My primary medium for creating art is to paint or draw with pastels, soft chalk-like chunks or sticks of colour. Pastels are a medium that I have been learning to use well for several years and there is still so much to learn. Lately I have been experimenting with my mark making, a way of adding texture and interest to my artwork. It has been a fun yet challenging process, requiring me to resist falling back on old habits of softening edges, blending clouds and overworking the detail. Colour is also something I have been playing with, some of my paintings have no more than five colours in them but this one definitely features more colour.
The source photo for this painting was taken in the Mt Aspiring National Park on New Zealand’s South Island. Initially it was a crisp and clear Autumn day but the weather soon changed and the clouds set in, bringing the occasional shower of rain making the track towards the Rob Roy glacier slippery and a little nerve wracking at times.
New Zealand, Scotland and animals continue to be a great source of inspiration for me. I will be attempting to do more portraits this year, people portraits that is so stay tuned if you want to see how I progress.
We live near bushland and get a lot of birds visiting our yard, especially when everything is in flower. For some reason, our Poinciana tree is flowering now after a rather lacklustre performance in December and it recently attracted the attention of a male and female pair of King Parrots. We don’t see King Parrots very often and they never stick around for long, but these two love birds preened and napped for about an hour while Hubby washed the car and I invaded their privacy with my zoom lens.
It is easy to tell the difference between an adult male and female, the male has a red head and his colouring is more vibrant. The female has more green, and she kept a watchful eye on me whilst going about her business. It was a real pleasure to see these birds hanging out in our garden, so often that tree is full of less colourful but more vocal crows and noisy miner birds.
November is storm season in Queensland and we’ve had a couple of loud and scary ones but thankfully the worst of them missed our place (touch wood). As a twenty something loving in Newcastle I discovered how much I loved a good storm when staying with family near the beach. From their house I watched in awe as the clouds rolled in and the light changed creating an eery atmosphere before the skies opened and the lightning let loose. It was magic.
There were pockets of storm action Sunday afternoon, mainly to the north of us so we got very little rain and only a few rumbles of thunder. We did however see some amazing cloud formations and fantastic light as we strolled around a local sports field. Bundy could not have cared less about any of it, he was too busy following random scent trails. With only my iPhone at hand I tried to capture the amazing nature of the clouds and light using the Lightoom mobile app and my phone’s native camera app. The images are a little dark, more post-processing required or perhaps there are better apps for capturing these types of scenes on a smartphone.
The rain that fell on us at the end of another long and hot Queensland summer did wonders for our little garden and the park outside. Everything was lush and green, funny little funghi moved in and we had numerous creatures living among the plants, thriving on the fresh green shoots of our gardenias. My thumb isn’t that green, however I have managed to keep a few plants alive and I love it when I see creatures in the garden even if they’re actually destroying it leaf by leaf.
Bundy seemed pleased that I was not turning the lens on him for a change, instead I got as close as I could to the frogs, bees, spiders and mushrooms and started shooting away. I think I could have used a faster shutter speed on some of the shots, they’re not as sharp as I would like however it is good that these things are becoming a little clearer to me. I am learning. For some of you it is Spring time which means lots of beautiful blooms and bright colours, looking forward to seeing what lives and grows in your garden 🙂
After several extreme weather events a local wildlife reserve was in danger of being overcome by algae, weeds and dying trees, but all that has changed thanks to a group of dedicated people. I have watched and admired the changes happening as a result of an ongoing regeneration program which has seen the clearing of dead and invasive plants. Native plants have been planted all around the lake and as they grow they provide a source of food and sanctuary for wildlife as well as beautifying the area.
This literal interpretation of this week’s photo challenge: growth is my contribution to the challenge.
This is the last photo challenge of the year: 2017 Favorites and what a year it has been, plenty of ups and downs and far too much time spent in my head. My saving grace has been volunteering at a local shelter, being around dogs and working with people who love them as I do makes me happy so the fact that several of my favourite photos of 2017 feature dogs will come as no surprise.
Dear old Mason had a hard life, he arrived at the shelter in extremely poor condition and all he wanted was to be loved. A favourite with the volunteers, Mason would get lots of cuddles and he loved being out in the exercise yard if only to sit on or near you. Soaking up all the love and the attention he could, it was wonderful to see the expression on his face.
