Monday, May 31, 2010

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010

For the past three years, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation hosts an international art competition to help save wildlife. 50% from all art sales goes towards supporting DSWF's wildlife projects.

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is a small, effective charity funding key projects in Africa and Asia working to save critically endangered mammals in the wild. DSWF supports anti-poaching and conservation projects throughout Africa and Asia making a real difference to the survival of critically endangered mammals.

Wildlife Artist of the Year 2010 Title goes to Adam Binder. Adam’s beautiful bronze of a polar bear clinging to ice entitled "Sinking Feeling" was a unanimous choice among the panel of judges. Along with the title, Adam also received a £10,000 cheque generously donated by the exhibition sponsors.

Sinking Feeling
Adam Binder

To see more entries and available work for sale, you can download the catalogue. Learn more about the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Wild Irises

With my recent Iris love affair, I could not resist taking photographs of the Wild Irises I saw at Earth Sanctuary on Whidbey Island in Washingtion. In yesterday's blog, I shared more about this fabulous place.

Today, it is Wild Irises!

Look at the incredible details in this lovely specimen.

And now for the purples...

Aren't they amazing?!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Earth Sanctuary

I just returned from a personal retreat to Earth Sanctuary on Whidbey Island, Washington. Earth Sanctuary combines exemplary ecology with art and spirit to create a sanctuary for birds and wildlife and a peaceful place for personal renewal and spiritual connection.

Here are some photographs:


A dolmen is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone. Megalithic tombs are found from the Baltic Sea and North Sea coasts south to Spain and Portugal.

I spent a rainy morning inside this dolmen and was treated to several visits by a hummingbird.

Earth Sanctuary has two stone circles:

Many stone circles can be found in the British Isles and parts of Western Europe, mostly lying not more than 100 miles from the sea. Other than my fascination with stones, the sanctuary has three lovely ponds inhabited by birds and ducks.

I also watched the resident Osprey; here is the nest:

This 72-acre preserve is possibly the largest ecological restoration project ever funded by an individual. Guided by a panel of experts, in 2001 Chuck Pettis launched a 500-year plan for returning the site to old-growth forest not only teeming with native species of plants, bird and animals, but also reverberating with spiritual power from installations of humongous rock megaliths.

It is a delight to visit!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Renoir and Friends

Today I read parts of a book on Renoir to my art therapy client.

I learned that Renoir's circle of friends included the famous Impressionistic painters Monet, Baxille and Sisley. All of them attended the Gleyre Academy and spent time painting together. Imagine that master-mind group!

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Portrait of Claude Monet
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France

Later in his life, Renoir developed a friendship with Cezanne and the two of them painted similar subjects together.

Montagne Sainte-Victoire

Paul Cezanne
Montagne Sainte-Victoire

Pierre-Auguste Renoir had already attained some measure of success as a portrait painter before exhibiting in the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris, 1974. He was only 33 years old at the time. Although Renoir's paintings have been classified as Impressionistic, he was always searching for new means of expression and his style during the period of the 1870's varies so much that Renoir's Impressionism, unlike Monet's, has no clear indisputable identity. Renoir quit showing with the Impressionists for several years until the seventh Impressionist show of 1882.

I cherish my artist friends and enjoy passionate discussion of art. I can only imagine how the friendships among these masters might have evolved.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Iris As Promised

In a previous post, I talked about my recent love affair with Irises.

Also, I mentioned that the Irises have inspired me to paint a watercolor portrait.

As promised...

These beauties are growing in my neighbor's flower gardens.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Incredible Cactus

Today I met a friend at the Olympia Farmers' Market.

I was there yesterday and purchased a lovely purple calla lily, but really wanted another "flame" calla lily. Chuck at Northfork Nursery suggested I call and order one for the next day.

"Callafornia Calla Lipstick"
Calla Lily

Calla Lily

So this was my excuse to return to the Farmers' Market and spend time with my friend, Janet. Little did I know that I would find there!

This amazing, incredible cactus......

Look at its bloom!

And its grace!

Can you see why I could NOT resist?

I & E Enterprise at the Olympia Farmers' Market said they will have more in different colors if your heart desires one, too. The gal at the booth did not know the name of the cactus. Do you?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In Love With Irises

My most recent love affair is with Irises.

Is it because they are in bloom here in Washington?

