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Icicle Art

>> Sunday, January 30, 2011

I must confess:  I have been hiding from winter this year.

I have been watching the remarkable snowfall tallies, and actually cheering for more snow.  We've had 113 inches thus far this year, compared with 50 inches this time last year.  We are almost at the normal season's average of 121.  The way I look at it, if we've suffered through this much already, we may as well keep going and break a few records.  Mind you, every time I mention that to my husband, he drily suggests I can do all the rest of the shoveling this year.

Yet I've essentially been just watching the snow from indoors.  Instead of going out hiking, or snowshoeing, or looking for critter tracks, or in any other way enjoying the season, I have been holed up inside.  It's quite pathetic, really.  I mean, if one is going to live in this climate, one ought to find ways to appreciate all 4 seasons.  Yet instead I have been roasting my bones before the fire and occupying myself with artwork, trying to forget winter's bluster outside my door.  I just haven't the energy to deal with it.

It makes for good art, but rather a dearth of writing material for this blog, I am afraid.

Anywho, after cleaning the house and cooking chili and doing all sorts of domestic indoors things this afternoon, my husband called my attention to the icicles outside our spare bedroom window.  He kindly popped out the screen, and I shot a few pictures of the ice shining in the weak winter sunlight.  It's pretty much the only interaction I've had with winter all weekend.

The effects I achieved were not necessarily what I'd had in mind, but were fascinating nonetheless.  This new camera is such fun to play with, and ice is amazing stuff.  After a little adjustment to contrast, some of these photos look distinctly as though they are of metal, not ice.

Now I'm feeling cold after looking at and thinking so much about ice.  I think I'll plunk myself back in front of the fire with a book for the rest of the evening!


Basset Hound Ear Art

>> Sunday, January 23, 2011

One of my husband's clients gave us tickets to the Pawcasso fundraiser for Spay and Neuter Syracuse (SANS). SANS is a low cost spay and neuter clinic for low income families and pets without homes in Central New York, and has spayed or neutered more than 8200 animals since 2005. Pawcasso is their big annual fundraiser, and it's "a silent auction of art by, for, and about animals".

We're big supporters of any program that increases the likelihood people will spay or neuter their pets or strays. We're also big fans of art, silent auctions, and pets. The perfect combination!

I figured I had to do a piece to donate for the cause, so I spent Saturday doing a drawing of my favorite picture of Simon, which turned out quite cute:

But because we're crazy, we also thought the whole art by animals thing could be great fun, too.  After all, Simon was once a shelter dog who was neutered by folks who care about animals who need homes, so we figured he would want to contribute to the cause, too.

Our idea? A Basset hound ear painting, of course. 

It involved a canvas, a lot of non-toxic washable finger paints, some dog treats, and a whole lotta mess!  See photos of the fun, below.

Pippin helping with the preparation:

The palette:

The artist at work:

Thank God he didn't shake with paint on his ears.  There would have been paint on the ceiling.

And the finished piece:

Now I just need to buy a couple of frames and to donate the pieces by the deadline of January 31st.  I hope they bring in a few dollars for a great cause, and I am very much looking forward to attending the event at the end of February!



>> Monday, January 10, 2011

For my birthday, my sweet husband and father coordinated and got me the camera I've been longing for for months and months - a brand new Nikon D90!  (Picture Kermit the Frog on the Muppets Show hands waving in the air saying "YAAAAAAAAAAY" here)

The camera officially ties for first place for best birthday present ever, with the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary my Dad got me, oh, about 12 years ago now.  Dad does have a knack for gift giving.  Once I found out I was getting the D90, I decided to spend some of my hard earned bonus and get the Nikon 18-200 lens with vibration reduction that I'd been wanting too.

Everything came together at once:  Nikon had a sale around the holidays, and our favorite camera shop managed to sell the old D70 on commission for more than we paid for it.  It wound up being sold to a couple of dentists for photographing teeth.  I feel a little sad that its fate is so, well, uninteresting.  No more frolics through the woods for the poor old thing.

At the same time I feel a little silly for anthropomorphizing a camera.

It has so many features that it's going to take me a long time to figure them all out.  However, I am already absurdly pleased with a couple of the features I'd been wanting so badly, including most of all its significantly improved focusing abilities and its performance in low light settings.  I love the vibration reduction on the lens, too.

In our first real photography trip in quite some time, Spouse and our friend M and I went to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse for a day.  The reason we chose the zoo is that they're having a photography contest in the month of January - come in with a camera and their coupon, and get free admission.  It must be working, because on a cold, blustery, snowy January day, there were quite a few people at the zoo... most toting cameras.

I took 474 photos, indoors and out, and in all sorts of different light settings.  Below are my favorite shots from the day.  Some of the critters I photographed aren't terribly exotic - they just hang around the zoo for the free handouts, like this sparrow:

Humboldt penguin:
This is a two day old baby Patas monkey:

I loved the lions in the snow - these are some of my favorite shots of the day.  The snow looks beautiful while it's falling, and their eyes are haunting: 

Sand cat - cute as a button!
I love the snow on this otter's whiskers:
The ocelot:

This shot of a peregrine falcon is taken through a cage - the camera did an amazing job ignoring the wires:

My husband calls this "the circus peanut duck" - I have no idea what it really is:
This meerkat looks like an exceptionally dim bulb:

In some respects I kind of let the camera do its thing.  I set it to variable ISO, which worked great - you tell it the range of ISO settings you'd like it to use, and it chooses among them for each photo.  I need to lower the upper limit on it, as a few shots turned out grainy, but generally speaking, that feature turned out to be perfect for all the different lighting.

So, the ultimate question is, which two are your favorites?  I have to select two of the above to submit for the zoo photo contest.  Please vote!


More Art

>> Sunday, January 9, 2011

I've been on such an art kick lately, it's wonderful.  Once I start working on an art project I get sucked in, lose touch with reality, and have no idea that time is passing.  Here are my most recent projects.

Per request of my sister, I've been painting a step stool for my niece.  For some insane reason I decided to paint paisley.  It's taking way longer than I had anticipated, and has a ways to go, but it is fun.  Here is a shot of me painting it early on... I'm quite a bit further along now.

Over New Year's weekend my husband was visiting his family in Charlotte, and I spent the entirety of four days drawing.  Poor Simon got quite bored with me - he doesn't understand why anyone would want to sit still for hours on end.

Here were the results.  I haven't mastered photographing art yet, and these are a little washed out, but you get the idea:

Currently there is a chipmunk in the works...


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