Camping is one of my all-time favorite pastimes. Growing up in Colorado, this meant long family drives to national parks with a pop-up camper in tow or treks into the mountains for weekend backpacking adventures, with surrounding views of the Rocky Mountains.
In Florida, most camping I've found is far from those picturesque peaks --overcrowded campgrounds full of satellite-tv-equipped trailers are peppered along alligator-ridden rivers--but the Sunshine State also has a beautiful network of spoil islands. These small, vacant refuges are accessible only by boat and are free for the nightly mischief of camping.
One of my first times to the islands, my friend Rani and I canoed out with a boat full of firewood, beer, vegetables wrapped in foil for fire cooking, and the other trappings of camp life. While I was setting up the tent, Rani quickly hung up two super-cool Eno camping hammocks she had bought for the occasion.
My friend (and adorable flower child at our wedding) Riley told me that I should make a blog about my chicken coop. Riley is really smart; taking her advice is probably always a good idea. I'm taking the opportunity to cover all things backyard chicken-y.
It's been five months since I spontaneously brought three little chicks home from the feed store. Since then Starfox violently "played" with Savannah, our plucky little escape chicken, and killed him (Savannah turned out to be a rooster). They say that one of the rules of having chickens is that at least one will die a horrific death, and we had ours. It was a sad day, but I am thankful for the lesson. We have better secured the chicken area from the rest of our yard, and I am glad that, because roosters are not allowed in my city, Starfox saved me the inner turmoil over sending Savannah (Savannoh?) to chicken heaven.
Vidalia and Fern
Anyway, onto gloriously positive things: our other two chickens are still alive! Vidalia and Fernandina have gotten crazy big. They look like real chickens now and less like creepy dinosaurs, although I am now weirded out by chicken combs (they are super sketch! I guess I'll get used to them).
Vidalia and Fern are definitely best friends--they take dirt baths together, stand guard while the other is laying, and cuddle up together at night. Vidalia runs up to me when I come into chickenland and chases after me when I leave--Fern is a bit more of a scaredy-hen, but she is always a few steps behind Vidalia wherever she goes. They both like to be pet and are mostly ok with being held--Fern can be a real meanie sometimes about it, and usually at the exact moment I am trying to take a picture of a friend holding Fern she throws a fit. Camera-shy, she always tries to weasel her way behind Vidalia in pictures (I had to take so many photos to finally get one of her in the front).
My friend Michelle Weger emailed me a sketch of what she wanted for her King of All Creation album artwork, along with the words "I envision something very creation-y. Birds, sky, earth. I kind of see a starburst frame with a primarily sketched circular center with maybe some water color undertones and the title across the bottom in some handwritten old-school cursivey goodness? I don't know if that even translates lol..."
I love emails like this because although Michelle was uncertain if she had effectively communicated her vision for the artwork, the entire picture popped into my head as a finished work--all that was left to do was to actually make the artwork in real life.
I started out by drawing the "creation-y" scene out in pen on paper, then scanning it to add the watercolor effects digitally in photoshop. Creating the entire image on paper would have been risky with a design like this--if the tree needed to be a different color or the sky needed to be a deeper shade of blue, I would have had to re-do the entire piece from scratch. By coloring digitally, I was able to alter hues and textures much more efficiently.
I also don't have a lot of experience with watercolor, and my experiments with the medium usually turn into brown mush-lands of trash. Photoshop watercoloring is much safer with my skill level.
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