Monday, August 31, 2009

Osage orange revisited

I found a few osage oranges on the ground under the tree today. I brought one home to draw. It seemed to be exuding syrup and was sticky. Apparently it fell on a chunk of wood which remained embedded in the fruit. Good thing it's not a vampire, huh? I like the black hair-like protrusions.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Drought-tolerant mushroom

I didn't expect to see any mushrooms and was pleasantly surprised by this one, fruiting on old wood during a heat wave after months of dry weather. It may be Pluteus sp. but was a bit too old to tell for sure.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Drawing in the cemetery

I love this tree! It's an old interior live oak (Quercus wislizeni) standing guard at the end of a road in Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery. The ground drops steeply behind it, to an open place that's brightly lit in the early morning.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ground Squirrels

Between Howarth Park and Spring Lake Park there's a strange in-between area with piles of wood and timber. A group of ground squirrels () can be found on sunny days, watching hikers and bikers as they pass by. They're pretty shy and will freeze if you stop for a bit to look at them and entirely disappear if you overstay your welcome.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The fungi are beginning to appear!

Usually I find these fungi high up in trees but this one was at eye level so I had a great time drawing and photographing it without any neck strain which was a pleasant change of pace.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lucky for me, not so much for the tree

I almost never get the chance to see these up close because, it seems, most of the trees in the neighborhood are old and tall. A large branch fell to the ground Saturday night and I happened to walk by the next morning. It's Gingko biloba and they are so lovely and so strange. Oddly, these leaves show no evidence of the biloba part of the name.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A mystery tree

I drew this from a tree/shrub in Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery, but have seen it in my neighborhood growing too tall to get anywhere near a live branch. The seeds are in pods that burst open and then the black seed dangles in a membrane that's bright pink.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A tree I like but can't really draw

I've been drawing this tree for weeks and not getting it to look the way I see it. This image comes close. Sort of. I always want to put in every single detail and have to use drastic measures to keep myself from doing so. Sigh.

Horse Chestnut leaf

The most fun thing about drawing things like leaves, is that they start out so ordinary and then, as I draw, I find all sorts of fascinating details. Suddenly, an ordinary leaf is mysterious and delightful, often leaving me with all sorts of questions, because of my woeful ignorance of science.

I found this Horse Chestnut (Aesculus sp.)leaf on the ground and brought it home to draw. I was surprised to find that the underside of the leaf, at the base, is covered with coarse rusty-colored fibers that look like hair!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Learning new stuff

I stopped keeping a sketchbook sometime in my 20's and only started again a few years ago. I keep experimenting with ways to do a sketch and keep finding interesting new ways to do one. I work in ballpoint pen. My favorite pens are free at the local feed store. I've learned that if I work big I get lost in trying to capture every detail so now I work pretty small.

Today was a good sketch day. Although I try to sketch every day, most of my sketch days are bad. Well, good and bad. Bad because my drawings don't even come close to doing what I wish they would, good because when I draw I'm essentially in an altered state. Drawing makes me feel good. Even when what I'm drawing is bad.

I walked with my dog, Chloe, at Howarth Park, a city park about a 10 minute drive from my home. It's adjacent to Spring Lake, a regional park, which is adjacent to Annadel State Park. We stopped to draw a Black Oak that I've been sketching over and over, attempting to get it the way I want, then wandered over to Spring Lake where a Black Crowned Night Heron obligingly stood still for me, long enough to draw.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Osage Orange

There are three Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) trees at Santa Rosa Rural Cemetery, all in the lower part of the cemetery, where the ground gets really wet in the winter. I stopped by to see if there were any fruit on the most accessibly tree and only saw a couple, way up high. Last year, around Christmas, there were scads of them on the ground under the tree. I wonder if it'll be the same this year or if the drought has slowed down the tree's reproductive urges. I drew a branch and will check back again to see what's happening with the fruit.