Friday, August 31, 2012

Alabama Bird: Purple Finch

In preparation for the Alabama Coastal BirdFest I am working on a series of birds native to Alabama. 

Today's bird is the Purple Finch
Scientific name: Carpodacus purpureus

According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Uncommon and erratic in winter, spring, and fall in inland regions. In Gulf Coast region, rare and erratic in winter, spring, and fall. Found in woodlands, especially deciduous. Low Conservation Concern.

Length of feather: 6"

Thursday, August 30, 2012


For Missy

This is Skunk, my cousin's epileptic cat that she rescued.  Rub his belly for good luck!

Length of feather: 7"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nurse Monica

For my very cool cousin Monica, who is finishing up nursing school, and is a known crazy cat lady. Congratulations!

Length of feather: 6 1/2"

Monday, August 27, 2012

Butterfly Memory

For Jerri.

Thinking of you during this difficult time of loss. Wishing you peace and love.

Length of feather: 7"

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hats off to Larry

I've got a huge pile of peacock feathers on my dining room table that I'm about to dive into. That will start this evening or tomorrow. However, today I painted a picture OF peacock feathers on a feather from a goose.

Length of feather: 8"

Saturday, August 25, 2012

It came from the deep


This was a lot of fun to paint. I'll definitely have to do some more in this theme.  I love swimming in deep waters and feeling the bottom drop out below me. It is terrifying and wonderful. It was such a rush to swim out into the Atlantic Ocean from Puerto Rico in 2006. I felt a such a visceral sense of the fragility of life,  thus feeling utterly and completely aware of being alive. That must be the same sort of rush that sky divers get when they leap. 

Length of feather: 8"

Friday, August 24, 2012

Like Jelly

Jelly fish, that is.  The jelly fish at the New Orleans Aquarium are one of the most fantastic things I've ever seen in that city. Note to swimmers new to the Gulf of Mexico: if you get stung by a jelly fish, have a friend pee on you. It neutralizes the poison and makes for a good story too.

Length of feather: 6"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Shrimp Jubilee

I recently applied to be an artisan at the Daphne Jubilee Festival, and as part of the application process I needed to apply for an Alabama Business Licence. In the past, the state hasn't enforced the licence at arts and crafts festivals, but they are going to start being more stringent. I had to make a few phone calls to find out how much my fee would be for the licence ($17) and in which category I should register (174. Transient Vendor/Peddler). The business choices listed in the form are delightfully antiquated! It is incredibly fun to read, and well worth your time if you're interested in late nineteenth and early twentieth century American history. There are many fantastic business categories; here are just a few of my favorites from the form:

95. Devices for testing skill and strength used for profit
109. Hat cleaning establishments
119. Legerdermain and slight of hand
132. Moving picture shows; Transient Operators
144. Playing cards
155. Scientists, naturopaths and chiropodists

Length of feather: 7"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Snow Birds

At arts festivals, my white feathers are not nearly as popular as feathers with patterns and darker colors. On the other hand, painted eyes are one of my most popular themes. In response, to bring the two ends of the popularity spectrum together, I painted five white feathers with eyes today.

Length of feathers: 2" to 3"

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ralphie Raccoon

Ralphie Raccoon claims this yard in the name of the Republic of Ralphania. Sardines shall be served at noon in the clubhouse.

Length of feather: 3"

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pelican Pete

Pelican Pete is a native Virginian, but enjoys spending winters on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi; He and the missus occasionally enjoy catching Carnival Cruise Lines vacations to Columbia and Venezuela when they can snatch up a last-minute bargain on tickets. They used to catch the cruise out of Mobile, but since Carnival stopped docking there in 2011, they now head over to New Orleans when they want to take a weekend side trip to the Caribbean.

Length of feather: 5 1/2"

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gonna Make Those Brown Eyes Blue

 Actually, the eyes were green before I changed them to blue.....

Length of feather: 6"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Orange You Going to Come to the Show?

Meow. This simple little orange cat is the result of being sidetracked by other work this past weekend. Much of that work was directly related to FeatherMore. Most of the rest involved ripping down wallpaper in my parents' guest bathroom to discover that, because the toilet tank is flush up against the wall, the drywall behind it is moldy and crumbling. A simple job of "let's paint this room a new color" now requires plumbing and drywalling to really do it right. Oy vey.

I'm very proud and excited to announce that I have received my acceptance to the Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi. I have also been accepted to several shows and festivals for this fall in the past few days. I'm pleased and honored that I will be showing at
Alabama Coastal BirdFest in Fairhope, Christmas City Gift Show in Biloxi,  The Inaugural Cedars Juried Art Exhibition in Jackson, and Chimneyville Crafts Festival in Jackson. Other applications pending. More festivals and events to come. 

