Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Need Of An ID

I've been unable to draw an ID here. It grows in a localized patch, about 4 x 10 feet on the road's edge of a huge field. 2 to 2.5 feet tall. The field is used each summer for English saddle competitions with folks coming in from all over New England.

I'll keep poking about but I wonder if anyone knows what we have here?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Around the Yard

I got out today for a short walk lakeside, but these photos were about the yard. Here is the southern edge of the Hockomock Preserve. The swamps have been draining, common for this time year.

The cinnamon ferns are growing madly, lending a prehistoric aura to the forest floor.

This year there are nearly as many chipmunks as mosquitos! Squeaks and squeals abound as these little ones run about... everywhere.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sacred Geometry

I'm exploring a bit of scared geometry as I ready for my upcoming workshops.

This first example is easily assembled with a compass. My thoughts are to create a colored version, either in watercolor or egg tempera.

Flower of Life

Here's a simple sketch for a possible painting for my upcoming egg tempera workshop. I'll be firming this up soon.

Vesica Piscis

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Day To Remember

I'm a country mouse, so a day in Boston is a big deal for me. Especially so today as I visited the state board of retirement and submitted my applications to retire. And then after lunch with friends I was off to the Museum of Fine Arts. And a blazingly hot day it was, the first of this cold and rainy Spring.

I really meant to visit the Chihuly Glass Exhibit (there's still two months to catch that) and browse the book store but I became so entranced with Room 242, the Dutch painting exhibit, that I lost all other intentions.

In particular, this painting absolutely stunned me. Of course this image does no justice but the mood and lighting remain intact.

Old Man In Prayer
Oil on Panel
Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn

It's good to be back home resting my sore feet and sun soaked brain, the ever faithful Timothy snoozing by my side.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Canada Mayflower

Just this evening I discovered Canada Mayflower (False Lily-of-the-valley), Maianthemum canadense. This native flower of the Asparagaceae family is in bloom throughout the local wood. I was relieved, and surprised, to find it a native as there is a good deal of it all about.

From How To Know The Wildflowers:

It seems unfair that this familiar and pretty little plant should be without any homely English name. Its botanical title signifies "Canada Mayflower," but while undoubtedly it grows in Canada and flowers in May, the name is not a happy one, for it abounds as far south as North Carolina, and is not the first blossom to be entitled "Mayflower."

In late summer the red berries are often found in close proximity to the fruit of the shin-leaf and pipsissewa.

Parsons, Frances Theodora. How To Know The Wildflowers. New York, 1896. 28. Google Book Search. 26 May 2011.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bulbous Buttercup

This afternoon I spent some time in the yard working on a flat tire, easily distracted by the mournings doves and chipmunks searching out little bits of whatever in the dirt road. There were so many species of birds singing. I don't know calls so I'm at a loss to describe them by name.  I then noticed this Bulbous Buttercup, Ranunculus bulbosus, grows by my doorstep. I walk by it every day but hadn't paid it much mind.

I'm pretty sure on the species based on comparison at the Connecticut Botanical Society web site.

Cuckoo spit, from spittlebugs!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bits Of Clouds

This one was last night's exercise. I think I want to try clouds with paint, probably acrylic, probably this weekend.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Posterized Clouds

Today I was reading some drawing tutorials on the Cennini site when I came across an idea that resonated with me. Why not try posterizing an image to simplify the tonal range? Here I take the yesterday's cloud photo and expand the tonal range before posterizing into 12 levels. Tonight I will use it for practice exercises.

12 level posterization

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thoughts in the Clouds

Ruisdaels's clouds inspired me to try my own. Finally Saturday the weather broke, leaving behind a week of rain. The clouds were impressive as I mowed a couple of lawns in need. By the time I finished, there was nothing but solid blue skies! But a few miles up the road, on my way to grocery shopping, some gorgeous clouds appeared in the south. The cell phone did the work less than admirably but did get me something to work with.

Placing the image into black and while helped me sort out the tones. Curiously I am having a bear of a time trying to reproduce any semblance of clouds. Here's the image I'm working with but at this time I have nothing close to present. Still, I'm scratching away here! :-)

Clouds in the south sky. Market Basket parking lot.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wood Frog

My first Wood Frog! I've seen pictures so when I saw this little one take a leap to the side of the rock, I stopped the lawn mover and ran for the camera. I couldn't believe it was still there when I returned but became absolutely stunned when it let me get within two feet!

