Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Surprise

Having purchased my home last summer, I have not experienced the unfolding of spring. I knew that there were two large lilac bushes, but I did not know more than that. To my surprise, I have a lovely dark purple lilac and a light purple one.

I took photos today, but even with photoshop I cannot correct the color. I do not know why purple is such a challenging color to reproduce. I have that same situation with prints of my watercolor paintings.

Here is what I came up with...

light purple(?) lilac

dark purple(?) lilac

You need to use your imagination :)

My favorite place to see and smell lilacs this time of year is Hulga Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland, Washington.

Their goal is not only to preserve the lilac heritage developed by Hulda Klager, but to maintain the gardens for visitors to experience the tranquillity of a pioneer Victorian farm and garden. The Hulda Klager Lilac Society fully funds the care and upkeep of the farmhouse and grounds from donations, sales of lilacs and proceeds from our gift shop sales. With the help of volunteers, friends, and members the Lilac Gardens continue to carry on the work of growing and showing the beautiful lilacs hybridized by Hulda Klager many years ago.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Exquisite Color

I could not pass by this exquisite display of color without stopping to capture it on my camera phone.

These two patches of tulips flanked the entrance of the driveway. Someone had excellent color awareness when he/she planted this spectacular tulip garden.

Wouldn't you agree?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Native Dogwood

The Pacific Dogwood is a species of dogwood native to western North America from the lowlands of southern British Columbia to the mountains of southern California. Its glorious floral beauty makes dogwoods beloved trees.

I found a lovely specimen this morning on the Chehalis Western Trail, Olympia, Washington.

Don't you just love the grace and beauty of the flowers?

Interesting facts:

The Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttalli) is also known as Western Flowering Dogwood, Mountain Dogwood.

John James Audubon (1780-1851), the American ornithologist and artist, who painted this tree in his famous work Birds of America, named it for its collector, Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859), the British-American botanist and ornithologist.

The theory is that 'dogwood' comes from the Sanskrit word for 'skewers' - 'dag'.

'Cornus' means horn and is supposedly refers to the hard wood.

'Nuttallii' is for the botanist Thomas Nuttall.

The Pacific Dogwood is prevented by law from being dug up or cut down.

The Pacific Dogwood is the floral emblem of British Columbia.

The elongated, dark, red berries are edible but bitter, and stay on the tree after leaves have fallen.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Herb Robert

Meet Herb Robert

A lovely, little pink flower that is a member of the geranium family and profusely growing along the sides of the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington.

One of the easiest ways to spot Herb Robert, even when it's not blooming, is by its leaf structure. The leaves, which usually grow in sets of three, have three to five rounded-toothed lobes. The leaf and flower stems are also covered with hairs.

The Herb Robert flowers bloom from May to October. Each flower has five petals, each with a distinctive fold or wave toward the center of the flower.


Herb Robert is a Class B Noxious Weed.

Why is it a noxious weed?

Herb Robert poses a threat to the forest understory and to plant biodiversity in forests of western Washington. It is capable of growing under full canopy closure in very dense populations and is considered a vigorous, plant. Where it occurs there appear to be fewer native herbaceous species.

Who would have ever guessed?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Spring Arts Walk In Olympia

This weekend was the Olympia, Washington's, famous Arts Walk.

Famous because the "Procession of the Species," the Arts Walk parade which takes place on Saturday, has been noted in many regional sources. The Procession of the Species — Olympia’s celebration of Earth Day, creativity and community spirit — was honored by Readers Digest last summer as America’s best procession and parade.

An estimated 3,000 participants with masks and costumes honoring nature gather accompanied by chest-thumping drums, and parade downtown with an anticipated 30,000 spectators cheering them on. The big art pieces — whether it be a whale or rhinoceros or zebra - are always popular.

The parade is part of the spring Arts Walk celebration, which continues from noon until 7 p.m. at various businesses in downtown Olympia. Dozens of artists have their creativity on display — from metal art to photography to oil paintings. Arts Walk and the Procession of the Species provide a perfect opportunity to showcase talent and the great businesses, restaurants and entertainment venues that populate downtown Olympia. And it’s free.

Friday night's "Luminary Parade"

This was my first year in many that I did not show my watercolor paintings, but it gave me the opportunity to see other artists and their art. My favorites were Alan Adams, wood & stone sculpture at the Black Box in the Washington Center for the Performing Arts; Stephanie Holttum, mixed media sculpture at Mixx 96.1 KXXO; and Alica R. Lewis, ceramics at the Painted Plate.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Today a friend and I took a walk around the Olympia Capitol and its historic district to see the array of flowers in bloom.

I found these tall, stately (pun!), colorful tulips near the Capitol absolutely stunning.

I like the blend of colors and those tulips that appear marbled.

