Saturday, January 9, 2016

Ivory Gull with Paparazzi



Today I joined the Ivory Gull paparazzi, where small crowds have gathered in Canal Park to see a very special visitor. Here’s the bird everyone in Duluth is talking about: a juvenile Ivory Gull whose home is the high Arctic. Some have said it’s the rarest bird to have ever visited Duluth. Unfortunately, a second one was found dead on Wisconsin’s side of Lake Superior the other day. I hope this one enjoys our frigid temperatures for the next few days and eventually finds its way back home.


Friday, January 8, 2016

Winter


This painting just sold at MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, MN. If you plan on visiting Grand Rapids and would like to see a certain painting of mine, please let me know. The gallery and I can help you! Reasonable accomodations can be made for you to see any painting you're interested in, assuming you're aware that Minnesota has a snowstorm every now and then and I may need a few extra days to deliver the artwork. In the meantime, stay tuned for new work coming this spring at MacRostie!


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Banjo

Oil - 4 x 4 inches

I was down at the docks, photographing birds. Any kind, really. Depended on their attitude, position, habits, and business. Then a man approached, a stranger. He commented about the flying rats, said there were too many of them. He thought the only place they should be was face to face with the barrel of a gun. I've heard the term 'flying rats' maybe once since, same subject matter. I'm glad humans have amassed a multitude of adjectives for ignorant, disrespecting folks. Goes both ways, I guess, even though name-calling doesn't really accomplish much. Even so, my mind was full of them.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nugget

Oil - 4 x 4 inches

Yesterday, two pines snapped in half. Lost them both. Too fierce the storm, too heavy the snow. But how many, if any, did that nuthatch store? One seed? One hundred? No matter. The store's still stocked minus a few, if not cockeyed and bruised. Hurry up, little nuthatch, and get your cache.



Friday, December 11, 2015

Mourning Dove at the Marsh

Oil - 4 x 4 inches

Returning to painting a miniature, this process always forces me to slow things down. I may start the painting with gusto, but eventually I'll navigate to the slow gear, the one where details matter.



Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cedar Waxwing Along the Interurban

Oil - 24 x 24 inches

When I have seen flocks of Cedar Waxwings perched in treetops devouring berries, it's always been a surprise. They don't announce their visits like crows, blue jays or sparrows buzzing in a shrub. No, their presence can be marked by soft, high-pitched tweets, if one can hear them at all. In fact, one might be apt to ignore them, because one might think their faint songs are figments of the imagination.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Late Summer Pileated

Oil - 5 x 5 inches

This oil painting is of a female, Pileated Woodpecker. I’ve enjoyed several visits in the past few weeks from at least two males and one female. This particular female wasn’t as concerned by my presence compared to the males I’ve seen. In the following paragraphs, you’ll read about a strange occurrence regarding a male, Pileated Woodpecker that happened earlier this month. I wonder if it will leave you as mystified as it did me.

September 1, 2015, brought a mass birding migration event, according to the counters at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory here in Duluth. 91,667 migrating, non-raptors passed through the area that day, and it turns out I simply got lucky and saw it without even knowing what was going on. Of course, I didn’t see tens-of-thousands of birds, but did notice a drastic increase in bird activity at my home. If it wasn’t for the call and unusual sighting of a Baltimore Oriole early in the morning, I might have missed the whole thing. As an amateur birder, I spotted 29 species of birds throughout the day; no doubt an expert would’ve seen a lot more.

Early morning of Sept. 1, 2015. Female, Baltimore Oriole.
Not a common sighting at my home. Migrating.

While bird watching, fate brought me a spectacular sighting of a hawk chasing a male, Pileated Woodpecker. It wasn’t something I felt good about witnessing, but knew it was perhaps, a once-in-a-lifetime event. In one observation, I saw the pattern of the hawk’s tail feathers, indicating a possible Cooper’s hawk. The event started abruptly and without warning. Round and round they went, angling through the red and jack pines that dot my property.

In the middle of the chase, a puzzling thing happened. The woodpecker landed on a branch a few feet from my window, and the hawk landed along side of him at the same time. For whatever reason, the woodpecker then started to preen its feathers. I couldn't believe it. The hawk was just feet away! I was able to get a photo, albeit a very poor one. The hawk didn’t show aggression at this point; however, it resumed the chase as soon as the woodpecker left the branch, which was about 10-15 seconds later. This made me second-guess the reason for the chase. After all, why would the woodpecker take time to preen with a predator so close-at-hand? There is ample documentation of bizarre friendships in the wild, and maybe these two had such a connection. Then again, if a car travels with a flat tire, it doesn’t get very far, and perhaps some of the woodpecker’s feathers really needed fixing before he could make another break for it. The chase resumed.

   A fuzzy photo showing the hawk to the right of the woodpecker. 9/1/15

 Another fuzzy photo of the hawk. 9/1/15

A few seconds later, the woodpecker landed on a utility pole that juts out of my ditch. Here, my photo indicates it’s stressed, with its mouth agape. It was a very hot and muggy day by Duluth’s standards, 84 degrees F, so that probably didn’t aid in the woodpecker’s overall well-being. While the woodpecker was on the pole, the hawk was out of my sight, most likely waiting in a nearby tree. Moments later, when the pileated flew off the pole, the two were at it again. Into the woods and out of sight they flew. The outcome remains a mystery. The next day, I saw a male pileated, and am hopeful it was the same one, but I’ll never know.

