Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Oatland Island Wildlife Center was a stop we made on our way from Tybee Island.  Well worth the trip, with plenty of critters to see.

The large brick structure was built by the Order of Railway Conductors for a railroad workers retirement home in 1927, then at one point it was the very first building for the Center for Disease Control (before they moved to Atlanta).  Now it belongs to the Savannah Board of Education and they have 175 acres of forest, salt marsh and freshwater wetlands.  The animals you can see there include a wolf pack, bobcat, cougars, eagles, owls and alligators.  

American Alligator nest with eggs (unsure whether they were real or not).

This is how big a bald eagle's nest is!!  Mock-up lets you sit inside, but I know those eggs were not real.  The center had two beautiful bald eagles and a lot of raptors, including owls and hawks.  

Male cougar.  As soon as he saw us, he ran up to the glassed area and began walking back and forth.  When the water hose came on, he ran there, pushed himself up to the fenceline and let the water spray him down.  Guess he was hot and humid in the Georgia weather.

American Beautyberry, which was abundant along the paths.  The Native Americans used this for numerous ailments.  Plus it's just beautiful to look at!

And speaking of things which are beautiful to look at:  We got to drive over to Spring Island, South Carolina to meet a blogger/artist friend I'd met online, Pam Johnson Brickell.  Pam is a naturalist in every way and loves going out and doing plein aire painting in the woods, along the streams, at the golf courses (where wood storks nest in the trees along the sides of the greens).  It was such a treat to meet her and she graciously took us around the area to show off some wonderful sights in the Spring Island Trust area.  All the homeowners in the area have their homes built back from the roads, tucked away and unseen, keeping the place as natural as possible.  

Pam works for the Spring Island Trust, doing signage for some areas, along with leading workshops in watercolor journalling in the Art Barn.  She does more than that, but I really don't know how she works at all with so much beauty all around her, including egrets, owner's horses, ponds and marshlands, old growth forests, tabby ruins, etc.  (Tabby is a mix of limestone, sand and oyster shells and was used to build many of the early buildings on the plantations.)

Thanks, Pam, for taking the time to show us around and for having a lovely dinner with us and your hubby!!!  

And I'll end with a trip to where many have ended:  The Bonaventure Cemetery just outside of Savannah.  

Couldn't resist taking this one.

Bench where one sits and sips martinis.  The grave of Conrad Potter Aiken, author, is under the bench.  I love that is says, "Cosmos Mariner  Destination Unknown" on the bench.  He supposedly saw the ship, The Cosmos Mariner, once when he was visiting the graves of his mother and father (in the same family plot).  He came home and looked up the information in the shipping news and it said, "Destination unknown."  His father and mother's dates of death are the same - his father shot his mother and then turned the gun on himself, making Conrad an orphan at age 11.  He spent the first 11 years of his life in Savannah, and his last 11 years of his life in Savannah (in the house right next door to his boyhood home).

The songwriter, Johnny Mercer.

The most photographed grave in the cemetery, that of little Gracie Watson who died at age 6.  Her gravesite is completed surrounded (and locked) by a metal fence.  There is a plaque telling her story inside the fencing.  What gave me a little chill was the toy animals someone is leaving on the fence for Gracie.

Another pretty statue.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Well, now, where do ya'll want to go today?  Let's put on our good walking shoes and head out again to see more of this beautiful old city...

Head on over past Troupe Square towards Lafayette Square and you will find the childhood home of writer, Flannery O'Connor.  Born in Savannah in 1925, Miss O'Connor lived in this house until 1938.  

A prolific short-story writer, she said, "Whenever I'm asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one."  Miss O'Connor was a devout Catholic and I imagine the sight of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, right across the square, gave her much pleasure.

Let's go on west towards Madison Square, then head south on Bull Street.  Now this, of all the houses in Savannah, was my favorite.  Why?  Well, if there was ever a house that was really haunted in Savannah, it would be this one, housing Alex Raskin Antiques, it was full of interesting and old things (barely enough room to walk around) and just look at the all the interesting and spooky details of the house and surroundings...

