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Friday, 29 June 2012

Playing with Publisher - How We Got Started "Birding"

Lately, have been getting familiar with areas of MS Office Suite that I've not really had any opportunity to touch. One being Publisher. Not quite as great as InDesign but is actually a very useful program for small businesses or personal use for any number of creative project needs. I began with a template that I liked and altered the elements such as fonts, spacing, objects, photos, etc. and went with a theme from our major leisure undertaking, nature hikes. The intent behind this was to play around and practice using Publisher, using a personal theme to do so.

I went with the metamorphosis which occurred in our what began as simple leisure walks to Whitby Harbour in the evenings and on weekends, to what has become a sort of a beginner's interest in birding, over the past year. If I chose to complete the full newsletter template, the table of contents would indicate what specific experiences that further little anecdotal articles would touch on....with photos of course :-)

Opportunity for Humour

Sometimes, not too often, but on occasion, a bird has been in a perfect spot for a humorous quip opportunity. This was just such an opportunity with this mourning dove we spotted on our walk to Whitby Harbour last night. The swan babies were quite funny in their own right as well.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Birds and Bees

Sometimes, on our walks, we see some pretty funny sights. This morning, we headed along the waterfront path from the park in Whitby that is down the bottom of Brock St., over to Thickson Woods.....a good 3 hours by the time we got back. Not only were the swallows almost hitting us, but it seems spring having sprung is not quite complete yet.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

More Osprey in Beaverton

This past weekend, we had to run my son up to a camp for some training. This meant we'd be passing Beaverton again on the way back down. We had wanted to go to a wetlands that has a trail running from Blackwater to Cannington, but we ended up in the town of beaverton instead. Luckily, becasue we walked down to the marina and we spotted cliff swallow nests on one of the houses that sat out over the waterway.  They were peeking out and coming and going from their nests. Also, we popped over on the way to friends' again, and stopped to see the Osprey we had seen last weekend. The female was a bit alarmed this time, left the nest and circled us, calling. I took a few shots of her before we thought it better to leave her alone before she has a nervous breakdown. As soon as we got back in the car, she landed on the nest again. We headed over to have a BBQ and spend some time with friends before heading back home.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Lots to See Along Waterfront Walk Brock St. to Thickson Rd.

Recently, we thought we'd carry on further than usual, from the park down and to the east of Brock st. in Whitby, that follows along above Lake Ontario in Whitby. Well, we discovered that there is quite the array of active bird life in the trees along the way. We saw tons of cow birds, lots of robins, oodles of red winged black birds, yellow finches, a house finch, mourning doves warblers, king birds, hoards of swallows overhead (tree and bank), a baltimore oriole juvi, and just thousands of sparrows of varying kinds.

We also saw lots of bunnies, both baby and adult. There are butterflies and Virginia Ctenucha moths and even a really cool place where there are permanent observation tools for one to look out over the lake and far beyond. I even was able to get a cool shot of a car cemetery in the distance. I love photographing demolished autos at car wreckers.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Osprey Nest in Beaverton, Ontario

Had the opportunity to go to a friends' cottage this past weekend. They told us about a nest near by, on the way in to town, along the shores of Lake Simcoe. We got there and grabbed some shots. I was not sure what the birds were, just knew they were birds of prey. I had not seen Ospreys up close, only flying in the distance near where we live, and though we looked them up once, I could not say 100% that these were Osprey. Once we got home, I ID'd them again online.

We saw one hunting over the lake at the cottage, as well as a Blue Heron landing and fishing 2 docks down.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Osprey Near Our Apartment

We had been hearing really close cries of some bird, that definitely is a bird of prey of some sort. Now, last year, it was foxes that we had to figure out what the screeching originated from. This year, apparently, it is Osprey :-) How cool! We had seen them at the pier in Whitby Harbour, flying over head and I managed to get one (mediocre) shot lol! Then, low and behold, my boyfriend goes out in the morn and he texts me, "there's Osprey out here". Wow, they were circling right above the parking lot. So, we figure, There is the source of the sounds! Needless to say, an exciting quick walk the previous evening, netting 2 firsts as sighting goes for Osprey and  House Finch.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Acrylic Portrait Continued....

Generally, once a week, light conditions permitting, I put 5-6 hrs into my current portrait project. This is the progress stage I am at with a friend's boyfriend's portrait. I work in natural window light so it needs to be an overcast type day so I don't get annoying bright strips of light across my work area, but nice diffused light to paint in. Bright light makes me crazy to begin with so I find working under anything but diffused natural light, grating on my nerves.

