Groovy Link of the Month: Still Blog

Still Blog is the very elegant, nature-photography blog of Mary Jo Hoffman. The blog serves as a record of her daily rambles with children or dogs in tow. Each day she photographs a different object found on her walk and posts it to the blog, which becomes an art installation. The masthead is so beautiful, with the blog name rendered in pencil and small pencil value squares forming the link buttons. This design reflects the simplicity of the blog’s concept and content.

Her technique is very simple: She finds and selects one item to record, then places it on white paper to isolate it, and photographs it.

The results are minimalist poetry.


Wildflower Wednesday: Uncertain weather creates a dilemma

Photo of blue locoweed in bloom near Santa Fe, NM

Blossom cycles wait for no artist! Will I be able to brave the uncertain weather to get my sketching done?

Spring is returning to the mountains of New Mexico. Unlike spring on the Gulf Coast, the native plants here revive slowly, casting a suspicious eye at the changeable and often-threatening weather. Location is everything. First to bloom are the plants sheltered from the wind by piñon and juniper trees, herbs on a south-facing slope, flowers that are fortunate enough to sprout in small pockets and hollows that catch a few drops of extra moisture. To see spring in the desert, you need to look closely at the ground for tiny wildflowers, like the blue locoweed above.

These small wildflowers fascinate and inspire me. I want to paint and sketch them.

But sudden snow showers and forty-degree days affect outdoor artists, too. Gathering wild plants on public lands is liable to get you arrested, while picking them on private land is liable to get you shot. It’s hard to discern the most important botanical details to photograph when you’re shooting on the run with dogs in tow. Getting lost in a sketching reverie is risky in coyote country, as the curious canines are likely to approach to see what the pink monkey is up to, and whether she might make a good meal.

Common sense would dictate that I stay indoors and sketch supermarket tulips. But the wild and free blossoms outside my door are calling. Will I be able to overcome my reluctance to leave the warmth and safety of my studio to answer?

Time and wildflowers wait for no artist!

Hummingbirds are on the move!

Don’t take down your hummingbird feeder just yet!

A rufous hummingbird resting in a juniper tree in the author's yard.

The rufous hummingbird has been a frequent visitor to my backyard feeders this summer. In full sunlight, that black patch on his throat flashes an iridescent scarlet like a traffic light!

After a summer of sipping nectar from North American wildflowers and gardens, hummingbirds begin their migration south in September and October. They very much need the supplemental fuel provided by your garden feeder as flower and insect food become scarce in the cooler weather.

Male calliope hummingbird sipping sugar water from a backyard feeder.

The calliope hummingbird is another desert hummingbird species we have enjoyed watching through our window this summer. Notice the long feathers decorating his throat, almost like a beard, or ornate collar.

If you missed out on attracting hummingbirds to your backyard this spring, fall is an excellent opportunity to set up a feeding station to observe these cheeky little warriors up close.

Calliope hummingbird at a feeder, with violet feathers catching the light.

This shows off the violet iridescent color of the calliope hummingbird’s feathers.

The classic sugar : water ratio is 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water. As the weather gets chillier, I like to bump that up to 1/3 cup sugar per cup of water. This gives the little birds an extra boost to keep warm and build their energy stores for the long flight ahead to South America.

Learn more about hummingbird gardens here:

Learn more about hummingbird migration here:

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