Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Signs of summer?

Do the arrival of Rufous Hummingbirds and apple, early clematis and lilac blossoms mean that summer will be here soon? I hope so, I am ready.

 
think this might be a rufous hummingbird, they don't stay here long


apple blossoms are dealing with the rain, cool temperatues and lack of insects -- hope we get some apples this fall


 the early clematis seems to take bad weather in stride



here is another picture of the Rufous Hummingbird,

 
 and the Anna's Hummingbird is below, notice the different gorgette (throat pattern) and the reddish sides of the Rufous
 
 
lots and lots of lilac


 
I have planted beans for the third time this spring, each time a few come up, maybe now I will have enough to fill the rows.
 
I am ready for warmer weather even if it means I might have to water the garden occasionally but I have been so busy painting and the cooler weather does make it easier to focus on that.
 
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In the studio:
 
Great news, two of my paintings have been accepted into the "oil and water" exhibition at Gallery 1710 (Delta Artists Guild) which opens at the beginning of June.
 
"Haida Song"- watercolour 18" X 24"
 
 
"Watchful" - watercolour 24" X 18"


 
Both are painted on watercolour paper and varnished; the first is on stretcher bars (first I stretch the paper then paint it) and the second is painted then mounted on a cradled exhibition panel.
 
Both are inspired by my visit to Haida Gwaii last summer.
 
 
 
I have also painted three more gargoyles, this one I saw and photographed in Albi, France.
 
 


The other two gargoyles will have to wait until next time, the pictures I took seem to have gotten "lost" somewhere on my computer for now.
 
 

 Brief today, but my paintbrushes are calling me again, bye for now.
 
Happy Wednesday, with whimsy,
 
Gillian.
 


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

More Gargoyles!

I have been busy painting gargoyles, so thought I would make them the subject of this weeks  post.

What is a gargoyle, where are they and why are they there?


The word gargoyle comes from the middle English word "gargule" and the old French word "gargoulle" both words meaning throat and thought to refer to the noise (gargling) of water rushing from the waterspouts.

The gargoyle disguises a waterspout that directs rain water, collected from the roof of a building, away from the sides of that building.

So they started out as a way of "decorating" the old leaden pipes used as drains on exterior walls of buildings. They were whimsical, fanciful, slightly scary and sometimes downright ugly carved pieces of stone.

Gargoyles are grotesques.  Grotesques can also be called chimera.

"The word grotesque, originally a noun (1560s), from Italian grottesco (through Middle French), literally "of a cave," from Italian grotta (see grotto). The original meaning was restricted to an extravagant style of Ancient Roman decorative art rediscovered and then copied in Rome at the end of the 15th century."   en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grotesque


Here is one of my recent paintings, I saw and photographed this one in Paisley, Scotland. I don't think it is a true gargoyle, but it could be. It appears to be part cat, part bird and part lizard or dragon. I haven't thought of a name for this one yet but it is a watercolour.



 
"Many medieval cathedrals included gargoyles and chimeras. The most famous examples are those of Notre Dame de Paris. Although most have grotesque features, the term gargoyle has come to include all types of images.
Some gargoyles were depicted as monks, or combinations of real animals and people, many of which were humorous. Unusual animal mixtures, or chimeras, did not act as rainspouts and are more properly called grotesques. They serve more as ornamentation, but are now synonymous with gargoyles."  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gargoyle

"During the 12th century, when gargoyles appeared in Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was growing stronger and converting many new people. Most of the population at this time were illiterate, and therefore images were very important to convey ideas. Many early gargoyles depicted some version of a dragon, especially in France. In addition to serving as spouts for water, the gaping mouths of these gargoyles evoked the fearsome destructiveness of these legendary beasts, reminding the laity of the need for the church's protection."

"Human qualities were sometimes ascribed to specific animals—that is, the animals were anthropomorphized. This was especially common for pagans, and using these ideas helped conversion to Catholicism." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gargoyle

 
 
Here are a few of my photographs of gargoyles and grotesques from Paisley, Scotland:

 
 


 




 
 
My second painting today is of a chimera or grotesque from Albi, France. This one is from the Catherdral Sainte-Cecile, which has the distinction of being the largest brick church in the world.

