Tag Archives: raccoon

Mr. Bad Raccoon Watercolor

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This is Mr. Bad Raccoon. Mr. Bad Raccoon liked to visit my bird feeder at Christ in the Wilderness promptly at 8pm every night. He was very hungry.

He was also very smart. His large body conquered the raccoon baffle on the feeder itself by standing on his hind feet, hugging the baffle, and inching his way to the top where he would lift the lid right off. Once on top, he would either cup his hands grabbing seed and bring it up to his face or he would place his whole head inside the feeder.

His determination created a soft spot in my heart and I stopped shewing him away. I reasoned with myself that if he went through all of that hard work, he must be rewarded. So I just watched in amazement. His is kinda cute.

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Where Do Raccoons Sleep…Right Here

I’m not kidding, every time I go out into the woods it’s a different adventure. Something new each time catches me off guard. As I took a hike this morning, I just happened to turn my head and noticed something odd.

Do you see anything strange?

What’s that lump on the branch? To make matters worse, it was raining and I left my glasses in the car because I knew the rain would spot them, frustrating my view. All I can see is a big fuzzy lump. I take a picture but have to wait until I get home to zoom in.

Holy cow, what a huge raccoon sleeping on a branch! No doubt he had cabin fever and took the first chance he could on this mild spring-like day (45°F) in January, to take a snooze outside his hollow. This raccoon has to be a monster. He was at least 30 feet up, several yards away and he still looks huge!

Hike at Palos Woods and Sketch

Today I took a quick hike at Palos Woods. Freezing rain? No problem!

During the first five minutes of my hike I heard something wonderful…the creeking of tree limbs. What a distinct sound, created by wind, that broke the silence on this quiet winter afternoon! What fascinated me was the different tones of creekiness. Some were deep and achy, others were high pitches and whinny. Some were slow and drawn out, others were quick and to the point. Will nature ever cease to amaze me? I doubt it.

Over the creek I smiled at animal tracks on the ice. Coyote and raccoon tracks were the two I recognized right away. Some wondered right up to a break in the ice, probably to drink some water. How I wish I could stay all night to watch them stroll under a moonlit winter sky along the babbling creek. 

This picture was taken in the hole of a dead tree. We are actually looking down. Yes, this tree is completely hollow, you can even see a patch of snow at the bottom. I had to reach up and stick my camera in the hole to get this picture. I like to do this because my flash will light up the vacancy and I will be able to see inside. Cool!

Just a mile away, I stopped at Swallow Cliff North, not to hike but to just sit in the parking lot and make a quick sketch.

Like I said, I didn’t have a lot of time left, but I wanted to show you that you don’t need a lot of time to complete a basic simple sketch. No, it doesn’t look exactly the same as the picture, but that’s okay. When constricted for time, just block in simple shapes and colors. I got the jest of the scene and will remember this day forever in my sketchbook, a day of freezing rain and gray winter colors. I love it.

Pioneer Woods Sketch

I was lucky enough to duck out of work a little earlier than normal. Yesssss! I love when that happens. The fist thing I did was to find a cozy spot to paint. I decided to visit Pioneer Woods , part of Chicago’s Cook County Forest Preserve System, Palos Division.

Today was quiet because it is not the weekend and it is not around rush hour. I had the preserve all to myself! It was a beautiful cool 61°F, overcast day.

In my painting, I decided to simplify and eliminate some objects from my original view. I think it helped the overall feel of the sketch.
Beyond that picnic house is a large hill on the other side. I just had to get out of the car and look. When I returned, I took a few moments to listen to nature. Ahhhhh. A northern flicker landed on a branch right in front of me and gave his loud call twice! I then looked up and saw 4 swallows skimming the sky above the oak trees searching for insects. How fast they are. Suddenly, just when I thought I had the preserve to myself, I guess I was wrong…. 

This little rascal made his way to the trash can, climbed up, paused to look around, and climbed right in. He stayed in there a good long time only peaking his head up once. After about five minutes, he popped out and walked 100 feet to the next can and once again looked around before entering. Trash can #2 was not up to his standards because he was out in 30 seconds. After his afternoon snack, he crawled under a large shrub out of my sight. He’s no fool. He picked a great home next to the food.

Each and every forest preserve has a special story to tell. What is so wonderful is that the story changes every month. What you experience in June, you will not be able to experience in September. I hope I can keep up and document its beauty with simple watercolor sketches.