The first photo was taken right behind the mower, just where I left it when I ran for the camera. See it in the center of the photo?

There's also a Flash gallery with large hi-res images here: http://johnlynchperry.com/woodfrog/

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jacob Isaackszoon van Ruisdael

Glancing though "Dutch Painting 1600 - 1800", I am drawn to the work of Jacob Isaackszoon van Ruisdael. It's the clouds that draw me in. The colors in the book seem to offer greater depth and lean towards less saturation; I prefer them to the garishness of these web jpgs.

I first thought it the great contrast range of the clouds in these two that got my attention. But actually, the darkest tones are in the foreground. I think it is the lightest tones on the brightly lit clouds that attract me and seem to make the clouds even darker..

The Windmill at Wijk bij Duurstede

Grain Fields

Village In Winter has some cloud effect going for it but I am pulled in by the highlighted bits of snow and ice. Magical or melancholic? Both, it seems.

Village In Winter

This is all part of my selection process as I collect images to bring along to the upcoming workshop. Next Friday is my planned trip to the MFA when I hope to collect more images from the book shop.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Timothy Steps In

My sketches have been slightly to widely off mark but I am having a good time.

In the interest of full disclosure though, I must present the real deal. Here is Timothy on one of his favorite haunts. He absolutely loves hanging out on my keys.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More Cat Work

This is peaceful and relaxing work for both of us. Timothy just sleeps through the whole thing. HB and a little bit of carbon pencil.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Old Master Painting Design

I've been reviewing materials lists and stocking up as needed for the upcoming workshops. The first week is "Old Master Painting Design" and I really couldn't be more excited!

Quoting from the workshops descriptions:
"The old masters were masters of design. Despite their preference for realistic subject matter, their paintings are full of abstract visual principles. In this workshop, through study and discussion of paintings old and new, students will learn to recognize and incorporate within their own work over a dozen vital visual elements that are essential to good painting. Practical experience is gained through a score of hands-on exercises. A photography session will show you how to create visually strong reference photographs that already look like beautifully designed paintings. Students also are encouraged to bring work of their own for discussion and critique."
We are also requested to select images of paintings that we are attracted to. I am collecting a few from the web, mainly in the area of Dutch paintings. Soon to arrive is Dutch Painting, 1600-1800 by Prof. Seymour Slive. I've been especially fond of the work of Gerrit Dou. Depending on how well he is represented, I may spring for a copy of exclusively his work. Also needed is a trip to the MFA for viewing, inspiration, and possibly shopping for images in that wonderful book shop/gift store.

Gerrit Dou
from artnet.com
Mention in the workshop description is also made of sacred geometry. I naively assumed that to be Golden Ratio. Well, it is, but surely a whole lot more. A quick Google has brought up many intriguing references! More on all this soon.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I've never tried sketching a moving object! What a great exercise! Even in his nap, this cat is rolling about.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I first came across Starflower, Trientalis borealis, two years ago. It reminds me of poinsettia. This is a plant of sevens--leaves, sepals, and petals.

I don't think I've ever mentioned taxonomic family when describing plants although some reader comments have made mention. Here's my first! The family Primulaceae, or Primrose. I ran across this useful taxonomic system website that will help me get oriented.

Found on woodland's edge just up the road from the Wood Anemone.

It's once again that time...

A small family on the lake.

A larger (ten goslings!) family across the cove.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Documentation on my upcoming workshops arrived this week. I need to have a subject for the egg tempera workshop, preferably a good photo. I'm thinking of using dandelion so today I began photographing and taking samples to press.

I weeded around this plant and isolated with printmaking paper. I envision portraying the flower in all its states and was lucky to find this plant posing so well. It's a a start.

Someone was keeping an eye on me...

I wondered about the life cycle of the flower and found this very cool time lapse movie filmed by Neil Bromhall.

By the way, Blogger tweeted at 8 pm that they are still restoring. Hopefully, some missing comments will make their way back.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Garlic Mustard No More

After the first Garlic Mustard post, Joyce encouraged me to pull up the weeds. She supplied this link: The Lincoln Massachusetts 3rd Annual Garlic Mustard Pull. This web site includes lots of information and well as a very informative video (see below). But first, an explanation of the bumpy blog experience.