 Male pileated moments before the final chase into the woods. 9/1/15

Events like these make lasting impressions and no two days are ever alike, especially when it comes to bird watching. Until next time, thank you for your interest in the arts and especially, birds.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Chickadee Whiskey

Oil - 8 x 10 inches

If one could get drunk on bird watching,
Chickadees would be my favorite elixir.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Orion

Oil - 5 x 5 inches

Orion is a Barred Owl from the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Milwaukee, WI. I visited during their annual Raptor Day event, and was immersed in Orion's beauty. When one locks eyes with an owl, as I did for several moments, it's a pretty cool thing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Blackbird on Washington Island Accepted into the Minnesota State Fair!

Oil - 24 x 36 inches

Making its debut, Blackbird on Washington Island has been accepted into the Minnesota State Fair's Fine Arts Juried Competition, Aug. 27 - Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2015. You can see this painting anytime at the fair, but if you'd like a 'First Glance', you are more than welcome to attend the First Glance event. The Minnesota State Fair Foundation 501(c)(3) invites artists, friends, and family to support the future of the arts at the Minnesota State Fair. This is your chance to get a first glance at the selected works and celebrate art at the fair with arts enthusiasts.

First Glance Event
Tuesday, August 25
Fine Arts Center, MN State Fairgrounds
5 p.m. Opening - 6 p.m. Program
$40/person

Light refreshments will be available.
Tickets are available for purchase at www.msffoundation.org or by calling (651) 288-4323.



If you won't be attending the First Glance Event, you can still see this painting anytime during the Fair in the Fine Arts Center. I hope you can attend, and thank you for your interest in the arts!

MN State Fair - Aug. 27 - Labor Day, Sept. 7, 2015


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Yellow Warbler at Molly Stark

Oil - 18 x 24 inches

Before heading home after a day of canoeing, fishing, and hiking around Annie Battle Lake in Glendalough State Park in western Minnesota, I impulsively directed Terry to pull over at Molly Stark Lake, close to the fishing pier. Yes, I'm one of those passengers that frequently blurts out, "Hey, let's stop!" I don't know if Terry or his wheels are worse for the wear, but I find our excursions are always more interesting if everything isn't planned ahead. Anyway, this warbler was around eye-level on the sloped hillside that leads to the dock. Yellow Warblers have sweet calls, and I hear them more often than I can find them, so I consider myself lucky to have gotten a good reference photo for this painting.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Hummingbird Diaries


Yesterday, while watering a small slope of lady ferns, lilacs, honeysuckle, and a few dandelions, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird spent a few joyous moments hovering in the mist of my spray nozzle. A few moments turned into almost a minute, as he braved closer to bigger droplets of water, his tiny wings ablaze in the shower of a cool spring bath. Afterwards, he flew a few feet upwards to preen, landing on a spruce branch. I'd call it flash preening, just as you might expect from a hummingbird. Nature can nurture, and just might be the most powerful, non-prescription pill the world has to offer.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Trees and Shrubs for the Birds


Proverb: "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."

Terry and I planted 95 trees and shrubs three weekends ago, all for the purpose of filling our yard with more native Minnesota plants that are beneficial to birds. They include jack pine (with crazy-optimistic hopes of attracting the whip-poor-will), staghorn sumac, juneberries, spruce, and highbush cranberries. We don't own enough acreage to qualify for this year's DNR conservation program for the golden-winged warbler (oh, darn!), so the latter shrub was recommended as one of the most beneficial for that bird.

The planting endeavor went well, and the bugs didn't kill me, although they're still trying. Yesterday, I was outside for only ten minutes, got bitten by a bug on my eyelid, and woke up this morning to that eye swollen shut. My whole life, I've been walking nectar to bugs, bait if you will. If the bugs don't kill me, bathing in high doses of bug repellent probably will.

Work continues (with one eye today) on my painting of a yellow warbler. Lots of detail in this one, so stay tuned.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

See my work at MacRostie Art Center


MacRostie Art Center
405 1st Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, MN
Mon-Sat 10 am - 5 pm, 218-326-2697

Several of my miniatures will be available throughout the summer at MacRostie Art Center. This is my first opportunity to show since moving to Duluth; therefore, I thank you for your patience! Please visit when you get a chance. Your support is welcome.

You are also cordially invited to the opening of "Little Big Show" at MacRostie Art Center. The opening will take place on Friday, May 1, 2015 from 4-8 pm. The gallery show can be viewed from May 1st - May 30th, 2015. For more information, go to www.macrostieartcenter.org or call 218-326-2697. Hours of the gallery are Monday - Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm. Free admission.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Violet Wine

Oil - 3-1/4 x 8 inches

On November 17th, 2014, my thermometer read 12 degrees F when I noticed this robin sitting in a pin cherry tree in our front yard. Snow had already covered the ground and earthworms were burrowed away. It's nice to know the cherries supplied a few meals, as I saw the robin in the tree on several occasions, before it assumingly migrated south. The robin was last seen December 4th, 2014, hopefully headed to warmer climes. 


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Glory

Oil - 4 x 4 inches

Meet Glory, from the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Milwaukee, WI.



Thursday, March 12, 2015

Blackbird on Washington Island

Oil - 36 x 24 inches

     I came upon this bird at Percy Johnson County Park on Washington Island, WI. She is a female Red-winged Blackbird who seemed to come out of nowhere to say hello. It's probably more the case that we both surprised each other, as the park is a little off the beaten path and doesn't get much foot traffic. The park has a wetland feeling to it, where Lake Michigan eases up the sandy shoreline amid reed grass and other vegetation. When this bird landed on the reed, her weight caused it to slowly fall until her left foot grasped another reed, helping to hold her position steady. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ivy Wins 1st Place at WRAL


I'm pleased to announce that my painting of Ivy, a Snowy Egret from Sanibel Island, FL, won 1st Place at the Wolf River Art League's Mid-Winter Art Show in New London, WI, this past weekend on Valentine's Day. It's nice to know others love Ivy, too.

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