Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Great Northern Diver etc.

This is not the best photo and certainly not my best painting but it is my latest. It is a Common Loon. They are called, Great Northern Divers or Great Northern Loons in Great Britain. I decided to title this 11x14" painting, 'Great Northern Diver' to distinguish it from other Common Loon paintings that I have done.
Do you remember the Mallard photos that I included in last week's post? I went back there this week after we got a snowstorm followed by a big drop in temperatures. All of Chester Creek was frozen over and the Mallards were gone. To where? There are always a few places that do not freeze, like the outflow of Westchester Lagoon.
I also went to a greenbelt a few miles up from Spenard Crossing. Not much there but do you see the hiker in the photo?
A cross country ski trail along the greenbelt. The building in the background is part of the University of Alaska, Anchorage campus.
There was a Moose in the neighborhood this morning.
The end of winter is a bad time for Moose. Not much for them to eat. When there are deep snows, (not this winter) many Moose starve to death.
This cow was acting a little camera shy.
I guess she changed her mind and decided to mug for the camera.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Vagrant Bohemian Quackers

In the last post I wrote about what a mild winter we have had this season. In the last few days we have had a major snow dump and now the temperatures are plunging down into the miserable category.
Before all that I got a report of a new vagrant bird out at Spenard Crossing. The photo above is not so much to look at but it is a new addition to my Alaska bird list, Cassin's Finch. This one was visiting a feeder in someone's backyard and the light was very dim in the deep shadows. The bird is a female and the males are very stunning in their prime colors. I have seen them  many times in Arizona, but not in AK. 
After work the other day I noticed a bunch of Bohemian Waxwings in the neighborhood. There was over a hundred of them.
They were gathering in the tops of several trees as the sun was going down.
I knew where they were ultimately headed so I walked over to some Mountain Ash trees nearby and waited for the waxwings to make their move. The light was fading as the day ended so I hoped the birds would not linger too long in the tree tops. They did not.
There was not enough light for really sharp photos but I did the best that I could.
I have started so many paintings of these birds and finished only a few.
They are such confiding birds and I have been able to accumulate a large number of reference photos. I really need to make a better effort to paint them. They are worthy subjects.
Before the temperatures plunged downward there was more open water in town than usual. Much of Chester Creek was open and the local Mallards took full advantage of it.
The other northern species of ducks like scoters, harlequins, and goldeneyes tend to winter on the ocean. Mallards are almost the only species that stay in fresh water.
Pintails, shovelers, scaups, widgeons and the like are wimps and head south for the winter.
The stalwart Mallards are tough and endure whatever nature throws at them.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mid Winter, Not so Bad

January is the dreaded month around these parts. Short days, often bitterly cold temperatures, icy roads, big snow piles all over. Not so this year.
So far we have had no harsh cold spells and only a few inches of snow. This past week has had daytime highs well above freezing. The days are still short but getting longer.
Nothing much is happening these days but there is a nice display of ice sculptures in Town Square. I showed a few photos of the sculptures being carved in last week's post. Now they are complete and melting in the warm, (relatively speaking) temperatures.
When the sculptor was working on this last week, I thought he was making a bear. Now you can see that it is a Cheetah.

Many of these carvings have a Picasso vibe to them in my opinion.

You can almost hear all the frozen music in the air.
These sculptures were a lot of fun to look at. Many of them were quite large.
I got discouraged with the Sandhill Crane painting that I was working on so I set it aside for a while. Then I sketched out this 11x14" loon.
My intention is to make the darks of the loon barely stand out from the dark water. I want the loon's white spotting to jump out at the viewer. I will see whether it works out or not. I will probably need to put a dark glaze over the whole thing before I add the white spots.There is still much work to do on this painting.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Fire and Ice

There was a whole herd of mice rushing all over the floor and squealing loudly. I was afraid to put my feet down on the floor. Then I woke up and realized that there were no mice and the loud squealing was from sirens. I noticed red and blue lights flashing through the curtains of my bedroom window.
There is a dilapidated trailer park behind my place and I opened the curtains to see flames emerging from a trailer about 75 yards, (meters) from my bedroom window.
There were police and firefighters on the scene and the firefighters methodically went about preparing to extinguish the fire.
As they set up, the flames grew bigger. They went into the far end of the trailer and attacked the fire from the inside. It took them about ten seconds to put out the fire once they had everything in place.
An old man lived in the trailer and got out safely but obviously lost everything. The Red Cross is taking care of him.
Jean and Scott took another winter bike ride along Rabbit Slough near Wasilla.
A lot of people ride special bicycles with really fat tires during the winter. It looks like a lot of hard work to me but they say that the ride is very much like a normal bike..
There were some interesting ice crystals on the surface of the slough. The tool is a Leatherman type of all in one tool.
You can see part of Wasilla in the background of this photo. My nephew Dan lives in one of those houses.
Yesterday in downtown Anchorage there were some ice sculptors at work in Town Square. You can see city hall in the background.
The ice blocks that they carve come from a clear water lake near Fairbanks. I will go check out the finished sculptures on Monday.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Crane Dance and an Oystercatcher

This is the newest thing that I have been working on. I had a lot of time to work on it in the last several days but I got burned out and wasted some good painting opportunities without working on it. The size is 16x20".
I have lots of work yet to do on this when I can drum up some enthusiasm. So it goes.
I decided to throw in a photo of an old painting that I like, but nobody else seems to like it. I have no idea why that is. It is a Black Oystercatcher, 12x16".