All posts by Joni

National Wildlife Art Show (Aug. 4-6)

Joni with her art at the National Wildlife Art Show.

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A morning celebration at Bass Pro Shops, Outdoor Days.

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Joni was chosen to represent the wildlife artists during the morning celebration.  Here, Medal of Honor recipient Don Ballard leads the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Joni and her husband pose with Viet Nam war hero Don Ballard.

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Fresh from the foundry

2015 was a very adventurous year for me.  I began to realize my long-time dream of creating bronze sculptures!   I’ve always known that a sculptor lived inside of me and finally got a chance to see for  myself what this kind of journey is like.

Here are the results of my first two bronzes.  I’m happy to say that BOTH pieces have been accepted into the Society of Animal Artist’s Hanna Gallery show in Texas this spring!  The dates for the show are:  May 17th – June 26th.   Hanna gallery is located on 208 South Llano Street ~ Fredericksburg, Texas

The piece below is entitled “Airborne”.    It was inspired by a friendship that I had formed with a mature  wild  white tail buck.  The size of this piece is 16″ x 16″ x 5″.

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The piece below is entitled “The Sushi Bar”.   It was inspired by the hundreds of hours that I’ve spent out in my kayak watching birds.   Great Blue herons fascinate me.  They are a study in patience, stealth and grace.   The size of this piece is 18″ x 12″ x 5″.

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Raven Study

I’m having quite a lot of fun experimenting in oils, which is a fairly new medium for me.   Oils behave very differently than the acrylics that I’ve used for so many years.   And I really love expressing my passion for the wild world with them.     “Raven Study”  8″ x 10″  SOLD

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Newly completed commission

I’ve been a bit distracted here with a myriad of assorted things, one of which is a new puppy.   He is a border collie, which is a breed my husband and I have had and adored for many years.  Puppies are a LOT of work.  They are also a whole lot of FUN!

Here is a commissioned painting that I finished recently.  It is entitled “The Edge of Autumn”, done in acrylic.  The painting is 24″ x 32″.  Enjoy!

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Moving In

A pair of Titmice have decided to set up house-keeping in one of our front boxes.  I joined them in my lawn chair and watched them move in.  My presence didn’t bother them at all.  In fact I was waiting for one of them to ask for my help in exchange for pizza!

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This load was too big to fit through the front door.  I’ve tried that before myself and have not had good results.

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The pretty little Titmouse spouse watched and “bossed” from a nearby tree.  You know how it is.  Spouses can’t ever do it the “right” way…

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(below)  ” Wonder what comes out of here…?”

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This moss might work well for new carpet.  Too bad it’s the color that everyone HAD to have in the ’70’s.  These Titmice don’t seem to mind the out of date color at all…

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Suddenly a bluebird arrived.  He had his eye on the same house.  But the Titmice outdid him and got there first.  Maybe they made a better offer to the seller?

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(Below)  This is a once in a lifetime shot.  I was focused on the Titmouse, and only seconds later noticed there was a bluebird in the same shot.  A VERY quick aperture change, and wa-la!

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One of the proud new home-owners…

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Is there ANYTHING on the planet that is cuter than this???

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“Play” time!

After the concentrated effort needed to prepare for an art show, it can feel so good to unwind after the show is over.  I took a short time to “play” with oils, deciding that fun would come in the effort to loosen up mind and body and just wildly swish paint all around!

I did a few studies, and gave myself time limits on each one (of about two hours), to force my brain to edit visual information and paint from the heart.  The pieces are small,  simple and splashy.   The following are the results:

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This next one took a wee bit longer…a little study of my crazy dog Kippy…

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Spots on the Rocks

I haven’t done a painting from my trips to beloved Africa for awhile so I decided that the time has come!   The Cheetah has the distinction of being my favorite of all the big cats.   What an amazing specialist they are.   They are poetry and grace in motion.  And even when lounging on a rock pile or termite mound, they still exude a fragile, perfectly designed power.   This Cheetah only seconds before was lounging on rocks, dozing in what is left of the late-day sun.   But a hunter can never fully sleep.  A sound in the distance interests the cheetah enough to sit up and take notice.   Is it time to stretch those long lean muscles in preparation for a 60 mph dash for dinner?   Or is the sound insignificant, warranting one to go back to napping again?

