Camping and strawberries

As a follow up to last year’s highly enjoyable trip to the Allen Spring Campground, I made another reservation for the same weekend this year and Friday went over to this fabulous campground near Sisters, Oregon.

I guess it’s now “Alien Springs”

This year a friend, Gretchen, came with me. Gretchen is a birder as well, and we planned to hit a few of the hot spots listed by the East Cascade Audubon Society (again having their birding festival (Dean Hale Woodpecker Festival.)) We did see a lot of birds, but for some reason, I didn’t take many pictures.

It might have had something to do with still having two dogs, Key (my dog) and Toby (a foster looking for his permanent home). Both dogs had a good time, but Toby made it pretty clear that he enjoys a more indoor-oriented lifestyle.

Additionally, as I threatened last year, I brought my painting equipment. Of course, there is no end to possible inspiration…

… but my skills weren’t up to challenge.

Oh well, not everything can work out. And this might be okay with a crop and a lot more layers. We’ll see. In any case, I got a lot of other value sketches done, so I’m prepared for some painting!

Oh, yeah. Where do strawberries come in? Well, we ended up coming back a little earlier than expected due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances. I used my “extra” time to buy and clean a flat of strawberries. As I was doing that, it occurred to me that camping and strawberries are the true essence of summer; it has begun. Let’s make it a good one!

Healthy Steps – Week 22

Please forgive me; this post is a day late. I have been working on a project and time got away from me last night.

I was down .8 pounds this week, leaving me 3.7 pounds away from the BIG TARGET. I’m pretty happy with that, especially considering how much cheating I did.

I wish I could figure out how to just NOT buy stuff, which would make NOT eating it easier. Obviously, I’m the only one doing this and who has control of it, but sometimes I feel really helpless about it.

I’m still on my basic goals, though adding that 1000 steps last week had been surprisingly challenging.

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 11,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

The first weekend of summer

It’s that first divine weekend of summer. What did I do? Stayed at home, naturally. My mom and I always discuss our plans to stay off the highway this particular weekend.

I had a busy weekend, though. I did an “overnight foster” (really weekend) for a dog from Marion County Dog Control. Meet Toby.

Toby (also known now as “To-Man” and “Toaster Struedel” is the shyest dog I’ve ever worked with.  His world has clearly been a scary place and he has little or no confidence. What he does have, in spades, is love. I’m tell you, this isn’t a dog, it’s a love bunny (or possibly a house deer.)

I’ll admit that he has found a place in my heart, but he’s not my dog. Still, I’ve offered to foster him until he’s adopted. So, if you know someone with a little patience who needs a daily dose of feeling like a hero, I’ve got just the ticket!

Obviously, with an extra dog, there was a lot of dog walking and supervising. In between, I worked on a new website project (more to come) and actually got some painting done! Gasp of shock.

At the River

A few of you might remember a couple of versions of this painting from my 2016 workshop with Francesco Fontana. I’ve always wanted to give it another go, so I flipped open my notebook a few weeks ago and did another start.

There are still some details to work out, and the water doesn’t look quite right,but I’m making progress.

Marsh painting

I also worked more on the marsh painting from last weekend.

I’m definitely still thinking on this one.

Camas fields

Similarly, I worked on my camas fields painting.

As I was waiting for things to dry, I decided to try doing this sketch using the techniques I learned at the WSO Convention last month from Sally Bills Bailey.

While there are some areas I like, I don’t think she has anything to worry about.

In contrast to this weekend, the  next few weeks are very busy. My local painting group is starting their “Paint the Town” event and the Willamette Valley Lavender Festival is coming up. That moves me into July, and then Ruth Buchanan will be coming for her drawing workshop (there’s still room, please sign up!)

And then next thing you know… summer is over!

Healthy Steps – Week 21

I am delighted to report, after the gloom and doom of my last post, that this week I lost 6.4 pounds, erasing last week’s gain and even dropping a little bit more.

In fact, I am 4.5 pounds away from a big milestone: 10% gone! My goal when I started this 16-week Weight Watcher’s booklet (“My Success Story”) was to hit this goal by the end of the 16 weeks. I have 3 weeks to do it, and I am feeling inspired!

As I was riding my bike home from work (read this cool article here), I was thinking about if I could really do this. It’s kind of silly thought. Obviously, I am CAPABLE of doing it. I have done it before. There is no physical reason that should make it impossible now. But it’s still daunting.