I learned that what is considered a variegated color pattern was caused from an infection called the Tulip Breaking Virus or the Mosaic Virus that was carried by the green peach aphids. While the virus produces fantastically colourful flowers, it also caused weakened plants that died slowly. Today the virus is almost eradicated from tulip growers' fields. Those Tulips affected by mosaic virus are called "Broken tulips"; they will occasionally revert to a plain or solid colouring, but still remain infected with the virus.

Origin of the name?

Although tulips are associated with Holland, commercial cultivation of the flower began in the Ottoman Empire. The tulip is a flower indigenous to a vast area encompassing parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. The word tulip, which earlier appeared in English in forms such as tulipa or tulipant, entered the language by way of French tulipe and its obsolete form tulipan or by way of Modern Latin tulīpa, from Ottoman Turkish tülbend ("muslin" or "gauze"), and is ultimately derived from the Persian language dulband ("turban"). (The English word turban, first recorded in English in the 16th century, is a cognate.)

We have several Tulip Festivals in the state of Washington.
Here is one of my paintings after a visit to the fields.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Now Blooming on the Trail......

As spring has been progressing, I have been posting what is currently in bloom on the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington.

You can call me the trail eye-witness reporter!

The Red Elderberry is currently the star bloomer with its lacy foliage, large white flower clusters.

The Red Elderberry is a showy large deciduous shrub or small tree of the Honeysuckle family that grows 10-20 feet tall with a broad arching form. Older specimens have large, multiple trunks with coarse bark. Red elderberry begins growth early in spring and produces abundant, small, creamy white flowers in large, conical or pyramidal shaped clusters between April and July. Large clusters of small, bright red, fleshy berries appear in summer.

This deciduous shrub is very common west of the Cascades. Large attractive clusters of red berries are very popular with the birds, but may be toxic to humans when eaten raw. When ripe however they can be cooked and made into processed products, or fermented into wine. The rest of the plant (flowers, leaves, seeds, roots) is toxic as it contains cyanide-producing glycosides.

The flowers have a rather unpleasant, skunk smell. Butterflies enjoy the nectar of the flowers, while birds will feast on the ripe berries.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Native Cherries on the Trail

Those of you who travel the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington, might recognize this spot. If you do, and you like cherries, bring a ladder this summer and a delight awaits.

Ebony seems to get in every photo!

These blooming trees are the native cherry also known as Bitter Cherry. It is not commonly available from nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors.

You are looking at a mature grove of who knows how many years?

General Characteristics:

The Bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata) is a native, deciduous shrub, four to twelve feet high, or sometimes a small tree up to thirty feet high. The leaves are oblong to oval, fine toothed, and rounded at the tip. The flowers are fragrant, blooming between April and May, in clusters of five to twelve. The bark has a generally smooth dark brown surface marked by horizontal light gray interrupted hands and by rows of oblong orange colored lenticels.

Interesting Facts:

Several native North American tribes used bitter cherry to treat a variety of complaints. An infusion of the bark was used in the treatment of tuberculosis. A decoction of the root and inner bark was taken daily as a treatment for heart troubles. An infusion of the bark, combined with crab apple, was used as a cure all tonics in treating colds and various other ailments. An infusion of this species’ rotten wood was used as a contraceptive.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Stunning Purplish-Pink Trillium

Even though I was only equipped with my phone camera, I could not resist recording this beautiful specimen I found today on the Chehalis Western Trail, my favorite walking path.

Purple-Pink Trillium

This photograph does not reflect the exact color, but the color here is rather striking too, wouldn't you agree?

Now, the next question is was this Trillium first white and then turned purple? Or is this one of those purple Trillium?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Vincent and Gauguin

Artists Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin spent time together and painted.

Would you have liked to be a fly on the wall in the studio?

Portrait of Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers
Paul Gauguin
December 1888

The portrait honors the bond of friendship between the two artists, although they never saw each other again after Gauguin's departure that winter. It is noted that their discussions about art would become debates, and then hostile arguments. By the end of the winter their friendship had become frayed.

Vincent portrayed his life with Gauguin in Arles in these paintings of chairs:

Vincent's Chair with his Pipe
Vincent Van Gogh
December 1888

Gauguin's Chair
Vincent Van Gogh
November 1888

The two paintings of Vincent's and Paul Gauguin's chairs are among the most often analyzed of Van Gogh's works. These companion paintings have attracted much attention because of the symbolic interpretations underlying the subject matter. Van Gogh himself discussed these works in a number of his letters, but didn't include any detailed interpretations of the underlying meaning of the paintings.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gauguin and Friends

Recently I have been reading Robert Goldwater's book Gauguin to my art therapy client as she is not able to paint.

The color plates and descriptions are exceptional. We are learning about the personal side of Gauguin and his challenges with life as well as fellow artists.

