Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to go to some wonderful places, including gull nesting colonies, while working with people doing various bird studies, etc. The nest that I painted here was off Plymouth and I did many sketches and took many photos during the few days I was there helping someone weigh and measure baby gulls. These are most likely herring gulls since they were the prevalent bird nesting in that area but I can’t swear to that–when this tiny the baby black backs look similar and so do their eggs. Gull nests are built on the ground and have an average of 3 eggs. The baby in this nest has just hatched and you can see the pip, or hole being made by the next gull that will hatch.
I thought it might be fun to show you my process while I painted this. I don’t pretend it is perfectly done but it was fun to do.
First, I sketch in the basic shapes with a pencil and then lay in the first watercolor wash.
I build up the painting, layer by layer by adding different mixes of colors
Watercolors need to have their layers built up gradually, allowing for a lot of transparency and play with colors and their complements…
I start to add some details…
Continuing to add layers I am darkening the darkest parts but beginning to add more layers to the eggs and bird, too
More details, more layers, another wash or two…
and it’s done! The finished piece is 8 x 10″ and makes a nice addition to my bird painting portfolio. I hope you enjoyed seeing how it was done.
Although technically I spotted my first mayflowers in March today I saw them blooming everywhere. Mayflowers are the state flower of Massachusetts and they are a quiet little blossom that many people probably walk right by.
Usually you find them in patches along the sunny side of a trail. They like rather poor growing conditions and are often half buried by winter’s twigs and leaves…in the picture below the mayflowers are in the middle of the frame..
They don’t look like much, do they? But get down close to them and they are lovely and elegant and they smell wonderful…
Their leaves are often tattered and brown looking but you can often find new leaves forming, too. The leaves are tough and sort of hairy feeling. The blossoms are somewhat waxy and able to survive the changing weather that often marks our springs.
Also called trailing arbutus, mayflowers almost always bloom in April, which somehow amuses me. Maybe they bloom in May in other places but usually by May the blossoms here are gone.
You can find mayflowers in many of the Cape woodlands, especially those that have ponds –which is most of our woodlands.
While looking for mayflowers take note of the little Canada mayflower leaves that are beginning to poke up through the pine needles. Also, watch for the red unfurling leaves of sarsparilla, one of my favorite and most whimsical spring woodland flowers.
This is such a great time of year to get out and about–migrating birds are arriving almost daily, toads are trilling and everywhere you look new life seems to be opening up.
Do keep watch for ticks if you hit a woodland trail–they are everywhere already.
What a day! I spent the day with one of my daughters and a good friend heading down Cape to Provincetown. We hoped to see some whales but were generally happy to get out and about in Provincetown before the crowds hit.
It was much nicer there than we anticipated–the weather forecast had been iffy but when we got there it was pretty sunny. Later we would get clouds but the sun was nice.
Race Point was picture perfect and in the distance we saw hundreds of northern gannets diving and fishing. We even saw an Iceland gull fly by quite lazily. No pictures of these as my lens doesn’t really go that far.
Nice view though, huh?
The tide was very low and the flats went on forever into the horizon from our viewpoint on the edge of the breakwater.
This fellow and his dog were taking a leisurely meander across the sand…
Which seemed like a reasonable response to the circumstances.
Later, when we returned to Race Point we were treated to a fun show of multiple humpback whales spouting, feeding and slapping their flukes before diving. One pair seemed to be a mother and calf but from the distance it was hard to be sure, even with good binoculars. Yes, or no, it was still a spectacular show out there.
It was a great day to be in Provincetown, that’s for sure. If you go, be aware that much of Commercial St. is torn up and being worked on and walking down the street is trickier than usual. Maybe it will be done soon.
is always better than a day at the office, don’t you think? I am very lucky because in many ways the beach, the woods, the ponds and the fields are my offices. They are the places i gather inspiration for my writing and for my art. They are where I work the best.
I love seeing the opreys on their nests
and watching a mockingbird search for food, singing all the while…
I love finding shells that look like the bleached out skeletons they really are….
and I love finding the washed up egg cases of whelks that look like twisted backbones along the high tide wrack…
And I love seeing the little piping plovers running in and out of the quiet waves as the tide recedes…
yep, a day at the beach sure beats a day inside an office….