July 3, 2021

Dragon fly sculpture at Descanso Gardens, day 4, 7/2/2021 (watercolor, Inktense pencils and watercolor crayon on watercolor paper)

My week, as seen through art and photos

It didn’t seem like there would be many words/stories to share regarding my most recent week in SoCal. So, I decided to mark the time with art and photos, describing the week in what might seem like rather random events. The art and photos here are not really in any particular chronological order, but it all somehow makes sense to me. Therefore, I am leading with a watercolor I did just yesterday. I sat on the same stump at the Descanso Gardens four days in a row, starting Tuesday (6/29) and ending yesterday (7/2). I wanted to do a series of sketches of the same view, at the same time of day for a number of days in a row. Actually, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to draw the first morning, but the minute I saw the dragon fly in the cool looking pond, I knew I wanted to sketch the scene. I went around behind it and found a tree stump in the shade. This would be my perch for the next few mornings. In fact, I even got out a fresh sheet of bubblewrap to sit on, as the one I had been using had gotten pretty flat. My mission was to render the same scene several days in a row, with a full on watercolor as my final piece.

And because events in our lives do not occur in a vacuum, this was also a week to watch for monarch larvae, chrysalis and butterflies in my garden. Last Sunday, I noticed this little green jewel fixed to a palm tree bract. I had strapped the bract to a pot for my moonflower morning glory to climb. It seems a monarch larvae had climbed it and set about turning into a chrysalis on the spot. I didn’t see the actual caterpillar, but there is no mistaking that bright green color and shape. (See 6/19/2021 post for another story and art of monarch on a nearby palm tree flower spike.) Once you spot the little capsule, you can’t unsee it. And who would want to unsee it? I looked for it each morning as I headed to the Descanso Gardens to sketch.

I have made Nancy Silverton’s sourdough bread starter. It sits in my frig, waiting for an opportunity to become bread. I have been planning to make bread for a couple weeks now. So, after feeding the starter three times on Tuesday I used some of it to mix a batch of dough at 10pm Wed evening. Then I let it proof overnight. When I got up Thursday morning, I tested the dough to see if I should proceed with baking the bread. I convinced myself that I could let it proof another couple hours and went to sketch the giant dragon fly at the Descanso. I was very excited to use my colorful POSCA markers for that day’s sketch. Big mistake. By the time I got back the dough didn’t look as perky as it did when I left. And it was already pretty warm outside—then I turned on the oven. This is what it looked like when I took it out of the oven sometime later. I showed this photo to a friend and he said it looked like something extraterrestrial. I think I could agree. Or maybe it looks like elephant poo. Either way, it was inedible, as you might expect. But I haven’t given up on the bread yet and will try again next week…maybe… Not really sure when we will have some cooler days. Guess I’ll just keep feeding the starter every week until that day comes around. Stay tuned…

But wait, the week of photos and art are not complete. This morning I looked once again at the little green chrysalis I had been watching all week. As you can see it had turned black. This means that a butterfly is imminent. I had a few things I wanted to do in my garden, so every so often I looked over at it. Before I knew it, a rumpled looking butterfly was hanging from the now empty chrysalis shell. Yeah, it happens that fast! I continued to watch as I busied myself in the garden. But to my horror, I saw it drop from its precarious spot. This is not normal. It took me a few seconds to find it. It had dropped onto some soft dirt and was struggling to right itself. I hurriedly came up with a plan to use a small stick to help. Once I reached out with my tiny stick, the butterfly quickly reached up to grab on. I moved the upside-down butterfly to a lower spot, but I couldn’t get it to let go. I was trying to get it to transfer itself onto a morning glory stem. It clung on tight. So, I held it there and sat down on a bit on concrete. I was there, holding my stick, for about half an hour. Silly me, I had just put a fresh batch of sunflower seeds in the feeder hanging directly above me. As I sat there on the concrete, I was pelted with sunflower seed shells from above. The finches were cracking the seeds and dropping the shells to the ground and onto my head. Somehow they hadn’t noticed I was sitting there and were unaware of the monarch drama that was unfolding below them. Eventually I convinced the butterfly to grab onto the morning glory stem and I cautiously removed the stick I was holding. Of course, by now the squirrels had joined in the fun and were just inches from where the new butterfly was hanging. I couldn’t watch! I went into the house. But I went out there a couple hours ago, and the butterfly was gone. I can only assume it had flown away. Yikes, what a week! It didn’t seem all that interesting until I looked at the art and photos. It was OK. Hope your week before the 4th of July was good too. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s