It got me thinking about why the last 4.5 pounds of a goal that is just the first step of many would be so hard. I’m not sure, but I think it has to do with fear of failure. I don’t want to lose my progress in a quest to make more. Which is silly, because I’m far from done. I have too much to do to stand still now.

So, this week it’s back to basics.  I’m not sure I’ve ever shifted from these, but I find the first three very challenging. The fourth is something I find comfort that I am accomplishing (and I wasn’t always.) But having said that, I just went into my FitBit and increased my goal to 11,000 per day!

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 11,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

I not only CAN do this, I will do this!

Out in the open air

As I said in yesterday’s post, I had a GREAT time with all my birding out in La Grande at the Ladd’s Marsh Bird Festival. In addition to my birding, I joined a group of painters from Art Center East to paint en plein air out at the bird watching sites. In other words, I took my painting kit!

So, Friday night I had checked into the camping spot and was watching the river go by, when it occurred to me that this was a golden opportunity to do some sketching.

I hadn’t brought a lot of actual watercolor paper, so I used the “regular” paper in my journal to do some color sketches.

It was really nice not to feel rushed, which made me realize that when I get out I tend to be a little frantic, worried about capturing the light and getting done and… everything.

So, with the whole day ahead of me on Saturday, with nothing to do but paint and watch birds, I resolved to work on enjoying the process.

I had picked out a painting spot on Friday (spot #5) and when I sat down, I tried to remember not to hurry and started out with some sketches.

Then moved to some value sketches.

Then, I applied some paint onto real watercolor paper.

I like where this is going, but I think it isn’t as “designed” as it should be. While I still have to do something with the water (it’s not going to stay paper-white) I’m not finding a good “path” through the painting. There are a lot of interesting areas, but not a cohesive painting.

When I realized that I had hit the edge of the “plan”, I decided to stop on this painting. I toyed with the idea of doing another painting in the same spot, but I decided that the refuge probably had at least one more painting spot to offer. So, I packed up and did a little exploring of the west end of the refuge.

I’m glad I did, because the camas was in full bloom, and any artist who says they don’t want to take a stab at painting a purple field is lying.

I did this value sketch, but the road was in full sun and it was just too hot.

So I moved about 100 yards down the road and did this sketch and painting (which no reference photo to compare. Oops.)

While I think this one is sufficiently designed, I was having trouble getting the values correct on site and was starting to overwork some areas, so I decided to pack up before I ruined what I had. I’m glad I did, because this one is looking better to me at home.

This weekend marks the beginning of “plein air” season, and I think it was a good warm up. I also think that I’m going to invest in a real watercolor easel this year.

The (La) Grande Tour

This weekend I drove over to La Grande to enjoy the Friends of Ladd Marsh Bird Festival. I had seen this even on my Facebook feed last year and had kept an eye on it all year long. They have some great programs over there. I hadn’t made up my mind whether or not to go, when two things happened.

First, they posted they were inviting plein air painters out for Saturday through Art Center East. So now, there was birds and painting! I’ll tell you about the painting in tomorrow’s post, but for now, I’ll concentrate on telling you about the birds.

My mind was made up to attend when the second event occurred: one of the trips was a tour to GROWISER, a place I had read about in the book “The Hidden Lives of Owls” and had aspired to visit ever since! I signed up the day registration opened and I was still #7 (out of 10) for the tour.


Friday morning I got up and did a few chores before taking off. I had decided to “car camp” and Google assured me there were several nearby state parks, but none of them accepted reservations, so I wanted to get over there as early as possible. It still ended up being a six hour drive, but I got a camping spot (not really a problem, it turned out) and worked on exploring where I needed to be the next day.

Camp site

After stopping in for directions at Art Center East, I drove out to Ladd Marsh to scope out potential painting spots.

Birds were everywhere. It was awesome! I was just concluding my initial tour when I came across the following bird.

In the Willamette Valley, if you see a bird like this, you say “Red tail” and you’re right about 95% of the time. But this didn’t look like a red tail. The color was just a little wrong, and the face a little different.

Thus, I met the Swainson’s Hawk.


Saturday was a day dominated by painting, so a lot of my photos are landscape related. I made big starts on two paintings and traveled around the entire refuge, painting at stations 5 and then 2.

