Monday, December 28, 2009

Young Barn Swallow

This graphite study of a juvenile barn swallow is a departure from my usual subject matter.  Upon request, it is one of two bird drawings I will complete for an upcoming exhibit in Ohio several months from now.  (If you saw the previous post of it as a work-in-progress, you may be wondering what happened to the brown paper -- but said color was simply the result of a poor photographer!)  The photo references for this were obtained when my son and I came upon this swallow and its two siblings on our horse fence.  They seemed quite unconcerned with us, and so we were able to get little more than arm's length from them with the camera.  This piece may warrant a little tweaking still:  for instance the background tones seem a little dark, so I may perform a little lift-and-blend operation.  As fresh-eyed onlookers, what do you think?  Too dark?

Barn swallows are an engaging and lovely little bird.  Their iridescent blue feathers are striking, and can go unappreciated unless one sees them up close.  The killing of barn swallows for their feathers was just one issue that prompted the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, thus protecting them as well as many other migratory species.  Each season after their offspring fledge, they congregate in groups on the edges of fields and forests prior to their long migration to Central or South America.

For many years I have watched and been fascinated by barn swallows as an observer at the northern-end of their yearly cycle.  Suddenly on a day every April,  two or three of them will arrive happily at the horse barn and I will know that it is about to occur -- and within several days the air is filled with dozens of swooping, diving, calling, seemingly joyous barn swallows.  Their singlemindedness of purpose is admirable, and they waste no time rebuilding a nest or occupying an already existing one.  Most will produce two broods by early August, and then by early September they are gone just as quickly as they came -- leaving the barn and the surrounding sky quiet and empty until the following spring.

In a way, they mark the passage of time with their abrupt arrival and departure each year -- and for me, more so than the arrival of each new year seems to. 

But 2010 fast approaches -- so a Happy New Year to you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

.........and to all a good night!

"Button", my son's long-outgrown and good-natured pony,  was good enough to tolerate the taking of this holiday-inspired photo of her.  Truth be told she was not thrilled with the hat: possibly any self-respecting pony would choose not to wear a Santa cap, given the option.  It proved to be a challenge getting more of her in the shot, as I found it necessary to hold the cap on her head with my left hand, while taking the photo with my each time I let go with my left, she dumped the Santa cap.  Bah humbug!

As Christmas Day fast approaches and I reflect over the past year, I am struck by how much my (usually well-ordered) life has become interspersed with change, emotional and spiritual growth, and milestones.  There have been first-time goals reached in relation to my art, such as the Hudson Gallery Exhibition and attaining signature status in the CPSA.  I have had the opportunity to develop tremendous bonds with people I cherish, and have also experienced agonizing losses.  Ever-present on my mind, whether at the edge or in full-awareness, is the fact that my son is a senior in high school and applying to colleges.  In many ways, life may never be the same.  The new year may bring many changes.

I began this blog in June of 2009 -- a mere six months ago -- feeling uncertain and self-conscious.  It had been many years since I had written much of anything for any reason.  However much to my surprise I have found that I actually enjoy blogging -- in fact, I enjoy it a great deal.  So what I originally planned as a year-long 'experiment' (which went something like, "I'm sure it is going to be a horrible experience, but I'll try it for a year............") will now go on indefinitely...........or until I have nothing further to say! 

I thank those of you who stop in and take a few minutes to read my blog, those who take the time to leave a comment, those who share their wonderful sense of humor or a bit of their own experience.  As is probably the case with many types of endeavors, I am finding that making serious pursuit of one's artwork (for the first time) in midde-age is not for the faint-hearted. Consequently, whether we be dear long-time friends or more recent acquaintances, I so appreciate your support and validation.  It is a pleasure for me to become acquainted with others in the blogging community, and I look forward to continuing to follow your careers and journeys.  Blogging has also warranted me the opportunity to correspond with persons in other countries - Canada, Australia, France, and Scotland, to name several - and what a joy it is to expand the perameters of my own world in this way. 

May your life be an inspiration to yourself and others.  Merry Christmas to you and yours.  As always, thankyou so much for reading.