Friday, 30 April 2010

Rhododendron arborescens (Sweet Azalea)

Tonight's drawing is of Rhododendron arborescens -- also known as "Sweet Azalea".  

Rhododendron (from the Greek, rhodos -- rose and dendron -- tree) is a genus of flowering plants in the Heath Family (Ericaceae).  It is a large genus with over 1,000 species.  Most have very colourful, showy flowers.  It includes the plants known to gardeners as azaleas.

All parts of Rhododendron are toxic to animals when ingested -- so keep them away from your pets!  

I have posted drawings of Rhododendron previously.  These included Rhododendron dutartrei and Rhododendron mendumiae, both Vireya hybrids.  I have come across some new photos of Rhododendron so you will probably be seeing more drawings of them in the near future!

This next image is another favourite of mine.  It is not as moody and misty as the one I posted on Wednesday, but I still like it.  It has that road going off into the distance that I like so much.

I am not sure what has been done with this photo, but it looks, to me, as though it has been "photoshopped" in some way to make everything brighter than normal.  But, who knows, maybe the scene really did appear this way.  Anyway, I think it is a keeper.

People have always known that bears that be dangerous, even deadly.  However, we have learned recently that bears have a new weapon in their arsenal:  karate.  That's right.  The above, highly classified, photograph has been leaked to the public and shows clearly that bear cubs are now being taught karate.  

So be extra cautious from now on when you go camping.  Maybe you should get your black belt first just to be really safe!

Well, that's enough foolishness for tonight.  I hope you have a delightful Saturday.

May peace be with you all.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Here is a quick sketch I did of a Clematis.  I really wish there was some way to achieve the kind of subtle shading between the purple strip and the white of the petal, but not with my computer.  Oh, well...

Clematis is a genus of climbing vines with showy flowers.  Over 200 species are known with more cultivars being produced constantly.  Most species are known as Clematis in English while some are also known as Travellers' Joy, Old Man's Beard, Leather Flower and Virgin's Bower.  The genus name is from Ancient Greek (klematis) meaning a climbing plant.  The Family is Ranunculaceae.

Clematis was called Pepper Vine by early travellers and pioneers of the North American West and used as a pepper substitute to spice up their food.  However, this entire genus contains essential oils and compounds which are extremely irritating to the skin and mucous membranes.  These compounds can cause internal bleeding of the digestive tract if ingested in large amounts.  The plants are essentially toxic.  Despite its toxicity, Native peoples used very small amounts of Clematis as an effective treatment for migraine headaches and nervous disorders.  It was also used as an effective treatment of skin infections.  (information from Wikipedia)

I decided to post this photo because it is truly one of my favourites.  Actually, I should say that this type of photo (or drawing) is the type I have loved since I was a child.  The reason?  It is the kind of picture that invites me in.  

Whenever I would see a photo or painting of this type, I would allow myself to be drawn into it and then in my imagination, I would wander down the roadway that is unseen.  If you allow your imagination to take you there, you never know what you will find just around the bend.  It may be beautiful or just more of the mundane; however, you never know until you enter the photo and find out!  I still do this to this very day.

Sorry you have to keep seeing these photos of Suki; however, like most people with a new pet, I can't help but keep taking pictures of her.  Also, like most people who take pictures of a loved pet or child, I want to show them to people.  So please bear with me.

Here you see Miss Suki showing off her underneath and being very casual about the whole concept of modesty!  The hand is mine and I am holding a section of a piece of plastic wrapping that goes around packages.  This is her all time favourite toy.  Like so many people with new pets, I bought all kinds of little toys for her to play with and while she does play with them occasionally, she spends most of her play time each day with that little bit of plastic!  

May the peace of God be with you all.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Our Lady of Soufanieh

Even though I am calling this icon "Our Lady of Soufanieh", it is really somewhat different than the icon that bears that name.  It was the position of the boy, Jesus, and the eyes of Our Lady that drew me to the original and made me want to copy it.  Those two aspects are close to those of the original, but the overall appearance of my drawing is quite different. 

