter. I've been driving crowded highways for three days now in early May but am about to take a break in Boston for a few days before heading home to Rangeley, ME.
...by early March I had settled into a lovely little bungalow in the town of Mount Dora, FL. It was a good central Florida location north of Orlando for my shows and only about about an hour or so from where I grew up... in the 1950's! I thought it would be a good base for exploring some of the places my family used to visit when I was young. Our family used to go on "outings" and "retreats" to many of the fresh water springs in Florida ... Silver Springs, Silver Glen, Alexander Springs, Juniper Springs. I wanted to rekindle some of those memories.
Luckily I was able to do that when my son visited from LA.
I met a lot of great folks in Mount Dora, managed to get a few paintings done and had shows in Brooksville, Sarasota, Lakeland and The Villages while staying there. But then I moved back to the west coast of FL to Dunedin and loved being back there. Shows in Siesta Key, St. Pete Beach and Stuart rounded out the winter season.
After the Stuart show I was ready to head north! I caught a Sox/Rays game and a Dylan concert before leaving but it was 93 degrees out and I was ready to chill out in Maine for the spring!
So after a quick stop with family in Georgia I headed north...caught some nice blooms in Boston and at 5:30 AM on May 8th, soon after arriving in Rangeley, it was Ice Out! Spring has sprung!
And I can't believe that just as I was finishing up this note, I heard the loons on Rangeley Lake! They made it back OK too!
Hope to see you at the Spring and Summer shows!
"Back in the day", when I used to give lectures in Intro Psych on visual perception I always loved giving examples of how our unique experiences in life influence what we see.
I was sitting on my patio in Florida a few days ago watching the spring flowers bloom when suddenly an old grandpa with a wrinkled face and a big nose appeared before me in the shape of a flower. Then I suddenly had a flash back to the late 1950's when I was around age 12 or so.... out "Trick or Treating" in a small town in rural Florida....dressed up in a trench coat and with a (too big) rubber mask on my face....of Jimmy Durante! Masquerading as Mr. Durante I remember playing something on the piano and imitating his growly voice for my halloween "trick"! And getting plenty of treats and laughs!
So I still see examples today of how our perceptions are influenced by deep seeded memories going back to our childhood.
And that the beauty of a flower, or of a Jimmy Durante, is definitely in the eye of the beholder.
I swore I would never paint a rooster. I'm not sure why but I guess I thought it was just too "kitschy". But I kept getting requests for rooster trivets...its still a big kitchen motif I guess. And I was recently at a Yoga Retreat in Myakka, Florida when a Light Brown Leghorn Rooster crossed my path.... he was strolling through the weeds in the neighbor's back yard! It was a sign that I should paint a rooster I guess. So I took some pics and realized that this is one beautiful bird! Or chicken. Or whatever. So I decided to paint a rooster after all. I'm printing some up now on trivets, placemats and coasters!
I guess I'm a legitimate Snowbird now. Its the 3rd winter I've loaded up the truck and headed south along with other craftsmen to sell our wares in Florida. And this year I'm doing the gypsy thing...town to town...show to show.
It was clearly time to head out after Christmas as things got chilly in Rangeley. I don't need to remind anyone that nothing has changed and all I've heard for two months down here is: "Bet you're glad you are not back in Maine! Or anywhere in the Northeast for that matter! Well, yes, I miss my snowy camp in Maine but I'm glad to be here... for another day in paradise!
The drive down was easy with only a few flurries along the way. And after a quick stop with relatives in Georgia I was on to the first show in "The Villages", packed with over 100K folks enjoying the "good life". I brought a lot of Florida themed product like Great Blue Herons and Tropical Fish and had a great first show.
I headed on to Dunedin, FL. Dunedin is a wonderful "old world" Florida town in the Tampa Bay area. It is home to Honeymoon Island, the Pinellis Bike Trail, wonderful restaurants and a vibrant art community. I love Dunedin and it felt like I was coming home when I settled in to my B&B in town. While I was in Dunedin I did craft shows in St. Pete Beach and Tarpon Springs and got out to Honeymoon Island to see the Ospreys and Armadillas!
Then it was on to Venice. During this time I stayed with friends in Venice and The Rotunda and was honored that my Dragonfly Table Saver was featured in the Venice Craft Festival show promotion!
Siesta Key and Sarasota at the Phillipi Estate were next up and I found a fabulous Yoga Retreat in Myakka to use as a home base for these shows and had a great time photographing birds in the Myakka River State Park.
From Myakka it was back to Dunedin for a great show in town, another trip out to the Villages, a little golf, & more birding.
I'm ready now to settle in and do some painting while here in Mount Dora. Just got settled into a nice cottage and am ready to get to work. I can't wait to start some new paintings of owls, herons and hummingbirds!
I finished up this Peacock painting just before coming down to Florida for the winter. I was especially attracted to the idea of painting a Peacock since the shape of the plumage lends itself nicely to round Trivets, Centerpieces and Coasters. And I have been on a bit of a blue streak lately so I thought I'd put together a little side show of some of the items that you will see if you stop by one of my Florida shows.
If you are looking for something blue for your home decor check out the Store!
Blue Flag Iris
I frequently get requests for specific images for my Trivets, Placemats and Coasters. One of the suggestions I have been getting quite a bit lately is for Irises. The Blue Flag Iris is a native wildflower of Maine and in early summer it is abundant in and around the fields and homes of Rangeley. So I decided to do a painting of a trio of wild Blue Flag Irises since I had a lot of subjects in the area to study. I just finished the painting today and will have it available at shows and in the Store very soon. I hope you like it.
This page is where I put stuff that doesn't fit elsewhere.... news, photos, an occassional idea, work in process, etc.