I think it is a wolf in sheep-wool disguise, what do you think. Of course it is a watercolour.

 
 
 
My last painting today is of a chimera or grotesque from the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.
 
This one I think I will call "Fury", also a watercolour:

 

 
 
Well that is all for today, thanks for dropping by,
happy Wednesday, with whimsy,
 
Gillian
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Turtle love

Green Sea turtles are the largest hard shell sea turtles. Sightings are not rare in Hawaii, but neither are they abundant; I was excited every time I encountered one of these gentle creatures.
 
 
They can be seen in the water around reefs, grazing on algae in shallow water or on the shoreline soaking up some sunshine.
 
 
 
"The green turtle is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In 1978, the Hawaiian population of the green turtle was listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973. "
 
"Green turtles were a source of food, tools, and ornamentation for early Hawaiians. With the arrival of western culture, however, the level of exploitation of this resource increased dramatically. Large numbers of green turtles were harvested throughout the Hawaiian Islands through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1974, the State of Hawaii finally passed a regulation providing some protection, but this was virtually ignored until 1978, when the Hawaiian green turtle was placed on the list of threatened species."


"In other parts of the world, green turtles face a serious threat from the destruction and loss of nesting sites. Fortunately, over 90% of nesting activity for the Hawaiian green turtle population occurs at the French Frigate Shoals, inside a National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This, combined with its threatened status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, has created an environment in which the Hawaiian green turtle should prosper."



 


 
I was pleased to get several videos of turtles. here are my you tube videos of turtles:
 
 
Eating:

 
 
Swimming:
 
 
Swimming:
 
 
 
Moving up the beach:
 
 
 
This is a longer video and at the end the turtle yawns (I think)?
 
 
 
That is it for turtles today.
 
I have been busy very busy painting and gardening recently, the garden is coming along, now just need some slightly warmer weather.
 
 
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I have completed a number of paintings, unfortunately I have only photographed one of them.
 
Here it is "Notre Dame Watcher":
 
It is a painting (watercolour) of a grotesque or chimera, most would recognize it as a gargoyle but since it does not drain rain water it isn't a true gargoyle. This one is high up on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
 
 
 
It is an odd bird or penguin like creature in a shroud.
 
 
Thanks for dropping by, happy Wednesday,
 
with whimsy,
 
Gillian.
 
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Birds with Attitude?

Well spring is officially here judging be the date, maybe the weather has not quite caught up to the season but the days are getting longer.

Here are a few pictures of Myna (Mynah) birds, they seem to be perpetually in a bad mood. I am taking this opportunity to put a few words in their "becks":

 
 
"I don't want to sound like a grumpy old man, but nothing winds me up more than people saying, 'Chill out' to me when I'm irritated!"
 
 Martin Freeman
 
 
"I don't argue with idiots. They will just lower me to their level, then beat me with their experience."

 
"I don't hate people. I just feel better when they're not around."
Charles Bukowski

 
"Who ate your bowl of sunshine this morning, thundercloud."

 
"I am so grumpy I am not even talking to myself!"

 
"Mynah or myna birds are species in the family Sturnidae, which also includes many species of starlings. The distinction between starlings and mynahs is not always clear, and these common names are sometimes used interchangeably. However, as considered here, the mynahs are tropical, Asian species, the most prominent of which are in the genus Acridotheres and Gracula.

The word mynah is derived from the Hindu word maina, itself derived from the Sanskrit word madana, both of which are names for the hill mynah.

Species of mynahs occur in forests, shrubby woodlands, and in urban and suburban habitats. Mynahs are medium-sized, stocky, robust birds, with a stout beak, strong legs, and a short tail. Their songs are innovative, raucous chatters made up of whistles, squeaks, and diverse, imitated sounds. Mynahs feed on a wide range of invertebrates and fruits. They nest in cavities in trees, and both sexes cooperate in feeding and raising the young birds."
 
Mynah birds are talented mimics, they can be taught to speak and can copy other animal noises.


 
Here is a YouTube video called "Morning Talk with my Mynah "Kaleo" "
 



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A more cheerful looking bird and one of my favorite tropical birds is the Red-masked Parakeet, there was a flock quite close to where I stayed in Hawaii so I got a lot of pictures, I will share some of them here.

