Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Friday, January 27, 2012

Owls and an Orca

I have to take a short break from my posts about South Africa to catch up on some happenings closer to home. This afternoon I learned about a Saw-whet Owl that was roosting in someone's yard near the Russian Orthodox Church nearby.
I got permissian to observe the owl from the comfort of the kind host's kitchen. Good thing,  because the outside temperature was -5f. This is the first Saw-whet that I have been able to photograph. It never reacted to the curious Red Squirrel.
This is actually only the second Saw-whet that I have seen, although I have heard them calling a number of times.
It never opened it's eyes more than this brief, one-eyed peek. I was very happy to be able to see and photograph such a cute little thing.
This is my latest painting of a Great Gray Owl, 8x10".
A detail of the painting. Right now there are about four Great Gray Owls being seen across town. I would like to go try for photos of them but it has been so blasted cold that I dont want to trudge around in the big freeze, looking for them.
This is my latest t-shirt design for Threadless. Go to, http://Threadless.com/sharedesign/397524/Orca_Shirt.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Back to Africa

Two years ago I went to South Africa for a month with my old, and I do mean OLD, friend Tom. I did a series of nine blog posts about that trip. The truth is that I have been to some of the earth's greatest destinations before South Africa, and none of them hold a candle to Africa. It deserves a more detailed trip report.
So I have decided to take a more liesurely armchair visit to South Africa, and include some of the many good photos that did'nt make it into the first series of posts. I'll use excerpts from my trip journal to describe what we saw.
" There were a lot of African Masked Weavers, mostly males building nests, and displaying with a lot of wing shaking."
I flew into Johannesburg just after dark and checked into Mufasa Backpackers Lodge in the suburb of Benoni, where Tom was already checked in . Early the next morning Tom and I birded the grounds of the lodge and the surrounding neighborhood. We were very impressed by the abundance of birdlife.
"There was a Hoopoe plucking insects out of the grass on the front lawn. Juan, (the lodge owner) said that Hoopoes nested in a tree cavity next to the lodge's swimming pool."
"There was a large, beautiful Speckled Pigeon on the roof of a house across the street."
"I was surprised to see Common Mynas." Common Mynas are native to Southeast Asia, but have been introduced to several other parts of the world. To me they behave like Magpies, loud, inquisitive, and adaptable.
"There were lots of Red Bishops, (mostly males) in and near a Sorgum field across the street."
"Next came the striking, Cape Sparrow."
"An unexpected delight was a group of Speckled Mousebirds who climbed to the top of a tree when the sun came out. They tend to hang on to branches rather than perch upright."
"We had to deal with rain off and on, throughout the morning, but it could'nt dampen our enthusiasm. We got good looks at a Common fiscal, (shrike) in the tall grass across the street."
"Another of the many new birds for me was the Blacksmith Plover."
That first morning in a suburban neighborhood outside of Johannesburg stands out as one of the greatest days of birding in my life. These photos are just a small sampling of all the birds that we saw. I was very jet-lagged but supremely satisfied by the experience. The next day was destined to be much greater still...
Stay tuned for the next leg of the trip.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Before the Saddle

The latest painting, Before the Saddle, 11x14". I started out with the intention of painting wild mustangs in a winter setting. As I got into the search for reference materials, I stumbled into an area of research that I have mostly ignored until now.
The topic of interest for me became the ancestor of the domestic horse. It seems that the predominate thinking is that modern horses are descended from a species of Asiatic wild horse. Things get kind of fuzzy from there.
There is one living species that has resisted domestication,and hangs on by a slim hoofhold. It's called the Przewalski's Horse.They once existed only in captivity, but they have been re-introduced into a few select areas. One interesting place where they seem to be thriving is the Chernobyl, (sp) Exclusion Zone that was created to keep people away from dangerous levels of radiation. The place is now Eastern Europe's greatest wildlife refuge. Besides the horses, European Bison, Moose, Brown Bears, and Wolves are all thriving, along with a slough of other creatures.
This painting is not meant to be Przewalski's Horses per se, but the ancestral horses that were painted on the cave walls in France. I spent a lot of time on this one, because of a paucity of reference materials. I had to guess at various details.
Since it's a short post, I shot a few photos of late afternoon out my back window. The weather is still well below zero in spite of the sunshine.