Bandit was another favourite among staff and volunteers at the shelter, he arrived in poor condition and was initially a little cautious. Looking at his scars it is possible he was used as a bait dog for fighting, but being a stray we’ll never know for sure. All Bandit wanted was to spend time with people and snuggle, a beautiful boy with lots of love to give. One of the volunteers adopted Bandit, no doubt he will now have the life all dogs deserve one filled with love and care.
8 year old Zeus would sit at the front of his pen and quietly watch everyone pass him by, dismissed because of age or possibly because of the way he looked. Zeus was a red staffy mix and some considered him to be a dangerous red nose pitbull, nothing could be further from the truth. Like Mason and Bandit, Zeus just wanted to hang with his people and he loved his time with staff and volunteers even if it meant he just had company while he rested.
Tigger the water baby. Never happier than when he was splashing around in water, you can see the joy on Tigger’s face as he sits under the running water. Tigger was a highly stressed boy in the shelter environment, getting him out of his pen and away from the noise of the shelter was a priority for staff and volunteers.
My boy Bundy. The love I feel for this little fellow borders on obsession, and as he gets older my desire to protect him and keep him safe and happy only strengthens. The poor boy suffers through endless kisses, photo shoots and tacky costumes without complaint although I am sure that the duck liver treats help immensely. At the moment he is lying outside my office door, stretched out on the cool tiles in an effort to remain cool. The urge to kiss his forehead and scratch his belly is strong however I know it is too hot for such a fuss and I don’t want to disturb him.
This year I made an effort to take more photos, not all of them are of dogs because we are lucky to be very close to nature and have access to local wildlife. Please enjoy my last few favourite photos from 2017.
Splash! I quickly turn knowing that I have just missed my chance of seeing a water dragon. These little reptiles generally don’t stick around, especially when I have Bundy with me but I got lucky walking around a local wildlife reserve one afternoon. The lake in the reserve has been on the receiving end of a lot of regeneration activity in the past 12-18 months with native trees and grasses being planted all around the foreshore. Piles of branches stacked around tree stumps are yet to be cleared away and these make great little hiding holes for all sorts of creatures. Wary of snakes I steered clear of one pile and kept Bundy close as I inched towards the water’s edge in order to photograph the pelicans on the lake. It wasn’t until I looked away from the pelicans that I noticed a lizard sitting on the pile of wood, an Easter Water Dragon to be precise.
Easter Water Dragons can be found in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. They can live for up to twenty years and will eat insects, small reptiles and frogs as well as fruit and other vegetation. Some people keep them as pets but I think you need a permit to do so and I would much rather see them in their natural habitat. Occasionally I see them lying on the side of the road, it is nice and warm for them and they will scamper off when they see you coming however they’re not always that lucky at escaping traffic.
The water dragon barely moved, his eyes watching every step Bundy and I took. I was grateful to have my camera and 70-200mm lens with me rather than my phone, allowing me to get close-up photos without disturbing him too much. You might be wondering why I’m referring to the water dragon as a male, if you look closely at the photo you can see that the water dragon has a reddish chest, apparently the chest of a male water dragon goes bright red during mating season so I’m thinking that this boy is on the prowl. After mating the female lays up to 25 eggs in the soft soil or sand and then she does a runner, playing no part in the parenting. Thankfully the kids are independent once they hatch, I just hope they stay off the road.
On a recent stroll around the lake I noticed a plethora of spider webs dripping in dew and sparkling in the sunlight. The delicate webs were clinging to trees, long grass and anything else that would hold those sticky strands. Each creation varied greatly in shape and size and I couldn’t help but admire them although had I walked through one I may have felt differently.
It is mornings like this that make me realise how much I love being close to nature and how the simplest things can put a smile on my face.
“Do you understand how there could be any writing in a spider’s web?”
“Oh, no,” said Dr. Dorian. “I don’t understand it. But for that matter I don’t understand how a spider learned to spin a web in the first place. When the words appeared, everyone said they were a miracle. But nobody pointed out that the web itself is a miracle.”
“What’s miraculous about a spider’s web?” said Mrs. Arable. “I don’t see why you say a web is a miracle – it’s just a web.”
“Ever try to spin one?” asked Dr. Dorian.