Friday, February 25, 2011

Second Try

Once again we have snow in the valleys of western Oregon – a treat for me and another try at photographing snow on the backs of waterfowl. We head to our local duck pond.

Assuming they did have it, most of the geese and ducks have shaken the snow off; but one pair of geese still has a little blanket of snow on their shoulders … just what I want. Dale stays inside the car to keep the camera dry while he photographs the pair. I hop out with my “write-in-the-rain” paper.

A stillness surrounds me. Big, fluffy snowflakes drift down from a grey, windless sky. Cars off in the distance are muffled, making my world smaller and wilder. I can almost forget I am in a city park. I walk over to the second pond. Lots of nearby goose chatter; a killdeer calls from across the pond, “Killllldeeeer”; a string of trees are reflected in the gray water. I savor the mix of quiet water, silent snow, and the morning greetings of the geese.

It isn’t even freezing now, but did last night. All is frosted in white and starting to drip even as more snow falls. Coot come out on land to feed and soon gather short blankets of snow on their dark shoulders and sprinkles on their black heads. My paper is getting covered with slush … but the snow just keeps getting better and better.

Note: “Write-in-the-rain” paper isn’t stocked on art store shelves. It is designed for biologists, loggers, and such who have to work out doors. I decided I don’t use mine often enough. It was perfect for the soggy conditions. I started by trying to sketch with my fountain pen, but it was only slightly better than trying a pen on wax paper – really weak lines. The trees sketch has a little ink, but mostly a graphite pencil. It was barely snowing then so this sketch stayed cleaner.

I wanted stronger values so I next tried a very soft graphite pencil. I quickly realized the soft lead gathered water and was splotching, but it did give a loosey goosey effect …. Pun intended.
Finely I switched to a simple mechanical pencil with a harder lead. I had more control with the harder lead …. But by then the slushy snow was falling so quickly I was pushing snow around on my page! Wiping it off didn’t seem to be an option without smearing the lines.

The drawings are nothing to brag about but the memory is delicious. How better to capture the magic of the moment than to be right out in it?


  1. Along with your commentary, I think the sketches are splendid! Thanks for taking me with you. I loved your comment about being able "to almost forget you were in a city park." I can so totally relate.

  2. Enjoyed the post. When we get snow, I want to enjoy it while it lasts (which is usually just a few hours). It's great you got to be in nature even if it was a park. With the snow all around, I can imagine how you'd feel you were out in the wilds. To me, your sketches are great.

  3. Wow.. great shot of the goose with snow on its back. wow.
    I told you it would snow again. You were braver then me.. I felt like I was there. Great drawings too.

  4. Ahh, but you didn't tell us what kind of gloves or if you were bare knuckled, ha! Love the post and both photo and sketches. Wouldn't even have thought of being there except vicariously with you.

  5. Yep, it sounds like you enjoyed playing in the snow. Love the goose shot. I don't think your sketches are so bad for the conditions. It was fun being there with you.