A praying mantis of another color: Macro Monday

When I first saw this praying mantis on hop plants in our garden of plenty, I thought it must be a species I had never seen. Its coloring was so light it was almost white. I learned that when some types of mantis shed their skin, they stay white for a short period of time. They can molt 10 times before reaching their adult size. This one will probably turn green, like others I have seen on our property.

A praying mantis in Bend, Oregon August 2020
Molting mantis on hop plants Bend, Oregon August 2020
Ghostly looking insect on hop plants Bend, Oregon August 2020

Macro Monday

The Oregon Garden in late summer: LAPC

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is to pick images that go with five possible words. I chose to use all five.

I am featuring pictures from a late September trip to The Oregon Garden, in Silverton, Oregon. It’s an 80-acre botanical garden that is beautiful to visit during any season.

This mixed border is an “exuberant” mix of colorful flowers of various sizes and textures.

The Oregon Garden mixed border September 2018

This planting looked “comfortable” with every plant spaced out so you can appreciate the details.

Landscaping in botanical garden in Silverton, Oregon September 2018

These chrysanthemums are “crowded” together in a quilt of color.

Chrysanthemums September 2018

This landscape is “growing” red as fall approaches.

The Oregon Garden September 2018

The cactus garden is “tangled” with the spiky leaves of prickly pear.

Prickly pear cactus in Silverton, Oregon September 2018

It can get crowded at The Oregon Garden, so if you donโ€™t want to get tangled in traffic, plan your visit for a comfortable time of day so you can experience this growing attraction with the exuberance it deserves.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Pick a word

To see how our efforts have paid off in our own growing garden space, see Garden of Plenty, posted a couple days ago.

A garden of plenty: Homegrown Harvest Photo Challenge

Last year we started to create a new garden space in our backyard. After a lot of work, it’s looking like a garden of plenty now.

A garden of plenty in Bend, Oregon August 2020

This is how it looked several years ago when we bought the place. The house included a fenced dog run with a heated doghouse.

A garden of plenty before 2013

Some of the beds in our newly-created garden are bordered by rocks collected on our property, and others are store bought. Smaller rocks we collected on our rock hounding adventures decorate the edges of the raised beds. See the obsidian from Glass Buttes?

Obsidian rocks around a raised bed garden August 2020

What’s growing in our garden

This year we have lots of flowers filling in the spaces between the fruits and vegetables. The flowers include sunflowers, Bachelor’s buttons, sweet alyssum, clematis, hollyhocks, nasturtium, and poppies.

Hollyhocks up close July 2020
Hollyhocks
Bachelor's button August 2020
Bachelor’s button
Red poppy up close 27August2020
Red poppy

The sunflowers grew so tall, we had to clip through the bird netting to allow them to reach their full height.

Sunflowers growing through bird netting August 2020

We’ve had a great crop of veggies including kohlrabi, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beets.

Cucumbers August 2020
Cucumbers
Beets August 2020
Beets
Green tomatoes August 2020
Tomatoes

The raspberries we put in last year are finally producing. We had a few strawberries this year in the garden and they were tasty and sweet.

The garden is fenced with two kinds of fencing and bird netting, but we still find unexpected visitors. This tree frog looked very comfortable around the beet plants.

Pacific tree frog on beet plants August 2020

Our fruit and vegetable garden has filled out and the rest of the landscaping has too. Here’s what it looks like now.

A garden of plenty from behind August 2020

The spruce trees are huge and the birds love them. The Russian sage, the large shrub with purple flowers in the middle of the picture, is more than six feet tall.

Like many of you out there, we are putting more time into gardening this year. Our repurposed dog run has been transformed into a garden of plenty.

Homegrown Harvest Photo Challenge – Your Homegrown Harvest

Household treasures from a different angle: LAPC

I am sharing photos of some of my household treasures taken from different angles. I used a tabletop studio to take these pictures. The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Everyday Objects.

The first two pictures are of a cricket cage I’ve had since I was about eight years old. I distinctly remember taking it in for Show and Tell. The crickets were chirping in the darkness within my school desk.

This is an antique egg beater I purchased at an antique show in Portland, Oregon. I’m not sure if the parts were meant to go together but that’s how I bought it. I use it regularly and it works great!

This is one of my favorite rocks. I collected it near Thermopolis, Wyoming at a place called the Smorgasbord. I was carrying a field thermometer with me and I will always remember the reading that day. 126 degrees Fahrenheit!

