Friday, July 29, 2016

Karen's Babies

To say the maternal instinct runs strongly through every cell in Karen’s body would be a lie.  There’s one cell at the tip of her left little toe where it’s just moderately strong.  Otherwise…

As proof, during the time when Karen was nursing Mandy and she heard another baby cry, she lactated.  Whenever she sees a photo of a friend or relatives baby she calls me to come and see.  She can't get enough of them.  When I look at a baby I see a gooey, too fragile to touch, life form somewhat resembling a prune.  They all look alike.  In comparison, I think the sight of a prune could trigger Karen’s maternal instincts to bubble to the surface.

Thus, in these years when Karen’s opportunities to interact with prunes (I mean babies) are limited she spends copious hours in a quest to interact with young wild things.  To drive past a fawn by the side of the road without stopping would court marital disharmony.  Even a flock of fledgling crows descending on our deck to clean out our just-filled bird feeders in 7.3 seconds brings her enormous pleasure.  Me — I groan knowing they'll bring 50 of their best friends to our feeder all winter.

I previously blogged about Karen’s drawings, which include baby critters, on our almost nightly game of Upwards score sheet.  If the images aren’t something like a watermelon spitting seeds (her column) at a fleeing pig (my column) and she’s on a winning streak, the junior set will often appear.

This past spring when friends reviewed Karen’s artwork in our score keeping notebook, it didn’t take long for her to have a painting assignment — baby critters modeled after one of her drawings.  She certainly has the most fun with her whimsical side.  Me too.

                                                           The Gathering      12x16 inches      Watercolor

Of course the original inspiration for "The Gathering" comes from Karen's photography, her interactions with critters over the years and her fertile right brain.

Knowing it is well camouflaged by a couple of blades of grass, a Sitka Black-tailed deer fawn checks to see what that screeching of brakes was all about.

A juvenile raven pleads for a tasty morsel of an unidentifiable something that didn't look real appetizing to Karen -- something past it's prime that washed up on the shores of Wrangell Narrows very close to a where local cannery discharges fish processing wastes.

You'd think Karen was the mother robin from how proud she was of this nest of four.  She certainly worried about them as much as any doting mother would.

Fortunately the chicks had responsible parents who raided a blueberry patch that Karen had been eying  It looks like she'll just have to share. 

This baby red squirrel looks as enthusiastic about it's first bite as Don is about a steaming stack of pancakes slathered in butter and maple syrup .

Our anticipated bird house has found an unanticipated use as a squirrel feeder -- and occasional refuge for one young squirrel when territorial adults decide our deck is their private  property.  Note the smooth sanded rim of the hole modified by our squirrels to fit their overstuffed tummies.

                           I say it this fledgling Steller's jay can fly to this bush, it can feed itself.  Not so.

                                              Who could resist this somewhat fluffy ball of feathers.

Attentive Vancouver Canada geese parents protect their last two chicks.  Geese nesting in local muskegs face a daunting challenge in defending their eggs and chicks from marauding ravens and bald eagles yet, somehow, a few survive to maturity.

I think only Karen could have maternal feeling towards an immature bald eagle -- this one already at least a year out of it's nest.

               Leave it to Karen to spot a troll baby in the muskeg.  I suppose she'll be bringing food to it now.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Anna's Gift and Katie

While blogging has fallen by the wayside since our last Christmas greeting, painting hasn’t.  I delivered two paintings of young lasses this spring.

When I painted Anna I had two images from which to chose.  Her grandma provided no specific request — just a response to my earlier query suggesting it might be nice if one day I found Anna looking back from my easel.  I just had to decide which one.  One of my fortes is the uncanny skill of laboring over decisions only to subsequently decide I made the wrong one.  While I was pleased with the outcome of “Anna in the Garden,” this proved to be one of those instances.

                                              Anna's Gift    12x12 inches    Alkyd on Canvas    

The revelation occurred one day while browsing through my files of potential painting subjects (icons in a computer folder bearing the provocative title, “people”). There I bumped into the rejected image.  Drat.  Why hadn’t I chosen that one?  I like it even better.  Then I remembered.   Anna’s grandma and grandpa have both a summer and a winter home.  Of course!  They need a painting for each dwelling. 

Katie happily arrived as my first officially commissioned portrait.  As is typical for me — whose marketing skills rival that of a sloe-eyed gerbil — we never talked about price.  No problem.  She would be fun to paint — although the image was a bit dark and needed a different background.  

                                                   Katie    12x12 inches    Alkyd on Canvas

Photoshop rescued the lighting problem and a conversation with her grandma, the background.  The original photo was taken on the deck of a Hawaii vacation so, naturally,  it needed a tropical background — certainly not the Greenland icecap.  Thus I selected a nice generic Hawaiian beach setting and viola, Katie could be delivered.