Acorn Woodpecker


Acorn Woodpecker

The clown-like acorn woodpecker lives in large groups throughout western oak woodlands.  The group spends most of its time collecting and protecting acorns that they store in a single dead branch or tree called a granary tree.  They will also bore acorns into human-made structures, often stuffing them into our wood siding and windowsills.

The Acorn woodpecker population is considered stable, but it is heavily dependent on oak woodlands.  Habitat degradation in the form of Sudden Oak Death (caused by the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum) is having a serious impact on western oak forests.  Encroaching suburbs and agricultural development of vineyards is also a concern.


Napa Valley Balloon I


Napa Valley Balloon I

You wouldn’t normally think of a hot air balloon as an endangered species, but maybe you should think again.  Like birds, balloons need plenty of fresh, clear air to float through.  They also need landing places safely away from encroaching development.  Our own Napa Valley has begun to develop one of our common balloon landing areas, so one can only hope that the balloons are able to continue operating.


Bald Eagle

My apologies for the delay- getting the photos of my artwork together with the wording is more difficult than I anticipated.  The following is borrowed generously from Wikipedia, an invaluable resource to which I am a donor.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

An Endangered (EN) species is a species which has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as likely to become extinct.  The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the best-known worldwide conservation status listing and ranking system.  Over 50% of the world’s species are estimated to be at risk of extinction

Those species of “Near Threatened” (NT) and “Least Concern” (LC) status have been assessed and found to have relatively robust and healthy populations, though these may be in decline.

Least concern (LC)
No immediate threat to species’ survival.
Examples:  American crow, Indian peafowl, bald eagle, Canada goose, mute swan, red-tailed hawk, rock pigeon scarlet macaw

Under the Endangered Species Act in the United States, species may be listed as “endangered” or threatened.  Over-hunting and fishing has been a large and dangerous problem. Of all the species who became extinct due to interference from mankind, the dodo, passenger pigeon, great auk, Tasmanian tiger and Steller’s sea cow are some of the more well known examples; with the bald eagle, grizzly bear, American bison, Eastern timber wolf and sea turtle having been hunted to near-extinction. However, due to major efforts to prevent extinction, the bald eagle, or Haliaeetus leucocephalus is now under the category of Least Concern on the red list

The Barnyard Rooster

Barnyard Rooster artwork

Barnyard Rooster, 18″ x 24″, watercolor batik

I’ve written about this before, but this work is a larger piece created for my April Napa Library event.

The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a type of domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the red junglefowl. It is one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, with a population of more than 19 billion as of 2011.[1] Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food, consuming both their meat and their eggs.

Chickens are omnivores. In the wild, they often scratch at the soil to search for seeds, insects and even animals as large as lizards, small snakes or young mice.

The Domestic chicken has been bred and loved by human kind for centuries.  Most would not consider it an endangered species, but the Livestock Conservancy tracks breeds that are in danger of extinction.  The much-loved Rhode Island Red, for example, is on their Watch list.  My Barnyard Rooster was actually inspired by the flocks of chickens I saw wandering all over the Hawaiian Islands.  There was one chicken who would wander into our hotel room in the early morning if we left the screen door open.  The tale is told that the hurricanes that periodically hit the islands have distributed these charismatic birds throughout the landscape.  Being omnivores, they manage to find food sources everywhere and have thrived, much to the annoyance of some tourists and locals alike who do not enjoy their shrill crowing calls in the early morning.

Art in the Library Exhibit


Waiting for Supper, watercolor batik

I am thrilled to be selected as Featured Artist for the month of April in the Art in the Library program.   Over the next month I plan to blog daily on one of the pieces that I will exhibit.

I am thrilled to be selected as Featured Artist for the month of April in the Art in the Library program.   Over the next month I plan to blog daily on one of the pieces that I will exhibit.

The theme of my exhibit is All Birds Bright and Beautiful.  So, why am I starting off with an image of the feral cat that I personally domesticated?

Well, I also hope to give my readers some information on local native birds and the environmental hazards they face.  And I’d like to let you know what YOU can do to help our beautiful birds.  So, let’s get started!

The US feral cat population is estimated at 60 million.  These cats kill one to four billion birds annually in the contiguous US.
You can help:  Spay / neuter your pets to reduce over population and keep your cat indoors.

The Art in the Library program is a juried competition. Selected artists exhibit for one month.  A reception and program is held on the second Friday of each month.  You are invited to my reception, Friday, April 13th from 6-7:30pm, art talk at 6:30pm.

Plein Air Favorites

The following is an aritcal I wrote for the Palette Newsletter for Art Association Napa Valley.

In a previous article, I described my favorite set of watercolor plein air brushes.  Here is a description of some other items you might like to take painting outdoors.

Plein Air Supplies

Plein Air Supplies

Absolute Essentials

  • Brushes in Easel-Style Brush Holder – protects brushes in transit and opens for convenient access.  See previous article for my brush favorites.  Be sure to use Amazon Smile and specify Napa Valley Art Association (our legal name) so that a portion of your purchase is donated.
  • Travel Palette- I like Cheap Joes American Journey travel palette available empty or filled with American Journey paints.  I prefer to purchase empty pans to fill with my own favorites.  I’ve ordered extra half and full pans so that I can experiment with different combinations.
  • Watercolor Paper in blocks- convenient for travel and makes a separate easel unnecessary.
  • Water container and collapsible water cup. I like Faber-castell’s Clic & Go Foldable Water Pot
  • Notebook for thumbnail sketches, mechanical pencil and gum eraser.  You really don’t need anything bigger than 5×7 for thumbnail sketches.  Napa Valley Art Supply has the Strathmore Visual Journals in many sizes and also the Softcover Drawing Journals.  Shown above is the Canson 140lb watercolor 7×10 notebook which is really more expensive paper than is needed for sketching.  Be advised that drawing paper weights and watercolor paper weights are not the same.

Useful Add-Ons

Secondary Plein Air Supplies

Secondary Plein Air Supplies

  • Smart Phone for Camera to capture the light before it changes and doubles for emergency contact.
  • Spray bottle to moisten watercolor pans and also create atmospheric effects.
  • Drinking Water for you!

Handy Supports

Plein Air Easel and chair

Plein Air Easel and chair

  • Stool – this folding seat from REI rotates 360 degrees and is lightweight and comfortable.  I found the typical soft triangle stools too floppy and uncomfortable.
  • Easel and Tray from En Plein Air Pro.  This website has all kinds of equipment for plein air painting for both watercolor and oil/acrylic, but I found the actual tripods much less expensive from my camera supplier. Or you can opt for the typical wood french easel.  Bear in mind that heavy is not bad because easels can easily catch the wind and blow over.  Lighter easels actually sell rock bags to weight them down.
    B&H Photo Sun-Pak Tri-Pod:
  • A Bag to carry it all. It’s best to have a backpack or shoulder-style bag, OR a cart with large wheels to navigate uneven ground.  I found a folding metal market cart from Cal Mart in Calistoga.  En Plein Air Pro offers both a shoulder and a backpack.  Make sure the handles of any bag you choose are long enough to sling over your shoulder- the tote bag I took to Yosemite felt ok at home, but quickly got too heavy to walk from our campsite in Lower Pines to the painting site