The first requirement of blogging

The first requirement of blogging is to actually  have something to write about, and lately my life has been lacking that. It’s go to work, come home, sleep, repeat. Between work demands (it’s end of year and very busy) and the heat (have I mentioned how much I hate summer?) it’s just been a struggle to come up with good topics.

So forgive me if this post is a bit of a mish-mash of topics (otherwise known as the random blog), but it’s as good as I can do right now!

My Great Horned Owl

I saw my Great Horned Owl again today, but no good pictures, unfortunately, I saw him fly into his “usual” place, but when I got close enough to snap a picture, he flew off again. I followed him and he flew again and I didn’t find him on his third landing. He is a wiley one! As is appropriate for a wild creature.

owlCanemah doesn’t offer the same inspiration for me this time of year. It’s dry and not too much is blooming. Still, there are various things of interest if you look hard enough.

I also saw this spider spinning her web and watched for a while the other day. Pretty cool.

Artistic Admiration

Down the street from my job is a great gallery called Attic Gallery. Just before First Thursday I always like to walk by on my afternoon walks and see the featured artist for the month. The Attic Gallery carries some of my favorite artists: Janey Belozer, Arne Westerman, Bill Bailey, Pat San Soucie, Tommer Gonser, and Z.Z. Wei.

Today they were setting up for the August artist, Arne Westerman. While I don’t universally love every piece of Arne’s, I do enjoy his use of color and form and truly love looking at his work. He had a couple of REALLY striking pieces in the window, so I decided to go in and get a closer work.

While I was there a charming older gentleman approached me and we chatted for a few minutes. I told him how much I liked the pieces, and he admitted he was the artist (Arne Westerman.) My friend Jin was with me on my walk, so she took a few pictures of us together.

arne2 arne1

While I was chatting with Arne, another gentleman approached us and we got to talking about a lovely crane piece that had inspired me to try something similar in my own work. Turned out, this gentleman was also the artist, Tommer Gonser. It was a big day for me!

My Own Painting

I have been concentrating on “cleansing my palette” as it were by finishing up the many works in progress that I have going. Unfortunately, it is harder for me to finish paintings that it is to start them, so I’m in the slow stages.

Hopefully after this week, things will slow down at work and I’ll have a little more energy to start some projects. I got a new book that I am keen to try on painting large format florals. I also have a few events coming up that should generate some paintings.

  • August 16 – Art on the Lawn with a Plein Air Workshop with Sally O’Neill

flyerv2

Mark your calendars (except for the camping) and hopefully I’ll see you there!

Domestic bliss

I spent today checking off a list of duties, errands, and chores. Nothing too exciting, but adding 7 cans of pickled peaches and another 7 of spicy pickles (cucumbers) to my store gave me an unexpected little burst of pleasure. I also took a couple knitting projects as well as two art pieces to the county fair. I’m not expecting much, but it’s fun to try. If you are going the Clackamas County Fair (August 12-17), stop by and see “Milky Way Fisherman” and “Delight”.

"Milkway Fisherman" - 2013

“Milkway Fisherman” – 2013

"Delight" - 2014 - After critique

“Delight” – 2014 – After critique

After accomplishing my little slice of domestic bliss, I headed over to SEO to play with the horses. I got there to discover a bunch of younger ones had gone through the fence and were enjoying a hay pile. I herded them all back, but it’s really only a matter of time with them.

On the way home I stopped at a little bridge to take a picture of the Estacada river. I’m seriously considering painting this.

riverviewWhile I was admiring the view, I looked down and saw what I thought was a chocolate lab; but when he didn’t head back to anyone, I took a closer look and realized it was a beaver. A few minutes later another one paddled by!

beaverI got back home and decided to get in a few more exercise points and headed down to Canemah. I hoped to see a great sunset or new animals that stirred at dusk. I did see my deer again, but otherwise, not too much was going on.

Tomorrow I sit at the TRAG gallery from 12-5. I hope you’ll come down and see me, the other artists, and maybe pick up a book at the Friends of the Library Bookstore.

