Inky Sketchbook Sunday

This is the sort of vegetation that seems to be thriving in my backyard without very much water at all. Very beautiful very large and very pokey if you walk to close.

I’m falling in love with ink really quickly so you can expect to see many more drawings like this in the future:

ink painting of busy in green
Bush, ink on paper, sketchbook (5 x 7)

Sketchbook… Tuesday?

Somehow I got so excited about the upcoming county fair this weekend that I forgot to post a sketchbook entry on Saturday OR Sunday. Instead I rambled on about pig chases and vampire cats. My sincere apologies. I will make it up to you with this study from my small watercolour sketchbook:

watercolour sketch of leaves on yellow background
Leaves on Yellow, watercolour on paper, 5 x 7

And I can’t forget to mention… my husband and I were on the front page of our local paper today for entering art in the fair! Gotta love small towns!

Creatures

Yesterday my husband and I went for a bike ride in the morning and came across a meter-long snake a little thicker than my wrist coiled up on the road. Fortunately a truck was driving down the road at the same time and pulled over to inspect the reptile. The driver, clearly knowing what he was doing and what species he was looking at, picked it up by its tail and flung it gently to safety in the ditch. His twelve year old son was right next to him wide-eyed. “It’s a bullsnake!” he yelled cheerfully after us.

Later that day we made a picnic to eat in a state park. We pulled into a site and I made my way towards the picnic table. Then I spotted a note scrawled on legal paper held down by rocks. It read, “Black widow nesting under table comes out at night. Consider moving away rather than killing? Thanks”… It was night. Perfect time for a dinner picnic… and letting black widows crawl on your knees. We ate in the car and enjoyed the brilliance of colour through the windshield.

In this land of tough, rough, wild creatures it’s nice once in a while to focus on the gentle, non-poisonous kinds. Here are some ducks I sketched at Oasis State Park the day I spotted “Snakey“.

watercolour drawing of ducks by lake
Ducks, watercolour on paper, 5 x 7"

Gardening day

I spent my morning weeding the yard before it got too scorching. I now have green leafy plants on the mind… except the one I painted is a bit more pleasing to the eye than the ones I was yanking out of the dry earth…

ink drawing of green blossoming plant
Blossoming, ink on paper, 5 x 7"

A change in temperature

I thought it was time to post a drawing of winter… this was drawn/painted from a picture I took this winter. What is happening under all the snow? It’s a gorgeous world of faded autumn colours and rotting vegetation and cool shadows. A nice contrast to the heat waves of summer so many of us are experiencing.

watercolour drawing of vegetation
In Winter, watercolour on paper, 11 x 14"

Rain in the yard

This is my second foray into the world of pastels. The result is much more abstract than what I create in other mediums but this makes the practice even more valuable to me. It is my hope that sketching in pastel will provide some great inspiration and source material for paintings in the future.

(Side note: it did not rain today… this is from a downpour just over a week ago. Maybe this post will work some magic and bring on another downpour soon? Here’s to hoping…)

pastel drawing of rain over a shed and fence
Rain in the Yard, pastel on paper, 8x5 x 11"

On my rustic outdoors theme… a little reptile viewing

This week while at Oasis State Park climbing a sandy slope to look for a nice place to paint I stumbled upon a snake. Not at all unusual, but the largest I’ve seen in the wild in New Mexico.

I was walking under a tree when I noticed some very slight movement above my head. I looked up to find a tan/gray shape coiled in the crook of the tree. I paused for a moment and saw that it was on the move down the tree three feet to my left. Obviously I retreated to the car where I continued to watch. Snakey (I named him/her) then investigated the area where I was standing and headed for the car. Unfortunately my nature viewing ended soon afterwards because I had clearly disturbed Snakey and he or she was now moving intently towards me. I didn’t want to let Snakey get so close to the car that I might run them over, nor did I want to stick my head out the open windows to check his/her progress… so I drove away.

I parked the car at a safe distance and walked to a shaded picnic bench where I painted for a few hours (see post “Oasis” which shows another canvas from this day). In this painting, the tree on the right is the one I saw Snakey in.

oil painting of desert landscape
Where I saw the Snake, oil on canvas, 8 x 10"

I described my snake spotting (in great detail) to some park employees and they helped me identify it as a Coachwhip.

Some neat things I learned about Coachwhips: They are often active in hot conditions when other snakes seek shelter in cool retreats. They spend most of their time on the ground but are capable climbers so are occasionally encountered in trees and on cacti. They are slender bodied snakes relative to their length and are extremely fast (believed to be the fastest in North America). If they are cornered, coachwhips will strike repeatedly (often at their attackers face) and bite strongly if given the opportunity (they can raise the first third of their bodies to reach what they want to bite). Though they are aggressive in defense, these snakes will not chase a person down and “whip them to death” as a common legend suggests. Phew.

So, this is just my shoddy internet research (Online Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Arizona among one of my sources) and I could be wrong in attributing some characteristics to Snakey when there are seven subspecies of coachwhips widely distributed across the southern US. But I got carried away with the fun factor of writing about snakes… I hope you forgive me.