“Spots on the Rocks”   Acrylic on masonite (12″ x 18″)

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Hot off the Easel

I’ve been painting up a little storm this fall and winter.   Below are some new paintings!

This first painting was inspired by time spent on my beloved kayak this past fall.  Belted Kingfishers are one of my very favorite birds.  They are notoriously difficult to photograph, as they are flilghy and frankly kind of spastic.  They love to tease and taunt photographers.   I’ve been very lucky to get fairly close to some of them in my boat.

The Kingfisher below is a female.  She has just caught a minnow in a cove on a nearby lake.  She will gulp it down VERY quickly so that other Kingfishers in the area won’t have a chance to steal it from her!

“Maid of the Mist”

(Belted Kingfisher)   11″ x 14″ acrylic on masonite.

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“Here Kitty-Kitty”

(Cougar)   11″ x 14″ acrylic on masonite.

This painting was done to pay tribute to one of North America’s great predators.  The epitome of secrecy and stealth, cougars are now being found in areas far east of where they are normally expected.  They can live right under our noses without our notice.

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“Breakfast Berries”

(American Robin)  9″ x 12″ acrylic on masonite.

I often refer to robins as “mind their own business birds”.    They are in just about every backyard east of the rocky mountains.  Although common, I think they are beautiful birds and love their way of staying out of the “drama” often caused between other bird species.  Robins just go about their business and stay out of trouble.

This painting was inspired by watching robins gorging on berries this past fall.  I loved the idea of doing a painting that used largely one side of the color wheel (red, orange and yellow).    This Robin is just about to snatch a berry.  If you blink, you’ll miss it!  :-)

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Tools of the Trade

When the average person runs the idea of a “tool” through their mind, an image of a hammer, screwdriver or table saw might pop up first.  Tools of course differ greatly from one profession to another.  Wildlife artists and photographers have their own set of challenges.  The subjects that they pursue for their life’s work are largely afraid of them.  Animals and birds in the wild can disappear within a millisecond, IF you were lucky enough to see them in the first place.

My recent acquisition of a kayak (an early Christmas gift from my husband) has been a real game changer as far as wildlife reference gathering goes, in particular my experiences with birds.  Animals and birds are not naturally as reactionary to things that they don’t already associate with danger, such as a small craft silently approaching in water.

A recent trip to Truman Dam in Southern Missouri, revealed not only an abundance of stunning views, but also some really special wildlife viewing and photographing opportunities.   From within my trusty kayak, I could watch animals and birds behaving naturally and not just see their hind ends as they make a hasty escape.

The Truman Dam was constructed in the 1970’s.   There are more coves to explore there than one could ever find the time for.  I love it when I run out of time before I run out of territory!

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With nature, it nearly always pays to get out of bed early.  In mid November, the warm days of autumn were hanging on with the last of their loosening grip.  Cold nights, warm, sunbathed days…it doesn’t get better than that…

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(Below) This is a typical scene on any lake in the country.  This gull was there to greet me as I pushed off in my kayak for the day’s adventure.  The fall color beyond the gray and white bird was amazing…

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Rocky bluffs along the shoreline were covered in autumn color at it’s peak…

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While exploring deep within a cove, I ran into this big fellow.  He was nearly crazy with testosterone, chasing other bucks off the beach.  There must have been an “interesting” doe very close by.  I was able to watch natural whitetail deer behavior, which is always a treat.

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Meanwhile, while I was watching the deer titans battling on the beach, two bald eagles circled overhead.  It was hard to know where to point my camera…!