The house looked a little worse for wear, not updated and fixed up to be so pretty.  I liked that about it, and the iron details of the balcony on the second floor with the iron fence and the rusty-colored surrounds of the windows just made me want to poke around and look at more things.  

Is that a woman in the window?  Or is it something else?

Well, enough of this.  Let's go back to the car and drive down to the river and see what there is to see...

Not exactly easy to find a spot to park even with all the meters that take quarters or credit cards...driving around and around and over and under, finally found River Street and walked up and across to the Cotton Exchange building, which looked interesting.  Now the home of Solomon's Masonic Lodge Number One, it was built in 1887 (Savannah and Liverpool, England were the only two places in the world where the price of cotton was quoted.)  On the other side and down to River Street (the building incorporates "air rights" as it is constructed over the Drayton Street ramp that descends to the river), you can see the dock where cotton was loaded onto barges on the Savannah River.

Sorry, but I didn't take a photo of Emmett Park or the Celtic Cross in the park.  I think I may have been getting tired and hot, and ready for a rest.

And time to head outside of Savannah to more natural surroundings.  One afternoon we drove out to Tybee Island to meet with Dr. Joe Richardson who leads a beach walk and exploration each day.  Dr. Richardson has done work and study on San Salvador Island in the Bahamas and has taken students and teachers there for research (this is the same place Sweetie goes to each year at least once to do research on his cave critters).  We met right across from the Tybee Lighthouse and walked down a boardwalk to the beach to begin our exploration (along with one other family of four).

The beach where we wandered, digging up various interesting and small critters, including a mole crab (cutest little thing with a pale blue underbelly); and I found a really big horseshoe crab in the black rocks at the jetty, which Dr. Joe said was a great find at this time of year.  

The top photo of the lighthouse was taken from the beach side through the seagrass.  

The second photo of the lighthouse was taken right across the street from it in the parking lot outside.  I like the red roofs of the buildings playing off the white and black colors everywhere else.

Since it was a cloudy day (in fact, we thought we'd get rained out), I didn't put on a bit of sunscreen and came home with a red neck!

Monday, September 15, 2014


Just returned from a beautiful week in Savannah, Georgia.  Gorgeous homes everywhere, history in every brick and cobblestone, 24 squares/parks all around the city, and live oaks draped with Spanish moss!  Hot and humid every single day = close to or above 90F each day as we walked and walked and walked.  So many photographs, I won't bore you with them all but will share a few.

We stayed in a lovely rowhouse (called the Bluebelle) in the historic district on East Jones Street (named the most beautiful street in Savannah in some of the books).  Yes, I wanted the blue one! 
Although the houses here are side by side with no room in between, we didn't hear neighbors at all except on the last day when we heard people in the beige house next to us (or was that a ghost walking around the running water over there - Savannahians do love their ghosts and ghost stories!). 

East Jones is a beautiful cobblestone street with brick sidewalks (you had to be careful and watch your step in case you walked on a crooked brick and twisted an ankle).  We rented the place for a week and it made for a nice home-away-from-home as we toured the city.  

Of course, we had to tour Forsyth Park (famous as the centerpiece of Savannah, although it is on the southern tip of the historic district, it has a beautiful fountain which seems refreshing on a hot and humid day).  

Magnolias were heavy throughout the park, and I had to pick up a pod with leaves and limb still attached to get a photo.  The pods seem to go from golden to reddish-orange on the trees and then fade to black as they lay on the ground, bright red seeds popping out for the next season.  Magnolias, live oaks, crepe myrtle, and other trees were  all draped in Spanish moss from every branch.

Forsyth is definitely family friendly - the day we were there, they were having some kind of Mommie+Me races and obstacle course runs with about 50 moms and their kids in strollers!

The fountain (not on the morning we went but on later as we were leaving).

You could walk in the park and around the park for hours, looking at the beautiful old houses which have been lovingly restored.  
Savannah was in disrepute after World War II but in the late 1950's the people of Savannah who had the money and the influence began to push for restoration rather than tear down of the buildings.  Now just about every other house has been restored in the Historic Area with plaques on the sides stating when it was built and by whom.  