So let me tell you a little bit about why the icon of Our Lady of Soufanieh has become well known.  The icon is named for a small enclave of Christians at the edge of Damascus, Syria.  The area claims to be the location of the house of Ananias who went and laid hands on Saul of Tarsus so that he could regain his sight (see Acts 9:1-18).  As well, it is near the mosque which contains the tomb of St. John the Baptist.  However, starting in 1982, it became famous for an icon of the Virgin Mary and her child that suddenly  started discharging a sweet-smelling oil.  At the same time, an 18 year old woman begin to have visions of Our Lady and showing different indications that appeared to be signs from God.  Most importantly, people using the oil and praying with the young woman and/or a copy of the icon began to be healed.

In a sworn statement from a local priest, we find the following:  "Prayer has not ceased a single day since November 27, 1982, regardless of the time or the circumstances.... People who come for the first time to Soufanieh are moved by the fervour of the believers.  Entire lives are totally transformed.  Spiritual conversions are very numerous and are much more important than physical cures, yet very real.  As for Myrna (the young woman I mentioned), she has kept her ingenuity and simplicity despite the many opportunities which could lead her into becoming haughty.  She is the mother of two children..."

Of all the messages Myrna has received from the Virgin Mary, the following one best expresses the overriding desire for unity that God desires from His Church:  "The Church is the kingdom of heaven on earth.  Whoever has divided it, has done great wrong; whoever has rejoiced in such division, has also done great wrong."

This next item I want to show you is a photo that was taken of me in 1968 by my friend and professional photographer, Dennis Adams of Rochester, NY.  This was one of Dennis' photos that the world famous photographer, Ansel Adams, saw and was very impressed with.  If you want to know more about Dennis, his current work or his correspondence with Ansel Adams regarding this and other photos, go to his web site.

I may have held the world record for the most freckles on one face in the summertime!

Here I am with this crazy cat I live with.  She does not believe in sitting in my lap; instead, she wants to be held like a baby which enables her to lick my ear with her sandpaper tongue!  

This photo was taken this past Sunday as I sat in my living room with my godson and his wife.  They couldn't believe how quickly Suki jumped up on me and made her way to my shoulder.  They really laughed when she started washing my ear -- whether at her antics or at the expression on my face, I am unsure.  Anyway, you can see that Suki is now doing very well indeed.

May peace be with you all.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Tacitus bellus and Eyjafjallajokul

I was immediately impressed when I happened to come across a photograph of Tacitus bellus and I knew I had to try to draw it.  I am pleased with the result -- I hope you are too.

Tacitus bellus was discovered by Alfred Lau in 1972 in West Mexico -- States of Chihuahua and Sonora -- at an altitude of 4,800 feet growing near the edges of cliffs in shady areas.

This plant has been oscillating for some time between the genera Tacitus bellus and Graptopetalum.  The family name in either case is Crassulaceae and the genus is either Graptopetalum or Tacitus bellus -- depending on which side of the argument you are on. From the title of this posting you can see which side I have chosen!

Following are a couple of photos from the recent eruption of the Eyjafjallajokul volcano.  You may have seen them already; however, I wanted to post them just in case you haven't.  There are many photos of this famous eruption, of course, but these are two of my favourites.

This is a dramatic photo which I first saw on the TV news.  It is really spectacular with the fire and the ice and the resulting lightning.  It looks like how I have often pictured Hell or the place where the ring was formed in "Lord of the Rings".

These are buildings near the volcano and, consequently, are covered with ash.  I find this to be a beautiful photograph in spite of the terrible environmental event that is occurring.  How small we and our dwellings are in comparison to major natural disasters.  Look at the size of the buildings in which we often feel so safe.  For me, I can only feel really safe in God who is bigger than the universe.

Well, it is late, but I was busy watching a Polish film on TV entitled Katyn -- about the mass killing of Polish officers by the Russians in 1940.  It was the anniversary of this event that the Polish leaders and military officers were recently going to Russia to attend when their plane crashed in thick fog and all aboard were killed.  Anyway, the film was excellent (subtitles) but watching it kind of messed up my schedule.  But, as I always say, better late than never!

May the peace of God be with you all.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Bouvardia 'Royal Daphne'

Bouvardia 'Royal Daphne' is probably a hybrid of the genus, Bouvardia.  The approximately 30 species in the genus, Bouvardia belong to the Family, Rubiaceae.