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Coming out of that same cove I was in for another surprise.  A young buck was making his way across the water.  The shortest distance between two points is a straight line and he apparently knew all about that.  I could tell that this was not unusual behavior for him.  He seemed quite comfortable in the water.

I was able to paddle my kayak faster than the buck could swim, and it occurred to me that for the first (and likely only) time I had the physical advantage over a whitetail deer.  I didn’t take it, as it would have scared the life out of him.  But it was an interesting thought just the same.

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Opposites are attractive…orange and blue…

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While eating our lunch on the dam, Alan and I met this little fellow.  Stray cats have made the dam their home.  We could tell by how hungry he was that survival is tough for them.  He was too feral to touch or catch, but we did make sure that we shared our chicken lunch with him so that he had a full tummy, as least for awhile.

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This is the face of homelessness.   Please, be sure to spay and neuter your pets!

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Back out on the water, a Great Blue Heron eyes me as I drift by…

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This crow apparently has not read the sign….he is not allowed to “park” here…

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(Below) My new painting entitled “The Nut-Cracker” (Read-headed Woodpecker) was inspired directly from my time in the kayak.

During autumn, these birds split acorns into pieces of fairly uniform size and tuck them away into holes that the birds have created in almost perfectly straight lines in old trees.  This tree was way out in the water, so the nuts will be safe from four-legged thieves…a pretty smart strategy I think!

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(Below) Another painting inspired by my kayak time entitled “Silver Lining”  (Forster’s Tern).

These aerodynamic birds are true athletes, able to hover in one place over the water just before a lightening-fast plunge for fish.  They are wonderfully fun to watch.

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New Opportunities

There is nothing quite like being out on water in a quiet lake cove, with your only company being that of a beloved dog, and the wildlife that calls the lake home.

I recently purchased a kayak.   I am wondering why I didn’t do this years ago.  Not only is a kayak a whole lot of fun, but it also affords a wildlife painter new opportunities for gathering that much needed photographic reference.    Animals and birds naturally gravitate towards water edges.   And most animals and birds are not nearly as afraid of a boat drifting quietly by as they are of a human being tromping through noisy leaf litter in a woods.   Getting close to your subjects is a real advantage of being in a boat driven forward simply by your own desire and a few arm and shoulder muscles.

Both of our dogs like to ride in the kayak.  Below Pawsome shares a wonderful morning with me out on the water.

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In the early mornings the coves are aglow in shafts of sunlight, accentuating the steam that rises when water is warmer than the crisp morning air of autumn.

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There are many rewards for those willing to rise and shine early…

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A muskrat slowly cruises by…

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A Flicker eyes me from above…

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Sunlight makes the autumn woodland glow…

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A Painted Turtle has decided that on this stump, there is only room for one.  The snake just to the right will have to find his own island for sun bathing…

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More paddling reveals more surprises…

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There is nothing like having a camera pointed at you while “doing your business.”   A young Double-crested Cormorant  finds a “rest stop” between fishing expeditions…

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Three heads are always better than one…

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A Zipper Spider perches on her glowing web…

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Mr Heron allows me to get very close when I’m in my kayak…

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Two does came down to the water’s edge for a drink.  I don’t think they knew quite what to make of that floating red-orange thing out on the water…

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That was FUN!  When can we go again???

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More Coffee Please…?

Last evening Pawsome and I had some wonderful and stimulating conversation over dinner.  We chatted about world events and even politics, while sharing a pizza…

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Pawsome becomes especially philosophical over politics…

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Then in a moment of sentiment, he raised his glass to toast good friends, good fun and good pizza!

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This morning, the weather was nice enough for us to eat outside on the deck.   Pawsome is still mulling over recent happenings in the world after just finishing the morning paper…

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…More coffee please???

