Sunday, February 14, 2016

Plant Oddities

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) watercolor with colored pencil, 17" x 11.5".

I've been preparing works for BASNCR's exhibition at Strathmore Hall in June. The show is titled "Off the Beaten Path" and the idea is to present botanical art that is not quite in the traditional mold. "Out of the box," so to speak.

The Monotropa family of plants are certainly off the beaten path--most grow in old forests rich in mycorrhyzal fungi and are usually no taller than 6 - 8 inches--they would be easy to miss unless one is looking for them. I'm fascinated by these saprophytic plants (meaning lacking in chlorophyll) with scales that are modified leaves and tiny pendulous flowers that unfurl to become upright after they have been fertilized. I hope to eventually find and illustrate other members of this family.

Last summer came across another relative, Yellow Pinsesap (Monotropa hypopitys), growing at Pandapas Pond in southwestern Virginia, and have been working on an illustration of it. The first stage of my artwork in colored pencil is shown below.

Yellow Pinesap (Monotropa hypopytis), colored pencil, 12" x 10".

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Blizzard in Front Royal

Elena thigh-deep in snow.

Our driveway in the snow.

Everyone else posted their photos of the blizzard on FB long ago, but since I hate being the merchandise there (what reasonable person wouldn't?), I waited until I had time to post these few photos here on my blog. I brought my laptop home on Thursday evening in preparation for the blizzard starting on Friday.

The snow started right on schedule at noon, only about five inches had accumulated by dusk. It snowed all night and the photos above was taken around eleven the next morning. The snow finally tapered off on Saturday evening and a profound stillness descended upon our neighborhood.

Door to the back deck

The following morning I awoke to this lovely scene of winter wonderland. There were about 32 inches piled on our deck.

Looking over the back yard.

Looking over the back yard, the eleven Little Indians were buried deep in the snow, the boxwoods in front not quite visible. The nylon mesh barriers protecting my saplings from deer (which are 48" tall) were buried in the drifts to within a foot or so of the top.

Our front steps.

Nothing moved on Sunday, though Herb shoveled out the drive way. Monday around noon our HOA contractor plowed our neighborhood, but my office had Emailed to ask that we stay home until the parking lot of our building had been cleared. I didn't go in until Wednesday, and the side streets in northern Virginia had barely been cleared, most with only one lane open. Traffic was a nightmare for the rest of the week while VDOT contractors cleaned out the lanes. Thank heaven warm weather has followed and two weeks later now, only a few small patches of snow remain.