Thursday, June 21, 2012

Berry Bandit

We have a number of serviceberry (amelanchiershrubs and trees in our yard. They are lovely plants with four seasons of interest (spring flowers, early summer berries, pretty autumn colour and an elegant winter silhouette). The berries are like a blueberry but even better (according to me). As much as I love them, it is a race against the birds to eat any.  One of my favourite Canadian garden writers, Lois Hole, wrote of the 'bird tax' you need to pay when you grow any berry-laden plant in your yard. So true.

There is a large serviceberry in front of our living room window and it's hosted a bit of a who's who of our backyard birds in the past few days.  I've seen American goldfinches, house finches, cedar waxwings and many robins. I was really lucky to get a number of shots of this young robin.

The above photo kills me. Doesn't he look absolutely amazed by the feast that surrounds him, as if he doesn't quite know where to start? "Wow! Am I ever glad Mom and Dad live here."
I took the photos by removing the living room window screen and sitting on the floor. My constant companion Meeko sat beside me (of course) but was very quiet and didn't scare the robin.  My robin friend certainly provided enough poses for me to try another bird painting one of these days. I like the pose below probably the best.
Despite all of the bird banditry, we did manage to pick a few for ourselves.  I made this wonderful salad with mesclun from our square-foot garden with some serviceberries thrown in for taste and colour.  (If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you will have already seen the photo.)
This week has been broken up with lots of taxi driving of my two daughters who are now both officially on summer vacation, but I managed to finish one painting.  I painted one of the French breakfast radishes from our garden. I wonder if they call them that in France? It's the first time I've used handmade Twinrocker watercolour paper: both Geninne and Diana Sudyka recommended it to me. Just the deckles alone make me swoon. It was lovely to work with and this particular paper has one hot-pressed side and one cold-pressed side. Very nice paper. (Emma picked out the radish-coloured nail polish for my thumbnail.)
French breakfast radish:  Watercolour on Twinrocker paper
And I started another painting of a serviceberry branch.  The past two days, I've been painting slowly with many interruptions--to the point that the berries have been ripening in in my studio.  Note the difference in colour between the painting that I started two days ago and the the branch. The berries start out a mottled yellow-pink, kind of like an apple, and then they become red and then red-purple. I'll try and finish the painting tomorrow and then I can reward myself by eating the berries, while they are still good. :)
Serviceberry painting in progress (on Twinrocker cold-pressed paper)


  1. I always love your paintings, so delicate! :-)

  2. These radishes are simply called "radis" or "radis roses" (pink radishes) but nothing special. We had some yesterday !! You've painted them so very well, I thought I'd pick it from the screen ! ;-)
    I had never heard of the serviceberries before you introduced them to me. I suppose they don't grow at all over here.
    I hope the berries were good, and that you managed to finish your beautiful beautiful painting !

    1. I think that's pretty funny that we've given those radishes such a fancy name in North America. Thanks for the lovely comments about my paintings, Sonia.

  3. The Robin is lovely, and stayed around a while, well he would, with all those yummy berries, love the painting of these, your greens are very good! The radish is brilliant too, lovely colours.

    1. We've certainly been a popular bird stop lately. :) Thanks for your ongoing encouragement of my work.


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