I was afraid of this

I am just entering the extremely busy season at work. This is my second year going through the “year end” process (Multnomah County, like most governments, has a fiscal year calendar that goes from July 1-June 30) and while this year is going more smoothly than last, it’s no walk in the park.

Today I was so busy that I was only able to get away from my desk for a very short lunch/walk and struggled to put everything aside long enough do simple things like head to the bathroom.

It’s hectic.

And, of course, everyone is on edge. Program managers are down to the last minute to accomplish goals and everyone is looking at the bottom line.

Everyone must have gotten recharged for the weekend, because I had to hit the ground running from the first moment I walked in today, and by 10:00 I was fed up. All day long I FOUGHT the urge to walk across the street and buy a bunch of candy bars and simply inhale.

I didn’t do it. And I went to Weight Watchers tonight and weight in for a loss. And I asked people for suggestions how to cope with the season of emotional eating triggers I see around the corner.

With tonight’s loss, that brings my total weight removal up to 46 lbs. It’s beginning to down on me that this isn’t a coincidence or a fluke. This seems to be something that I am doing. And I’m proud. I’m getting closer to that magical number where I will be able to ride a horse, and I don’t want to quit.

But I’m not great at pressure. I’d like to find something I could do, such as taking a walk (other suggestions appreciated), that I could replace the urge to eat with, but with work so busy I really feel chained to my desk.

I’m compromising this way: I bought some of those mini popcorn bags tonight. I’m hoping that if I pop a bag and focus on eating each individual kernal that I can get through the next few weeks.

Tonight’s WW meeting focused on being kind to yourself. It’s a lesson I really need to learn, but the next few weeks will be the opposite of kind. In the meantime, I think I’m going to focus on the good habits I’ve already started (breakfast, walking the dog/activity, no random eating) and see if I can get by with a little popcorn and reliance on what I’ve already done.

Aestive

aestive, adj.
[‘ Of or belonging to summer; hot, burning.’]

Yesterday I did my last official event of the summer, the First City Celebration. The event was somewhat mixed; low sales and a mediocre turnout, but I did get a couple of good contacts. Here is a picture of my booth with my friend Mary Margaret and her lovely jewelry posting in the corner.

boothToday I put the house back in order, stored my booth supplies, and did some weeding. If this was all I had to post about, it wouldn’t be a very exciting post.

But this is the last weekend before the due date for the Fall WSO convention. After some angst, I’ve decided to put “Sizing Up the Competion” and “Twlght Flight” in as my entries.

2014.sizingupthecompetition_web

“Sizing Up the Competition” – 2014

twilightflight_web

“Twilight Flight” – 2014

I’m a little unsure about the crop on “Twilight Flight”, so if anyone has an opinion, feel free to let me know.

I also thought I’d post some works in progress… just so you would all know I am working (slowly….)

"The Blue Halter" (tentative title) - unfinished

“The Blue Halter” (tentative title) – unfinished

strikeapose_unfinished

“Strike a Pose” – almost finished

please_unfinished

“Please” – almost finished

"Between Classe" - unfinished

“Between Classes” – unfinished

"Eri" or "Cheese Love" or "Attention" (title undecided) - unfinished

“Eri” or “Cheese Love” or “Attention” (title undecided) – unfinished

I’m trying to beef up my pet portraits portfolio, so “The Blue Halter”, “Please”, and “Eri/Cheese Love/Attention” are pretty much going directly to the owners of the actual pets. But the pieces will fill in some holes in my portfolio, so that will be good. I might keep “The Blue Halter” for a while; I intend it to be an example piece for pet portrait donations I make to Sound Equine Options.

“Please” and “Strike a Pose” are also supposed to be rather whimsical pieces, as opposed to serious paintings. Pieces like this feel like a palette cleanser after working so hard to get things just right.

 

P.S. Oh… in case anyone was wondering, Stacey Riggs got 2nd place (Reserve Champion) at the Extreme Mustang Makeover. This is her second “Reserve Championship” this year. I am thrilled for her, but I hope she doesn’t get bridesmaid syndrome.

