Sketches of art, watercolor, photos, recipes, books, interviews, Jewish topics and Highland Park, New Jersey

Blue House Illustration

July 18th, 2014 by

blue house illustration
This is third house illustration I have created. You can see one house illustration here and another house illustration here. I left out many details from this one. Is there a door? Do you see one in your head? In front of the “real” house, there are many bushes. I might add a few when I make the composite illustration. This house also has black outlines – the others do not. Oh, decisions, decisions.

And now comes the hard part – putting all three houses together in one mural. Will it work? I don’t know. Wish me luck. Maybe the tree illustrations, clouds and illustrative text will help.

Updated illustration:
blue house illustration blue trim
I toned down all that black outline by adding some dark blue trim. I like the illustration a little better. Still not convinced all those lines work … ah, the problem with too many choices. I’m sure I’ll be fussing with this more.

Here is a third version:
blue house with trim
Let’s play a game: How is this third house different than the other two?

Young Robins in Nest

July 7th, 2014 by

robin babies in nest
Once again we have baby robins growing up outside our porch. Last time we saw them I got photos of the baby blue eggs. This time, I was busy with my daughter’s bat-mitzvah in early June when I first noticed a mama robin sitting on a nest in a bush that I really would love to trim down in size. By the time I had my camera ready to photograph them, they were hatched young robins, asking for food from mama or papa robin.

robin babies want food
I used my telephoto lens to reach the young robins for a photo. Can you see the young robins crying for food?

robins cry
So I will be waiting a little longer before I find someone to do the trimming. These bushes are too big to trim on my own.

robin parent

mama robin on nest
Here’s the mama robin (or is it the papa?) sitting on the nest.

Have you ever seen baby robins? Do you ever find that watching a birth or young one in nature can help when feeling a sense of loss?

For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

Flowers of Comfort

July 3rd, 2014 by

It was a very difficult week for the Jewish people – some say Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar came early this year. This is not a political blog; I could send you elsewhere to read some important posts, such as this one or this one. And here’s one that is quite thorough on a recent topic.

I will just mention the word nechama – comfort. What do you do or say or post when you need comfort? I’m posting flowers from my garden. Above are the columbines of spring – now gone, except for the seeds. You can sprinkle the seeds from the spring columbines in a different place in your yard, and if conditions are right, you get more columbines!

Mexican poppies
I grow these Mexican poppies instead of grass on my front lawn. Unfortunately, they are only in bloom for a short time in the spring. I have to be careful not to pull them up when the flowers are done – it is easy to mistake them later for weeds. Some of the poppies’ leaves are now turning a brilliant red.

summer rudbeckia
Rudbeckia or black-eyed susan: one of my favorite flowers! These I grow all over my yard, front and back. They seem to be happy here.

summer lilies
Finally, here are some bright summer lilies. My neighbor was admiring these, and I told her I grew them by mistake! I probably pulled a lily in a different spot by accident and threw it by the fence. It took hold right behind a pink rose bush. I think the two look a bit silly together, but whatever.

Do you have favorite flowers? Do flowers bring you comfort?

Three Yellow Ribbons Round Tree Illustration

June 24th, 2014 by

illustration tree with yellow ribbons
What! She’s making yet another tree illustration! Again? What this time …

Here’s the back story … Tony Orlando, who popularized the song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree, visited Israel. He was encouraged to do something in support of families of the three kidnapped teens. He visited the families, and he asked the people of America to tie three yellow ribbons in support of the teens.

A friend in our area has started a little campaign selling yellow ribbons, with the money going back to Israel to support the families and soldiers searching for the teens. I confess I still haven’t gotten the ribbons, but I did write this post.

So what is the history of the yellow ribbon? There is a great article by Gerald E. Parsons on How the Yellow Ribbon Became a National Folk Symbol. It seems the yellow ribbons started getting used as a symbol in the early 1980′s in support of the hostages in Iran. Parsons writes: “Ultimately, the thing that makes the yellow ribbon a genuinely traditional symbol is neither its age nor its putative association with the American Civil War, but rather its capacity to take on new meanings, to fit new needs and, in a word, to evolve.”

On a related topic, the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurBoys was inspired by #BringBackOurGirls. There are actually, unfortunately, similarities between those kidnappings.

The names of the boys are Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel. Hashtag: #EyalGiladNaftali
The boys are close in age to my own teenage sons.

three yellow ribbons on tree

Three yellow ribbons spotted on a tree in Highland Park, New Jersey

Tree Illustration: Fruit, Stream, Shade

June 19th, 2014 by

tree with fruit by stream
Checking into my blog to say hello to my readers. Above is a tree illustration, once again. This one comes with a story (paraphrased in my own words):

Once upon a time there was a traveler. He was quite weary, hungry and thirsty. He happened upon this beautiful tree. There was a stream flowing by the tree, so he helped himself to a refreshing drink of the water. There were fruits in the tree, so he ate of the fruit. He laid down under the tree and took a nap. When he awoke, he was refreshed and well-rested. Before leaving, he turned to the tree. Tree, oh, tree, how can I bless you? For you have so much already. So he blessed the tree with more of the same.

Source: Taanit 5B-6A

For those that read Hebrew, here is the original Hebrew of what the traveler says to the tree:

אילן אילן במה אברכך, שיהיו פירותיך מתוקין, הרי פירתיך מתוקין, שיהא צילך נאה, הרי צלך נאה. אלא יהי רצון שכל נטיעותיך יהיו כמותך.

Have you ever been grateful to something in nature? Or perhaps grateful to someone in your life who has given you so much?

Pink Poppies, White Columbines, Perennials

June 1st, 2014 by

Mexican Poppies
My Mexican poppies are once again in bloom. I am happy that some came back this year – I probably tore some out in the process of weeding or planting other items (I like putting cucumbers in this area of my garden). You can see my Mexican pink poppies from last year.

I have no grass growing in the front of my house; instead, a variety of flowers are blooming. Many are perennials that come back each year, such as these white rocket-like columbines. Behind the columbines is a bit of garden phlox that my daughter and husband bought for me as a Mother’s Day present.

perennial pink flowers
I do not know the name of this wispy, pink-flowered perennial, but I do admire its delicate nature.

I took lots of photos of my garden flowers and starting working on a post on how to use Pixlr, an online free photo editing program. The post will appear sometime soon (maybe sometime in the next two weeks? life is a bit busy) on Websites for Small Biz.

This coming week is the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. One of the customs is to decorate one’s home with flowers. I wonder what flowers will be in bloom in my yard that I can safely bring inside? I do have some blooming rhododendrons.

What perennials are growing in your garden?

For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes