Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Art class today!

The good news is that I had my first lesson in botanical illustration today. This was the class that I missed last fall, and now they're having it again.

The bad news is, I didn't get to draw anything botanical yet. And I probably won't get to until the third class meeting. The instructor is taking things very slow, so today we "got to know our pencils."

These are my pencils saying "How do you do?"

I suppose this is good practice for me, getting back to basics before I attempt any real drawing. It took me the better part of 2 hours to fill in all those squares, and when I finished and checked around me, my classmates, (3 other arboretum ladies) were still hard at work. How did I manage to blast through my lesson so fast? Did I miss something? Was I too sloppy? I didn't worry about neatness too much. But when I look at the meticulous and delicate renderings of seasoned botanical artists, they are like photographs, not a pencil-stroke out of place. I don't know if I have it in me to be that fussy anymore. We'll have to see what happens next week. We'll be drawing and shading geometric shapes.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A cute elephant commercial

This commercial debuted on the Oscars tonight. I thought it was sweet.

What a day...

Original poem and artwork by Michael, 1992, age 6
What a day
a sea
I think
I will
just splasH
in the

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Death Valley Fever

I found this link to a bunch of full-screen panoramic shots of DV.

Death Valley art

As the time gets closer to our Death Valley trip, I look forward to it, and worry at the same time whether or not we can actually take the truck. There are only "extended-cab" seats in the back, very uncomfortable, and even if Brice and I trade off sitting back there, it's still going to be crappy. And if we take the Honda, there goes any chance of getting off the pavement. That would bum Jerry out terribly. We haven't decided yet what we are going to do, but I still want to go, no matter what.

In the meantime, I am visiting a lot of Death Valley stuff online. Here is a page from a pair of artists who painted their way through Death Valley.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nature Guide poem

They're having a pot-luck luncheon for all the arboretum volunteers tomorrow. I'm not really sure what the occasion is, except maybe just as a morale booster. Anyway, each volunteer group has been asked to write a poem. I volunteered to do ours for Nature Guides.

The Nature Guide Poem

We see the children’s happy faces getting off the bus.
They’re here to see our arboretum, so they look to us

To show them all the wonders that our gardens have to share,
And give them information about common plants and rare.

We use our arboretum like a classroom that’s alive.
And point out adaptations that help the plants survive.

We use an acronym called LAWS for land, air, water, and sun
The different biomes all have this, and it varies for each one.

We take them through the desert, and there’s conifers to see.
And everybody’s favorite is our giant Ombu tree.

We show them how exotic fruits look growing on the trees.
We show them the Dawn Redwoods and Bald Cypress with its knees.

We stand along the shoreline as we talk about the pond,
And what lives there in the water of which everyone’s so fond.

We touch on photosynthesis, and try to make it fun
Explaining how a plant can make its own food from the sun.

And as we move along the trails, some critters catch our eyes:
some lizards if we’re lucky, and some bees and butterflies.

Our ducks and rabbits are a hit. They always steal the show.
The turtles were quite popular. Too bad they had to go.

At Heritage House we recall Victorian gardening ways
And we demonstrate how people did their laundry in those days.

The kids enjoy the Children’s Garden, so we let them in.
They run around in there until we let them out again.

Not all our guests are children. We get grown up people too,
And you never know when one of them might teach us something new.

Before we know, the time’s gone by. Our tour comes to an end.
And as we smile and say goodbye, we hope they’ll come again.

As Arboretum Nature Guides, we are the public face,
Ambassadors whose joy it is to share this garden space.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Link to free mandalas

This website has free mandalas you can download. Then, you can print them out and color them, or save them in your computer and color them digitally.

Free Mandalas

Sunday, February 18, 2007


This piggy weather vane is on top of a house around the corner from my parents.
Gung hay fat choy

Saturday, February 17, 2007

And now for something completely different...

It seems like all of civilization has been fixated on the death of Anna Nicole Smith, and the subsequent twists and turns as far as where she should be buried, who's her baby's daddy, what the will says, etc. It seems so stupid. As undeserved as all the attention is, at least I can breathe a little sigh of relief from all things Anna Nicole. Because now we have the further exploits of Britney Spears. Yes, let's let the lawyers on the Smith case work away from the spotlight for awhile, and in the meantime, we can see Britney with her newly shaved head and, yes, images of her actual vomit. Now that's news.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Beautiful art glass

I was watching Huell Howser on TV while I ate my lunch. He was visiting a place called Orient & Flume, to see how the artisans make beautiful glass pieces. I found their website.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Introduction to ArtRage

I found ArtRage over a year ago, and have really enjoyed it. Another talented AR user has made an introductory video that shows how it works with a simple painting.

If you want to try ArtRage, (there is a free version, but the full version is just 20 bucks), click here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

James Hubbell

Last night I checked my online TV listing to see if there was anything good on. I saw a listing on PBS for a show called Eye of the Beholder, The Artistry of James Hubbell. Never having heard of him, I did a quick Google search, and as soon as I saw pictures of his work, I leaped from the computer to the TV. He has a wonderful, organic style that brings the forms and colors of nature into the home, and lets structures be part of nature. (Well, that sounds corny the way I'm describing it, but his projects are incredibly beautiful and alive. (aack- more corn, sorry!))

I think his program is making the rounds on PBS stations this week. Hopefully I didn't catch it at the tail end of its run. Watch it if you can.

He also has an extensive website with some pictures of his work. I put a few below.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I have XM Satellite Radio at home and in the car. I really like it. One of my favorite XM channels is 75, Hear Music, "the sound of Starbucks." They play a nice variety of new music and a mix of other stuff that is upbeat and energetic. ( Starbucks coffee? I wouldn't know. I don't even drink coffee!)

I have also found that some of the music artists I like have Myspace sites where you can hear their music. Here is one I like. They are called Guster. The song I like is Satellite.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bionic teeth

After waiting over a year, Brice's dental implants are almost finished. Last week, I had him to the dentist for final impressions to make the crowns. Dr. Lee screwed these "copings" into the implanted posts in order to fit the piece that held the impression medium. So he only looked like this for a few minutes, but during that time, everyone in the office came in to have a look. And I whipped out my camera, much to Brice's annoyance.

Ooh, scary, eh?

The crowns will be installed on Feb. 20th and he'll be all done.
Except for the upcoming gum surgery.
And eventual wisdom teeth extraction.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sproutin' legs!

For Illustration Friday.

Quite possibly the most exciting time to be a tadpole.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Grandpa Harry on Flickr

I set up a bare-bones Flickr account a long time ago, and never really did anything with it. I had been thinking about upgrading it for a long time. Well, I finally did, and the first thing I've done is load a bunch of Grandpa Harry stuff. Click here to see.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


I have no idea why I suddenly decided I wanted to make these designs. I found a website that has mandala software, and another online mandala generator. It's in Hungarian, but it has only a few controls and I figured it out. Here is a leafy mandala I made.

Online mandala generator.
Below is a little diagram of the screen with my translations added.

1. Erase
2. Clear
3. Grid thingy hide/show
4. Choose how many segments for your mandala
5. Vary line thickness.

The color picker is pretty basic and simple. It takes just a few minutes playing with it to get the idea. One thing I was not able to figure out was how to save my finished mandala, so I just made a screen shot and edited it in Photoshop.

I'm going to make some more. If anyone reading this makes a mandala, please let me see it! And have fun!

*Update: Fellow blogger and nature lover Kat has posted a mandala that she created to honor the memory of the whooping cranes that died in the Florida storm a few days ago.