As you may recall me telling you back on March 8th, Bouvardia was named after Charles Bouvard, the personal physician to Louis XIII and the superintendent of the Royal Gardens in Paris.  The star-like flowers grow in clusters on thin, branching stems, like small flower bouquets in soft shades of pink, white, yellow, salmon and red.  With a delicate scent and "feminine"  appearance, in the language of flowers, Bouvardia represent enthusiasm.

This is not an especially appealing flower, but I find the construction of the flowers and leaves to be very appealing, especially the leaves.
Now, before I show you the funny photos for tonight, I want to introduce you to a real pig named Charlotte.  This one is not a movie star, but in my opinion should be.  So, now, meet Charlotte. 

Next are two bird photos -- both quite excellent photographs -- to which I have added my attempt at funny captions.  I hope they will, at least, make you smile!

"And where were you last night?"

"Are we there yet?"

I know this is a short posting, but I am tired tonight.  Suki had us up early this morning!

May peace be with you all.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Days of Wine and Suki

I had been thinking recently about how much I used to enjoy having a glass of white wine with my evening meal when I came across some photos of vineyards.  This led to the decision to try drawing wine grapes on the vine.  I call the drawing "Days of Wine".  Oh, yes, the reason why I said that I "used to enjoy having a glass" is that the medication I am on these days means I really should not have any alcoholic beverages.  I must admit that on the rare occasion I will have a small glass of wine, but the worry about what it might be doing to me takes away much of the pleasure!  Ah, the joys of aging.

I have finally gotten around to taking a few more photos of Suki.  Here she is in all her beautiful blackness.

She loves to sit on the clothes hamper especially whenever I am in the bathroom performing the various activities that one performs in a bathroom!  Unfortunately, I have not yet learned how to take cat photos without the eye problem.  If anyone knows how to keep this from happening, please, please contact me.

Here we see Suki doing one of her daily routines.  She frequently has to inspect the water in the toilet by perching on my raised toilet seat.  I keep waiting for the day when she falls in head first and I have to pull her out and clean her up!

As you can see here, the water is not moving, but Suki knows that sometimes the waters move -- maybe an angel of the Lord comes down and stirs the waters! (if that statement puzzles you, I will just let you know that it is a scriptural reference).  

I pray that she never learns how to flush the toilet or else I will have my rent increased for all my extra water usage.

Here we see Suki deciding that her investigation is going nowhere fast so she is preparing to jump down and go and check out her food dish!

As you can guess from these photos, Suki is very much in charge of my home -- and I am enjoying it very much!

May the peace of God be with you all.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Prophet Elijah

Tonight I want to show you my most recent icon -- of the prophet, Elijah, or St. Elijah as the Orthodox call him.

St. Elijah, as you may or may not be aware, is the patron saint of the contemplative Order of Carmelites.  Although St. Elijah lived many centuries before Christ lived or the Carmelite communities were founded, he is seen as the founder of the tradition of religious hermits living in solitude in the caves on Mt. Carmel in what is now the country of Israel.  The story of St. Elijah is found in the Hebrew Scriptures in the first and second Books of Kings.

From these scriptures we learn that the prophet Elijah was a man of God who lived always in God's presence and fought zealously for the worship of the One True God.  He defended God's law in a solemn contest on Mount Carmel and, afterwards, on Mount Horeb, was given an intimate experience of the living God.  From the very beginnings of the Carmelite Order, the founders were inspired by the example of St. Elijah to such an extent that he may, indeed, be called the founder of the Carmelite ideal.  

The shield of the Carmelite Order takes as its motto Elijah's words:  "Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo Exercituum".  A translation of this Latin phrase can be seen in the scroll which I placed in St. Elijah's hand which reads:  "I have burned with zeal for the Lord God of Hosts".

Next, I want to show you some photos my friend, Ken, sent me recently of an incredible cat by the name of Kitty.  

