So Much for Photos, Let's do Illustrations!

In pursuit of new interests, I now have work listed on three of the stock photo sites. It is a small (so far) selection of drawings and illustrations instead of photos.

It is difficult, at best, to get top shelf, major mega pixel photos with the equipment I have and frustration finally got the best of me!

A couple have already had nibbles and that just jazzes me to no end!

You'd think after nearly 40 years of earning my living producing and selling this sort of stuff that something like a 50 cent sale would be an "OMG! What a waste of time!" But no... I still get excited as a kid at Christmas to discover a new way to do something or a fresh, new venue! I sure wish there was time to devote to getting more of these done, but bills must be paid!

The process is a little involved the way I do it. I haven't had the time to make the learning curve on using the proper software for the actual (easy) creation of these pieces. I have to freehand them first, trace it on film to get clean lines, scan the durn thing into a viable digital format and finally, add color and finishing touches!

Take a look at this collection on FeaturePics ... no sales here yet, but the largest selection posted so far... and let me know what you think. Suggestions for topics and all ideas are always appreciated!


Long time no see!

Well, it's been such a long time since posting!

It was a busy summer, but it is winding down and I am finally getting back to a bit of writing and computer time. Gardens were a bust this year and my new/old passion for photography took over in their stead.

Decided I needed to do something with the hundreds of photos taken besides clutter up my computer, so I have begun to try my luck on microstock photography sites.

The picture of a mule may seem unrelated to the topic, besides just being one of my photos, but believe me, it is fitting! It is taking all the stubborn tenacity that I have to re-learn what I've forgotten about cameras, translate that to digital and try to develop a commercial photographer's eye...

What fun! I didn't realize what a terrible photographer I am until I started trying to take marketable pictures. This has been a wonderful challenge and has totally changed the way I use my camera.

Equipment is an issue now that I am getting a clue and a new camera is going to be a necessity. Already have some acceptances on a couple of stock photo sites, but still haven't made the grade on the one I really want to qualify with... Making that hurdle will take fine tuning my market awareness as well as a big learning curve with the editing software.

I will be working on adding material to most of the other Gramma's sites over the next few weeks, so be sure to check them out periodically!


Wallowing in Wildflowers

It seems like life has been just plain hectic around here! Gramma's House has slipped way down on the list of priorities because so many other things are demanding immediate attention... like the gardens.

I will finally be planting the last area this weekend. This may not seem unreasonable to many folks in cooler regions, but it is very late for here. My corn, usually about a foot tall by now, is just breaking ground.

The weather is so odd this year that getting such a late start may be a good thing. It was chilly, foggy and misty all day and felt like typical late fall weather.

One advantage to all the dampness and cooler temperatures is that we have had an amazing display of wildflowers! I have found some rare beauties and the old standbys have outdone themselves. The cactus bloom you see at the top is one example. It is a Redeye Prickly Pear (Opuntia violacea). To the left is a lovely morning bloomer normally found much further north, Yellow Salsify (Tragopogon dubius). This is the first time I have seen them in abundance in this area.

With such a bounty of photographic opportunities, I have been thinking of compiling a wildflower identification book! Heavens knows, I have hundreds of pictures. Now all I need is a qualified area naturalist with which to collaborate. I have been appalled at the lack of good cross-referencing available when trying to pin down some of the varieties. Some of the medicinal plants are easy enough, but the names I know them by are rarely considered the “common” name and have been impossible to tag properly. Being an illustrator and having been bitten by the camera bug, these difficulties make me want to design a reference book I would enjoy using myself! Any Big Bend area naturalist types up for a challenge?

This last photo is Southwestern Paintbrush (Castilleja integra), commonly known as Indian Paintbrush. These have been competing with the meadows of Texas Bluebonnets for the award for sheer numbers and robust color.

I am hoping to get a number of posting up across all my pages very soon. Several gardening articles are in the works as are some crafts projects for the kids. I will also try to add a few of the medicinal uses for a few of the wildflowers that are in bloom. Most of these should be gathered later in the season, but now is the easiest time to identify and mark where they are growing.
Until then, light hearts to you all!


And we thought winter was over...

Just goes to show, even the best of the frost prediction plants can be wrong...

Last week the mesquite and desert willows budded out, signaling the last frost of the year. Today a one to two inch layer of sleet and hail looks like snow on the ground. Nearly 24 hours of freezing temperatures has caused sever damage.

A couple of friends have reported an almost total loss of their fruit, and garden devastation where cold frames were not in place. All of the delays with rearranging our own gardens has proved a blessing in disguise... The only apparent damage I have is to my herbs, so far.

It will be a couple of days before the verdict will be in on the young trees we planted. They are bent over with a coating of ice, but nothing is actually broken.



My delight with the arrival of spring has been dampened by the timely, yet unfortunate reminder of one of the perils of this time of year. Rattlesnakes! As the days grow warm, the snakes become active and the woodpile and stands of wildflowers and new growth are inviting hunting and sunning grounds.

It is easy to forget to be watchful and the grandchildren must be constantly reminded that playing in Papaw’s cool piles of workshop materials or picking the abundant wildflowers must be done with alert eyes and ears. I have seemed a nuisance to them with my almost constant warnings, but I suspect that will not be so necessary now. We have all had a hard reminder.

Seven days ago, our young tomcat went hunting. Two days later he came staggering in the door with scratches across his face and an abscess on the inside of his left front leg. A quick examination told the tale. He had been in a fight with a large rattlesnake. I have seen this before and there was no mistaking the wound. What I could not know is how much venom he’d received or how bad it would get since there was no way to really tell when he’d been bitten.

To make a long story short, he almost died. By day four, the scratches on his head proved to be places where venomous fangs dragged across skin. They abscessed and broke open. The flesh, around the two entry points on the leg, has opened and created a large, gaping wound. His leg seems to be functional, which is a miracle considering the bite location. An inch higher and he would have probably been dead before he could make it to the house.

Though our beloved Merlin will bear horrific scars and have a long convalescence, he may have saved us, or one of the grandchildren, from getting bit. We will now be extra alert to our unwelcome guest and take steps to make sure the areas of activity are not so enticing as a snake residence. If found, and we will be conducting a search, the snake will be caught and taken several miles away for release.


It's Official! Spring Has Arrived!

In the mountains of Southwest Texas, the last word on the arrival of spring rests with the mesquite. Until it puts on buds, another freeze is to be expected... No ifs, ands or buts about it.

I have been antsy to get more seed in the ground, but daily checks found no green at all. Sure enough, we had a heavy frost a couple of nights ago and today my venerable old mesquite had bright, tender new growth! I had to take a photo of the largest bud I could find just to celebrate.


Look at the Wildflowers!

These are few photos of our wildflowers that I took today. Some of these may be featured over the next couple of weeks in the Medicine Cabinet and Garden, since some are medicinal and others dandy cultivated as ornamentals.
These are just a little eye candy for now and a lovely Equinox celebration! I hope you enjoy!