Painting in Progress, and a Walk

in progress

To begin a painting, I like to create an underpainting con brio. That’s fancy for “letting the paint fly”. This one is planning to be a wetland painting, with an egret in it. Let’s see if that is where it goes. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime I ran off to play hooky at Illinois Beach State Park earlier this week, and I want to share with you some of my favorite photos of the day. They will probably become paintings eventually but I’m slow.

Euphorbia corollata turned red

Here is a Euphorbia corollata, all decked out in red for fall. I love this plant for its lacy white flowers that dance over the savanna for several weeks, and then light up late dog days of summer by turning red.

Dead River TRail

We are on the Dead River Trail, heading toward Lake Michigan in a meandering sort of way. That is my favorite way of getting somewhere, so this is pretty much my favorite trail ever. To the left are older dunes, left by the retreating glaciers. They are cloaked by Black Oaks, Quercus velutina. To the right is a glorious sedge meadow wherin rises the Dead River. In the summer is it filled with fritillaries and many other butterflies. In fact, back when I was the butterfly monitor, this was a very busy spot. Woodland and Savanna butterflies on one side of the trail, wetland and meadow butterflies on the other. Swiveling my head back and forth could make me dizzy but it was worth the effort.

Ladie's Tresses

Ladie’s Tresses! What a cool find. I really like how the blooms spiral up.

DunesAnd that brings us out to the foredunes.  This photo doesn’t show it well, but blazing stars, asters and golden rod were in bloom all over the flanks of the dunes. More, in fact, than I’ve seen before. When I first started coming to the Park, the dunes were much more bare of vegetation. It has been quite interesting to watch succession take place here. By the way, I find it quite odd how the lake appears to be about to pour right off the screen. That is a bit unsettling. A check of the tree reassures me that I was not leaning, myself. Photographers, what am I doing wrong?

As you can see, it was a very good day to play hooky. At one point I looked up and could see the Chicago skyline. You can’t always, but on a clear day you can. I marvel about that~the contrast between the wildness where I stand and the city I can see.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our walk 🙂

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Dickcissel?

Dickcissel

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Once in awhile I’m able to capture more than a blur of feathers when I’m out in the field. My policy is to click first and ask questions later, so here is my little bird. Can anyone tell me what she is? I think she is a Dickcissel. The habitat is restored open tall-grass prairie.  I really liked how she settled herself in the midst of these Compass Plant flowers like the centerpiece in a bouquet. ‘Tis the season of Sylphiums and Liatris, symphonies in yellow and purple.

Choosing Joy

The Oak

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Today when I ventured out to my favorite little coffee shop I was surprised to find the TV on there, tuned to news. It seems another police officer has been shot, this time in a little town near my home. They have pretty much shut down the entire area while they hunt for the shooter. Even schools are on lock-down, and many major roads are closed off. Helicopters hover overhead. It is all very distressing. I hate it that this is happening in our country (well, anywhere)~shooters are everywhere, it seems. I grieve for the officer and his family, and I grieve for the human family that it continues to be torn by intolerance and violence.

As always, I find solace at my easel and in the woods. I cannot go be in the woods today, but I could work on a painting of one I started last week. One of the delightful features of a prairie-savanna complex is big old open-grown white oaks. They spread out their massive limbs like a giant stretching, and let them sweep nearly to the ground. Duck under them and you find yourself in a glorious, peaceful little sanctuary. I abstracted this tree out of its habitat in order to emphasize that, and the “isness” of it, from its furrowed bark to its sweeping limbs.

Painting helps me focus on what is good in the world. I hope this painting helps you feel some goodness, too.