Friday, October 31, 2014

Open Your Eyes, Meet the freshwater Bryozoan

Cristatella Mucedo
Cristatella Mucedo, Bryozoan (and selfie!!!)

No this is not ‘the worst selfie ever’ although I do have to confess that the medusa head is mine.

It's not everyday that you see something new, especially if you are 'past your 'best before' date' which I am.  After a while, been there done that sets in, well, not quite. I do seem to maintain a good deal of curiosity about the life forms around me, but pictured above is a critter I have not ever encountered (or even heard of until a few weeks ago) in my life. Wow, a brand new life form!!!

So 'what is it?' you ask.  Those green fuzzy caterpillar things (not the wild woman hair silhouette) are underwater critters that creep along on submerged rocks and plants.  They are Bryozoans, and frankly, I still can't explain them properly, so here's the wiki Bryozoans and after much sleuthing, I even narrowed things down to Cristatella Mucedo, a species that inhabits cool northern freshwater lakes and rivers.
Beautiful pics of the critter here:
And info here:
Because while I am fascinated by science, it is NOT my area of aptitude.
But the cool thing, the really cool thing is, they can MOVE!!! Which may explain why the configuration seemed a wee bit different from one day to the next.
But not mentioned in the links, but experienced by me, they react to touch. Because of course, I could not resist touching a new thing, like reaching out and saying 'hi' to a new species.  The feeling was not mutual. More like 'EEEEEEEK!!! RUN!!!' but they can't run. What happened, when I gently touched a strand, is that it seemed to flatten/collapse at the touch point, that continued in a chain reaction like dominoes down the length of the strand.  15 minutes later it looked just as fluffy as it's original form and it's untouched comrades. Interestingly, the next morning when I repeated the experiment, the reaction was more like 'OH BOY, HERE WE GO AGAIN, SIGH' in that it flattened briefly only at the touch point. Sort of like it realized I wasn’t worth going into flat out panic.  I guess I’m just not that scary afterall.

So, there is my close encounter with (for me) a new life form.
It’s probably no surprise that this sketch came out of my head shortly after.
From my sketchbook, miniature art with sharpie, “Invisible World”

Also seen
up close and personal. Common enough, but amazing when seen through a digital enlargement. It looked plain dull green to my eye.

And below, from the same weekend, Thanksgiving, spent with friends at their woodland home on the Magnetawan River, and yes, the bryozoan was found in the North Magnetawan Branch, for those who like to know these things.
Train crossing, on the way to Three Snyes, Magnetawan River
High water, Three Snyes, Magnetawan River

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Autumn Here and Gone

Photo of the future Lake Simcoe Conservation Lands
The peak season of autumn, is always tinged with anxiety. The colours bloom and fade and fall so fast, I am in a perpetual state of hurry. 
This year, I had second reason to hurry. Curtisse Park, discovered, but not yet here.  Everything is still in flux, I still don’t know where and when I’m trespassing, and what the final boundaries will be.  The newest map I could unearth was dated 2012, which showed some clear boundaries between public and private lands, township park land (community park to be) and future conservation land (the part I am excited about and photographing), so it all feels ephemeral and too good to be true. For all I know, those maps were re-written and I never got the memo.
So I walked there often these past days, anxious to make the most of opportunity before all is whisked away, because if it seems to be too good to be true, I get suspicious. 
As for the fall colours, wind and rain has already begun to strip the world of colour.
But hopefully by next autumn, this will all still be here, protected, and walkable by me, and others who care for the living world around them.  Here’s to hoping it what feels like a passing dream will become a fantastic reality.
And an impression of the forest edge from my sketchbook. Fun getting in those autumn colours with black and white only.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Life’s a Beach, Lake Superior Provincial Park

Compare and contrast, this sunset brings rain. Lake Superior almost always announces storms in advance going from stillness to booming surf within half an hour. 
The stars will shine tonight, and the waves will slosh slow and sinuous.
Lake Superior, in a rare moment of glassy mirror stillness. Frost will come.
From the sketchbook, pen and ink, 1/4 sheet A4 paper, this one done on the evening pictured above, and we did have frost in the morning.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Life Drawing Tuesday: and beyond

