Day 11: #rogertorypetersoninstitute I usually know what I’m going to paint each day when I head out, but today was the exception. The weather forecast reported overcast sky’s, so that ruled out anything that would be enhanced with shadow... Overcast days tend to look flattened, both in value and color. One exception to that rule is Fall foliage. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always loved fall colors on an overcast day, they don’t compete with shadows, they have a glory all their own. They glow.
Leaves have just begun to change colors in Western New York, so I started my hunt. I found plenty, yellow, red, orange, magenta, but I was also looking for a graceful composition. There in the corner of the parking lot was a young maple sapling that held its leaves and twigs like a ballerina in mid dance. I’ve always thought of maples as one of the most graceful of trees. Even in Autumn, when the leaves begin to fall, the maple sends its leaves off in one glorious last dance, twisting and turning to music only it hears.
My little sappling has its battle scars, holes and ripped leaves, and it still remained mostly green, but it’s simple composition earn it the title “Grace”
“Grace” Watercolor, 10”x8” Available
Day 10: #rogertorypetersoninstitute What a range of weather we had today. I started with a sweater, jacket and gloves and I now sit in the RTPI Library in a t-shirt. It’s just that time of year, unpredictable. Summer is still flexing its muscles, while autumn reminds us all that “times they are a changing”. That change can be seen easiest in the plants and foliage around us.
I found today’s subject surrounding the pond at RTPI, it’s roots in the water and it’s flower defiantly facing the eastern edge of fall. I gave thought to just painting the flowers that were in full bloom, but doing so would not truly be reflective to the season that we are in. We are in the “tween season” when summer and fall exist together, but elbow each other like a hall full of Middle Schoolers on their way to lunch.
“Pond’s Glow” Watercolor, 8”x10”
Day 6: #rogertorypetersoninstutute I spent much of my childhood watching Wild Kingdom and leafing through the Peterson Field Guide to the Birds. Mrs. Weymouth, our local naturalist, showed me how to use the book by using the system that Peterson used. I loved the pictures and would spend rainy afternoons copying the birds from the books.
Today I stood in the archives that house the bird skins, that were studied to create the books. Drawers and drawers of neatly catalogued birds, smelling faintly of formaldehyde, stuffed with cotton with their delicate legs tied with string and wired to ID tags. There is a strange dichotomy that over takes you when you look at these birds. Even though some are over one-hundred fifty years old, they look no different than a bird that met its unfortunate fate along one of our highways today. They are beautiful, but dead.
Today’s painting is actually a quick study of the bird skins that I spent time with. They may not be beautiful to some, the paint is runny, painted quickly with a raw feel, but not all paintings need to be beautiful, some just need to be...
“The Skins” 8”x10” watercolor Available
Day 5: #rogertorypetersoninstitute Every morning I wake up, fix a cup of coffee on the little propane stove and go for a walk with Cutter. Cutter enjoys reading the dog newspaper, a new smell here, a new smell there, tells him the stories of the night. I enjoy the quiet and the warm glow from the building that spills onto the butterfly gardens.
A couple days ago, I noticed some women knelling in those gardens pulling weeds. I explained who I was and asked permission to take a few photos. I loved the colors and mix of activity. Those of you who are gardeners, know the amount of work that goes into having a beautiful garden. The same is true at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Members of the Jamestown Garden Club work at keeping the butterfly gardens as beautiful today as they were when Roger’s wife designed them.
I decided to paint this scene with oils to let the bold brush strokes lay down bright, vivid colors. Thank you to the Jamestown Garden Club, you help keep the butterfly gardens beautiful day and night.
“The Butterfly Gardens” Oil on Gesso Board, 8”x10” Available
Day 3 #rogertorypetersoninstitute Sometimes it makes me sad that I can’t paint sound. I think part of the reason that I get up so early, is my quest for silence. No, that’s not really true, what I’m really in search of is lack of noise. Today’s I sat on a trail and painted with the only sounds being leaves brushing against each other and the sweet song of birds. The painting was visually able capture the scene, but it lacked the audible component.
As a kid I loved watching home movies. My Dad would set up the screen while my Mom popped popcorn. We would sit and watch the jittery, grainy versions of ourselves, while the projector clattered and hummed as it caught the sprockets. When VCR’s became commonplace my Dad transferred those movies to tape. It was eerie to watch those movies on the new format as the jittery grainy versions of ourselves silently moved across the TV screen. It just wasn’t the same without the sound of the projector. A few months later my Dad had us sit down to view a new tape that he had made. As before, there we were, jittery and grainy but in the background was the sound of the projector, clattering and humming, singing it’s song.
In a world that multi tasking has become commonplace, we crave to hear the sounds that go with the visual. It’s time for me to put away my earbuds and listen...
“Meadow Song” watercolor 10”x8” Available
Day 2 #rogertorypetersoninstitute When I was in Middle School (back then it was called junior High). I would get up early, throw on my canvas sneakers with the blue stripe on the bottom and walk through the meadow to the pond. It was spectacular in morning light. Sometimes it was still as glass and other times, diamonds danced on it like the earth was trembling. I would get in the old flat bottom row boat and push off. Usually my left foot would find the mud and my sneaker would squeak as it settled on to the rough peeling wood. I’d let the boat glide as far as it would go, to feel the breeze on my face and and the gentle rocking. It was a feeling of giving control to nature, as the silence and that time between night and day were the only things that existed.
“The Pond” Oil on Gesso Board 8”x10” SOLD