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A bit about Border Collies…

Of course Pawsome doesn’t eat pizza and is still too young to sample wine.   A high quality dog food is his mainstay, although he has tried on occasion to influence me in other food directions…!  :-)

Border Collies are famous for their incredible intelligence.   And while this is somewhat true,  it is worth noting that despite their intelligence, these dogs DON’T train themselves.  A smart Border Collie who lives without proper training and leadership can become a troublesome dog and can even become destructive and/or aggressive.  So Please don’t enter into Border Collie ownership lightly.    If you are willing and able to give them more daily exercise than you could ever think needed, lots of guidance, training and love, they will reward you with lots of love back, not to mention lots of FUN!

Please choose your pets wisely…

Society of Animal Artists “Art and the Animal”

This year celebrated 50 years for the Society of Animal Artists.  The opening of the SAA’s  landmark art exhibition was hosted by the San Diego Natural History Museum on Sept 4th.  Artists from all over the world joined together to celebrate the occasion.  I felt most honored have my painting “The King’s Dragon” juried into this benchmark show.

(Below)  The art was displayed on three levels in the atrium of the museum.  Visitors from the public came in good numbers for viewing.

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(Below)  My painting hung on the third and top level under the beautiful light of southern California.    My dragon and Kingfisher hangs in the middle here.

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One of the best parts of any show or exhibition is the convergence of many great wildlife artists.   There is a special kinship among animal/bird painters.  And of course there are a lot of laughs along the way too.

(Below L-R)   Joni Johnson-Godsy, Morten Solberg, Andrew Denman, and Guy Combes.

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For those who don’t follow the lives of wildlife artists,  Robert Bateman has spent his life not only creating some of the most beautiful and compelling wildlife art in the world, but he also has been a tireless champion for the wild world and the heritage he and others in the SAA would like to leave behind for our grandchildren.   Indeed, Bob is a remarkable man.

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(Below) The annual Awards Dinner.   You can dress us up…but you can’t take us out!

Here Andrew Denman assists Kelly Singleton with her “Stretch Armstrong” impersonation.

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In the end the fancy clothes only cover the outside.  We can’t  seem to help ourselves…our clownish natures still emerge from within!

A collaborative cocktail of crazy chemistry indeed!

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(L to R)  Andrew Denman, Kelly Singleton, Sandra Blair, Joni Johnson-Godsy and Guy Combes

Life is a ZOO, especially when your’re IN one!!!

A visit to the world famous San Diego Zoo proved to be more of an “adventure” than I was originally hoping for…

First thing in the morning, fellow wildlife artist Kelly Singleton and I ambitiously set out to find the Harpy Eagle exhibit.  Neither one of us had ever seen one and we both really like raptors.   Ever elusive in the wild, this rare bird turned out to be impossibly elusive to find in the ZOO!

Following the zoo “map”, we ended up in a crazy tangle of dense jungle vegetation, wandering aimlessly around in the gloom under the thick green canopy, completely surrounded by the one and only thing that we DIDN’T really care about seeing in the zoo…monkeys and apes.

After an hour and a half of schlepping up and down the incredibly steep hills of this part of the zoo only to find out we’d been walking in circles, we FINALLY found our way out of the darkness.

(Below) This escalator will take any poor unsuspecting sap up into “Monkey Hell”.  We have nothing against monkeys mind you.  But getting that lost in a zoo while your perfect morning light is fading is NOT so fun!   And don’t count on zoo workers to help you find your way, as they don’t seem to know how to get out of there either!!!

I couldn’t resist creating this parody of our little “adventure”.

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In the end, we did find the Harpy Eagle exhibit and it was not even close to where it was positioned on that crazy zoo “map”.    It was on “Eagle Drive”………Imagine that…

The Harpy Eagle indeed had the last laugh.  He/she was hidden by the vegetation inside the exhibit.  We felt lucky to get a glimpse of some tail feathers.  We worked HARD to see that eagles a…s!