Both of these oil pastels were created ‘in studio’.  We had a one hour pose; I have a ridiculously short attention span and a fear of wrecking expensive paper (should be a named phobia for that), so instead, I did quick sketches of the same pose over and over again. Some of them were atrocious (and funny, but now recycled), and one of them, just when it was time to finish up, worked out. It was all done in blue coloured pencil, but I really liked the line, so I decided to re-do it at home in pastel on some 'good’ paper.  Because I liked the freshness of the line drawing, I decided to do an exact transfer (using tracing paper and stylus), and go from there.  For the one below, the entire sheet of paper is coated in white pastel, with other colours and graphite in the mix. White pastel has some interesting and surprising qualities. One of my favourites is the way it grabs and highlights pigments from coloured pencil and graphite.
8x10 Canson Mi-tientes, Oil Pastel, Coloured Pencil and Graphite, Figure Drawing, Female Nude, Available on Etsy
And to compare, contrast, and experiment, I transferred the same drawing to my brown stonehenge paper, and did this one in oil pastel.
9x12 Stonehenge Paper, Oil Pastel & Coloured Pencil, Figure Drawing, Female Nude, Available on Etsy
Sometimes I think Life Drawing is just a very good excuse to get lost in a world of line and colour.
Some close-ups,
I LOVE close-ups, you can see the grain of the paper:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sock Selfie’s on Rhyolite Cove, Lake Superior Provincial Park

Welcome to Rhyolite Cove; if you don’t have a back-pack, you can get there after scrabbling across rocks for 2 1/2 hours, and then you get to do it all over again, because you don’t have a back-pack. It’s part of the Lake Superior Provincial Park Coastal hiking trail. I hate backpacks, but love hiking, so instead, we do some very long day-hikes to push in as far as we can go.  We bring lunch, camera, and this time I brought along my crocheted Hot Rocks Socks, which I improvised from the toe-up. The plan was to make socks that looked like rhyolite (the red rock you see here) and I think I succeeded.
A still wave fed pool carved out of the rhyolite.
By the time we get there, we need a long lunch, plus, the wave-action on the rocks is absolutely fascinating.
Pretty typical trail section on the way to, or from Rhyolite Cove.
Getting into Fatman’s Dike. This one is just off the trail, and it’s not marked by a look-out post.  It is on one of my maps, just north of a raised cobble beach, curiosity will get you there, otherwise, you’ll walk on by.
The view from within Fatman’s Dike, where we enjoy ‘second lunch’.
And the rest of the trail is pretty spectacular too. I never get bored of watching waves crashing on rocks.
So when I’m not making art, I’m making socks
and watching waves crashing on rocks,
and then I bore you with multiple photographs of doing both at once….
forgive me…

Friday, October 17, 2014

Atlas and the Navigator, Mixed Media Gelatin Prints

Mixed-Media Gelatin Print using linocuts & Watercolour Pencil, 5.5 x 7 inch (13.5x13 cm). The Navigator.
Mixed-Media Gelatin Print using linocuts & Watercolour Pencil, 5.5 x 7 inch (13.5x13 cm). Atlas.
Just finished, finally!!! I’m not at all sure how long I’ve been hanging on to these two miniatures.  It was a long time ago that I pulled these off the gelatin plate. They intrigued me, but needed more and I didn’t know how to proceed, so I left them in my stash.  Line drawing with Inktense Watercolor Pencils added detail and imagery to draw the eye into the abstractions beneath. 
So I’m not all sure how long these were incubating, but I am happy to declare these finished.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Life Drawing Tuesday

Available on Etsy
9x12 on Stonehenge Paper. I love Stonehenge, and this colour (I forget the colour name). This time my silver prisma-color pencil called my name.  I love the silver on this, and it changes with the light, which is fun. It began as a light sketch in silver, and then I put in the heavy lines, because that’s the fun part, I love inscribing the paper with heavilly applied silvery wax pencil. It is a sensual experience all on it’s own.  Then I use a black ink brush pen to bring out the silver; without  the black, the silver is too vague, and almost invisible in some light as a distance. The scanner picked it up perfectly.
With this drawing, I am glad I did not fuss too much about proportion. While I worked on it, I knew that things were ‘off’, but there is so much more expression there, than if I had worked at accuracy. 
Here’s a few more life drawings from the same night.
A4 Paper, coloured pencil, Life Drawing, Figure Drawing, Female Nude
A4 Paper, Inktense Water-soluble Pencil, Life Drawing, Figure Drawing, Female Nude
A quick portrait in coloured pencil
She is such an awesome model, I love drawing her. Her poses are always expressive and inspiring.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Martin, Mink & Other Wildlife, Lake Superior Provincial Park

