Handsome Jack Watercolor

There he is…. handsome Jack.

I tell you the truth, no matter how many times I find this spring ephemeral wildflower, it always stops me in my tracks and takes my breath away. Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) seems like an exotic species in my mundane Midwest landscape. So unique….so unlike any other plant.

Short to the ground, it takes patience and being in the moment to notice this creature among the sea of green on the forest floor. If you’re walking while dreading bills, or life’s challenges, you risk missing it! You must calm your mind, go slow, and be in the present moment, enjoying every inch of blessings around you.

It is something as small as Jack, that can pick up my spirits and transform my day. I am so grateful for all God’s creation.

Let’s Paint a Prairie Trillium Spring Wildflower!

Spring ephemeral (lasing a short time) wildflowers are making their appearance on the forest floor as we speak! But you must seek them out now, for soon the leaves on the trees will be fully developed and the shade wont support them.

This video shows how to paint a prairie trillium. I could not include a voice over step by step because my software was glitchy. So, this video is just a visual step by step.

More videos on spring ephemeral wildflowers soon to come.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of spring!

 

Lake Katherine Pine Watercolor

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Even the pine reaches for the light.

When I go to a location with sketching supplies in hand, how do I decide on a subject to sketch? I begin to walk…looking for something to speak to me. Something in nature has to reach out, it has to say something without saying anything at all. It could be a unique feature on an ordinary object. It could be a look, a moment, or a feeling. I could relate to it or I could be in awe of it.

This pine at Lake Katherine spoke to me without words. It said, “I’m doing all I can in my circumstance, then I let go.”

Do you feel this way? Can you come to this conclusion?

Sometimes when the world seems dark and overwhelming, reaching for the light then letting go is all we can do.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

May you find peace and comfort in the light.
Amen

American White Pelican Watercolor

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Was I seeing correctly? Was that a pelican on the water?

A few days ago, on a spur, I drove out to Rock Run Rookery by myself. I’ve been there once before with ornithologists on a bird outing. It’s fun to listen to bird enthusiasts, especially knowledgeable ones who can identify birds by their call alone and not by sight. You want to be with one when trying to identify birds.

Anyway, on to my visit… I’m not a bird expert, however I was seeing a pelican. In the Chicago area. Hmmm…

Sure enough after some research I learned all about the migrating American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos). Unlike its cousin the brown pelican who is a coastal bird, the American white pelican migrates over land on its way to the Dakotas or Canada from Mexico. He is a very large bird (30 pounds) and his bill can hold 3 gallons of water. As he feeds, he skims the water collecting fish. He does not dive under water like his cousin, the brown pelican. And that hump on its bill? That means its breeding season. After breeding season is over, it will lose that growth.

To look at him, you would assume he was completely white, but in flight he reveals his stunning black flight feathers.

When I saw this creature, we locked eyes. There was a moment. As a faith based person, it is amazing to connect with wildlife and have a common bond with the One who created us. I can’t exactly put that into words, but some of you know what I’m talking about. Maybe that’s why nature is so important to me. It’s not just random cells on automatic pilot…it’s so much deeper than that.

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After my pelican encounter, I walked to the stream at the beginning of the park. Under the comfortable picnic shelter, I sketched the waters, oh so green.

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I don’t know why the water was vibrant green, turquoise like, but that is no exaggeration. This section of the park was quiet, beautiful, and last year’s dried grasses made a marvelous tone.

If you are ever in the Joliet area, I would advise a visit to Rock Run Rookery.

Turtle Without Time Watercolor

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Ahhhh…To live like this one…basking in the sun without mind of time. There’s no room for a watch on his stubby little leg. He sees no second hand, therefore ticking cannot be heard in his ears. It is such a healthy state to be in, without regard to time. I feel most whole when I am in this state, unimpaired and able to connect with nature.

This turtle looks like a yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta), but they are not from my area. It is possible someone released it. Or it is possible it is a painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) with a strange yellow formation on the side of its head.

Whichever type of turtle it is, I can learn from it: To take life slow and be in the moment.

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I simplified this watercolor sketch by removing the complexity of the drift wood. You can do that when you paint because you make the rules.

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Chipmunk Feast Watercolor

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The rain hits my window and I give it my full attention.
It does not come in a rude, forceful manor,
Rather humbly, as soft as it can.
Like a missionary quietly in the background,
Who doesn’t want credit,
Who doesn’t want accolades.

I notice you, rain.
I know the good works that you are doing.

Now, to my chipmunk friend (Tamias striatus)…
The one stealing sunflower seeds out of my bird feeder…
I see you too.
I hope the seeds fill your belly.

May the seeds be your food and the rain, your drink.
Be well.

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Amber Jelly Roll in the Snow Watercolor

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My hikes never cease to provide surprises, even some half buried in the snow. On this cold winter day I found amber jelly rolls. Amber jelly roll (Exidia recisa), is a fungus that grows on downed twigs and limbs. Beautiful blobs of jelly they are, chilling on frozen branches on the ground.

An interesting fact about these jelly rolls: they can dehydrate and re-hydrate. The dehydrated jelly fungi looks dark black and flat. As soon as the atmosphere provides moisture they will plump back up.

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Reference photo.

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Here is another fungus I found on my hike. I do not know the species. It is flat with slightly ruffled edges. Perhaps it’s a type of parchment fungus?

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Sometimes, winter takes my breath away. At this moment in time, ice encapsulated every twig. Winter never looked so elegant. It’s easy to love spring. It’s easy to love summer. Their flashy blooms of all things petaled, makes it so. But winter? Her allure is quiet, in the most refined way.