"Kitty is perhaps the most adventurous cat in the world.  She is the beloved pet of a French couple/explorers, Guillaume and Laetitia, who are on a mission to travel from Miami to Ushuaia, Argentina purely on foot.  They are currently in Columbia, heading south.  Kitty is often seen resting in the backpack carried by Guillaume while they are hiking down the road.  They even set us a little umbrella on the backpack to give Kitty some shade from the sun.  Kitty appears to be enjoying the trip just as much as the couple!"

Guillaume and Laetitia with Kitty

Kitty checking things out

Kitty napping under her own little umbrella

Kitty napping before they got the umbrella for her -- the hat doesn't  work nearly as well as the umbrella!

I hope you enjoyed hearing about Kitty and seeing some photos of her and her family. If you want to learn more then go the web site for Guillaume and Laetitia

May peace be with you all.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Shooting Star - Dodecatheon meadia

How about a drawing of some shooting stars?  That is what the common name is for this plant found growing wild throughout mid-North America.

The proper name of this plant is Dodecatheon meadia of the family, Primulaceae (Primrose family).  The genus name Dodecatheon is derived from the Greek dodeka for twelve and theoi for gods; the twelve gods, a name given by Pliny to the Primrose, which was believed to be under the protection of the superior gods.  Early pioneers called this plant "Prairie Pointers".

This is one of the most beautiful spring wildflowers on the prairies -- much more beautiful than my drawing would indicate.  One of the nature writers has said:  "A colony of these plants in bloom is a sight not to be missed."  I would like to try drawing these flowers again to see if I can capture a bit more of the elegance!

Any of you who have more than a nodding acquaintance with wildflowers may notice that the flowers resemble, in form, those of the Nightshade family.  A commentator says:  "This is an example of convergent evolution between plants of different families because of the similarities in the method of pollination." 

Next I want to show you a couple of photos that my friend, Joyce, sent to me recently.  They are not new photographs as I recall seeing them a couple of years ago, but they are well worth looking at again.  

This first one shows a mother and her "children".  It is a beautiful photograph of even more beautiful creatures.  All the big cats are amazing -- the Creator did a marvellous job -- but this particular cat is perhaps the most elegant of all.

As you can see, the mother is obviously taking good care of her family.

Next is a photograph of a totally different situation.

Here is a big cat doing what cats do best -- relaxing!  If the previous photo showed a working mother, here we see a cat who has no intention of working at all.  In fact, I think he is saying something like:  "Am I a hunk or what!"  

Well, I think that is enough rambling for one evening.  I hope I have brought a little pleasure and beauty into your life.  

May the peace that passes understanding be with you all.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Icon of the Angel of Silence

I recently completed this icon which is called "The Angel of Silence".  The full name should really be the "Icon of the Winged Christ of the Blessed Silence."

This is a fascinating icon because it is almost unknown and yet is such a powerful image.  It is Russian in origin.  I came across it by accident and decided I wanted to try to draw it.  Once I had drawn it, I tried to find out more about its origin, but the information is very limited.

What I did learn is that the icon is supposed to show Christ depicted as an angel based on Isaiah 9:5 where Isaiah refers to "The Messenger (Angelos) of Great Counsel".  He is the "Word in Eternity" and, the iconography is associated with the Creation and the Plan of Salvation, ordained from Eternity.  Other references from Isaiah are relevant:  42:2 "He shall not...cause his voice to be heard in the streets"; 53:7 "He was afflicted yet opened not his a sheep before the shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth."

As for the icon, itself, you see there are two four-pointed stars, one superimposed on the other, seen within Christ's halo; their eight points are said to symbolize Eternity and the whole of Creation (the octave is the symbol of completion).  Christ is clothed as a bishop (cf Hebrews 4:14 ...we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus Christ, Son of God...").

I tried playing with the colour balance again and this was the result.  I have got to stop doing this as it really doesn't add anything to the art work, but I do like the intense brightness of the colours!

Here is a picture of one of the actual icons.  This is the sort of image I used when creating my own icon.  You will notice that in this version, the winged Christ is holding a six-winged seraph in His hands.

This icon is known as the "Christ [of] the Blessed Silence", Russian, circa 1700.

Here is another version I found advertised on eBay.  This Russian icon, in beautiful antique bronze metal work, is selling for $175.  The seller is located in Estonia -- in case you are interested!

