Life is still carrying on pretty much as usual out here at Wild Ozark. Chloe is still staying with me and I’ve finally managed to begin painting again. I’ve also been trying to catch a crow I’ve named ‘Spot’. And during my daily walks, I’ve been visiting where the creek crosses the driveway to collect pigments and generally admire the beautiful Ozark earth colors.
Daily Paintings with Earth Colors
July is World Watercolor Month, and I have been painting a little vignette daily using my latest palette of Ozark earth colors. You can see all of them so far on my page dedicated to that project, if you like. I haven’t done today’s yet, though, so for the first time since the beginning of the month I might fall behind or skip a day. Here’s yesterday’s. Chloe and I went out to paint plein air for this one, a little downstream on Felkins in one of my favorite spots.
A Crow Named Spot
I know what you really wanted to know about was this crow. Earlier during the week I saw an injured crow. It could fly a little ways and once it flew up into a tree I could see that the problem was his leg. He couldn’t use it to stand, and so flapped around in the tree a bunch while it waited for me to leave so it could go back down to the ground. I don’t know what happened to it, but any number of things could have hurt him out here where predators are plentiful. Or maybe it was a fledgling and just hatched that way. The interesting thing about this crow was the white spot on his back. So you can imagine how I came up with the name, haha. Anyway, I’ve always loved crows and would loved to have given this one a convalescent home. But it was not to be. I couldn’t manage to trap the wily thing, and I haven’t seen him in a couple of days now.
The Treasure Trove Creek
It never ceases to amaze me how rich the pigments are here in this little spot. Lots of earth colors here. It’s just a tiny spring-fed creek, but every time it rains new rocks wash into my spot. This is where I gather most of the pigments I use.
The only two that come from other locations are the greenish stones, from Felkins, and the smooth red stone that I get from King’s river. Our little creek (called ‘the branch’ by the locals) is a tributary that feeds into Felkins. Then Felkins spills into King’s. I’m not sure where it goes after that, but it goes a long ways. We’re up near the headwaters of both Felkins and King’s.
The odd thing is, though, that although the rocks are great up here near the headwaters, they’re terrible for pigments downstream at the Berryville landing. Somewhere between here and there the geology changes and there are less silt and sandstones and more flint type rocks. Those are very hard to break, let alone grind. Even from mountain to mountain here near our house, it changes quickly. On the next one over, it might be more limestone. But right here, it’s mostly sandstone. The sandstones are perfect for pigment, and they’re the source for most of my earth colors.
A Different Kind of Earth Colors: Black Birds, Yellow Birds, Brown Birds, and Fawns
I never was able to get a picture of ‘Spot’, but he looks like the average crow with a white spot at the top of his tail. Today I saw the first woodcock I’ve seen in several years. I couldn’t get a picture of it, either, but was happy to have gotten a pretty good look at it and hear the whistling wings as it flew away. But I did get a good picture of the yellow bird:
Our fawns are late this year, and I wondered if the does that have been bedding down in front of the house would ever produce any. Finally I began noticing the tiny prints alongside the larger ones, and the other day got a good sighting of spots. Not a great photo, but still cute.
That’s All for Now
That’s it from me. Pretty much the usual kinds of things I do in a day… I really need to spend a little less time outside playing around in the creeks, and more time with yard-work and housework, so maybe that’s what I’ll do this week. What have y’all been up to?
Oh, and I’ve made some cards using the image at the top of this post to use as thank you notes when filling future orders. I just love the way the pigment scrapes on the rocks look. I’ll have some notecard sets soon, variety packs. So if you’ve been waiting for those to come on line, it won’t be much longer.
Have a rock-smashing good day!
Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she began experimenting with watercolor painting, using her local pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints, and her artwork features exclusively the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration.
Her online portfolio is at www.MadisonWoods.art.
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