Tufted Titmouse

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When I first heard this name, it struck me as sort of odd or a bit funny. My sister Jeanette mentioned this bird when I just finished my Chickadee painting last year. She said, “You should paint a Tufted Titmouse; they are so cute.” To be honest, I don’t think I have ever seen this bird in the wild -have any of you?  I looked up a picture and these birds are indeed adorable with their tuft of hair at the top of their head and their chubby body – similar to the Chickadee which they are related to. Well, I kept this suggestion in mind and recently felt inspired to paint the Tufted Titmouse, the second bird in my bird series. (See the Chickadee at http://www.mjnicole.com).  I learned that the Tufted Titmouse has a call that sounds like “Peter, Peter” and I painted the words on my painting.  I again selected one of the many past holiday cards I have kept over the years and used it to make a few of the wild red berries capped with snow, a tail feather, and also parts of the arched branch. When you see this painting up close, I like how the card paper gives the scene depth. I hope this winter, I will see one in my backyard and call “Peter, Peter” to it.

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Goodbye snow

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At the start of winter, (or even at the end of fall!) I greet the delicate, white, falling snowflakes with joy and often do a happy dance celebrating the start of a new season.  Part of enjoying winter is to make sure you enjoy doing something outdoors such as ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, sledding. My family likes doing all of these activities and we are fortunate enough to be just twenty minutes away from a really great ski resort Jiminy Peak http://www.jiminypeak.com where we can go skiing and snowboarding.  A shortcut we take to get there is Bailey Road and along the way we pass this little yellow farm.  I took the photo on a typical grey winter day, with snow covering the ground and the roof of the barns, house, and silo.  The farm has sat empty for a time and is for sale so perhaps the landscape will change a bit once there are new owners. It is somewhat unusual to see a yellow farm and it is a welcome bright spot on trip.  So I post this painting as a goodbye to our snow and I will do a happy dance when I see the daffodils and crocuses poking thru the earth!

Chickadee, sing me a song

Chickadee, sing me a song

Last week I bundled up to walk my dog and luckily it was a warmer winter day. Birds were out and about and I walked by three old apple trees that still had many dried up red apples on the top branches. A group of chickadees were flying around these trees and singing their Chick-a-dee song for me. I stood for several minutes just watching these joyful birds hang upside down on the branches, peck at the apples, and then flit away to another nearby tree. It really made my day to see these Chickadees having so much fun! It inspired me to paint my latest “Chickadee, Sing me a song.” It is also my first mixed media piece at http://www.mjnicole.com. I have saved every single card I have ever gotten and have been thinking about how to incorporate the cards into my art. A part of the card is what the Chickadee is perched on and if you look closely the words “Sing me a song” are from the card. Let me know what you think!

Ornamental grasses in winter

Ornamental grasses in winter

During the winter, the light can seem so magical especially an hour or so before sunset. As I was driving home after picking up my son from school, the light, the sky, and these ornamental grasses caught my eye. These grasses, Miscanthus Sinensis, (if I identified them correctly!) in the winter turn a light camel color and complement the white snow landscape. I was a bit captivated by the wispy and fluffy tops that curl in a paisley pattern. I have been thinking about exploring painting patterns and this ornamental grass may be my inspiration. My painting called California Coast Succulents (at http://www.mjnicole.com) is perhaps one of my paintings that is closest to creating a pattern. I love finding patterns in nature. . . what are your favorite patterns in nature?