 The red-masked parakeet is a fairly large green parakeet originally from Ecuador and Peru where the population is in decline due to loss of habitat. Feral populations exist in many parts of United States including Hawaii.

"They have a bright red face, forehead and crown; orbital ring is white; iris is orange. They are slightly yellow below; shoulder, edge of wing, lower thigh and outermost underwing coverts at bend in wing and on thighs are red. The underside of the wing and tail are olive yellow. Sexes are similar. Juveniles have green plumage until their first red feathers come in at around four months. They have a brown iris, rather than orange.

Red-masked Parakeet: Their diet includes the seeds and fruit of several different tree species and Erythrina flowers. These birds have been observed feeding on the fruits of the cultivated tropical vegetation. They travel in groups of two to twelve birds, sometimes many more at communal roosts or near prolific food supplies. They move seasonally over long distances to find crops of fruits."


These birds are really chatty but they are fun to watch ... oh and messy eaters.

 
Here is a YouTube video of their chatter:


 
 


 
"Eating without conversation is only stoking."
Marcelene Cox

 
...very entertaining to watch..........



"The only think I like better than talking about food is eating."
John Walters

 
No, this is my better side......

 
"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do."
 Benjamin Franklin

 
...look Ma no hands........

 
"When a thing is funny, search it for a hidden truth."
 George Bernard Shaw

 

 
"Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly."
 Dalai Lama


"A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion
are the things which renew humanity."

The Buddha


 
"The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on.
It is never of any use to oneself."
 Oscar Wilde



"People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do."
 Isaac Asimov

 

 
I hope you have enjoyed this edition of birds with attititude.
 
 
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New from my studio:
 
First, here is a watercolour named "Anyone Home".
 
Raccoons are cheeky little animals, I have heard stories about raccoons that knock on the door for handouts!
  
  
 
 Second, and last for today, is a watercolour called "A stroll at dusk"; it is of a couple (and their dog) walking west along Spanish Banks in the winter as the sun disappears below the horizon. Oh, that is downtown Vancouver in the background.
 
 
 
That's all I have for you this week, happy Wednesday, with whimsy,
 
Gillian. 




Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A little sunshine?

Today I am offering a little bit of sunshine on a cloudy/rainy day in the form of  some beautiful little birds I photographed in Hawaii.

Fresh from my camera:
 
I was on the Hilo side of the island (Hawaii) when I encountered this lovely little bird.
 
It is yellow, so must be a canary, right, well maybe?
 
But it is known as a saffron Finch in Hawaii.
 
The Saffron Finch is a small tanager, introduced to Hawaii, originating in South America.
 
 
 
 
It has a vibrant yellow body and orange crown, below is the reverse view, can you believe this little guy turned his back on me?
 
 

 
Here is the male Saffron Finch with a juvenile in the background.
 
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest...........
 

 


 
I just love the reflections.

 
They are about 5.5 to 6 inches long and they seem to be ground feeders, eating seeds and small insects. 
 
Against the grass they are well camouflaged.
 
 

 
Bath time, two juvenile Saffron Finches enjoy a puddle of water....

 
...under the watchful eye of the adult Finch.

 


 

 
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Another yellow bird, is it a Canary? No this one is a Japanese White Eye.
It has a yellow throat but the head is a green colour and the body a buff colour.
 
I caught sight of this little fellow on a Bird of Paradise plant and was able to get a few pictures before it vanished.

 
This is another introduced bird and it is a little smaller than the Saffron Finch.
It is a passerine.
 

 
"This small green passerine, introduced from Japan to the Hawaiian Islands in 1929, spread quickly to all the main islands and successfully invaded forests from sea level to the highest reaches of the mountains, rapidly becoming the most abundant and widespread passerine in the archipelago.
 
White-eyes are commonly observed throughout the islands in both urban and pristine native habitats, in small flocks gleaning insects or gathering fruit and nectar from shrubs and understory subcanopy vegetation." https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/487/articles/introduction

 
Well that is my offering of sunshine for today.
 
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New from my studio:
 
An ink and watercolour painting called "Hearts of Stone":
 
This appears darker than the original, I will have to take a better picture the next time the sun comes out!
 
 
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That's all I have for you this week, happy Wednesday, with whimsy,
 
Gillian.