Along the way, I saw…

It was a wonderful day, though in the end, thunderstorms came through and I decided to give up my plan of car camping a second night and use my credit card to score a hotel (yes, I’m getting older and things aren’t as comfortable as they used to be, but now I have credit!)


The big day, the GROWISER tour, started as early as the day before because I got out to the meeting spot on the refuge with enough time to do a little more birding. I scored a Wilson’s snipe on the way in, but the photo is too poor to post.

GROWISER stands for Grande Ronde Overlook Wildflower Institute Serving Ecological Restoration. So, essentially, it’s a wildflower preserve. The story is amazing. Take a minute and check out their website!

But the real selling point for birders is this. A long-term, nesting, human-habituated Great Grey Owl…

… and her three chicks…

… in their wicker basket.


Healthy Steps – Week 20.5

Oops. In so many ways…

Last Wednesday (it’s Monday evening now) when I got on the scale I had gained over 5 pounds! Now, I was expecting an increase, but the amount surprised me. I resolved to work on the basics again, and have made some progress decreasing to 1 frappachino a day (again). But, I traveled this weekend. And a lot of candy was had. So, 36 hours, when I have to face the scale again… it’s going to be an ugly meeting.

Thankfully, there is no limit on second chances. And I have two days to practice the basics so I’ll be ready to hit it again after weight in.

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

The evolution of a harmless painting

I have a major case of the “I don’t want to” blues tonight, so I’ll show you what I can do if left unsupervised.

This is an exercise on an 8″x8″ canvas i will turn into the Aritsts in Action fundraiser as the World Beat Festival.

Too far

Trying to go backward using gesso.

Trying again… with a little collage?

Too far again, I think.


Healthy Steps – Weeks 18 & 19

I’m not sure what happened to my post from last week (week 18); I guess I wrote it in my imaginary blog? It was a nice post. I gained 1.2 pounds and it was about how it’s the kick in the pants I need to get back to making changes.

It was obviously a motivational post because this week I lost 3 pounds, bringing my “middle number” into a nice new range that I’ve been admiring all day.

In spite of making some great choices this week, I was a little nervous because I took a fall last night and had some Advil, which sometimes makes me gain (or at least that’s my story.) But I was down, and I’m looking forward to working hard this week too.

  • Tracking 4 of 7 days
  • 1 Frappachino per day
  • Eating my prepared food
  • Hit 10,000 all seven days, taking at least one break/lunch walk

For this last goal, I had to buy a new FitBit (my third) because the band on my HR came away from the device. My new Charge 2 has bands that can be changed. I also found out FitBit makes waterproof ones, though I didn’t get one. (Don’t tell my mom, but she may find one in her stocking at Christmas.)

Painting with intention (or the opposite)

Several times this week I had thought about sitting down to paint, but there has always been some other job that seemed more pressing. But, I told myself, I’ll do it this weekend. I didn’t have time to paint on Friday. I meant to paint Saturday. And Sunday got off to a slow start, but eventually art supplies did appear.

Sunday morning was too rainy to be inspired, so I decided to some bird watching. I drove out to both Basket Slough and Ankeny, and I was glad I did. I saw several birds I don’t see often, including white-fronted geese (no idea why, but I always miss these), yellow-headed blackbirds, and black-necked stilts.

This was enough to inspire me into my studio where I dithered around about what to paint. It isn’t that I don’t have things to paint, I just had a messy mix of not feeling very talented and not wanting to start something “too big.” Also, a lingering feeling I should continue to work on my homework.

Instead, I poured out a new triad I’m trying (ultramarine blue (same), aurelian or cobalt yellow (same), and rose madder (different).)

Rose madder was suggested as an alternative to the “assertive” reds I have been using. It certainly is NOT assertive. I had to use a lot more pigment in order to create a neutral dark for this (not quite finished) piece.

While I was waiting around for things to dry (I still am, that’s why it’s not finished), I worked on a Yupo ™ piece that has been scrubbed into a neutral background. I tore some tissue paper and added some shapes.

This is back to my “previous” triad.

Last but not least, I worked on finishing (what do you think?) a piece that has been lazing around studio for quite some time.

For those who don’t have a memory like an elephant, this piece has evolved from this…

Arminda’s Poppies

… to this…

… and now, to this…

I’m close to calling it done, but I’m trying to decide. I like the little collage pieces, but do they overwhelm the poppies? I’ll be thinking about it.

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