(Below) Kelly cops an attitude towards the beautiful bird species that made our morning so “eventful”    How many birds can you count in this photo?

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OK, on to more serious things…

There are very few people in this country over the age of about 35 who have not at least heard of the plight of the California Condor.  This huge raptor became the “poster child” for our environmental mistakes of the past and is partially responsible for the eventual turn-around of  mindset in modern North America.

Thanks solely to the tireless effort of a small handful of biologists who have devoted their lives to correct these mistakes, the California Condor still exists and is actually growing in numbers…albeit slowly.  Only a couple of short decades ago, there were less than two dozen of these birds left on the planet.    Although often thought of as a corny Eco-phrase….. extinction really is… forever.

Very little was known about this species when humans finally realized that his extinction seemed eminent.   More had to be learned about the habits and breeding of Condors without risking these precious few birds left.  A decision was made to capture every wild California Condor and hold them all for safe keeping at three different zoological facilities,  the San Diego Zoo,  the SD Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo.  The population was deliberately split into thirds and kept apart from each other in the event that a disease would accidentally slip in.  This way biologists could be more certain that the entire population was not totally wiped out.

(Below) A California Condor (still  not free from the threat of extinction).   This species now glides free in the skies of California and Arizona as it should be.   Unfortunately these birds are still being shot by short-sighted “Ya-hoos” who think that they are ugly and unnecessary.  I wonder what the Condor thinks of us???

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Enter: The Andean Condor (below), the only other condor species in the world, which thankfully was slightly more abundant and at the time seemed a good candidate for study.  Biologists spent the next number of years working with the Andean Condor (originating from South America) in captive breeding programs.  Much was learned about  successful egg hatching and the rearing of chicks that could one day be released into the wild.  This unlikely hero not only gave insight into it’s own future success, but also was instrumental in the saving of another species.

(Below) An immature Andean Condor takes part in a “Free-flight” show at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.   For many people, their heroes reside mostly in the entertainment world, (musicians, athletes and movie “stars”).   For me, when this pretty fellow took the stage with his out-stretched wing span matching the width of a grand piano,  my heart started pounding faster.  It was like Elton John himself had emerged on stage to tickle the ivories through a famous song.    Fellow bird lovers would understand this…

Thanks to the hard work of biologists and the stunning  Andean Condor, the California Condor now has a brighter future.

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There are many other less “famous” residents at the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, this one being a male Eurasian Eagle Owl.   This fellow was part of the best “Free-flight” bird show I’ve ever seen.   Owls are defined by their eyes, and this fellow is no exception…

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The symbol of wisdom and darkness as reflected in the soul…

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(Below)  One cannot help but wonder what in the world Mother Nature was thinking when she came up with this character.   This is a Shoebill Stork.   Wild populations now number between 5000 and 8000 individuals and live primarily in Sudan.    This species is considered as “threatened” in the wild.   Ancient Egyptians included these birds in their visual stories.

This chap was incredibly charming.  The more I watched him the more I fell in love.  It’s hard to not get a chuckle out of someone who is this comical looking yet at the same time takes himself so seriously.    He had the trademark quiet, intense, stalking habit so often seen in herons and storks.    But with that big, silly face looking down at them I could almost hear the frogs and fish laughing.

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Of course there are many, many species of mammals in the San Diego Zoo.  But you all already know what lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) look like so I chose to show off some of the more unusual residents.  However… one cannot overlook this silly chap.  He is of course, a meerkat.   Disney made this fellow famous.  There are very few children who don’t know all about him, at least the Disney rendition of him!  :-)

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Bird Nerds

San Diego, California is full of fun surprises.  As an extension to my trip to CA for the SAA art exhibition, friend and fellow SAA member Sandra Blair arranged to have professional photographer and friend Jim Dunn take us out to the local San Diego birding hot spots.  We stayed in southern California for several extra days after the SAA events ended, trekking the fabulous coastline in search of shorebirds.  Thanks to Jim’s  knowledge of the area, the trekking wasn’t very difficult!  He knew the best places to go and we were not disappointed!

