9/17/21

Laurel Creek Beavers

Last month, Trevor organized a hike for his Scout troop, led by a local beaver advocate and the founder of Laurel Creek Beavers. Our troop started at the Paradise Dam and walked the length of the creek to the Heretic Lodge before retracing our path. Along the way, the Scouts picked up trash (I'm happy to report there was very little) and saw 14 beaver dams. The highlight was seeing the beavers swimming near their lodge. We also saw river otters and muskrats swimming. It was awesome. 

Laurel Creek Beavers (affiliate link)


We learned that the current beaver management protocol includes trapping or even killing the beavers and/or removing their dams. Our guide had a lot of before and after pictures that clearly show that that this is unnecessary, as the creek was in no danger of overflowing even with so many dams. In places where there is a flood risk (which is unlikely in our drought-stricken area), there are better solutions that simply destroying the beavers and their habitat.

The local newspaper featured our Scout outing on the front page of the Sunday paper, which I'm hoping led to increased awareness among fellow residents and greater pressure on the authorities to leave the beavers in place. If nothing else, our Scout families are now fully informed and eager to see the beavers remain a part of our community. 
For more information about the Fairfield Beavers, visit the website or join the Facebook group. Be sure to look through the Media tab for photos of the adorable beaver kit!

9/16/21

An Atypical Sympathy Card

 The coloring page that I shared with you yesterday? I used it to make a sympathy card. 


It is very different than sympathy cards I've made in the past. The most obvious difference is the color palette - pinks and greens that focus on celebrating life rather than mourning death. Another difference is the amount of time I spent making it. Sympathy cards always take me longer than other cards, but between coloring and burnishing the image (another thing I learned about after watching Sarah's videos), adding the stitching, and embossing the sentiment, this probably holds the record for the card that took me the longest to make. And that is a good thing. 

As I made the card, I thought about a life well-lived. I thought about a dad who was devoted to his family, who loved spending time in nature, and who always had a smile on his face. I met John when I was 8 or 9, when he and Jonna joined the same Father/Daughter program my dad and I were in. Over the years, our families spent a lot of time together. John helped me move into the apartment I shared with Jonna in college, but even more notably, he helped me move out of the apartment long after Jonna had moved out. I remember the huge smile on his face during my wedding, and the even bigger smile when I introduced him to my baby for the first time. John will be missed by many and I'm glad he was a part of my life. 

9/15/21

"Art Class" #1: Improving My Coloring

One of my creative resolutions for 2021 is to take two art classes. I was hoping to do in-person classes, but here we are in September and I haven't found any that I want to take. I looked at some online classes and found some interesting options, but nothing was quite right for one reason or another. I decided to take a different approach: I would pick two art-related skills I'd like to learn/improve and then I'd search for the corresponding content.  

The first skill I'm tackling is improving my coloring. Besides picking out colors that look good and staying within the lines on a coloring page, what else is there to coloring? As it turns out, a LOT. 

To be honest, it wasn't until I colored the hummingbird gift bag that I realized how much skill coloring well requires. The more I've read, the more I realize how much I have to learn. (Isn't that the case with everything?) With the hummingbird image, I attempted to add shading and texture to the flowers. I had some success, but realized this would be the perfect topic for the first class I'd put together for myself. Since then, I have skimmed dozens of blog posts and watched snippets many YouTube videos looking for a great instructor. I am thrilled to have found Sarah Renae Clark

Sarah is a coloring book author and talented artist from Australia. Her blog posts are well-written and illustrated beautifully, but it was her YouTube videos that truly drew (haha!) me in. 

These are three of my favorites. Each contains lessons I was immediately able to put into place to improve my coloring.  




This is the first coloring I've done since starting my 'class.' The image is from the Love Grows Coloring Book (affiliate link). 


It took a lot more time than it used to take me to color a similarly sized project, but the extra time was particularly good for this project. Tomorrow I'll tell you why. 

9/14/21

Splatter Paint Fall Trees

After sharing so many splatter-painting backgrounds, it's time for a splatter-painted foreground. Rather than the thumb-across-toothbrush technique, I used a different method to achieve the dots and drips. It was so much fun!



Splatter Paint Fall Trees



Materials:

  • watercolor paper
  • crayons (brown, black)
  • acrylic paint (blue, orange, yellow, red-brown)
  • two paintbrushes

Steps:

Use crayons to draw bare trees on the watercolor paper. I drew four trees, each with plenty of branches and twigs, then added a bit of shadow with the black crayon. 

Thin the blue paint and use it to create a wash of color on the entire paper. These bits of sky will show through between the leaves of the tree. Let the paint dry. 

Put the painting into a cardboard box. I have a designated box I use to contain the mess when splattering, misting, dripping, and spraying. Hold one paintbrush in each hand. Dip one paintbrush into the red-brown paint, then tap it on the handle of the second paintbrush. This will cause small flicks of paint to splatter down. Experiment with the quantity of paint on the first brush, where you tap on the second brush, and how far from the paper you hold the brushes to get different sizes of splatters. Concentrate the splatters along the base of the trees and in the branches, leaving the space along the middle of the trunks and above the branches relatively unsplattered. You may need to rotate the paper to accomplish this. 


Without cleaning your brush, switch to orange paint and use the same technique to add splatters. Switch to yellow, building up the layers. When you have a good amount of splatters in the two main sections of the painting, use a pouncing motion to fill in any gaps between the leaves on the ground. With the same pouncing motion, do the same to add leaves to bare branches (if desired). 


It's up to you how many leaves you want on your finished artwork. I kept going until I liked how the trees looked. 


This really is a ton of fun to do. There's something very satisfying about seeing drips of paint transform into leaves. 


9/13/21

First Day of 10th Grade

The first day of school is always special, but this year's marked the first time in 516 days that Trevor attended school in person. While he enjoyed distance learning and did very well, he was happy to head back to in-person school for 10th grade. 

First Day of 10th Grade (affiliate link)

Of course, school isn't back to pre-COVID normal. Masks are mandatory indoors and recommended outdoors. Students carry water bottles instead of using drinking fountains, and hand sanitizer is everywhere. Staff and students must do a daily self-check for COVID symptoms. Trevor's high school takes place entirely on the community college campus, which opted to keep most of their class in distance learning this semester; consequently, the high schoolers have the whole campus to themselves. Well, almost. Key facilities like the library and gym aren't open. The cafeteria isn't operating, but the district brings in free lunch for all students every day. School drop-off and pick-up are a dream because the parking lots are completely empty. Permits are not required for upperclassmen who drive themselves. Things will change dramatically when the community college returns to in-person learning, presumably when the new semester starts in January.