Wilson's Snipe

Wilson's Snipe
In Quiet Solitude

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Alpha Dogs at Last

Before I get to the painting, I will show two photos of some unusual looking clouds that are out my back window.
Alaska is not known for having colorful clouds or interesting sunsets.
In the last post I showed a photo of the first layer of paint on this wolf's head. Now, after a marathon session today, it is finished.
The completed 16x20" painting, Alpha Dogs. Now I am off to dinner.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Alpha Dogs and Seward

Although life has been hectic, I have had a little time to work on my latest painting, Alpha Dogs.
This morning I laid down a few basic tones on this wolf which will be the main focal point of the painting. So far I have encountered few problems with it except making the time to put forth my best effort.
This wolf is mostly finished.
We made a quick trip to Seward. It is a long drive.
Resurrection Bay was calm as glass for a while in the early morning.
Common Murres in their Winter finery.
A bunch of Barrow's Goldeneyes in the harbor.
More Barrow's Goldeneyes along the coast.
It's always good to see Surf Scoters.
A pair of Harlequins kept their distance.
And finally, a Yellow-billed Loon in Winter colors.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Searching for the Oracle

Since I have had such a busy week, I made very little progress on the new wolf painting. So I will continue revisiting my trip to Peru from several years ago. I cannot remember whether I wrote about the Oracle of Pacha Kamaq before this.
Pachacamac is a pre-Inca archaeological site about 30 miles south of Lima. It is mostly known for being the home of the Oracle of Pacha Kamaq.
While I was reading about Peru before traveling there, I was intrigued by the story of the Oracle. The Oracle was probably the most sacred pre-Columbian object in South America. People made pilgrimages to the site from far and wide.
The temples and other structures were built between 800 and 1450 CE. Some of these photos were shot in related sites within the city of Lima, (such as this photo in Parque de Las Leyendas).
Black Vultures guarding the eroded temples.
Anyway the story goes that when Pizarro invaded Peru and ruthlessly defeated the Inca empire, he learned of the existence of Pachacamac.
Being a typical conquistador he imagined that the place must be full of gold and other treasures. So he made an arduous journey from the Andes to the coast.
When he arrived he was very disappointed to find no gold.
He sought out the Oracle and when he saw it, he sneered and remarked how ugly it was. He did not bother to loot it or destroy it. The Oracle was already ancient when Pizarro arrived, and it survives today. It is made of wood which has been preserved by the extremely dry climate of coastal Peru which seldom receives rainfall.
I was intrigued by all of this and I really wanted to see it. This photo is one that I stole off the internet. It shows only the top portion of the Oracle which sits atop a long pole. When I was there I asked where I could go to see it. I was told that it was off display because it was undergoing restoration. Great disappointment for me, just like Pizarro.
To my eyes there is a remarkable resemblance between it and Polynesian carvings. In spite of what science claims, I believe that there must be some connection between the two cultures, especially since in the local mythology, people first came to Peru in boats from the sea.
Anyway I got to see some good birds like these Peruvian Thick-knees. They are large nocturnal shorebirds. They rose up from the sand about 20 feet in front of me. If they had not moved I would never have seen them.
A Saffron Finch at Parque de Las Leyendas.
A Blue-black Grassquit at the same place.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Working on the Wolves, and a Taste of the Amazon

The last post featured a photo of the wolf painting that I sketched out. This week I found a few hours to lay down some foundations of paint.
 I put two coats of paint down and then added a few small tree trunks in the background after I built up a little bit of texture on the snow.
Even though the background is still rudimentary, it is time to lay down some foundational tones on the wolves. I should be working on it right now but I lack the motivation.
The last post featured a few previously unpublished photos of Los Charcos, Peru. This post will feature a taste of the Peruvian Amazon, including this photo of a Lesser Kiskadee in Iquitos.
After photographing the Lesser Kiskadee in the fountain on the Malecon in Iquitos, I turned 180 degrees and photographed the Amazon River. Large sections of Iquitos are built upon spindly stilts. For some reason I felt right at home in Iquitos.
I hopped on a rustic wooden boat and headed for an ecolodge upriver from Iquitos. The white box contains fresh groceries for the lodge.
Upon arrival to the lodge on the Cumaceba River, we transferred to dugout canoes and spent our days and evenings exploring the flooded forests. My poor back was in agony after only a few hours of sitting up on narrow wooden planks. This lasted for three days at this lodge, then three more days at another rustic lodge.
There were several exotic raptors that hung around the lodge hoping for table scraps, (fish guts) from the kitchen. This is a Roadside Hawk, patiently waiting on the thatched roof.
This bird seemed to know when feeding time was.
There were also several Yellow-headed Cara caras. The Roadside Hawk dominated them.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Last Painting, Next Painting,and Peruvian Beaches

This is what I have been working on for the last several weeks. It is finished for the time being. It is 11x14" and called, Fuzzy Friends. 
It has been a few years since I have painted wolves so yesterday and today I have been refining this 16x20" sketch. I intend to add a darkish forested background with deep snow in the foreground. If it all goes as planned, I will call it, Alpha Dogs. You can see by all of the smudges that I have been making many adjustments to get it to look right to my eyes.
To flesh out this post I will throw in some photos of my trip to Peru. All of these photos were taken around the small coastal town of Los Charcos.
Here is a bit of a gull identification challenge. What are these birds? The dark bird in the middle is only a pigeon and the other two are sub-adult Belcher's Gulls.
Two adult Belcher's Gulls, a Snowy Egret, and a Black-crowned Night Heron.
Another gull challenge. What are these? They certainly live up to their name, Gray Gulls.
What could these things be? Peruvian Thick-knees.
In my opinion, these are the coolest of all the world's tern species. Inca Terns. The area around Los Charcos was my favorite part of Peru. Better than Macchu Pichu, and better than the Amazon rain forest. Islas Ballestas, (where this photo was taken) is one of the world's great wonders, No one even knows about them.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fuzzy Progress

The title of this post refers to the progress that I am making on the Sea Otter painting which will probably have the word 'fuzzy' in the title. The painting is inspired somewhat by the otter photos that I got in Seward a few years ago. All of my other Sea Otter photos were taken from a greater distance than this guy.
I was in Seward on a Winter Audubon Society field trip. We were standing at the end of a stone jetty trying to spy on some distant sea birds, out in the bay. This young otter swam up to us, probably hoping for a handout. We had nothing to offer it.
The light was dim and I should have increased the camera's ISO but I got decent enough photos as it was.
A close up of the larger otter in the painting.
Another view.
The other otter is still in the preliminary stages.
The entire painting as it stands right now. I believe that the hardest parts of the painting are over with unless I decide to change the water behind the otters.
My friend Don sent me this photo yesterday. The story behind it goes like this; He was with his friend Lizzie and others when she found a freshly cast owl pellet. She thought it was owl poop so Don pulled it apart to the disgust and amazement of those who were present.
He explained that owls spit up the undigestable parts of their meals. This appeared to him to be the bones of a gopher.