Botanical shapes call to me all the time. I don’t know why, and don’t really want to dissect it, but they do. This orchid that has been on our kitchen table for weeks, for example. Another orchid, in my office, has over a dozen buds, and I’m hoping I’ll have time to draw it later this week, before they all open.

Drawn with SketchBookX on Samsung Galaxy S8
Drawn with SketchBookX on Samsung Galaxy S8 phone

Our friend Finchley, as my wife calls our friendly finch, is back! At least, I think it’s him. I’m not much of a birder, but I heard a familiar chirping around the house that made me say to Joy just this morning, “I wonder when the finches will come back.” And there one was a few hours later, perching on the phone line just outside our kitchen window and flitting between there and a point below, closer to the house, and out of view that I assume is the tangle of morning glory vines that grow up the front wall.

We had a pair nesting there all last spring and summer, and the year before. While they are building the nest, which male and female do together, they fly between that wire and their hidden nest, and off to farther spots to get building materials, all day long. I identified the male despite my lack of birding savvy because of the distinctive reddish-violet breast feathers. The bird I just saw was mostly brown, with faintly yellow breast feathers. I think that probably signals “male,” as the female birds are always just brown as far as I can find out, while the males can vary in color quite a lot depending on their diet.

So if this is our friend from the last two years–and house finches do return to the same spot over and over, building a new nest each year in a place they have found amenable–then he has been eating something different than he was last year. In 2022, I didn’t notice his visits until later in the year, not having yet learned to watch for him, so maybe it is more about the time of year and he will get more red-breasted and -headed as the seasons change. I’m so glad he is back so we can see.

Also, I’m gratified because I was all set to get the house painted at the end of the summer, which would have required cutting the morning glories all the way down to the ground. The painter I hoped to hire didn’t get back to me, and it became clear that if we did it in 2022, we wouldn’t be done until late fall, and so the morning glories wouldn’t get to begin regrowing until then. I got more and more nervous about the timing, until I realized that there was no rush to paint, and that I could just give up on 2022 and line up a painter for late August 2023 instead, to begin work as soon as we’re pretty sure they have left that year’s nest. The only down side of this plan is that it means another year of having our garage door a different color scheme than the rest of the house: bright blue with yellow trim. That’s what the rest of the house will be when it’s painted, and we got the paint because the garage door couldn’t wait. As a result, our house looks like a very prominent statement of support for Ukraine. Oh well, we can be glad we actually agree with our garage.

Here are the last few days’ stages of the same drawing.

I don’t quite want to call it done yet, even though I’m playing with other things as well.

Drawing only 10 minutes or so means slow progress, but I’m enjoying myself, and the geometries that keep appearing in this structure the more time I spend with it.

I started drawing this with pens the other day, since I had gray and black gel pens and thought, hey, basically two colors here, I could draw it in just those two. But the lack of erasability made me anxious; I wanted a pencil. So here’s tonight’s start.

I just loved this structure (probably part of a substation, Joy says), and had to take a couple of pictures so I could draw it.

I asked my daughter for a drawing prompt, and she texted back, “Wires.” Then I drew for about 90 seconds and fell asleep. I did more tonight, enjoying the play of abstraction.

But also, between that prompt and missing my wife, I noticed a substation (I think that’s what it was) and took a couple of photos. Most people don’t feel tenderness upon seeing electrical infrastructure, but when your sweetie is an energy policy wonk, they evoke pleasant memories of traveling together and hearing about the substations, transformers, distribution and transmission wires, etc. I’ll draw that tomorrow, during the long limbo of cross-country travel. Wires, continued.

I had a rather thrilling experience as I was flipping through my phone’s photos to find the reference photo for this drawing. I saw a photo I had taken of the half-finished drawing and thought for a few moments that it was the original. Hyperrealism is seldom, if ever, my goal, but to have successfully conveyed something so elusive is deeply satisfying. I have learned a lot about water through this process.

This was what I worked on on Wednesday and Thursday, and it is now finished.

Ocean 2, ink pen (Pilot Precise V5) on paper, approx 8″ x 5″

One more day’s drawing and it will be done, I think. From a photograph of the ocean section of Biosphere 2, outside Tucson, AZ.

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