The last two pictures are of a fork and spoon I used as a toddler. The backs are stamped “Atla – Denmark.” It’s not surprising that I have a deep love of wild creatures after learning how to eat with this particular fork and spoon.

All of these items have one thing in common. When people see them, they want to touch them and look at them more closely. Household treasures can be a treat to the eyes and your other senses.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Everyday objects

High Desert Mural: LAPC & Monday Mural

High Desert Mural Siobhan Sullivan 17 August 2020

I have been busy filling up space and time by creating a High Desert mural. I recently posted more details on creating my Outdoor Pronghorn Painting. This weekend I added three additional paintings to the mural.

Outdoor pronghorn painting by Siobhan Sullivan August 2020

As I mentioned in my post about the pronghorn painting, I use photos I have taken and other sources to do my first sketches. I like to refer back to field guides and set them up for easy viewing.

Work space for drawing an American badger August 2020

Creamy white paint is painted onto each piece to make the colors stand out. Here are the three back painted pieces.

High Desert mural rough drafts Siobhan Sullivan August 2020

Once I start applying the colors, the piece of paper I use for cleaning my brushes and trying out color mixes becomes a work of art.

Brush cleaning and mixing paper August 2020

Why did I choose these specific critters? They are all characters in books I’m working on. I once heard an author speak about surrounding himself with “artifacts” his characters use while he is writing. I’m displaying some of my characters so that I’ll see them every day, even on the days I’m frustrated with writing and revising.

Manuscript Siobhan Sullivan August 2020

Black-billed magpies are one of my favorite local birds. In my work-in-progress book, the magpie character is named a Chinese word that means “bright.” They are very intelligent birds.

Black-billed magpie Siobhan Sullivan August 2020

The golden-mantled ground squirrel helps save the day in the book she is featured in. Her name means “green” in Spanish because she is the protector of green petrified wood.

Golden-mantled ground squirrel Siobhan Sullivan August 2020

The American badger is featured as a secondary character and is also featured in a fable. Though unnamed, the badgers are important characters.

High Desert mural - American badger Siobhan Sullivan August 2020

I particularly liked how this painting turned out – especially the eye. This badger is guarding some of the rocks featured in my I like rocks! post.

With the addition of these three animals, my High Desert mural is complete. Well… at least until I come up with another idea for a book. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Lens- Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Creativity in the time of Covid

Monday Mural

Masks with customized fabric: Getting creative

Masks with customized fabric August 2020

Did you know you can order customized fabrics from JOANN Fabric & Craft stores and other sources? Neither did I. This week I made face masks with customized fabric that I ordered online.

Customized fabric August 2020

I was getting tired of wearing the Scooby Doo masks I made months ago.

Scooby Doo masks August 2020

I was online looking for interesting prints when I stumbled upon the customized fabric options at JOANN. The site currently lists 9,029 choices.

Ordering customized fabric

When you click on a fabric, it gives you a couple size options. The 13″ x 7″ sample is enough to make a mask and it only cost $5.00 (plus shipping). Then you select which fabric you want. There are 27 different kinds of fabric available! I chose cotton sheeting.

If you click on the 13″ x 7″ sample size and you don’t like how the pattern fits, you can click the customize design button. This screen grab shows what comes up. You can change how the pattern repeats or make it larger or smaller. I made the pattern smaller on the crane fabric I chose.

Customizing fabrics on JOANN August 2020

Many of the fabrics also allow you to choose colors. See the options with this fabric?

Options for customization on JOANN August 2020

This isn’t exactly designing your own fabric from scratch, like on Project Runway, but you get some creative control.

Things to keep in mind when creating masks

It took about three weeks for my fabric samples to be shipped to me. When they arrived, I had a problem. The pattern I use has casing for the elastic to go through. You need two 1 1/2″ x 4″ pieces for each mask.

I didn’t want to buy a whole package of bias tape or seam binding so I made my own. I cut off the white fabric at the bottom of each sample and used fabric paint to color it to match. If you choose this option, follow the fabric paint directions carefully.

Masks with customized fabric  bias tape August 2020

The masks I make have a pocket so additional layers can be inserted. They also include a place to insert wire on the top edge so you can shape the mask to fit your face.

