Friday, April 26, 2013

Ranch Ramblings: That's a Wrap!

Two weeks of solitude - check.  And I didn't even have to tap into my reserve supply of sanity, although there were questionable moments and the turtle shell I found did become my Wilson*.  (Except the original Wilson probably smelled of the ocean and Ranch Wilson smells like a creek.)  

Ranch Wilson sat on the kitchen window ledge and kept me company.  I'm taking him home and it feels good to bring a part of the ranch with me.

Ranch Wilson

On my very first day here, I marked off a small square of earth to combat the overwhelming excitement to explore everything at once.  It instantly calmed me and made things seem more manageable.  I figured if I took the time to explore everything within that small space, then I could move on to larger spaces.  (Baby Bird One and Baby Bird Two were laid to rest in that same square.)

I did move onto bigger spaces and there is just something about hiking under the enormous Texas sky that hits your reset button.  I feel de-cluttered and ready to move forward with gusto.

I'm not sure how the fruits of this experience will unfold, but the two weeks at Madrono Ranch have helped define my interest in the delicate spaces where the outdoors meets the indoors.  I feel that my arsenal has been stockpiled.  

Thank you Heather, Martin, and Robert & family for sharing your wonderful home!

Over and out!

*Badass reference to the movie, Cast Away.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ranch Ramblings: Day Twelve

I spent the entire day yesterday not knowing if it was Wednesday or Thursday.  And I didn't care. "I'll figure it out tomorrow.", I thought.  It was Wednesday but now it is Thursday.  I'm still a little confused about the whole situation.    

One of my absolute favorite things has been watching and documenting how nature has changed in the short time that I've been here.  I took a photo of the same thistle outside of my door everyday.

Day 2

Day 7

Day 11

And my favorite bouquet of thistles on the planet…

Day 2

Day 4

Day 7

Day 9

Day 12

I've also really enjoyed finding unexpected intersections 
between man and nature.  I give you Exhibit A.

Electric tree.

I've totally been geeking out on nat history books and I have to say that one of the best lines I've read is the description of a nine-banded armadillo from J.J. Audubon and Rev. J. Bachman who thought the armadillo resembled "a small pig saddled with the shell of a turtle."  

If you think that is funny, you might enjoy these as well: 
Still Life:  Adventures in Taxidermy by Melissa Milgrom
The Breathless Zoo by Rachel Poliquin
Natural Histories:  Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library
The Birds of America by Audubon
The Authentic Animal : Inside the Odd and Obsessive World of Taxidermy by Dave Madden

Ranch Ramblings: Day Eleven

It was balls cold today so I spent the morning at the main house getting some research done via internet.  Afterwards I went for a short walk but called it quits when I could no longer feel my face or extremities due to hypothermia. 

Before resigning to my heated cabin, a photo shoot was in order.  Yesterday I spent 5 min. around the cabin site just shooting (camera-style not Davy Crockett-style) anything and everything I found interesting - no matter how ordinary or weird - just shoot it.  Later, when going through the shots, one photo stood out from the rest.  I had to revisit that space this afternoon.

A few years back I spent a month in Wyoming and became completely enamored with pathways.  Dirt roads, river paths, railroad tracks - if it was a continuous line that cut through the landscape to met the horizon, I was in love with it.  

Here in Medina I have that same feeling with reflections.  Specifically, reflected landscapes on windows and glass doors - creating an overlay of indoors and outdoors.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ranch Ramblings: Day Ten

Today seemed like a good day for a field trip.  I googled "museum Kerrville Texas" and found my destination - The Museum of Western Art.  Unfortunately most of the work was not on view because they were preparing for an exhibition sale that will be taking place this weekend.  

I still had a great visit and thought back to my Phoenix Art Museum days cuz (and this is a big shout out to my old co-workers - and you know who you are) The Museum of Western Art is the birthplace of the CAA.  Cowboy.  Artists.  (of.)  America.  The titles of the work can stand alone as art.  I bought a Kenneth Riley print for nostalgia factor.  And because it's awesome.  

Well, I looked at some art now it's time to make some.

Sunburnt pomegranate.

If I haven't totally bored you yet, brace yourself, I'm going to be pretty lame for the rest of the trip.  Here's an example - I spent most of the day reading from the small natural science library I brought.  

I still have three full days ahead of me here but I've begun to shift into wrap-up mode:  What do I want to accomplish before leaving?  What has surfaced from the experience thus far?  How long does thistle fuzz stay fluffy?  What direction do I see myself taking?  Blah, blah, words, snoozefest, zzzzzzz….  

Hey, look at me and the damn llamas!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ranch Ramblings: Day Nine

Today was laundry day so I headed to the main house after breakfast.  While I was waiting for my clothes to dry, I spent some time with the chickens cuz I wanted to be around healthy, alive birds for a change.

Totally.  Alive.

Then it was time to get my work on.

1. Document Thistle Bouquet 
Project #1's progress. 

Note to self:  bouquet is still awesome.

2. Put thistle fuzz in a jar.

Seemed like it needed to be done.

3.  Color scavenger hunt.  
Objective - find rad colors.

I feel in love with this sunburnt, 
insect-infested pomegranate.

Pomegranate, your colors are awe-inspiring.

4.  Honor a fallen soldier.

I have some sad news to share - Baby Bird Two didn't make it through the night.  This evening I gave Baby B's One and Two a proper burial.

R.I.P. Baby Bird Two

*I apologize for Ranch Rambling's anarchic use of font sizes, cutting and pasting works differently out here on the ranch.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ranch Ramblings: Day Eight

Tukeys - I'm a big fan.  And it's a good thing because they are the last thing I hear before falling asleep at night and they wake me every morning.  Their call is ridiculous and I laugh every time I hear it.  It's almost as funny as watching them fly.  Almost.