Can you imagine hanging out with Monet, Van Gogh, Pissarro and Cezanne? Not only did they have personality clashes, but shared painting techniques. I noticed some of Gauguin's painting techniques resemble Van Gogh's without the heavy applications of paint.

In Gauguin's Intimate Journals, he says, "The Impressionists study color exclusively, but without freedom, always shackled by the need of probability. For them the ideal landscape, created from many entities does not exist.......They heed only the eye, and neglect the mysterious centers of thought, so falling into merely scientific reasoning."

One of my favorite paintings:

Still Life With Three Puppies
Paul Gauguin

Gauguin wrote about the time this picture was painted, "I have sacrificed everything - execution and color - for style, wishing to impose upon myself something else than what I [already] know how to do." This painting is filled with the most brilliant color, but it is color determined by a conception so original, and in many ways so much ahead of its time that one understands how Gauguin could feel that he was forcing himself toward a style he had not previously imagined, subordinating all else in the effort.

I can relate to feeling like a sacrifice to try something new in the realm of art, but excitingly so. I seem to be in that place and time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Trillium Obsession

I have been posting photos and information on the first blooming wildflower of spring, the Trillium.

As I promised, here is a watercolor painting I created from my photographs. This one is more realistic, but I plan to do variations with less detail and more color.

Stay tuned...........

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Have You Been To An Art Museum Lately?

When was the last time you visiting an Art Museum or Gallery?

Art Museums and Galleries are ranked according to the number of visitors. This popularity contest seems to designated the best art museums.

How many of these have you been to?

The top art galleries and museums in 2009, based on their annual visitor numbers are as follows.

1. 8,500,000 Louvre Paris
2. 5,569,981 British Museum, London
3. 4,891,450 Metropolitan Museum of Art
4. 4,780,030 National Gallery, London
5. 4,747,537 Tate Modern, London
6. 4,605,606 National Gallery of Art, Washington
7. 3,530,000 Centre Pompidou, Paris
8. 3,022,012 Musée d'Orsay, Paris
9. 2,763,094 Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
10. 2,730,204 National Museum of Korea, Seoul
11. 2,672,761 Museum of Modern Art, New York
12. 2,574,804 Taiwan Palace Museum, Taiwan
13. 2,426,203 State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
14. 2,273,634 Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo
15. 2,269,900 Victoria and Albert Museum, London
16. 2,087,415 Reina Sofía, Madrid
17. 1,961,843 National Portrait Gallery, London
18. 1,846,889 Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
19. 1,840,812 De Young Museum, San Francisco
20. 1,572,171 Moscow Kremlin Museum, Moscow
21. 1,530,318 Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
22. 1,513,249 National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo
23. 1,501,837 Tate Britain, London
24. 1,500,000 Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
25. 1,496,438 Musée Quai Branly, Paris
26. 1,451,139 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
27. 1,368,096 Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow
28. 1,312,762 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
29. 1,300,000 Children's Museum, Indianopolis
30. 1,283,401 State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

I have been to five of these; Louvre, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Musée d'Orsay, Museum of Modern Art, and the De Young Museum. Looks like London would be a great place to travel inorder to view good art.

If you are interested in more statistics, including which art exhibits were most popular, you can find more information from The Art Newspaper's annual review of art galleries and museums and the exhibitions held around the world in 2009.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Trillium Lane Video

I returned to the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington with determination to capture the numerous Trillium on video.

A recap for new people.........

I have been amazed by the numbers of Trillium found in the forest near the Chehalis Western Train Head or End (depending on your perspective) at Woodard Bay. In my previous post I captured some of the Trillium with my camera. I have a short video capability on my camera and have been playing with that feature. For those Trillium lovers, I hope you can appreciate the spectacle of Trillium along the trail. In addition, I am expanding my learning curve by posting this video. Here's to the adage to learn something new every day!

Some interesting facts about the Trillium:

The Trillium is often the first wildflower noticed by casual walkers; other spring wildflowers are much less apparent.

In western North America, a typical species is Trillium ovatum (Western Trillium) also with white flowers, that slowly turn into a shade of purple in the middle of spring.

Picking Trillium for their flower can seriously injure the plant. The three leaves (more correctly leafy bracts) below the flower are the plant's only ability to produce food stores and a picked trillium can take many years to recover. For this reason in many areas, e.g. Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Washington, it is illegal to pick and/or transplant trilliums from public lands without a permit from the State.

Trillium is one of many plants whose seeds are spread by ants and mice. At maturity, the base and core of the Trillium ovary turns soft and spongy. Trillium seeds have a fleshy organ called an elaiosome that attracts ants. The ants extract the seeds from the decaying ovary and take them to their nest, where they eat the elaiosomes and put the seeds in their garbage, where they can be protected until they germinate. They also get the added bonus of growing in a medium made richer by the ant garbage.