I am intrigued by the colors, shapes, and details of the lines. I have begun a watercolor painting of my neighbor's beautiful purple, lavender, and yellow-orange, Iris and have patiently awaited the bloom of the Iris I was gifted with last fall.

They are just beginning to open.......

Look at this lovely specimen!

We had a terrible wind and rain storm last evening and this morning I found one of my beautiful Iris on the ground. Hoping to be able to stake it for support, to my dismay, I saw that a slug had chewed through its stem. Then, observing the others...........I found one bud tip chewed off.

THIS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED! Tonight with flashlight in hand, I will eliminate the guilty slug or slugs. No mercy!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Artist of the Outdoors

Recently a friend recommended I watch the video Rivers And Tides Working With Time featuring Andy Goldsworthy.

I give it FIVE stars!

Firstly, the photography is outstanding, but most of all Andy Goldsworthy is a phenomenal artist at heart. He lives and breathes creativity. He "performs" his art outdoors using various aspects of nature.

After watching him create, I found a bit of kinship to him having created a winding river of stones around my house. He and I both seem to connect with the winding, looping, unsymmetrical shape reminiscent of a meandering river.

Andy Goldsworthy is a British photographer, sculptor and environmentalist living in Scotland. He specialises in site specific art as well as Land art. For Goldsworthy nature is no longer just a concept, “My art makes me see again what is there and in this respect I am also rediscovering the child within me…”

Land Art, Earth Art or Earthworks is a movement which emerged in the U.S in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The main theme of this work is that the land is not just a scene or exhibition space for which a sculpture is to be placed. But rather the land is the work and whatever the artist has created shares a special relationship with its surroundings and is a part of it, for without the land the work could not exist.

Most pieces of Land Art have temporary life span, existing only for a short time before being absorbed by the nature around it, or left to erode or decay naturally, this itself being as much the work as its original form. The works are remembered only by photographs or film.

'Maple Leaves arrangement' by Andy Goldsworthy, this piece fully sums up what Land Art is about, nature constructing and being the work, rather than the work being placed in nature.

'Cracked Rock Spiral' Andy Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy's work is a perfect example of Land Art, as, taken out of its environment this piece would not work, the rocks could only be positioned on sand and in little time would be swept away by the sea. This time based element is a strong theme in Goldsworthy's work.

By the way, I found this video at my local library.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Edgar Degas

I learned a few new interesting facts about Edgar Degas while reading Trewin Copplestone's book, Edgar Degas, to my art therapy client.

Edgar Degas who lived from 1834-1917, became a professional painter through a change in his family's fortunes. He grew up the privileged son of wealthy and cultured parents and despite his interest in art was destined for a career in law until the failure of the family back. Not the typical starving artist!

Rene-Hilaire De Gas

Edgar Degas was 23 years old when he painted this portrait of his grandfather.

Degas, being the oldest grandson, spent a great deal of time with his grandfather who was the source of his financial security.

More than any of his famous contemporaries, while possibly excluding Manet, Degas was a traditionalist painter. He was dismissive of the Impressionist technique as a method, although he participated in most of the group's early exhibitions. As a result, he is more closely allied in popular understanding with Impressionism than he himself ever wished to be.

Best know for his paintings of ballet dancers, Degas was an urbane and savagely witty man, choosing his subjects from the cultured society life of Paris in which he was a well known figure.

The Green Dancers
Pastel and Gouache

Monday, May 17, 2010


Change is good, right?

After walking by and gazing at my last watercolor painting in my studio this last week, I decided to make some changes.

The color, ORANGE, spoke to me. I added it to darken the darks and to bring out a glow in the leaves. Then, I heard PURPLE.

I am not sure if you can pick up the colors or not on the internet rendition, but the painting if filled with color and I had fun watching them transform.

Which one is your favorite?

I hope it is the first one as the second no longer exists except in a digital image.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Why Irises?

Now I know why the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh painted irises, and one need not be isolated in an asylum either. They are ablsolutely stunning!

I took some photos of my neighbors iris patch.

Take a close look at this magnificent flower!

And they have a fragrance similar to the smell of grapes. Wonder if it has anything to do with the flower being purple?

Maybe it is time to get out my paints...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Berries

I must admit, I am addicted to berries and there is no recovery program that can cure me.

In the summertime, I go to the Farmers' Market and buy two flats of berries at a time; one to freeze for winter and one to eat. I do this on a regular basis when the strawberries, raspberries, boysenberries, and blueberries are ripe.