(Below) Jim with fellow wildlife artists and SAA members Sandra Blair (middle) and Kelly Singleton on the rugged California coastline.

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If ever there were two bird species that say “ocean”, the brown pelican and the seagull are it!  This species is the “Western Gull” and like all gulls, they were very abundant on the coast of southern California.  I shot this on a foggy morning at the break of dawn…

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Pelicans are very entertaining to watch, as they are such a strange adaptation to life on the sea.  These clownish chaps gather in large groups and lounge around, dozing or preening.  Then all at once when they see that another bird has found food out on the water, they lift off and try to get in on the action.  When it turns out to be a false alarm, they come  back in in small groups and proceed with their napping again.

(Below) This pelican seems to be saying to his sea faring friends “Come forth yee fellow pelicans…come one, come all”.

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In comes this youngster.  This poor chap has somehow gotten his head stuck in a piece of rubber trash.   This bird still has a bit of growing to do and may parish from strangulation due simply to human irresponsibility.   Call me crazy, but I do believe that animals have a right to live in a trash-free world.   When people discard unwanted items in irresponsible ways, it is often animals and birds that pay the ultimate price.  Millions of shore birds and marine animals die each year because of this carelessness.

No one will be there to watch as this bird takes his last desperate breath…so it remains beneath our notice.   That is why I am posting him here.   Please, please be mindful of what you buy and where you ultimately discard it!

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(Below) This silly guy has turned his pouch completely inside out.  When a pelican “yawns” the arch of his neck pushes his pouch up and out.  That “lump in his throat” is actually the front of his neck!  Not just anyone  can do this!  Such a comical creature Mr. Pelican is!

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(Below) A slightly more dignified looking brown pelican…

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(Below) The “Three Amigos”.   Or for folks who have seen us yucking it up a different title might come to mind… “The Three Stooges”!

Wildlife artists have a special kinship that is hard to explain.   We seem to come from a similar place in our lives as far as what we value and prioritize.  I’m never happier than when I’m with a group of talented fellow animal/bird artist friends…

This photograph is compliments of Jim Dunn  (www.avian-images.com)  Thanks Jim!!!  :-)

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Another famous resident of the California coast is of course the Sea Lion.  Below is a nursery.  This adult is solely responsible for a rather large group of youngsters.  Some lounge with their babysitter here on these rocks, while many babies were playing about in the water.   I have no idea how it is decided who stays behind to play lifeguard and watch over the  youngsters.

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This Double-Crested Cormorant seems to be trying to make a deal with his sea lion buddy…”If you scratch my back, I’ll come and scratch yours!.  No WAIT!  Let  ME do that!

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Meanwhile, a bit farther out in the water these two adult sea lions were trying to settle an argument.   The bickering went on for quite some time.  I have no idea what the dispute was over…maybe who had to take the next shift as communal babysitter!  I know that I myself would sure hold my ground on that one!   NOT ME!!!

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During low tide, we visited the “mud flats” of the San Diego River.  As the water recedes a myriad of tiny sea creatures are revealed.   Shorebirds come en mass to feed.   We sat for hours watching and photographing them.

(Below) A snowy egret “reflects” on his day.  Snowys have bright yellow feet and if you look closely, you can see one of those feet through the water.

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Shorebirds are incredibly hard to identify, especially those in the Sandpiper categories.  This (I believe) is a Dowitcher.  Jim would know this bird’s species at a glance.  Having him with us was like adding a natural history lesson to our birding trip.  It doesn’t get better than that!

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Here two Dowitchers reflect twice as much as one!

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This little beauty below is a Willet.  Unlike many of the smaller sandpiper species who feed in small groups, this bird seems to like to hunt for food alone.  Watching shorebirds will bring your blood pressure down like nothing else in the world!