The roofs of the trailers look a lot better when they are covered with snow.
It is not smoke rising from chimneys, it's warm exhaust from natural gas heaters.
I'm sure that I could have gotten better photos if I went outdoors, but I hate having to bundle up for five minutes just to go outside. I went out into the cold for lunch already today. I'm even skipping the Audubon meeting that I usually love to attend. Winter is GETTING OLD.
The last light. Now the frost spirits reign supreme for another night.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cabin Fever

Is this a Wolf? It was in the field next door.
Last week, Alaska experienced heavy snowfalls. The town of Cordova got 18ft of snow in one week. Anchorage got about 6ft during the same time period. Then came the cold temperatures. We have been south of zero for a long time. The overnight lows on the east side of town where I live, have been running about -25f, that's about -33c. The days high is only a few degrees warmer.
No, it was not a wolf. Just a husky enjoying the deep snow.
During weather like this, I spend a lot more time indoors. This morning I had to get out. The thermometer said it was -21f. Seriously cold. I knew that it was going to be a short walk.
The late sunrise of mid-winter, at about 11:00am.
I intended to photograph the Russian Orthdox church across the field but it was obscured by ice fog.

It was hard work trudging through the snow. My feet went numb in a short time. I was wearing sneakers with only one pair of socks.
Nobody has been driving these cars in awhile.
Somebody who really likes watching tv lives in this funky motorhome. Either that, or this  is a hidden CIA surveillance station. I don't know how they manage to stay warm enough.

Several months ago I sent this painting in to the the annual Artists for Conservation Show at Grouse Mountain Resort near Vancouver B.C. It was a pleasant surprize for me when I got this calendar in the mail. I had no idea that my painting was chosen for the calendar. It's in their excellent book as well. Right now, I think the original painting is on display in the wonderful, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson. It will be part of the travelling art show for most of this year.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lone Wolf

First I did this wolf painting and altered it to make it a potential t-shirt design.

Next, I scanned a cropped image of this wolf.

Then I played with it a little and submitted it to Threadless. It will be up for scoring for the next six days.
I hope this link works.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Red Dirt Dog, 11x14"

My first painting in 2012. This is another painting that looks much better in life than this photo indicates. Still, I hoped it would have come out better. I love painting Coyotes more than wolves.
This one is destined for Treasure Art Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. Treasure Art Gallery is one of the many galleries that closed it's doors a few years ago. I was so happy to be contacted by it's owner, and told that it has re-opened. I have been selling artwork from there for more than 25 years, far longer than any other gallery.
Sedona is located in the red soils and high deserts of Northern Arizona. It is a desolate, but beautiful country that I love to paint. Sedona is known for it's dramatic rock formations which are less interesting for me to paint than the sagebrush flats.
Since this is a short post, I'll include a few photos that I shot from the balcony in front of my apartment. This is the view across the street, directly in front of me. It is part of the military base called Jbear, Joint Base Elmendorf, Richardson.
A long icicle hanging from the roof.
The night time view out of my back window.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Threadless Design

For at least a month I have been fighting a major battle with technology. In this digital age, I am a babe in the woods. Back in the good old days, when I designed a t-shirt, I gave the artwork to the t-shirt shop, and they decided what to do with it.
It does not work like that anymore. So someone told me about a company called Threadless. They accept submissions of artwork, put it on their website, and let people vote for their favorite design. Sounds simple, right?  Not by a long shot.
I did a design, Ballad of the Sun and Moon, and read through the Threadless instructions for submitting a design. That is where the battle started. To make a long story short, it took endless headaches and three different photo editing programs to get a design that met all their technical specifications.
I submitted Ballad, and the design above, Neolythic Art Show. They said they liked Ballad, but it did'nt meet their specs. This one did squeeze by.
It can become a shirt, and I can get paid for all my work if enough people vote for it. Follow this link http://threadless.com/submission/392450/Neolythic_Art_Show , if you want to check it out. Wish me luck.