Thursday, September 24, 2009

McKinney Falls

The rains finally came to quench our parched land here in Texas. The air cooled, and by the time the weekend rolled around I thought how wonderful that it's finally cool enough to go outside and do a little hiking. So on Saturday, which was quite cloudy in the morning, we drove down to McKinney State Park to finish up the trails we hadn't yet hiked. After about ten minutes on the trail, the sun came out from behind the clouds and that nice cool hike I'd been looking forward to for so long became a hot, sweaty hike. Even so, it was good to get outside for a while.

The longer trails were a bit ho-hum, walking through the same landscape for a long time without many points of interest aside from the remnants of an old homestead and grist mill. But the trails around the water were quite picturesque.

It seems that the butterfly migrations are beginning again. There were so many butterflies fluttering along the trails, especially this kind. I'm not sure what type it is, but they were everywhere.

Friday, September 18, 2009

In the Woods at Christmas Time

I've noticed in the last couple weeks the grocery stores have been putting out pumpkin displays and I couldn't help but think that it's a bit early to be decorating for Halloween. If it's too early for Halloween, then it's probably way too early for Christmas, but that didn't stop me from painting this Christmas scene during the dog days of late summer. Some wishful thinking during the sweltering heat perhaps...

This piece was another private commission. I took special inspiration from Susan Wheeler's beautiful greeting card art for this painting. Her website seems to have disappeared, so a link to one of her books will have to suffice. I love the warm, inviting woodland world she's created and populated with happy rabbits and mice.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Squirrels in Autumn

Well, I was able to come back and finish up this painting (see entry Squirrels & Stick Insects) much sooner than expected:The butterfly in the painting is very loosely modeled on an American Painted Lady. When I was growing up, I had the opportunity to raise a painted lady from caterpillar to butterfly. It was so exciting as a child to watch the caterpillar spin its chrysalis and then emerge as a beautiful butterfly. I named him Pillarpoofer in a nod to my uncle who I was told in his early childhood years referred to caterpillars as "pillarpoofers."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Little Lost Squirrels

It's been a while since I've posted anything, much less a new piece of art, but I'm finally back with a new illustration. This painting was a private commission. As I worked on it, I was reminded of one of my old favorite picture books, Owl Babies in which three baby owls await nervously for their mother to return home. I love the simplicity of the characters in the book and am amazed at how much expression the illustrator was able to convey almost entirely through the eyes and subtle gestures. I'm hoping I was able to similarly capture some of the sense of relief and recent distress the two little lost squirrels are feeling as they run toward their mother's outstretched arms:

On a personal note, a dear art school friend came to visit last week and we took a few days to explore Austin and get in a dose of adventure, trying out some new activities, among them river tubing and ziplining through the trees. Following are a few pictures of our hike around Hamilton Pool - we first hiked along a trail that followed a creek all the way to the Pedernales river:
Due to drought conditions, the river was quite low. I'm quite tempted to go back and hike along the dry parts of the riverbed to see what there is to see before the rains come and fill the river back up.

We then took the short trail to the pool itself which is partially sheltered in a large grotto. According to, "The preserve's pool and grotto were formed when the dome of an
underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago." It was such a striking and unusual setting, that it almost looked like a man-made resort. The water looked so inviting on such a hot day, but sadly, we didn't have time to go for a swim. Perhaps another day...

More art soon...