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Surprise!

To me it is anyway, to see an Eastern Bluebird here in winter? I thought bluebirds were insect eaters.

Photo taken January 26, 2009! My apologies for the poor background, I was just so excited to see an Eastern Bluebird in winter!

Photo taken January 26, 2009! My apologies for the poor background, I was just so excited to see an Eastern Bluebird in winter!

Of course, the northern line has been moving up for many species of birds. Just more evidence of global warming and climate change. Still, this is my first siting of bluebirds, EVER, and just to think, my first siting came in winter!

For the past couple of days, I’ve just been “exploring” a site called ArtBistro.com. It’s part of Monster.com and I have registered as a member of both sites (seeking employment has become my new and full-time job).

One of the artists posted a photograph that, I must admit, he did label a photograph but also labeled it a painting. Now, as a photographer, I’ve always felt that photography is equally art, that a camera is merely another tool just as brushes and palette knives are, film is merely another medium just as oils and watercolors are.

But, as I studied the photograph/painting, I began to wonder how he created the image. Was it done in acrylic? In egg tempera? In watercolor?

Then, I decided that it must be a digitally modified photograph!

Well, I did some “experimenting” of my own … on a photograph that my folks took years ago of a sailboat I had built (as a teenager) on its maiden voyage (I’m the strawberry blonde holding the tiller)! The original photograph was printed on textured paper, it’s dusty and has been folded. However, in my “experimented” photograph, I cleaned up as much of the dust as I could then added a couple of “lens flares.”

This is the original image of my "yacht"

This is the original image of my "yacht"

Here's my "yacht" photo retouched

Here's my "yacht" photo retouched

Well, then, what do you think?

Okay! I’m just bored and fooling around!

My apologies if I sound a bit defensive here, but, whenever I mention to friends, relatives and neighbors that I prefer to trap (in Havahart® traps) and relocate mice (to places like a local park, NOT to another neighbors yard) as opposed to killing them with poisons, more often than not, what I get in return is a little smirk and, sometimes, even a little chuckle. Well, just yesterday, I read an article in Tufts Journal titled “Rescuing the Raptors by Jacqueline Mitchell” that, in my view at least, has finally validated my methods.

In part, the article was about the way in which hawks that dine on rodents that have consumed a commonly available over-the-counter poison (brodifacoum) can eventually die of that same poison! Apparently, this poison, an anticoagulant, “metabolizes slowly and accumulates in the liver, a raptor feeding on poisoned rodents can build up toxic levels over time.” Thus, while the rodent takes several days to die, the hawks can die an even slower death simply because they have not consumed the poison directly.

Okay, I admit, I knew nothing of this before reading the article! I also admit that I used to use those poisons but, after seeing a mouse convulsing on my cellar floor shortly after setting out trays of the poison, … well, that just “turned me off” from that method of ridding my home of the little critters. It was then that I turned to the Havahart® traps instead.

So, go ahead and smirk, go ahead an chuckle! I have been a bird lover for several decades and, I especially love raptors. And that I turned to “trapping and relocating” rodents just may have saved even one red-tailed hawk?! Well, I say that’s all the better.

Hey All! Miss Me?

Well, I sure hope so! I can tell you one thing for certain though, I know that I’ve missed blogging and now, I’ve got so much to catch up with that I don’t really know where to begin! And, I’ve never really been far away either, just incredibly busy.

For one thing, I finished another decoy head painting, a Mallard this time. (Hey Bill, looks like I’ve got a series going now too. However, with your third painting,

This is from a Charles Hart Mallard drake decoy in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

This is from a Charles Hart Mallard drake decoy in the collection of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

you’re still one ahead of me.) I’ve been using these decoy paintings to experiment with different media or methods for the details and such. For example, on the Canvasback painting, I used watercolor with airbrush and traditional brush and on the Mallard, it’s watercolor with airbrush, traditional brush and colored pencils with “stumps,” specifically on the bill (and no, that’s not Bill) and the neck. I’ve also been laying down the background color first which worked well on the Canvasback but not so well on the Mallard.

I’ve now started working on a decorative Green Wing Teal carving that was done by a friend named Francis X. McHugh. He passed away in late 2000 from lung cancer and, to my knowledge at least, he never smoked a day in his life! But he did carve decoys, which creates a very fine sawdust that’s more like baking flour and he used acrylics in an airbrush without wearing a mask or using some other means of ventilation. There’s a lesson in there folks! But, enough of that, now back to the painting. This time, I won’t lay down the background until I’m finished with painting the head, we’ll see how that works. In addition, I thought I might take photos of the work in progress then post them on this blog (or maybe another blog I’ve been putting together [on WordPress, of course]).