Mask with pocket for inserts August 2020

Be careful when you are laying out your fabric or you may accidentally sew the fabric pattern upside down like I did on some of my Scooby masks. Ruh-roh!

Upside down print August 2020

You should also think about how the pattern will look when it’s broken up by the pleats on the mask. For example, look at how this fabric turned out in the finished mask.

I finished all the edges with zigzag stitching so I used a lot of thread on these masks. When I finished the last mask, I looked up to see how much thread was left on the spool. I think this must be where the saying, “Hanging on by a thread” came from. ๐Ÿ˜€

Hanging on by a thread August 2020

If you’re looking for new ideas for creating masks, consider making face masks with customized fabric.

Ice plants up close: Macro Monday

Ice plants up close near Bend, Oregon July 2020

Here’s a photo of ice plants up close from my garden near Bend, Oregon. I always look forward to seeing their bright, long lasting blooms.

Macro Monday

Arches National Park in bloom: LAPC

In early May 2017, we visited the national parks in Utah. With temperatures in the 90s, we didn’t exactly avoid the desert’s heat, but we were happy to see Arches National Park in bloom.

These plants grow well under the hot, sunny conditions. Here are a few of the plants we saw in bloom. Some are big and bold; others are small and subtle.

Arches National Park in bloom May 2017
Blooming cactus in Utah May 2017
Evening primrose in Utah May 2017
Arches National Park in bloom, yucca plant Utah May 2017
Blooming wildflowers and grasses in Utah May 2017
Arches National Park wildflowers May 2017

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Under the sun

Outdoor pronghorn painting: First Friday Art

Outdoor pronghorn painting by Siobhan Sullivan August 2020

Here’s an outdoor pronghorn painting I did in our backyard. It’s the first Friday of the month so it’s time to share your First Friday Art. If you have artwork you would like to share, use the First Friday Art tag.

We have an 8 x 16 foot shed in the backyard and it had a boring blank west-facing wall. It needed something to make it more interesting. I thought of painting a pronghorn, one of my favorite critters.

Out building prior to painting near Bend, Oregon August 2020
The shed prior to painting

I developed an appreciation for pronghorns many years ago when I did fieldwork at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in southeastern Oregon. Pronghorns, AKA antelope, are native in parts of western North America and they’re common at the refuge.

Steps taken to create the outdoor pronghorn painting

First I brightened up the side of the shed with some leftover light blue paint. Then I sketched out the pronghorn from pictures I had taken, supplemented with other source materials.

Sketch of pronghorn July 2020
First sketch

For some people doing the initial sketch is easy, but it’s not for me. Do you know what the picture below is?

Eraser dust on plywood July 2020

Eraser dust! I did a lot of erasing and redrawing.

The next step was back painting the silhouette of the pronghorn. I used an off white paint – more leftovers – to help the colors pop.

Back painted silhouette by Siobhan Sullivan July 2020
Back painted pronghorn

Next I sketched over the white paint.

Sketch over back painted painting by Siobhan Sullivan August 2020
Sketching over back painting

Then I painted in the big blocks of color and added shading. The last thing I paint is the eye. It can give a painting life.

Outdoor pronghorn painting by Siobhan Sullivan August 2020
The finished pronghorn painting

A dead juniper branch and igneous rock collected from my property helped the painting fit in with our High Desert setting.

Juniper branch, rabbitbrush, & rocks near Bend, Oregon August 2020

There will be more High Desert creatures added to this piece. I’ll start work on a badger, black-billed magpie, and golden-mantled ground squirrel.

I filled up some of my empty space (and empty time) creating this outdoor pronghorn painting. Hope you are finding time to be creative!

Brothers Stage Stop: Monochrome Monday

Brothers Stage Stop in Oregon July 2020

The Brothers Stage Stop, in Brothers, Oregon, is a little oasis in the high desert an hour east of Bend.

Monochrome Monday

My sanctuary through the seasons: LAPC

In my sanctuary
Spring arrives with a symphony
Birdsongs and blooms

Chives in bloom in the spring, near Bend, Oregon 2020

Summer arrives with a sizzle
Glowing and grand

Sunrise over my sanctuary Bend, Oregon 2019

Fall arrives with fireworks
Blazing and bright

Fall leaves near Bend, Oregon October 2018

In my sanctuary
Winter arrives with a whisper
Quiet and cool

My sanctuary in winter near Bend, Oregon 2020

Lens Artists Photo Challenge – Sanctuary