Sketchbook, September 2014, technical pen on 1/4 sheet of A4 paper. Martin, Lake Superior Provincial Park
Me, Sunbathing on the Beach, Lake Superior Provincial Park
Okay, so taking holiday’s in September, and heading North to do so, may not be a great recipe if you want a bikini tan, but I’m well beyond bikini age anyway, so I’ll opt for the Up North tan, which is basically a sunburn on the tip of the nose and rosy cheeks.  This is one of the sunnier days, and I’m really enjoying soaking up those rays.  And while I was engaged in such traditional beach behaviours as crocheting, & reading a martin humped his way across the beach. Martin’s, for those of you who don’t already know, are one of the larger members of the weasel family, and this is the first and only time I’ve seen one.  I’m not sure if the martin saw me, and ignored my slumbering form as mostly harmless (okay, so my eyes were fluttering shut at the time), or if it misinterpreted the inert bundle of fabric that was me as being inanimate, but it was running humpety humpety in typical weasel fashion right for me. Until the husband appeared from camp to announce supper (a girl can’t have everything at least not all at the same time).
*Note: so I looked up Martin in Wikipedia to hand you a link, and whoopsie, maybe it was a fisher.  While the sketch is from memory, I had not looked up the species on line, or in a field guide to ‘get things right’ so it the most accurate recording of what I saw, and after looking it, up, it was probably a Fisher (wikipedia link), which is also a really super cool member of the weasel family.
I also got two very good views of ravens on the Pancake Bay Beach, and here. In both instances, I was swimming quietly along shore, so again, I probably looked fairly harmless, and probably non-human.
Not sure who’s paw created this.  Hikers sometimes have dogs, some of them very large dogs, so perhaps it was canis domesticus, but I wonder.
And here is the Pancake Bay Seagull. We camped there on the first and last nights of our holidays. It’s a car camping beach campground. For the evenings, no matter where we are, we humans, migrate to the beach to recline and watch the Big Show, which is whatever passes for sundown, even if it’s a grey haze.  At Pancake Bay, we were joined by this solitary seagull (I’m pretty sure it was the same one both times). It joined us as we arrived, and remained for the duration. It may have been looking for food, but since we weren’t sharing any (I had a pop-tart, my camp desert of practicality) and otherwise were not eating, it seems like an oddly unproductive behaviour for a wild creature.  While we watched the waves, sun, and fish jumping, seagull just stood about, and occasionally caught bugs (yum).  When I walked away, he/she followed me up the path a bit. I’m wondering if was a hand-raised bird missing the company of his youth. A theory that matched the behaviour much better than simple begging—or, this bird really grokked my guitar playing….. (one can dream)
And on the Sand River Trail (Pinguisibe—gosh, I can actually spell that without looking it up) we saw a mink. Sorry, not in the picture…
Beyond that, the usual assortment of wild things, like hungry hordes of black flies and mosquitoes who thought all that cool weather was a second springtime.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Life Drawing Tuesday

Seated Female Nude, Life Drawing, 20 Minute Pose.
Our model for the evening is a professional dancer, classically trained, as in, Ballet and Modern Dance. Her resume is longer than that, but that’s what I can remember from the conversation floating around.  This one is on plain old A4 90lb paper, and was a 20 minute pose. I never know when I will or will not draw something I like, so sometimes, drawing that work end up on top of plain jane papers, while absolute disasters get smeared all over something really nice, like stonehenge. I get the feeling that most of the time, I am more creative, free and open when there is a three penny paper under my pencil.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

More Curtisse Park

Here’s the latest from the sketchbook. Seems like Curtisse Park, which does not yet officially exist, has gotten under my skin. I did this sketch at my desk, just trying to remember the colours, shapes and textures of the scene. Last evening I walked the path again; the autumn colours where on display, and the trail that skirts the forest, and travels up and down the hills, shows them off to great advantage. I had another apple, and invited my husband to do the same; he did. Only as I write this, do I realize it was a enactment of Adam and Eve, hopefully, this will be in reverse, a return to Eden, in pocket format.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sketches & Photo’s of the Not Yet Official Park in Musselman’s Lake

Coultice Park, Watercolor Sketch  
So for my second walk in the new parklands (not yet official park, but if there’s a trail, I will walk it), I took along my little sketchbook kit of 1/4 sheets of A4 paper, technical pens, and Inktense watercolour pencil, and a water-brush pen; then I found a spot and sat down.  Having a dog along is not always the best combination. Dogs find sketching boring, very boring, and pointless, and hot. Yes, very hot.  Let’s roll in the grass, lets stand up and pant, lets go over there (my dog is on leash, which probably really sucks too). I think I would have got more done without her, but it’s nice to have company along.
Dynamo says, Let's Go Mum!!!
Obviously, the dog does not want to be sitting around.
Coultice Park, Watercolour Sketch
Trail, Musselman's Lake
Aster and Butterfly