This morning was no exception, the only thing unusual was that it sounded like they were in the kitchen.  They were having a very serious convo just outside the window.  Two tom turkeys were totally checking themselves out in the bumper of the truck and trying to peck the "intruder's" face off.  

Alright, turkeys…I'm up, I might as well go for a walk.  It was chilly and windy and the bison were in the field I was planning on tromping through, so the walk was shorter than anticipated.  I leaned on the fence and hung out with the buffalo for awhile.

Then I headed to the chicken coop to hang with the poultry.

Next it was back to the cabin for some lunch.  I'm cruising up to the door and what do I see?  A baby bird.  

me:  "Oh cool, you're learning to fly - good luck to ya." 
me:  "Uhh…why are you walking funny?"
baby bird:  "My legs are broken."
me:  "Awesome - my heart just broke then imploded."  
baby bird:  "How do you think I feel?"

Not but a few yards down the path, I find another  baby bird.  But don't worry, this one wasn't hurt.  It was only totally dead.  Dead.  What the fuck!?  I was gone for a couple of hours and I come back to complete baby bird carnage?

R.I.P. Baby Bird

Dammit, I just went through this with a caterpillar.  Can't this shit be spread out a little? 

I spent the rest of the afternoon painting a portrait of the little guy but not before balling my eyes out over the injured baby (who is now in a bassinet next to the bed).  Ranch life is tough.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ranch Ramblings: Day Seven

Things are going pretty smooth when you wake up and the only thing on your mind is a turtle shell.  

Turtle shell photo shoot - check.

Turtle shell painting Stage One - check.

On a morning walk, the subject of man's impact on nature presented itself.  Scattered by a creek near the cabins are a number of kitchen tiles from what I assume to be an old remodeling project.  It's always a bit jarring to come across something that belongs inside of a home while immersed in the middle of the great outdoors.

Nature began looking like structures.  
This leaf totally has windows.

By 1pm the ranch was quiet - 
just me and the buffalo.  
I painted some mountain laurel beans.

As I climbed into bed and turned on the reading 
light, I noticed a pretty awesome shadow.

Thistle.  Fuzz.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ranch Ramblings: Day Six

This morning I made an outing to the city of Kerville to get a few groceries and absorb some cell phone service.  My phone has been a glorified clock for the last 5 days.  It was nice to hear the voices of some loved ones but I was eager to wrap up the shopping excursion and get back to the ranch.

As I entered the cabin something caught my eye.  Underneath my work desk was what looked like a piece of jewelry, upon closer inspection I realized it was one of the beautiful blue caterpillars that I had fallen in love with a couple of days ago.  This poor little guy was on his last leg.  I knew I wanted to paint him down the road so I decided to do a photo shoot caterpillar-style.  R.I.P. caterpillar.

Tonight is the other resident, Margie's (Margie Crisp - check out her stuff, she's awesome) last night.  The training wheels for this total solitude thing are coming off and I'm flying solo for the second half of this experience.  

We were invited to dinner by the owners of the ranch, Heather and Martin.  The meal was lovely and the company was great.  Thank you Heather and Martin for sharing Madrono - it is truly a wonderful gift.

Nature is always up to something, while I was away this evening, this happened…

I hope a thistle spore does not burrow
 into my brain as I sleep tonight.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ranch Ramblings: Day Five

A ranch meeting of sorts will be held at Madrono this weekend and it's been a hive of activity in preparation.  Honing into hyper-focused, work-making mode and climbing into the mind set of complete solitude is a challenge even in the most quiet of settings but it's an added obstacle with mowers buzzing.  In a nerdy way it's comical - here I am making work about thistle like my life depended on it and they're outside mowing it all down.  

Thistle Massacre of 2013:  
The Photo Documentary

To take my mind off of witnessing the carnage of my favorite invasive plant, I decided to get some work done.

Solar print of a turkey feather.

Above is my interpretation of the little dude below.

core from a cypress tree seed

I started a painting of a blob of lichen (far right) and after seeing these small works together will now call them, Alien Objects from Nature.

Before I was out of daylight, I went on an Alien Objects from Nature subject-collecting-expedition.  I found that when you're specifically in search of stuff that looks like it is from outer space, its impossible to find.  But you know what I did find?  


It still totally has some fresh guts in it so I need to remedy that.  For tonight I'm keeping it in the cab of my mom's truck so the raccoons, hyenas, chupacabra, etc. won't get it.  Just kidding Mom!  We swapped vehicles for the trip because her Tundra is way better equipped for buffalo demo derby, doing donuts and burnouts, and picking up shifty hitchhikers.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ranch Ramblings: Day Four

Walking through a thistle field in pajamas and flip flops to see a porcupine nestled in a tree - I highly recommend it, it works better than coffee. The day was overcast and lazy so most of the outings were close to the cabin.  

Just outside of the gate is a clearing next to a creek that I've had a hankering to explore.  I went low camera, no binocs - just me, but within half an hour I was headed back to the cabin to grab my camera cuz there was a Grade A caterpillar situation at hand.  Look at this dude!

Here's a fun game - find a caterpillar in a large zone 
of nature then leave the location for about 20 minutes 
then return and try to find the caterpillar again.

While searching for the caterpillar I meet this guy.

After coming down off of my caterpillar high, I had a painting session/collage making/photo shoot.

Pincushion daisy.  
(Don't worry, the image is not upside down, it just looked 
more like an outer space disco ball this way) 

On a scale of awesomeness, pincushion daisies are a 
super close second next to my beloved purple thistle.


My nature specimen collection is growing...

To put a feather in the cap of my day, I joined Margie for an evening hike to the trout ponds and saw this kickass tree.