Another project that has been keeping me busy is my latest “e-commerce” venture. I’m now on CafePress! (Have patience, though, it’s brand new! A work in progress. I’m still learnin’ how the site works, how to promote it, and so on.) You see, I noticed a number of my images from this blog that many of my visitors seemed especially drawn to, so, I decided to open a CafePress shop where I submit my images, select products that I want my images to be printed on such as post cards, note cards, mousepads, mugs, sweatshirts, etc. and CafePress does the rest. Earlier, I had started putting my images on Etsy (note my Etsy page), however, that site took on a life of its own and became more of an outlet for my sewing or handmade items. CafePress will remain for photos and art from this blog as well as some new stuff.

So, what do you think? I’ve got so much more to write about but I’m still busy with other things too. I promise, though, I’ll be back with blog entries a bit more often ’cause I just can’t stay away from it! It’s addictive! 😀

Just yesterday, I was reminded (via an e-newsletter) about an art festival that I had attended far too many years ago yet the memory of that event stays with me as though I had attended just yesterday!

It is held each November (the 14th through the 16th of this year) in Easton, MD and this year’s event marks the 38th. It’s “official” title is, simply, the Waterfowl Festival, however, most folks refer to it as the Easton Waterfowl Festival. The whole community gets involved, closing off the colonial center to automobile traffic and using its many fine shops and galleries as venues to display wildlife art, prints, decoys, crafts, etc.

When I attended the event, the Tidewater Inn was the “centerpiece” so to speak. One room called the “Gold Room” was used to display the original works and many of the artists were there, too, to talk to visitors, sign autographs, and so on.

Folks lining up to enter the Gold Room in the Tidewater Inn, Easton, MD.

Folks lining up to enter the Gold Room in the Tidewater Inn, Easton, MD.

Hot refreshments are provided to visitors by street vendors.

Hot refreshments are provided to visitors by street vendors.

At least in past years, and probably so even today, a World Class waterfowl carver is invited to create a special piece that is then displayed in the lobby of the Tidewater Inn. During the year that I was there, the carving was that of our nation’s symbol, the Bald Eagle.

Bald Eagle displayed in the lobby of the Tidewater Inn, Easton, MD.

Bald Eagle carving by Jett Brunet displayed in the lobby of the Tidewater Inn, Easton, MD.

I know, I know! This is just a tiny sampling of what you would see there and, I really can’t show you any art. There are those artists who are opposed to having their works photographed by the general public. But, really, if you love art, especially wildlife art, then you MUST attend this event at least once in your lifetime. It is, after all, an art festival extraordinaire!

This past May, with much sadness and disappointment, one of my all time favorite magazines titled Wildlife Art, ceased publication. Perhaps what makes this an even sadder event for me, at least, is the fact that it was this magazine that was the first to publish a nature photograph of mine with a byline as well as a few Field Notes and even a Letter to the Editor.

Nature's Perfection Magnified appeared in the September/October 1998 issue of Wildlife Art magazine.

Nature's Perfection Magnified by Janet P. Wilkins appeared in the September/October 1998 issue of Wildlife Art magazine.

But, what makes Wildlife Art‘s disappearance even worse is that for wildlife or nature art enthusiasts like myself, Wildlife Art magazine was an invaluable source of information; everything from listings of new original art or prints, gallery and exhibit announcements, artist accomplishments, upcoming competitions, etc. No doubt, other art magazines and art websites will take up at least some of the slack; in fact, some have already begun to do so. But Wildlife Art magazine was so much more; it was a beautiful print publication, one whose issues became “collectables” in their own right! To put it another way, Wildlife Art magazine had, at one time, been all things to all lovers of the wildlife and nature art genres.

So, what part can I play now? Well, while I certainly can’t do all that Wildlife Art magazine managed, I can, like those aforementioned other art magazines and websites, contribute to taking up at least some of the slack too. Thus, to begin, I have already created a new page for this blog where I will post contact information, due dates and websites (when one is available) to those conservation stamp art competitions that are open to all. Later, I will create other new pages for some of the wildlife and nature art exhibits and calls for entries as the information is made available or, to be more accurate, as I find the information. Actually, to some extent, I’ve been doing this all along for a few competitions and exhibits; they are listed in my blogroll. I feel that this is a good start! And, as time goes on, I’m sure that I will find many more ways in which I can contribute too.

Finally, to those of you planning on entering a few of these competitions, may I wish you all the best of luck!

Wow! I just can’t believe that I let nearly two seasons pass before changing my header image!