Completion of step two of five-year plan for fabulous fame and fortune through feather painting: Check. 

Length of feather: 3 3/4"

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kokopelli Red and Black

This one is small and simple, but I really like it. The black tip on the chicken feather is lovely. This kokopelli has deed thoughts and a lively spirit.

Length of feather: 1 1/2"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kokopelli on Parrot

Kokopelli isn't a subject I wouldn't have chosen for my feathers on my own, but I have had a request from a flutist friend, so I'm painting ten of them different styles to see how I might be able to make it more interesting.

Length of feather: 6"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Raccoon Band! Double Bass, Double The Pleasure!

I've played many different instruments, but I never had much success with double bass, mostly due to my lack of hand strength. I have slender fingers. I have a decent reach on the piano; I can hit the interval of a 10th if I stretch. I have good dexterity; I can play bassoon quickly and I type 65 words per minute on a bad day. However, I can't open jars or even the lids of plastic soda bottles without the help of pliers. I drop things regularly. I struggled with grips when I was training in judo, preferring open handed throws and holds that didn't require a grip. My fingers would just give out. That lack of hand strength made holding down the strings of double bass a challenge as well. Tiny, graceful pinky fingers, you failed me.

Length of feather: 1"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Raccoon Band! Congas, Cutie!

Patta tatta patta play!
Patta tatta patta hey!
Conga bonga conga bonk!
Conga bonga conga zonk!

23 Raccoons = Ron Claus! Tee hee!

Length of feather: 1"

Monday, August 6, 2012

Raccoon Band! Badass Bagpipes!

For Trey, my favorite bagpiper.

Trey and I both went to Alma College, where we both spent a large percentage of our time in the department of music. Alma has a distinct Scottish flair. Members of the band sport kilts, the school has its own registered tartan, students can study bagpiping and highland dance, there is an annual Robert Burns dinner where haggis is served, athletes come from great distances to compete in highland games summer, and the college offers a study abroad program with the University of Aberdeen. The mascot is Scotty, and the sports teams are the "Alma Scots," which most people agree is an improvement over the previous designation of the "Fighting Presbyterians." Go! Fight! Win!

Length of feather: 3/4"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Raccoon Band! Awesome Accordion!

For Ted Lange

In senior year of high school, Ted was voted "Most Musical" of the guys, and I was voted "Most Musical" gal. The predictions have proven correct in that we've both pursued careers as professional musicians. Ted plays accordion and I play contrabassoon: hands down, two of the most beautiful, sonorous, elegant, popular instruments in existence.

Ted's polka band is excellent. Check out the website at and read his impressive bio, which puts mine to shame.

The best marching band halftime show we did in high school was the polka show that featured Ted (though the Hee Haw show was a close second)

Length of feather: 1"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Raccoon Band! Go Go Guitar!

The tiny raccoon band has been doing a lot of recruiting and six new members will be joining this week.

Previous members include the drummer, sousaphone and ukulele. The coolness factor is about to go up by leaps and bounds. Rockin' Raccoons.

Length of feather: 1"

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Swan Song

A limerick by Maestro Doug Scripps (written for me in 1998 for the Alma Symphony Orchestra dinner honoring the graduating seniors of Alma College. He wrote one for every senior, each year):

Her swan song's a dismal refrain
which is driving me slowly insane
Whose dreaded bassoon
is so out of tune?
that rubber chicken Buckeye Elaine.

Our last concert of the season was Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. The Swan Song features a prominent and challenging bassoon solo in the beginning, so for each rehearsal I brought along a rubber chicken, which served as the bassoon section mascot.  During one rehearsal, the trombone section took it up into the catwalk, tied a noose around its neck, and lowered it down over Mr. Scripps' head during my solo (which worked brilliantly; the string section completely lost their composure). Even though we had a lot of fun, we took the music seriously and were a fine little orchestra that played quality repertoire well. I learned so much from Mr. Scripps about what the sublime is in music, that it is necessary to take risks and put your full heart and soul into each performance no matter how raw or vulnerable or overcome with joy it leaves you, the importance of quality over quantity, and living well and the importance of the better, richer, finer things in life. I would not be a bassoonist today had it not been for him.

The Roasted Swan from Carmina Burana (listen for the bassoon playing in its highest register right at the beginning):

If you don't recognize that section of Carmina Burana, you'll likely recognize this part: 

And, on that same note, the best classical music flash mob to date (in Vienna's West Train Station):