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bad Wednesday Weather, Lake Superior Journal and Sketchbook

Frozen fingers aside, I did find time to do a sketch or 3 (that’s it, 3) while away. Here’s one of them, and by the way, when you see what looks like black ink calligraphy in the sky, watch out. Nothing good will be coming out of that.
As promised, snippet from my journal while away. Keep in mind, I was trying to type fast and short sentences, to a) not drain my battery, it was cold. b) not expose my fingers too long, it was cold c) I was actually having to far too much fun in the woods to want to be stuck to any electronic device d) rain is very bad for devices
IMG_8804[1]And why, you ask, would I put up with this, year after year. Because this (above) is our front porch and high definition tv and (frigid) private pool 10 days and 10 nights.
Okay, here I go, rummaging through my files for: Bad Wednesday Weather
September 17th, Wednesday.  I only know the date because my calendar app works.
We are having the dreaded all day rain, worse than that, it is 5 degrees.  Cold all day rain.  There is an east wind blowing.  I hate east wind. Nothing good comes out of the sky from the east. When the wind is in the east, it is always an event, and always wet. Wet is the least of your worries when the wind is from the east. Because of course, it always could be worse.  Like having trees falling down around you, oops, checked.  Well, at least we did not get bonked on the head dead.  That was last Wednesday, today is wetter, colder and less homicidal.
Last Wednesday was like a tiger, or lets say, a starving surviving Eastern cougar with endangered cubs to protect and feed.
Last Wednesday began grey, and ramped up from there.  We headed out to Warp Bay, donned raincoats in the drizzle, and carried on. Warp Bay was cold and wet. Walking back was a chore, by then things were thoroughly wet, and the wind was up, and the trees were waving hello with great enthusiasm.  We were in no hurry to return to a wet cold campsite, but return we did, by 2 o'clock, and brought in lunch, had hot chocolate, rye sandwiches with cheese and peanut  butter, nutella and radishes, not in that order.  Lunch was wonderful. Then we crawled into the tent, to read, to sleep, and warm up, hopefully.  By 6:30 we both were awake with an urgent need to pee, but no desire to leave the tent.  The trees were still waving hello, but with much more enthusiasm. I read some more, and held off making the excursion to the treasure box until 7:45, yes, I timed it. Very carefully, because I only wanted to do this once, and I definitely did not want a second occurrence at midnight.  It was going to be  very long dark night. By the time I got  back into the tent, it was beginning to dawn on me that the trees were getting overly friendly,  bowing so widely back and forth, they were   clearly threatening to get down right intimate. And it was at this point in time that I began to entertain fantasies of rousing Randy and running back to the car to make an escape to a warm hotel room.  But that would have meant getting wet, and I was dry and my feet were just beginning to warm for the day, or night, as it was.  So instead, I lay there, wide awake, facing skyward wondering if when I would be kissed by a frantically waving tree, and all my thoughts revolved around please stop raining, and wind, yes, less wind, etc.  because at this point the weather was screamingly furious, with a roar from above that sounded like the thunderous crashing of wave after wave on the beach, but from Superior itself, there was silence, because the wind was pushing the water off, not on, the beach.  And the rain, the rain, in moments would hang suspended in the air, in silence, before lashing down with greater fury.  At one point, there was a sound like a gunshot, and somehow, we both managed a lot of sleeping considering the circumstances.
Morning dawned quiet, grey, no rain. Yay. A walk to the car for food.
Surprise!  Trees, trees, trees, but not were they belonged, nope, they lay horizontal on the trail, from east to west. Lots of trees, to climb over, or under, or weave through a tangle of branches all the way to the car. Big trees, giant trees, mature healthy poplar and spruce trees and anything else that got in their way. Luckilly, we weren't one of those things.
IMG_8755[1]yes, those are the drag marks going right by our van.  The roots of the tree would be beyond the lower left of this pic, and the top of the tree was deposited somewhere beyond the upper left of this pic.  Inexplicable. There were no humans around to do this, just wind.
.  A good assumption as there was evidence of one heavy large spruce having been ripped from it's roots, dragged across the road and deposited in the parking lot. This is hard to believe but the drag marks were a few inches away from the left front wheel of our van, but the van still standing. I have no idea what went on in the parking lot on Wednesday night but it must of been some kind of party between the trees and the storm with dancing.
We were relieved to hear chainsaws that morning. The access road was cleared by 10
IMG_8770[1]Our easy 5 minute walk out to the van turned into this obstacle course. They did not clear the trail for a number of days.


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