Sunday, November 19, 2017

Seasonal Awareness

I took both of these photos two days ago.

Which plant is confused about what season it is?

If I had not told you both pictures were shot on the same day, when would you have guessed each image was taken?

Add you answers in the comments.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dental Art

Those of you who follow my blog realize that I am inspired by nature and that is the theme of most of my photographic art. I am always up for a challenge however, so when the founder of Cadmus Dental asked if I could create some dental art, I told him I would think on it. Unfortunately, try as I might, I was stumped. I finally asked to see some examples of pieces of dental art that he liked. It gave me a better understanding, however now I had the problem of trying to figure out how to come up with something that put my own spin on new or different imagery.

After some thought, I decided to do a proof of concept piece using the one dental tool I could easily put my hands on and a couple of my jewelry tools as stand ins for dental tools. I arranged a still life using the tools and took some digital photos of them. I then worked with the photos to see what type of photographic art they wanted to be. The first image in this post is one of the images I came up with from that session. I met with Scott to find out his likes and dislikes with regards to the concept images. He liked several of the treatments so we discussed what he had on hand that might serve as input for some proper dental art. I also found out about an event that Cadmus Dental was going to be holding soon that might be a good place to show others in the business any new pieces I could come up with by then.

I set another appointment a couple of days later when the light would be good to do a photo shoot of some demonstration pieces and samples. We also went to one of his facilities to shoot some images of a piece of equipment in use. Those last photos were interesting but not conducive to quickly working up some new artwork. In fact I now have a better idea of how to try to get better input images and will try taking more photos later. Several of the demo and sample piece images turned out to be good starting points for dental photographic art. I sent some jpegs over for Scott to review and provide feedback about them. I took that feedback and came up with five finished pieces that I framed for the Cadmus Dental event. The second photo in this post is those pieces displayed at the event. (Click to enlarge.)

Where do we go from here with the dental art? Scott said he received good feedback from attendees at his event. I need to get a page together with images and pricing. Scott wants to be able to point people from his company's website to the dental art that is available for sale. In the meantime, the five framed images I brought to the event are hanging outside and inside of Cadmus Dental's main office at CenterSpace in Downtown Arlington if you want to see them in person. These pieces will soon have tags with prices and be for sale on the 817ArtsAlliance Art for Sale - CenterSpace page. In addition to what I am creating, I have contacted two other artists and thrown ideas to them that should be in their wheelhouse of creative talent. I am looking forward to what they are able to come up with. Hopefully I will be able to expand the art offerings through their creations too.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Texas Arbor Day, November 3, 2017

Arbor Day in November? The official Texas Arbor Day is celebrated on the first Friday of November, compared to National Arbor Day, which is celebrated on the last Friday of April. You will find plenty of Arbor Day celebrations in Texas in April too, so why did Texas feel the need to establish an official Texas celebration of trees in November instead?

The answer lies in Texas' weather outlook. Hot and dry weather is just around the corner in Texas by the time late April comes around. Newly planted trees benefit from weather conditions that allow their roots to get established before hot and dry weather hits. Even deciduous trees' roots grow when the trees are bare, as long as the soil temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This describes the soil temperatures across most of Texas for most of the winter. Therefore trees planted in November will have a decided head start getting established over trees not planted until late April or early May. Trees that are better established will be less stressed by their first Texas summer in their new location, meaning a healthier and better growing tree.

The official Texas Arbor Day celebration moves around. This year Grand Prairie will host the official state event. The event will kick off at 10am, Friday, November 3 in Grand Central Park with a ceremony featuring keynote speaker Dave Lambe, president of the National Arbor Day Foundation, along with other local representatives. After the ceremony, guests can browse about 25 informational and kid-friendly booths that cover outdoor-related topics like tree planting and maintenance. Attendees can take home one of 1,300 Texas red oak seedlings being giving away with planting instructions.

If you are near Austin, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will host their own Arbor Day celebration from 9am - 5pm on Saturday, November 4. Their event will include tree climbing (adults too!) walks and talks, a historical tree sale, and a special presentation on Comanche marker trees of Texas.

I hope you find a Texas Arbor Day celebration near you. If not, get out and see if you can find some fall color and appreciate the trees around you on a walk around your local park or neighborhood.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Monarch Migration in North Texas 2017

The fall monarch butterfly migration is still going on in my part of North Texas for this year. I noted my first Monarch moving south in a facebook post on August 28 of this year. Several made their way through my yard today, stopping to refuel on my blue mistflower and lantana plantings. (Yes, I took these pics today.) The most I saw at one time today was four. I have been watching on and off since just before lunch.

Monarch butterflies are such fascinating and beautiful creatures. You can follow their progress and/or provide data to track their progress with Journey North.
This is another great citizen scientist opportunity. From the looks of the data, there are quite a few monarchs that are behind schedule in other parts of the country.

You can feed migrating monarchs by planting nectar plants like those seen here. Find out specific suggestions for your part of the country on the Xerces Society website.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Photographic Art from My Visit to Eden's Organic Garden Center and CSA Farm

About three weeks ago I shared my trip to Eden's Organic Garden Center and CSA Farm. I mentioned in that blog post that I had turned a couple of the images I had taken there into new photographic art prints. In this post I will give a bit of a back story on how those images came about and show my photographic art images created from them.

While I was waiting for the tour of the farm to begin, I shopped the organic produce offered for sale from local farms. I selected a couple of different types of squash and placed them on the counter. The purveyor was not there to check me out at that moment. I looked at the squash laying on the counter and thought it had the makings of a still life image. I took the liberty to add some greens and beans to the composition and scoot some of the other items on the counter out of the frame. I took a few shots and returned the items I had moved to their original locations as best I could. The size of the squash dictated a landscape orientation for the image and one whose aspect ratio worked well for a 5x7 print, which is what I developed from one of the images I shot.

At one point in the farm tour, I glimpsed a commotion out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head to see something flying away from a large spider web. I asked if anyone else had seen what had happened and we went to look more closely at the web. No one else had gotten a better look. The spider was a large orb spider, however its web was missing its signature Z pattern. We surmised that a large grasshopper or cicada had likely been what we had seen escaping from the web and it tore up the Z section as it got away. I managed to get a few shots of the orb spider in its disheveled web before the tour resumed. I titled the resulting 8x10 photographic art print "Just Missed".

You can find more information about Eden's Organic Garden Center and CSA Farm on their facebook page. They host small neighborhood farmers' markets on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturdays of a month from 9am to noon (April - Dec.). Look for their sign out front and drive all the way back down the driveway to the big shade tree by the barn.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

New North Texas Botanical Artist Group

I attended the organizational meeting of the Botanical Artists of North Central Texas. It was held at Botanical Research Institute of Texas and organized by Dennis Benjamin, who works at BRIT. There were just over a dozen artists there. Most of the artists' main artistic expression was through painting or drawing, however there was at least one artist who also sculpts and another branching out into photography, in addition to my photographic art.

Dennis shared his reasons for establishing the group. He wants a way for botanical artists in the region to share their joint interests. The group is designed to be informal, inclusive and welcoming of all mediums and styles, but with a botanical focus. The initial plan is to become an Artists’ Circle of the American Society of Botanical Artists, with the long term goal of creating a certificate program in botanical art, possibly in concert with a regional academic art program, such as TCU, SMU or UTA.

The group welcomes additional members. You can find out more information on its Facebook page. Several activities are being planned for the upcoming year.

The poke salad image was taken by me in my backyard and digitally altered. The lilac fibre cap mushrooms (Inocybe lilacina) are a watercolor by Dennis Benjamin.