I wish it were longer, but I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Trillium Lane

Is it the Chehalis Western Trail Head or is it the Chehalis Western Trail End at Woodard Bay, Olympia, Washington?

For me since I always start at Woodard Bay, I think of it as the Chehalis Western Trail Head. The area is nestled in the trees and very picturesque.

For trillium lovers, this is the place! I have been amazed at the numbers of Trillium I have seen in the small area to the left of the main trail. Today I attempted to record a walk along the trail which I dubbed, "Trillium Lane" on my camera with the video setting. Unfortunately, not very experienced with my video setting on the camera, it came out sideways and I have not figured out how to turn it. Plus, now I have an idea of how it looks so that I can try again with better results. Next learning experience will be downloading it to my blog to share. Stay tuned.....

For a preview, here are some photographs along the trail:

This is my favorite spot as there are dozens of Trillium on
BOTH sides of the trail!

Bonus photo; Ebony and Trilliums

Monday, April 5, 2010

Latest Watercolor Painting

Feeling caught up with my house projects at the moment, I spent time creating another watercolor painting of water of my favorite subjects.

Although this is the third rendition of this painting, each time it is a new experience. I went more colorful and if you look closer, I used the watercolor in layers actually getting paint thick as if using oils. What fun!

Waterlilies 3
Joanne Osband

I might be on to a new painting technique. Stay tuned.......

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Heron's Nesting

On February 25th, I blogged about the nesting grounds of the heron's at Woodard Bay near the Chehalis Western Trail and took a photo from my camera phone which turned out rather favorably.

Recently I had one of those sychronistic moments when I wanted to view heron's nesting before they closed the trail. The sign says the trail closes on April 1st; it was April 3rd but the gate was wide open.

Now, you must use a bit of creative viewing of these next cell phone photos as EVERY NEST has a heron in it.

Can you see them?

See their heads sticking out of the nests?

I was totally mesmerized! Then I thought I was going to get busted as a ranger came down the trail. Lucky for me he was checking for any people on the trail before he locked the gate. Barry told me about the rookery, the name used for the nesting grounds. The one here at Woodard Bay is the largest in Washington!

Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

Some interesting facts regarding the herons and their nests.

Usually, nests are about 1 metre in diameter and have a central cavity 10cm deep with a radius of 15cm. This internal cavity is sometimes lined with twigs, moss, lichens, or conifer needles.

Great Blue Herons normally nest near the tree tops. In colonies made up of several species, they will take possession of the top of the tree and leave the lower branches to other species.

In the spring, males and females reach the nesting grounds at about the same time. Males settle usually where there are nests from former years. Each male then defends his territory in the tree where he plans to build a new nest or restore an old one. From that site, males put on grand displays and shriek loudly when females approach them. New mates are chosen each year. Birds aged two years or more mate almost immediately upon arrival, usually at the nest or, when one is not available, on a branch.

The building of the nest soon follows. The male gathers nest-building materials around the nest site, from live or dead trees, from neighbouring nests, or along the ground, and the female works them into the nest. Ordinarily, a pair takes less than a week to build a nest solid enough for eggs to be laid and incubated. Construction continues during almost the entire nesting period. Twigs are added mostly when the eggs are being laid or when they hatch.

Most female herons lay from three to five eggs in April. Incubation, which is shared by both partners, starts with the laying of the first egg and lasts about 28 days. Males incubate during the days and females at night.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Results of Second Nature's Rorschach Test

What do you see?

For those of you inclined to take the Nature's Rorschach test,
here is the result:


Do you see it?

The line coming down from the top is his forehead which feeds into the outline of his profile. He even has his paw raised against his face in a contemplative mood. He definitely is a happy character!

Do you see it now?

Anyone not familiar with a Rorschach Test here is some information:

The Rorschach test (also known as the Rorschach inkblot test or simply the Inkblot test) is a psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex scientifically derived algorithms, or both. Some psychologists use this test to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning.

It is similar to finding images in clouds or in splotches of paint with or without the psychological interpretations.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Another Nature Rorschach Test

About a week or so ago, I posted an image from my walk along the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington. I called it Nature's Rorschach test because the image of the cut tree reminded me of a Rorschach test. At that time, I saw a face. Today, from a different angle the tree stump took on a different image.

What do you see?

For those of you who do not know what a Rorschach test is, I let me explain.

The Rorschach test (also known as the Rorschach inkblot test or simply the Inkblot test) is a psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex scientifically derived algorithms, or both. Some psychologists use this test to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning.

It is similar to finding images in clouds or in splotches of paint with or without the psychological interpretations.

Stay tuned for the results of the New Nature's Rorschach Test