Blogger (Google's blog software that hosts Nuncketest) has had a rough 24 hours. Here's the story in Blogger's own words:

"Here’s what happened: during scheduled maintenance work Wednesday night, we experienced some data corruption that impacted Blogger’s behavior. Since then, bloggers and readers may have experienced a variety of anomalies including intermittent outages, disappearing posts, and arriving at unintended blogs or error pages. A small subset of Blogger users (we estimate 0.16%) may have encountered additional problems specific to their accounts. Yesterday we returned Blogger to a pre-maintenance state and placed the service in read-only mode while we worked on restoring all content: that’s why you haven’t been able to publish. We rolled back to a version of Blogger as of Wednesday May 11th, so your posts since then were temporarily removed. Those are the posts that we’re in the progress of restoring."
And as if that wasn't enough, feisty Feedburner decided to get into the act, whipping out an old post and emailing it about.

At this time, I am still waiting for recent comments to be restored here, and for posts, etc. to reappear on the NESBA blog I manage. Given that I have seen some recovery, I expect that all will come back perfectly.

The results of my weeding.

A close up of the root structure. These plants pull up easily.

Here's a fantastic video by Barbara Lucas on Garlic Mustard Identification and Control:

Garlic Mustard Identification and Control from Barbara Lucas on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Garlic Mustard

It seems that I have come upon one unwelcome little plant. Garlic Mustard, Alliaria petiolata, is listed as noxious and known to take over woodlands. These photos are from a small patch up the road. Hmm... should I take 'em out?

From a Wikipedia article:

"Like most invasive plants, once it has an introduction into a new location, it persists and spreads into undisturbed plant communities. In many areas of its introduction in Eastern North America, it has become the dominant under-story species in woodland and flood plain environments, where eradication is difficult. 
"The insects and fungi that feed on it in its native habitat are not present in North America, increasing its seed productivity and allowing it to out-compete native plants. It is a possible threat to the West Virginia White Butterfly (Pieris virginiensis) and Mustard White Butterfly (Pieris oleracea); adult butterflies of both species lay their eggs on native Dentaria or Toothwort plants, but they often confuse garlic mustard plants with Dentaria and lay their eggs on garlic mustard, because they have similar flowers. The eggs and young butterflies cannot live on the garlic mustard, because it has chemicals that are toxic to the larvae and eggs."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I began the year with some simple thoughts on direction and goals. I've hit all the markers--Mac conversions, music studio up and running, flower show exhibit, registration for two weeks of instruction with Koo Schadler, and retirement application completed and soon to be submitted.

All my plans are geared towards soon having time to pursue my interests. Curiously, there is much I didn't anticipate. Like trying to start up multiple projects before the time is available. Or, the mixed feelings that would arise as time goes by, as leaving work becomes closer.

I dropped art work recently. I simply had no feeling for it. It became one more overwhelming project. So after nearly a couple of weeks away, last night I picked up a pencil and sketched the wood anemone and other little things from memory. I'm practicing consistent hatching and cross hatching. And, it's fun.

Like much of life, this is all a transition, a process. I've lately talked with lots of folks who have recently retired or are contemplating. It's good to know that my process is a well worn pathway. Now is a time to relax into this path, trusting that all will fall into place.

Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.
Susan B. Anthony

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wood Anemone

I found the Wood Anemone, Anemone quinquefolia, on a warm, bright Saturday.

From Ann Pratt's "Wild Flowers":
How pleasant are the woodlands during April and May, with the gentle waving of the young leaves, the song of joyous birds, and the sweet odours of violets, primroses, and other spring flowers! Then the Blue-bell waves to every breath of wind, and the Celandine glistens like gold, and the delicate Stitchwort bends so low as the wind passes over it, that we can hardly believe it will be left unharmed by the breeze.
But not one of these blossoms is more beautiful than that of our Wood Anemone, the Wind-flower of the older writers, and which is still called by this poetical name in some parts of our country. Whether it was named thus because it grows in the mountainous woods where the wildest winds blow, as well as in the sheltered valley; or whether because its petals are so light and delicate that the wind soon ruffles them, we know not. In many woods it is very plentiful, its light seed being wafted by the spring winds, and its tough roots creeping extensively underneath the surface of the soil.

I returned on Sunday, chilly and windy, to find the blossoms pulled in.

Pratt, Ann. Wild Flowers. London, 1852. 27. Web. Google Book Search. 9 May 2011.