Monday, September 28, 2009

Looking Back (and other stuff)

"Spring Bobolink"
Oil on canvas - 6X8"
Things are really getting busy and crunch time is near with the Artisans Road Trip nipping at our heals. The A.R.T. starts this coming Friday afternoon (October 2nd) at 3 p.m. and runs through Sunday...9 a.m. - 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

We had an opening at Arts On Grand in Spencer last week with the A.R.T. artists participating with pieces of their work, this exhibit will run through October...Georgie and I had a fun time seeing samples of what others have at their studios!

I tried doing another small painting this past week and finally's a study of a Bobolink. I haven't painted a bird in such a very long time that I was actually feeling a little trepidation while trying to work through it. I hate getting rusty at things, especially those things I like.

Bobolinks aren't really "in season" right now, but I'm looking back at a bird we really enjoy here at Prairie Hill Farm and on the prairie elsewhere. Bobolinks are "grassland obligates", or birds that depend on grasslands as habitat...they need grasslands (or prairie) for nesting and forage.

Bobolinks are also a rather curious case each summer. They arrive around late March/early April, nest, raise a brood and leave. Well maybe that sounds typical of other birds? Well, sort of - but they leave each summer around July 4th...then they spend the rest of the summer traveling in small flocks like nomads, wandering from place to place with no apparent pattern. They're pretty hard to find after the first part of July, so I always miss them through the rest of the summer. My father calls them the "Spink, Spank, Spink" bird. He said he remembers them from his early years growing up on the farm back in the 30's. There would have been more pasture and grasslands back then so I don't doubt he was familiar with them. Spink, spank, spink might be a common translation of their song, but I'd say they do an extremely good rendition of R2D2 from the Star Wars movies! Seriously.

Bobolinks are also a hard bird to paint! They are very black colored birds are not easy to portray because...well...they're lacking in color. Bobolinks do have some white in their wings and their rump and a light yellow "skull cap" marking, so they can be broken up with these accents but the study I did had one back lit form the side and its a sunny setting so the contrast makes it challenging.

This study has been on the back burner for a few years...I'd really like to incorporate it into a larger piece some day but thought I'd better try it on for size before I lose the memory of it!

I apologize if it registers too dark on your computer monitor...I've actually tried bring the contrast and density range down a hair on my monitor so it would look more like the original does from under the lights I paint with in the studio.

We've been (or I should say Georgie has been) working hard to keep up with the raspberry crop here at the farm. Georgie's been keeping records of the harvest and, unless a hard freeze comes soon, we'll go way past last year's yield of 330 pints! We're almost there today and there's at least a hundred more pint potential on the canes if we can squeeze a couple more weeks out without hard frost. Last year at A.R.T., we actually let studio visitors pick their raspberries?!

Hope to see you at Artisans Road Trip!

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