Stacey and Noname during their final freestyle event. From the picture, I'm guessing she did some "mounted shooting" type of stuff. Pretty cool.

Stacey and Noname during their final freestyle event. From the picture, I’m guessing she did some “mounted shooting” type of stuff. Pretty cool.

Focused Friday? Fatal failure.

Like many bloggers, I am going to do a “random” blog today because, well, this week has just worn me out.

1. First City Celebration

This Saturday I will be in downtown Oregon City meeting and greeting the public along with 100 other artists and vendors for the 5th Annual First City Celebration. There will be music, food, and wine. This promises to be a great event, so if you haven’t already, put it on your calendar and come on down. Even the weather looks to cooperate by not raining and not frying us like so many eggs.

The event is from 11am-9pm (as an artist, I’ll be leaving at 7, but there will be music and wine going on until later.) I really hope to see you all.

firsticyt2. Go Stacy Riggs and NoName

My friend Stacey Riggs is once again taking a mustang (NoName) to Extreme Mustang Makeover, this time in Nampa, ID. Unlike last time, she hopes that someone will adopt the horse that she has worked with for the last 90 days. To facilitate this, she gave him the name NoName (pronounced No-Nah-Mi). At the end of day 1 they stand in 3rd place.

I guess she’s going “Dressage” this time instead of Western. I don’t know if this is part of a larger plan, but I think they look great.

I hope she’ll forgive me for stealing her Facebook photo in order to wish her luck.

riggs3. Swallows

The swallows have fledged. But before they left, I managed to verify 3 babies.

threeswallows4. Big cats

For the last week there has been a sign up at Canemah.

cougar1

Now, I’m not sure, but I think I spotted it today.

cougarWhat do you think?

5. Birding at Canemah

Things are so quiet at Canemah (maybe the cougar has scared them all off?) I haven’t even seen the vultures the last few times I went down. Then today, I had a pretty good birding day.

6. Other things that fly

It’s so dry that it is hard to get good photos (or at least photos that I find pleasing) at Canemah.

But today I took a little break in the shade and I saw a little flock of the most lovely damselflies.

damselfly1 damselfly27. Madrone trees

I think the madrone trees are so striking this time of year with their sunburned and peeling bark.

madronemadrone

It’s almost time for goodbye

For the last five years I’ve had a family of swallows nesting outside my office window. I love this. I love the swooping of the parents, the cries of the babies, the briefness of the whole affair.

two

This year the nesting has been later than normal; based on my records, the swallows nested about 10 days later than in other years.

Tonight I went out and took pictures of the near-fledglings. I think they’ll fledge in the nest day or two.

This year I was able to use my new camera that can take pictures more quickly. I got some great shots. Including this one of a VERY full mouth.

fedThese swallows are my favorite thing about summer. I’ll be sorry when they leave, though they’ll hang around looking all fluffy for a few weeks.

This post by Anna Blake, Muck Meditation on Swallows, posted at Anna Blake Blog, is a beautiful description of these beautiful birds.

Portfolios

Monday evening I attended the Three Rivers Artist Guild monthly meeting. As the vice president, it’s my job to line up speakers for each meeting, and this month we had Laura Valenti Jelen giving a presentation on “Creating a Visionary Portfolio.”

As a photographer, Laura’s focus is little different than mine as a painter; not only are the mediums different, some of the protocol and etiquette is different.

These differences proved to be an insignificant barrier. Laura explained that in her world a portfolio was the development of a theme or idea, not a collection of greatest hits. She invited us to really explore an idea, giving examples from her own work an others.

For example, she has a current project called “Atlas of Remote Islands” which is loosely based on a book she read. She selects photos evocative of a place, real or imaginary and names them after these remote island (Laura, forgive me if I’m not explaining this correctly.) It’s a fabulous idea and so inspiring.