I am spending time solving the values in the face first, with colour being a secondary concern once values in areas are right. I tend to do this in a back and forth way. This can result in too many layers being built before areas are solved, but 9 times out of 10 it works for me. If I reach a point where the only choice is to sand back some of the surface, it often means the portrait is doomed. Luckily, it rarely happens but it has once in a while. Depending on how much damage control needs to be done, determines whether I can continue painting on the surface, or if gawd forbid, I need to discard and begin anew. I have had to begin anew maybe 3 times in the past 20 years. It's not fun.

Here, I have still the areas above the lip, and the lip still to solve, a lot of the major areas on the forehead and back onto the crown, as well as the chin - all needing the majority of the work. The eye areas, neck, the cheeks and towards the ear need less work.

Alternating into the background and clothing, simultaneously with the skin tones, needs to happen as well, to keep values balanced and easier to determine the accuracy of. Most likely, i will begin into the top and folded arms soon, and as well continue to build the background. Going back and forth with background and edges of the figure, especially the ones farthest from the viewer's eye, helps keep that "figure cut out and pasted in a background" look from occurring. I frigging hate that look in portraits and figure paintings and I try hard to avoid it in my work.


titanium white
naples yellow
yellow ochre
raw sienna
burnt sienna
cadmium red light
naphthol red medium - Golden
ultramarine blue (red)
cobalt blue
chormium oxide green - Golden

I use Liquitex heavy body tube acrylics (other than the couple Goldens noted), and I use a fluid medium, not a lot of water but do have it out for use when needed. My palette is a white ceramic dinner plate. I use paper towel to dab my brush on. My brush generally is a synthetic round and a chisel. I do have a large flat brush for background lay in. I begin on a toned canvas, either cool or warm depending on the portrait itself.

My method to begin is a draw on, freehand, with a charcoal pencil or soft pencil - 4b or more and sometimes a 2b for detail. I then dab off the excess with a soft eraser. 

My method tends to be a dry brush small stroke build up of layer over layer. Acrylic suits my working method as the paint is not overly wet and softly rubs pigmet onto the texture of the canvas well, for soft blending. On hardboard, I use more of a thin glazing method, with slightly damper pigment. I never load much on a brush. My finished surfaces are not textured or raised very much, if at all.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Lucky Kingbird Nest Sighting!

This past Friday morn, I wanted to get up early so we could go on an early walk, hopefully to benefit from the more abundant sighting luck we tend to have in the AMs. Sunrise is now 5:30 as opposed to 7am so we do miss the rising of the sun this time of year, but still get out early enough to have more luck spotting bird and animal life.

We started out at Halls Rd. in Whitby, walked tot he lookout (not much life this visit) and continued on the path that leads to the shore of Lake Ontario. Then, it's a about a 1/2 hr saunter east along the stones and sand shoreline, with a few grappling over or under fallen or growing trees outcrops, to the path that leads up to Lynde Shores Conservation Area. This leads around the marsh. Well, that morn, gawd knows What occurred weather wise to bring all kinds of rotting driftwood pieces and loads of small dead fish. The terrain appeared odd and the the odour was difficult to handle in areas. Not usual that is for sure. We could not think of any large enough wind and rain storms that would have brought all that debris onto the shore, and quite a distance in from the water edge too.

We decided we would venture onto the paths that lead to Lynde Shores. We spotted a deer in the brush near the tall wooden look out tower, saw a cat bird, tons of warblers and Vesper Sparrows, an Alder Flycatcher, Blue Jays, and Orioles. We hoped to see a mink again, having seen one run across the path a few days earlier in the evening. We ran into an older couple, 38 year residents of the area south of Lynde Shores, who talked about the history of the area and also shared some of their sightings over the years. They had seen a mom possum with babies on her back, and a hawk eating a warbler, and other interesting things.  Off the wood pier/dock at Lynde Shores, we laughed at all the splashing by the paired carp probably spawning in the shallow water.

Since I did not want to walk back along the lake shore path, we decided we'd walk out through the Lynde Shores entrance, onto Highway 2, and back over to Halls Rd. then down to where the car was. Luckily we did this, what ended up adding up to an over 3 hr trek that morning, because if not we would never have run across the guys parked and out with their cameras and binoculars. At first, spotting at a distance, 2 or 3 guys parked on a side road, or some lone car stopped for no apparent reason, etc., I always am a bit wary as to Why and What. Then, once I spot the cameras or binocs, relief sets in lol! Ok, they are just birders or photogs and obviously see something interesting. These particular guys were watching a Kingbird nest. One bird was on the nest and the other was perched farther off, on a tall grass. The nest was close, just above my head by 2ft or so, and I was able to grab a shot of the bird on it.