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Life is an Adventure…

The other day I drove (with the dogs in tow) three hours south to a lake where my husband is currently working on an engineering project.

The plan was for Alan and I to have a nice picnic dinner on his brother’s sailboat and camp out on the boat that night.  We were both looking forward to doing something a bit out of routine while we enjoyed some good rest and relaxation at the same time.  And since Alan was working on a project at the lake anyway, he could just get up and go right into work the next morning from the boat.

The weather was beautiful when we arrived, with warm sunshine and a soft breeze just enough to put a light ripple on the water.  We were the only people anywhere around at the marina and really even on the whole lake.  The only sound we could hear was the soft tapping of lines against aluminum sailboat masts as the boats in the marina gently rocked about.

(Below)  Our dogs are great swimmers, but since there is no way for a dog to get out of the water if they fall in here, we had them wear their little life jackets, at least until we were sure they “knew the ropes” of life on a sailboat.

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Pawsome is a wonderful dock-diving dog so keeping him from launching himself into the water was a bit difficult at first.  He did catch on quickly that we were not here for that and the life jackets soon came off.

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The sunset slowly gave way to a starry night.  We sat and gazed upwards, picking out and admiring the different star formations.   Indeed, this is what we came here for…

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Finally we retired within the cabin of the boat, leaving the side and top hatches wide open so a nice breeze could cool and freshen the interior.  I fell asleep looking straight up at the stars, listening to the distant, disorganized song of a pack of coyotes.

At some point after we retired, I was awakened by the tapping of the lines on the mast and noticed that it had drastically quickened in frequency.  Our gentle, soft breeze was fast turning into a stiff wind.  Where I was gazing at stars only an hour ago, I now saw thick  clouds interrupting the blackness of the galaxy.  A few rain drops followed.  Within a minute the sky opened up and rain came down in a deluge.

Fortunately we were able to baton down the hatches, close up the cabin and stay dry inside.

We retired again, this time listening to rain pounding on the fiberglass shell of the boat…a nice sound.

After a short time with the cabin all closed up, I noticed a rather nasty smell coming from the cabins bathroom.  Since neither of us were in there at the time, I became a bit concerned.  We couldn’t open up the cabin for fresh air due to the rain, and it became most “uncomfortable” in there.

The moment I figured out that the “black water” in the toilet tank  was backing up everything changed.  How does one fix a thing like this in the middle of the night?  If I didn’t constantly use the pump on the side, it was going to come over the top of the  toilet rim.  Can a person stand there and crank on a toilet pump all night long?  And if so, then what???   Daylight in and of itself doesn’t fix toilets.  And there was absolutely NO ONE around.  This is what nightmares are made of!!!

It is nearing the end of the sailing season and apparently the bathroom has been a busy place this summer.  It was at capacity!  A full sailboat toilet system is NOT a happy sailboat toilet system.  GET ME OUTTA HERE!

The only fix was to start bailing!  My dear husband took command (at my urging) and did the dirty deed.   I SO wanted to open that cabin hatch door!!!  Suddenly the pouring rain wasn’t looking so bad.  There is nothing quite like bailing “black water” out of a sailboat toilet in the wee hours of the morning!…So much for R & R!

In the torrential rain and complete darkness of 5:00 a.m. I started unloading the boat, taking all of our stuff waaaaay up to the car one load at a time.  I don’t think the interior of my Subaru will ever be the same!

Alan ended up going to work that morning soaked to the skin from rain and I still had a three hour drive to make to get back home.  I set off in complete darkness with blinding rain, thunder and lightening accompanying me most of the way.