Many people in the room commented on ideas that they had base on Laura’s ideas. I, too, have some ideas. I’ve been toying with the idea of going smaller and more frequent with my work, and this seems like a great jumping off point. Here are some ideas:

  • Skies (sort of a sky scarf idea)
  • Birds (either yard-based or Canemah-based)
  • Horses on Yupo
  • Hawaiin fish series inspried by work of Carol Bennett
  • More abstracts
  • Insects (particularly bees)
  • The madrone trees at Canemah
  • Sketching every day
  • Hummingbirds at my flowers
  • Whales

Maybe doing a series of smaller works would allow a little more play and experimentation into my life.

 

A Day At the Races

No, I haven’t forgotten to blog; I’ve just been so busy that I’m completely backlogged with things to say! But my goal this weekend is to churn out some posts… here goes!

taraandbugler

Me and official bugler Dan! I love that hats are a total thing at the races… the bigger the better1

Last Sunday I went up to Emerald Downs to enjoy the day of racing, see the Equine Art Show, and pick up my paintings. My friend JJ and two of her sons, Ethan and Ryan, came up with me. It was a really great day. We got their early enough to get a picnic table, rented a shade umbrella, and enjoyed the day!

The Equine Art show was VERY strong this year, particularly in the watercolor division. I was disappointed that none of my paintings received an award, but the award winners were so strong, I couldn’t really find fault with the judge’s decisions.

As if to make up for it, I became a rich woman by winning $1.60 over and above my bets.

The art show was fun, and so was picnicking with JJ and the boys, but of course the real excitement was the horses. I took the newer camera with the telephoto lens and I think I got some good photos to keep my inspired in the upcoming year.

Unfortunately, for the first time I also saw a serious fall; the horse was vanned off, never having gotten to its feet, and the jockey is still sore and not riding a week later. I haven’t been able to find out if the horse made it, though I asked several officials. I am keeping my fingers crossed because I overheard a couple of the pony riders talking about how the horse was hyperventilating even 40 minutes later; hopefully it was scared more than hurt? In the next race another horse was pulled up, and I found out from her trainer she had a slab fracture on her knee, but was resting comfortably. If anyone has more information, though, I’d love to hear about. I’ve scanned the web, but the industry is pretty closed-mouthed about this kind of thing.

Inspiration for "Weiner's Circle"

Inspiration for “Weiner’s Circle”

On a lighter note, the Weiner Dog races were taking place. Those were a lot of fun. I’m contemplating a painting entitled “Weiner’s Circle” for next year’s show. The slogan of the Equine Art Show is “The Horse and a Whole Lot More”; I think this would fit!

I also had a good time hanging out with JJ and the boys. I haven’t been around teenagers a lot; I knew going in that enthusiasm would be asking for too much, but I was surprised they weren’t more active. JJ says that they didn’t complain and thus the day was a ROUSING success. I’ll take her word for it, but I had a good time!

Wildlife, and I’m not even out of my driveway

Today we loaded up in the car to head down to Canemah. I was pulling out of the driveway and something caught my eye…

It was a bunny! I think probably a young one. I’m sure it came into my yard to drink from my bird feeders, but as it was nibbling on dandelions… I hope she stays!

Also fun around the house, the tree swallows the have nested at my house every year for at least five years, have finally produced audible babies. This is very late for them; in previous years the babies are getting ready to fledge around now. This batch is not even big enough to peak out yet. In fact, they are small enough that the parents have to completely inside the house to feed them.

Earlier this year I was sure that a pair of chickadees was nesting in this same house, and I was concerned the swallows wouldn’t nest. It appears that the two species somehow worked things out.

At Canemah

Once in Canemah, it was immediately obvious that lots of animals had young ones just venturing out into the world. We saw lots of ground squirrels and heard lots of young birds begging. This young sparrow was particularly photogenic.

Still, even though it’s high summer and most everything is brown and dry, I got a few pictures I really like.

But my favorite picture of the day is this one.

whitespider

Misumena vatia (Goldenrod Crab Spider): This spider is an ambush hunter, lying patiently in wait on flowers for an insect to come within striking range. Adult females may be overall yellow or white, with the ability to change back and forth. This species can conquer surprisingly large prey like bees and butterflies. (Identificaiton and description courtesy of http://www.spiders.us/species/filter/oregon/ )