I also like to forage in the woods for berries. Now flowering along the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington, are the Timbleberry and Native Blackberry.


The Thimbleberry is native to western and northern North America. It is a dense shrub up to 2.5 m tall with canes 3-15 mm diameter, often growing in large clumps which spread through the plant's underground rhizome. Unlike most other members of the genus, it has no thorns. It produces a tart edible fruit which ripen to a bright red in mid to late summer. Like other raspberries it is not a true berry, but instead an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets around a central core; the drupelets may be carefully removed separately from the core when picked, leaving a hollow fruit which bears a resemblance to a thimble, perhaps giving the plant its name.

Thimbleberry fruits are larger, flatter, and softer than raspberries, and have many small seeds. Because the fruit is so soft, it does not pack or ship well, so thimbleberries are rarely cultivated commercially. However, wild thimbleberries make an excellent jam which is sold as a local delicacy.

Native Mountain Blackberry

Do not confuse this blackberry with the weed that grows profusely in the Pacific Northwest. The native blackberries are quite different. They are ropey and creep on the ground except where supported by a shrub, boulder or fence. All blackberries with tall, self-supporting, thick and stiff canes are exotic weed species. The berries of the native plant are very small and require large quantities to make any substantial treat.

Many health benefits come from eating blackberries that are rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins along with being a good source of the minerals potassium, phosphorus, iron, and calcium.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Newest Rendition

For all those Trillium lovers out there, I completed a second watercolor painting of the delicate, native spring flower, the Trillium.

I played with giving the painting more color and less detail.

Trillium #2

Here is the first rendition:

Sign of Spring

Do you have a favorite?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wild Honeysuckle

There are some 180 species of honeysuckle, including the native wild flower, also known as woodbine. These range from stocky evergreen bushes to vigorous climbers.

Honeysuckle can be either deciduous or evergreen. The flowers are trumpet shaped, about 2 inches long, have a strong fragrance that attracts both hummingbirds and butterflies and can be pink, purple, red, white or yellow. Vines can grow as tall as 25 feet and produces either a fruit that is orange or berries that are red. The honeysuckle will bloom from summer through fall. This beauty can become invasive.

I found this vine snaking up the trees on the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington.

Interesting medicinal facts:

Honeysuckle is an herb used primarily in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is found in many cleansing and detoxifying blends because of its ability to clear heat, wind and toxins from the blood and liver. It is commonly used for sore throat, fever, skin blemishes and rashes. Honeysuckle combines well with chrysanthemum flowers.

Honeysuckle contains tannins which are being studied for it's possible inhibitory effects on HIV. Over fifty compounds have been identified in the essential oil of the flowers.

Topically, honeysuckle may be used effectively for fever and skin ailments and rashes. Many skin conditions caused by inflammation or internal heat will benefit from the heat and toxin removing actions of the herb.

Warning: Leaves contain toxins

Monday, May 10, 2010

Saskatoon Berries

Today my friend showed me a HUGE Saskatoon tree growing along side of the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington.

Also called Juneberry or Serviceberry, they are native to Canada and northern United States. The name Saskatoon - what a fun name - is derived from the Cree word misâskwatômina. The city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is named after these berries.

The saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia) is a small to large shrub, or small tree (the one on the Trail is NOT small!), which belongs to the Rose family. It is closely related to the apple, hawthorn and mountain ash. The saskatoon is a perennial, woody, fruit bearing shrub which is capable to adapting to a wide range of soils and climatic conditions. It is native to the Canadian Prairies, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, Alaska, British Columbia and the northwestern and north central United States. The saskatoon flowers in early May to early June.

The saskatoon was an important food source for both indigenous peoples and the early pioneers. It is an important food source for wildlife during the winter season. The saskatoon was also used as a source wood and as a medicinal plant. Today saskatoons are used in a wide variety of ways from pies, jams, jellies, syrups ice cream toppings, wine, liqueurs and flavour concentrates to components of baked goods. They may be used fresh or frozen and can be dried to yield "raisins" or fruit leathers.

Look for dark red or purple round berries that have crowns. These berries taste similar to blueberries, but with slightly crunchy tiny almond-flavoured seeds inside. It is best to pick the berries that are most purple. These are the ripest and sweetest. The branches bend down allowing one to reach higher berries.

