Dragonfly rapture

George says I’ve been taking too many photos of hummingbirds (is such a thing possible?) so I was happy to get some shots of this Cardinal Meadowhawk Dragonfly resting on a stick in our pond.

Cardinal meadowhawk dragonfly at our pond

Dragonflies are much easier to photograph than hummingbirds or butterflies in the wild, because they rest often, rather than fluttering from flower to flower and flying away. I’ve noticed that when dragonflies visit our pond they find a surface to light on, and although they zip away, they quickly return over and over to the same spot.

Cardinal Meadowhawk Dragonfly

This is one of my closeup photos of a Cardinal Meadowhawk.

Dragonfly

I took this photo of an amazing Blue-eyed Darner dragonfly (Aeshna multicolor) during the Pinole Artisan Plein Air paintout last month. This is my blog post about the paintout and the photo collage that I made using another of my photos of the dragonfly.

Darning needle on wisteria

Other than the Cardinal Meadowhawks, we get tons of these Damselflies in our garden at this time of year. Damselflies are much smaller than most dragonflies, and this one perched easily on a tiny wisteria flower bud.

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Tilden Botanic Garden

What to do for George’s birthday? We hadn’t taken a walk through the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park for a while, so we headed up there after birthday brunch. The Garden is amazing, ten acres of native plants, including many rare and endangered. We were welcomed by two red-tailed hawks, circling high above.

Red-tailed hawksOne dipped a bit lower, riding the warm air.
Red-tailed hawk

A dragonfly zipped by and rested on a branch for a moment.

Dragonfly

There have been some additions and changes to the Garden since we last visited. Or maybe we never noticed this stand of Darlingtonia californica, or California Pitcher Plant, a carnivorous plant.

Darlingtonia

The California Pipevine, or Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia californica) is resplendent in several places through the Garden. And although we didn’t see any mature Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, we saw several caterpillars. This one had just shed its skin.

Pipevine swallowtail caterpillar

This is a Dutchman’s Pipe seed pod.

Pipevine seedpod

On to an amazing display of Humboldt’s Lily. There were several towering up to about 6 feet high, just covered with flowers.

Humboldt lilies

A single Humboldt’s Lily flower.

Humboldt lily

The honeybees and bumblebees were out in full force. Here’s a honeybee, with a pollen pack on its leg, busy feeding from a flower on a flannelbush shrub.

Flannel bush flower with beeI couldn’t believe how many bees were on the many flowers of a Matilija Poppy plant. This one flower had at least ten bees coming and going for the half hour we sat and watched, amazed.

Matilija poppy

A wonderful birthday walk in the Garden, and now … a nap.

George restingHave you been to the Tilden Botanic Garden? Is there a Botanic Garden in your city? What’s your favorite plant or animal there?

First Annual Pinole Artisan Plein Air Paint Out

It was a wonderful day to paint outside. A bit hot, but the well-prepared plein-airian has an umbrella or paints in the shade. We met at the Pinole Art Center at 10 and dispersed to various scenic spots around Pinole to paint (or do other media) for 3 hours.

Pinole Artisans Plein Air Paint Out

I was the only non-painter. I brought my camera to shoot outside, and then scooted back to the Art Center to upload the photos and work on a blended collage in Photoshop. I was ecstatic to get a photograph of an amazing blue dragonfly. George found it in our dragonfly guide book – it’s a Blue-eyed Darner (Aeshna multicolor).

Dragonfly

I ended up using one of the dragonfly photos as the main focus of my collage (I’ll show you that later). At 1 p.m. we met back up at Peet’s for a gentle critique session and peer awards. All of the art was wonderful. First prize went to Semion Mirkin. Semion has an incredible view from the windows of his home, so he drove back there and painted inside to escape the heat. Semion amazed us all by doing 2 paintings. This was the first prize winner:

Second prize went to Frances (Penny) Bledsoe, for her wonderful painting of some daisies.

Georgette captured the third place ribbon for her watercolor, which – amazingly -is the first watercolor she has ever done!

Carolyn Hess organized the Paint Out. She’s a devoted plein air painter, who faithfully goes out with other members of the Pinole Artisans to do plein air painting every Tuesday. This is her watercolor of a tree near Fernandez Park.

This was the blended collage I made, using a photograph of the dragonfly and elements of two photos I took of ducks flying over the creek.

Dragonfly collage

You can see the rest of the wonderful paintings at this link on my Facebook page.

The Pinole Artisans meet on the first Friday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Pinole United Methodist Church, 2000 San Pablo Ave. All are welcome. The Pinole Art Center is at 2221 Pear Street. Our shows rotate about every two months and we have a wide range of local artists’ work, including fine art, photograph, jewelry, textile and fiber art, sculpture, soap and candles, and much more! We’re open from 11 to 4, Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, see the Pinole Artisan website.