Monday, October 12, 2009

Lost and Found

The earth is the ultimate repository of all things lost and discarded (except for far-flung items of space junk, I suppose). Our place has was settled by German-Americans in the late 1700s and the soil reveals all sort of small treasures. One of the previous owners was a potter, and we keep finding objects like those I've painted here-- simple spheres that we guess served as bottle tops; the bottom of of tea cup; and a boldly patterned piece of Pennsylvania German slipware. So far, we haven't come across an entire object, only shards. But we hold out hope of discovering a piece we can put to use and restore to is place in the old stone farmhouse.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Monster from the Woodlot

This remarkable little fellow crawled out of our woods to find a sheltered place to pupate, and I brought it inside to pose. We identified it as the larvae of the Spicebush Swallowtail, a species known for its mimickry. As an adult, the butterfly benefits from its evolved (we can presume) similarity to a nasty-tasting species. The larvae starts out looking very much like a fresh bird dropping and therefore unappetizing to would-be predators. In its final form, the worm uses a completely different strategy, emerging with huge fake eyes and mouth to resemble (if vaguely, and on a small scale) a predatory snake. The eyes even have white highlights to suggest that they're round and glistening. After the photo session, I released the worm in the vicinity of a spicebush thicket and wished it a productive pupation.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall Watercolor

I've been gathering items from around the yard (and a few from the refrigerator) as models for the border of this wedding certificate, painted for a client. It felt good to slow down and focus on the plants; fall might otherwise have breezed past without my paying it much attention.