Guess who will be out there gathering berries?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Seeds To Grow On

Today, I attended a plant sale in Olympia, Washington, where the proceeds from the sale would help families in East Africa plant gardens for fresh food.

Master gardener, Diane Claussen, sponsored this plant sale with donations from her beautiful garden and some of her friends. She commented that this money would help install clean water systems and teach the people how to plant irrigated gardens in the small villages of East Africa.

I must admit, I made a generous donation and came home with enough plants to spend the entire day in my yard planting.

You can still make donations; contact Diane at 360-413-0726

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Blue Wildflowers

Recently I have been posting blogs about the native plants as they bloom along the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington. I found these lovely blue wildflowers which I believe have been planted either by birds or humans.

Blue Flax

The Blue Flax flowers last only a single day and do not transplant well. Blue Flax was discovered by Meriwether Lewis on the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the late 1700's.


This wildflower is definitely a Bluebell, but which variety I have yet to figure out. The bluebell sets seeds profusely and also multiplies by offshoots from its bulbs. As a result it can be a dominant species that carpets the woodland floor early in the spring. The drooping, blue bell shaped flowers, which give the plant its most common name, appear from April to June. The flowers may be violet-blue, white or even pink on rare occasions.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bleeding Hearts

Not yet in bloom in the forest, but blooming in my yard because I had to purchase one of these showy plants at the local nursery. With graceful, fern like foliage, this is the ballerina of native plants. The heart shaped rose pink flowers on faint purplish stems hang delicately from the arching foliage. I learned that there are at least 8 different varieties.

Asian Bleeding Heart

I am fascinated by the delicate details of each bloom.

Our native wild Bleeding Heart has finely cut leaves and grows to a height of about 6-8 inches. In mid-spring it sends up a stalk (panicle) of flowers that will reach just above the foliage level. It is happiest in rich wooded slopes with dappled sunlight or mostly shade.

Last year I created a watercolor painting of our native specimen.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Winslow Homer

Winslow Homer
On the Trail, 1892

I picked up a The Watercolors of Windslow Homer by Miles Unger at the library to share with my art therapy client.

What FABULOUS color plates of 140 watercolors!

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was not only one of America's greatest painters in oil but also an unrivaled master of the watercolor medium. Homer, along with artists such as John Singer Sargent and John La Farge, helped usher in the first great age of American watercolor painting, setting the stage for the brilliant creations of such twentieth-century masters as Maurice Prendergast, Georgia O'Keeffe, John Marin, and Edward Hopper.

Homer's greatest contribution to watercolor was to expand the possibilities of the medium, investing fragile works on paper with visual and moral weight. His watercolors not only depict the beauty of the wilderness but also document a fragile ecosystem under threat from human exploitation.

Homer himself seemed to recognize his achievement, writing late in life to his brother Charles, "You will see, in the future I will live by my Watercolors."

Monday, May 3, 2010


Along the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington, I found two versions of Horsetail beginning to grow.

Horsetail is descended from huge, tree-like plants that thrived 400 million years ago during the Paleozoic era. A close relative of the fern, horsetail is a non-flowering weed found throughout parts of Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. The plant is a perennial (returns each year) with hollow stems and shoots that look like asparagus at first. As the plant dries, silica crystals that form in the stems and branches look like feathery tails and give the plant a scratching effect. That accounts for its historic use in polishing metal, particularly pewter.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) is an herbal remedy dating back to at least ancient Roman and Greek medicine. It was used traditionally to stop bleeding, heal ulcers and wounds, and treat tuberculosis and kidney problems. The name Equisetum is derived from the Latin roots equus, meaning "horse," and seta, meaning "bristle."

Horsetail contains silicon, which plays a role in strengthening bone. For that reason, it is sometimes suggested as a treatment for osteoporosis. It is also used as a diuretic, and as an ingredient in some cosmetics. However, very few studies have looked at horsetail's effect in humans.

I am told by my Master Gardener friend that Horsetail is evasive and you do not want it in your yard. I think it is rather exotic looking. How about you?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fringecup All Over the Trail

Fringecup is a native plant that is profusely blooming along the Chehalis Western Trail in Olympia, Washington.

It has fuzzy heart shaped leaves, and spikes of greenish-white to reddish flowers. Believe it or not, gardeners, this plant is slug resistant! Maybe we should intersperse it with our veggies?

Occasionally fringecup will spread aggressively, and during mild winters it is evergreen. Might make a great ground cover, what do you think?

Up close