While searching for information, I came across this movie about the work of Paul Klee.  You can see why it was in my hit list as the title contains the words "angel" and "silence".  I would have just passed it by, but then I read the quote at the top of the illustration and I wanted to share it with you.  "Colour has taken possession of me.  Colour and I are one.  I am a painter."  Isn't that beautiful!

There is a lot of material on the Internet about Douma or Dumah, the Angel of Silence and Death.  Information on this angel is found in Jewish writings, including the Qabbalah and the Midrash.  Dumah means silence in Aramaic.

Supposedly, Dumah, the Angel of Silence, intercedes to keep souls on the right track.  He makes regular rounds of the graves, helping the dead retain their memories by asking them their names.  Dumah is the angel helping the souls in Sheol.

Another thing I came across during my research was the following: 
"Genesis is full of words, "and God said..." "and God said..." "and God said..."  Speech is a proven method of creating!  Silence was in the moment before God spoke.  Psalm 46:10 tells of a way to know God's essence: "Be still and know that I am God."  The Aramaic word for silence is Dumah, considered an angel of [silence and] death.  Silence is a quality that can both harm and heal.  Consider well how you speak and what you say and know that oftentimes it is wise to be still before you use the power of your voice." 

May the peace found in silence be with you all.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Lapeirousia oreogena

Let me show you my drawing of another South African beauty.

This is Lapeirousia oreogena -- a member of the Iridaceae family.  Laperirousia is a genus with about 40 species that is found across sub-Saharan Africa from Nigeria and Ethiopia to the southwestern Cape.

Laperirousia oreogena is a rare species.  It only grows to about 3" tall, but it is so striking in appearance that appears to be much larger!  The petals are an intense bluish-purple with a magenta-black pinwheel topped with pinkish-white triangles.  The centre of the flower has its own striking colours.  These flowers grow in groups causing the impact to be even greater.  How I would love to see L. oreogena growing in the wild.

I took the liberty of using that crazy software I now have to do a colour reversal of this drawing and the above is what I ended up with!  I am not sure what to think of the result.

It certainly gives me a very different view of my original drawing.  I would really appreciate some feedback on what you think of it.  Does the software accomplish anything of real interest or is it just something to play with?  

Tonight's photograph is from my e-friend, Jay, who lives in the deep South.

This is an adorable photo of a recently-foaled colt.  Isn't he beautiful?  He is a sure sign of spring.

I remember springtime on the farm in Alabama when there would be lots of chicks to care for along with a calf or two.  We only had the one horse but I do remember local farmers stopping by with their mares on occasion to let them run with my horse for a while.  By this time of year, the woods were full of newly born creatures.  Life -- what a gift.

May peace be with you all. 

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Osteospermum of Reflection

Yikes!  I almost forgot about posting tonight.  It's late, but here I am.

My drawing tonight is rather unusual in appearance and the style is even a bit different.  It is a member of the genus Osteospermum -- the South African daisy.  This variety is called the "spooned" type -- for obvious reasons. 

You may recall that I did a couple of postings on these flowers a number of months ago and that one variety had these tubular-type petals.  If you are interested in getting the full information, then go back to the postings of October, 2009.

The photos I want to show you tonight are of lions.  This first one appears to be of a mother and child.  I say "appears" since I can't recall if lionesses baby-sit for each other as wolves do, so I will just make the assumption that this is a mother with her cub.

Anyway, I love pictures that show this kind of contented, trusting companionship that is rarely seen any other place than on the faces of the young of any mammal species when they are being held next to the face of a trusting parent.  I apologize for the convoluted sentence, but you know what I am trying to say.  After all, it is very late!


This next one shows two lions behaving in typical cat fashion and sleeping all scrunched up together.  I have never understood why cats enjoy sleeping this way, but they really like heat so this would certainly create a lot of it.

Anyway, these photos of sleeping cats make me very aware of the fact that it is time for me to get to bed.  Suki is also ready for bed and she won't settle down until I do -- so I had better get to it before she meows me to death!
May the peace of God be with you all.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Lilies and Stuff

Here is a colourful drawing of a Day Lily.  These common garden flowers are one of the best known members of the family of true lilies (Lilium).  I have already drawn other members of the family which were posted previously.  There are still several more I am thinking about drawing.  There are so many lovely varieties.