About half way home I made the unwise decision to fill my car up with gas.  The temperature had dropped at least 20 degrees and I was still soaking wet in my summer clothes.  That wind was coooold!    Suddenly the valve on the gas hose malfunctioned and kept pumping even though my car tank was full.  I ran over to yank it out of the gas tank.   Gasoline was still spewing out and with nowhere to go shot straight back at me,  completely soaking my right side from head to toe.  The gas wouldn’t shut off and continued to spray all over me until the nozzle was bumped hard several times on the ground.    I arrived home several hours later, still wet from rain and reeking of gasoline.   What in the holy heck happened to our peaceful trip?

I guess I’ll make the executive decision to “mostly” remember this beautiful sunset we witnessed on the marina and those amazing stars of the evening that we enjoyed, before the tide turned and everything went astray.  And of course adventures like this one make for great stories later….much, MUCH later!   :-)

ee

Colorado Memories

With my husband’s work schedule too tight to go to my beloved Colorado this summer, I’ve been reminiscing by looking at pictures from our wonderful trip last year.  We took our two Nieces with us knowing that since they are both now in college, they soon will become too busy to join us.  It worked out perfectly.

The photo below is of one of my favorite places on the planet, the Maroon Bells, near Aspen.  Alan and I got engaged and later married here.    The Maroon Bells Range has it’s own weather pattern, and things can be very dicey there.  But on a calm day when the water is still, it is truly a sight to behold, one of the most beautiful places anywhere…

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A straight-up hike near Glenwood Springs takes you to another incredible place called “Hanging Lake”.  This beautiful little body of water hangs right out on the edge of a cliff, hence the name.   Travertine  has formed all over the bottom of the water, making it an interesting emerald green color.

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This place looks like something out of a fantasy movie…

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(Below) Crater Lake lies just beneath the great spires of the Maroon Bells.

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(Below)  While resting on a hike, Kippy meets a new friend.   Chipmunks are for viewing…NOT touching.  Gooood boy Kippy!

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Alan’s brother and his wife joined us in Colorado for a white-water rafting adventure.  Alan and I made the executive decision to put our Nieces in the front of the boat so they could bear the brunt of the hideously COLD water and shield us from it a bit (after all, what are a loving Aunt and Uncle for???).   Sara (in the red visor) and Mary (in the black visor) are in the front row, with Alan and I just behind them, and Alan’s brother and wife behind us.  A couple that we didn’t know sat in the back and of course our river guide Tim brought up the rear, making sure that we hit every trouble spot in the river along the way.

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(Below)  This is why we stuck the Nieces in the front!

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But in the end, the water had the last laugh.  It didn’t matter where on the boat a person was.  We all ended up SOAKED!   What a FUN day this was!!!

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Baby Faces

It’s baby time.   Our woodland babies are just now old enough to go out exploring with mom.  The world is such a BIG place when you are a little tyke.

This raccoon litter of five will create a LOT of mischief down the road when they grow up a bit.   A friend of mine saw this photo and said “It looks like they are planning a heist.”   Indeed.  I wonder what they will steal first…

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I can just hear them planning…“OK Smarty and Shorty,  you go around to the right and me , Smittles and Bubba will  go around to the left.  Give a signal when you’ve gotten into the kitchen!    Batchy, you stay here and keep watch.   Now GO…and be quick about it!”

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Our does are finally allowing their fawns to be seen.  This one is a classic beauty.

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This fawn below belongs to a different doe.  He has white markings on his face and feet and a PINK nose.  I think there is an obvious name for him…”Rudolph”!   (Or Rudy, if it is a girl!)

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“But Mom, nobody will want to play with “a misfit.”

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A soft whisper in the ear comes from mom…“Everyone is different son.  And being different only makes you more special.” (Moms always know what to say at times like this…)

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Meanwhile, while I was photographing Rudolph/Rudy, this pretty hummer boy was showing interest in the hosta blooms right under the window.  What does this flashy fellow have to do with baby animals?   Nothing.   I just felt like sticking him in here!  :-)

ee

(Below) My painting of a mule deer fawn entitled “Baby Face.”   This piece was inspired by a trip to the wilds of the Yukon last summer.

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