Houses outside Forsythe Square - an architects dream city with so many styles.

The Mercer Williams House on Bull Street (across from Monterey Square), built by the great-great grandfather of Academy Award-winning lyricist, Johnny Mercer (Moon River, Autumn Leaves, etc.) and restored by Jim Williams in the mid-1950's.

If you have read the 1994 John Berendt book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (or seen the movie), you will get an idea of some of the area and its residents - although he chose the quirkiest residents to be found at that time to put in the book).  I bought a copy of the book in the Mercer-Williams house gift shop (behind the house in the old carriage house) because I wanted to read it again after reading it years ago.

This is where Jim Williams had his famous black-tie Christmas party every year (and his infamous "gentlemen only" parties the night after the Christmas party).  This is also where Williams shot and killed young Danny Hansford.  Williams had four trials.  One man in the house told me, "He had four trials because he couldn't get a fair trial in Savannah.  Everyone had made up their minds.  He was finally aquitted, but was not found not guilty."  

In the same house, an older, distinguished gentleman replied in a soft Georgia drawl when I asked about the heat, "Well, yesss, it is warm.  But we only have winter two days in January." 

Well, I think that's enough for today.  Time to stop in to Clary's Restaurant for a sweet tea and something delicious to eat :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Air Play
Half sheet (15 x 22 inches) 
Fabriano Artistico 140# cold press paper

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Did a bit more on the dried flowers of the Autumn Crow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Playing with simple colors (Holbein's Mineral Violet + Daniel Smith Permanent Alizarin Crimson), with some drips and drizzles.  

Conflict Crows
on fourth sheet (11 x 15 inches) Fabriano Artistico 140# cold press paper

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Before I began playing and studying the Jean Haines book and way of painting, I had this drawn on a full sheet of 300# cold press paper,  I wet the background area and put in dark blue, creating the swirls by letting it dry a bit and then swirling into it with a damp brush.

I then started choosing the blue pigments I'll use in this one (nothing but blues, even if they are greyed blues).  The main thing is to MAINTAIN THE WHITES!!!

More to come later as I work on this a little at a time (or a lot at a time, since it's a full sheet (22 x 30 inches).

Friday, September 5, 2014


Sometimes we get busy.  
But, if you're like me, you feel a bit out of sorts if you aren't painting every day or so. 

Go Paint!!!

New supplies are always inspiring!

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Our GCWS meeting/program guest artist/speaker yesterday was Barbara Smucker, a Cincinnati artist who began her journey in transparent watercolors, moved to more opaque work and acrylics, and now considers herself a mixed media abstract artist.  She love color and love to play with pure colors on paper or canvas, just for the joy of seeing the colors together.  She starts abstracts as watercolor on paper just drizzled, dripped sprayed, floated over and around - with spritzes of acrylic ink in a spray bottles and lots of wet media.  Then she sees what is working - or not - and adds line or forms shapes more clearly.  

She told us to play with color in three ways:

Value (lights and darks in a Notan design)
Hues (using pure hues against other pure hues to see what happens)
Saturation (pure, saturated, bold, bright color vs desaturated, greyed down, dulled color.  

It was a good program and I enjoyed her Picasso-esq female figure using blocks of color inside lines that were then reiterated with black lines after.  Fun and entertaining, she didn't just show us techniques, but talked about playing with our art supplies and perhaps taking a journey without end (for we all know water media can take a lifetime to master - if ever!).

Barb's work can be seen in her Pendleton Studio - Studio 712. On the Pendleton site, she doesn't show her work, but you can contact her if you want to stop by, or if you are interested in her classes in Cincinnati.

I'm afraid I don't have any decent photos from the day (didn't take my camera), but you can see some of her work on the GCWS blog here when Barb visited in 2009 (just search Barb Smucker to pull up the May 9, 2009 post where it explains her work and talk that day (this was back when I was the Recording Secretary and I liked getting photos and lots of info in the blog post).