Friday, September 21, 2018

Eclectic Design Choices Artwork Included in GPAC 2018 Juried Art Show and Sale

I delivered my entries to the Uptown Theater in Downtown Grand Prairie earlier today. The foyer of the theater will be home to more than 125 pieces of art from 58 regional artists. It will be open to the public beginning with the reception for the show on Sunday, September 23 from 2-4pm. If you are unable to attend the reception for the Grand Prairie Arts Council 2018 Annual Juried Show and Sale, you can view the art in the lobby of the Uptown Theater until the artists remove their work beginning at 10 am Saturday, October 20.


My tryptic of moonlight on the waters around the Galapagos Islands is one of my three accepted pieces.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Mushrooms and Fungus Respond to Rains in Abundance

North Texas was back into extreme drought until a few of weeks ago when we got a couple of inches or rain. Then this past week my rain gauge has measured over 6 inches of rain, much of that coming in two separate gully washers. The dormant mushroom spores rejoiced and sprung into action. I was amazed at the variety of mushrooms in the mulched beds along Front Street in Downtown Arlington. I took a few of the following pictures in my mulched front flower bed. The mushrooms have been quick to grow and produce more spores to release across the landscape to wait for suitable conditions to grow another generation.















Yes, that is a lot of mushroom pictures but I had trouble pairing down the ones I took any further. There was such a great variety. Some of the pictures are of the same type of mushrooms at different stages but there are quite a few different mushrooms represented. If you can name any of them, I would appreciate it if you would share their names in the comments. The image below is one that spoke to me so that I created a piece of photographic art from it. (The altered image is the one shown below.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

New Picture Jasper Earrings

It is not uncommon for me to go to a trade show and pick up some gemstones in interesting shapes or colors that I am eager to make something out of. Unfortunately the time I have to create never seems to match the number of projects I have grabbed goodies for. This has been true for some teardrop shapes made out of a few different gemstones that I have been meaning to make earrings out of. Fairly recently I finally carved out some time to design two new pair of picture jasper earrings that incorporated some of these teardrops.

The first thing I did was to unstring all of the picture jasper teardrops and see what I had that I thought paired up well. I found two pair that I wanted to start with. I then pulled out my other picture jasper strands in various shapes and sizes and picked beads that had similar color and character to each teardrop pair. Antiqued brass plated findings complemented the darker teardrops while I thought gold plated findings worked better with the lighter colored ones. I made jointed dangle earrings out of each matched pair of teardrop picture jasper beads. They are currently listed in my EDCCollective Etsy shop in my earrings section.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

First Monarch Siting of the 2018 Fall Migration

Yesterday (Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018) I saw my first monarch butterfly of the fall migration. My blue mistflower had recently started to bloom and that is what the monarch landed on. It stayed around drinking nectar for some time. It is amazing how a butterfly that covers so much territory can find and fuel up on a small backyard planting. Don't feel that you can't contribute to helping save these beautiful orange and black butterflies. A few monarch friendly plants tucked into your garden will make a difference.

In addition to mistflower, I have let some native late flowering boneset hang out in my garden after they showed up one year. Monarchs and many other pollinators fuel up on this plant. Since I added the mistflower, the monarch butterflies do
seem to have a preference for it over the boneset. This first fall migrator definitely did and got its fill on the mistflower before heading on its way. I have taken some nice pictures of monarchs feeding on late flowering boneset as well as lantana and small sunflowers so don't feel you are restricted to one plant to create a fueling station for these butterflies.

Both photos in this post were taken yesterday. The honeybee was enjoying the late flowering boneset, even if the monarch wasn't. (Click the images to see a larger view.)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Fall Gallery Night at BRIT 2018

My artwork will be back at BRIT in Sept. Instead of being part of a gallery exhibit as a few pieces were earlier this year, I will have a full compliment of my photographic art with me for an invitation only reception on Friday, September 7, 2018 and as part of FWADA Fall Gallery Night at BRIT on Saturday, September 8. BRIT will be open to the public on Sept. 8 from 4-9pm. You will find me and my artwork (matted prints, note cards, coasters, ready to hang artwork and more) along with about ten other artisans and their creations in atrium II as part of the pop-up artisan market. There will also be a new exhibit in their gallery space and welcome center as well a pop-up exhibit by the Fort Worth Art Collective.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Muscat, Muscadine, Mustang

Until recently I thought muscat, muscadine and mustang all referred to the same type of wild grape. It turns out I was sorely mistaken. I helped a fellow resident pick wild grapes from my vines so she could make some ice cream from them for our city's ice cream social earlier this month. While she was was researching recipes she asked me if muscadine and mustang grapes were the same thing. At the time I thought so but based on the resources she found, I began to question if that was correct. While not part of our discussion, I thought I remembered muscat being used as a short version of muscadine and I decided I should look into that too.

Mustang versus Muscadine: Both grapes are native to the Southern United States with quite a bit of overlap in their native ranges. Mustang grapes are purple as well as some varieties of muscadine. Both grapes mature into large vines that climb trees or any other object near them and are drought tolerant and have low chilling requirements. There are noticeable differences between them however. Mustang grapes mature earlier. They are much more acidic. When I eat fresh mustang grapes off the vine, I squirt the gelatinous inner flesh into my mouth and discard the skins because of the reaction I had from eating the whole grape. The skins have a complex flavor when cooked however and contain a lot of pectin. The ice cream my friend made from the cooked skins was yummy. And beware, neither type is seedless. Compared to mustang grapes, muscadine grapes are sweet. They are used to make wine, jams and jellies. Mustang grapes can also be used in the same way, however the flavor profiles are very different. You can also tell the two grapes apart from their leaves. Mustang leaves are fuzzy on both sides and the bottom of their leaves are whitish. Muscadine leaves have little or no fuzziness. The first photo in this post is of a young section of mustang vine when the leaves are fuzziest and often three lobed. As they mature the leaves lose some fuzziness and their lobes as seen in the second photo along with some ripe fruit.

As for muscat grapes. They are an old world family of grapes not to be confused with our native North American muscadine and mustang grapes.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Pile of Feathers

As I drove past our park today I noticed a large, scattered pile of bird feathers. I recognized I was looking at the aftermath of a recent raptor kill. Several years ago upon turning down our driveway we saw a Cooper's hawk with a fresh kill and watched while it plucked and then flew away with the bird it had dispatched.

I drove home and got my camera so I could document my discovery. There are several birds that came to mind when I saw the gray feathers tipped in white. My first thought was mockingbird. However, upon looking up mockingbird feathers, the white and black boundary on the feathers seems too straight for a mockingbird. My next thought was dove. We have three types of dove commonly in our area, mourning dove, Eurasian collared dove and white-winged dove. After looking up feather images of
all three, I feel confident that the bird feathers are from a white-winged dove.

As for the raptor, there are four hawks that I have seen in Dalworthington Gardens who prey on birds. The largest, the red-tailed hawk, is known for catching rodents and other small mammals more than birds so I think this one is not the most likely hunter. The other three hawks are red-shouldered hawk, sharp-shinned hawk and Cooper's hawk. I have seen a dove explode out of a hedge row with a small hawk on its tail. They were moving so fast and I am not quick to ID the smaller hawks so I do not know which of the three that was but I am guessing one of them was responsible for the pile of feathers I spied today. The Audubon distribution maps put sharp-shinned hawks further north for breeding season and birds seem to be a smaller part of a red-shouldered hawk's diet than the other two, so I am going to guess the hunter was a Cooper's hawk like I saw in my driveway several years ago.