This next item is a snapshot that recently came into my possession from one of my "sister" friends.  It provides a rare look behind the cloister walls where outsiders are seldom allowed!  I apologize for the poor quality of the photo.  

Let me tell you what you are witnessing here.  The sister on your left is encouraging the much older sister on your right to dance.  This would have occurred at evening recreation time in the community's common room.  Someone in the background must have been playing music which would have inspired the younger sister to whirl the older sister around the room, causing the rest of the sisters to laugh and call out encouraging remarks.  By the way, I am going to visit the "younger" sister on the weekend -- she is still as much fun as ever even though she is now in her 80's.  

I included this photo tonight not only because it is a lovely photo and is very appealing to me, but also because it shows rays of lovely sunshine falling through the trees.  I say "lovely sunshine" since we have just had three days of recurring rain showers with such a low ceiling that none of the tall buildings have been visible.  

There is a chance that we will see the sun occasionally tomorrow and everyone I know is very happy about that.  Interesting how affected we are by the lack of sunshine. 

May peace and sunny skies be with you all.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Another Ornithogalum

Back on April 2nd, I showed you a drawing of another Ornithogalum species -- Ornithogalum dubium.  Tonight's drawing is of the species Ornithogalum thyrsoides.  The two plants, being related, are very similar -- one is white and one is orange and the pyramid-shaped cluster at the top, known as a raceme, is different in the two.

One of the most interesting things about Ornithogalum thyrsoides to me is its common name of "Chincherinchee" [chin-che-rin-chee].  As you may recall, these plants are native to South Africa and the Boer South Africans refer to these flowers as "tjenkenrientjee" which is where we get the Anglicized name of "chincherinchee".

Next, I want to show you some beautiful animal photographs that my dear friend, Raquel, sent me recently.  They are just too lovely to keep to myself.

This first one shows two deer siblings "hugging" or resting after playing in a beautiful mountain meadow.  I wish I knew where this photo had been taken, but, since I don't, I will just enjoy this example of animal companionship -- dare I say love.

Of all the photos Raquel sent, this one has got to be my favourite!  As you know, I am very fond of elephants and I love this image of the baby safely surrounded by all those adult legs.  As we have learned in recent years through studies of the elephant culture, any one of those females would fight to the death to protect that little one.

This final photograph is, obviously, of an adult wolf.  Whoever was doing the wildlife photography was able to capture this wolf looking pensive.  When I first saw the photo, I was surprised by it as I don't normally think of wolves as ever being pensive.  This one actually looks like it is reflecting on the nature of its existence!

Enough for tonight.

May peace be with you all.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

A Sunflower and Cat Cartoons

Tonight's drawing doesn't need any introduction or explanations.  I think everyone recognizes a sunflower when they see it!

While the sunflower is easily recognizable, this "from-behind" view is a bit different.  I was fascinated by all the shapes and textures that can be found on the flower's back-side.  While I am far from satisfied by the way this drawing turned out, I hope this experience will help me to do better next time I try drawing the back-side of a flower.

Next, I want to show you a couple of cat "cartoons" that I came across recently.

I really like this first one.  It reminds me of myself and the way I can fall asleep so easily almost anywhere -- sometimes in dangerous positions.  These dangerous positions have occasionally led to my falling with a "thunk" right onto the floor!  At least the kitty cat in the photo has a nice bed to fall onto.

As for this second cartoon, I really do not know how they managed to have a camera ready at just the right moment.

This is such a wonderful photo and the cat really does appear to be singing the high note in an operatic aria!

Finally, I want to show you a photo that I came across recently on a pps that someone sent me.  It is such a beautiful little church with the early morning sun shining through the stained glass windows. To me it looks like the kind of place where I could sit quietly and find my heart being filled with gratitude and joy.

I wanted to include this picture not only because it is Easter Sunday, but also because it is the anniversary of my baptism all those many years ago.  What an exciting journey God has led me on through all the years since.  

May peace be with you all.