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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Amelia Island Artists Workshop
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.  Ours was great sharing in another great Paella feast.  Next story will show all the fun Thanksgiving things going on down South.
Turtle Season continues...see the last paragraph...

After the fog lifted and the week moved on I became a student along with 13 other artists as Nicholas Simmons, well known water media artist, paid a visit to Amelia Island to share his award winning techniques and well kept secrets with us.
I had admired his paintings from the first time I saw them and I wanted to know how he was getting what he was getting.  He shared a lot of his secrets, many of which I can adapt into my own way of working.  Of course my big concern was making sure he had plastic underneath his work when he proceeded to let the paint pour off the surface of the sheet of paper with questions like, "you aren't letting that drip on the floor are you?".  I was momma to the class, carrying water and setting out snacks for everyone.
The beginning of a painting I started using his techniques as I split my day in pieces playing all the roles I had to play.  I was student, workshop coordinator, and turtle lady all rolled into one.  The drawing is done and certain areas like the fish and the plants, I am in the process of covering portions with a protective layer, a maquoid, which comes in many brands, but is a lot like rubber cement.  It allows me to pour and spray the painting to get a nice loose background without messing up the parts I want to use another technique to finish.
At lunch I run to the gallery to print off homework for the class and then on to check out the turtle nest.
Rushing back to the car to head back to the class I have to do a double take at the very interesting light pattern reflected on the pavement next to my van by the hub cap parked in the adjoining parking space.  I see a lady with a crown maybe it is Lady Liberty or a park fairy.
Back in the classroom Nicholas puts the finishing touches on the Koi in his painting.  You will notice the hair dryer which was a big part of our being able to dry our work, which starts out very wet, quickly so that we could go on to the next part.  With 15 people all enthusiastically drying their work on our first project there was suddenly deadly silence as somewhere in the hotel a couple of breakers had thrown up their arms in defeat.  As all eyes turn toward me, I grabbed my workshop coordinator hat and headed to the front desk as we frantically tried to the one who knew about the locations of fuse boxes and breakers, but most of all was also the one in charge of the keys, which were all locked up.
Crisis met, problem solved, we once again set off with new resolve to not all use our hairdryers at once.  Nicholas showed us his finished painting.
Back on the beach each day I kept seeing these dainty little bird tracks.  I don't know whose they were, but the tracks were very delicate and flower-like, also very clear.
Out at the mouth of the river there is a passing of the tugs.  Usually the orange tug signals some kind of Sub Base activity and that may have been the case.  We don't always have to see the subs to know they are around.
A few gulls which are larger then the others stand out in the crowd of gulls as they group together on the beach.  I assume that this one is a younger one with all his speckles.  Maybe a Herring gull.
A sad sight is this gull with a very broken, and also likely fatal, wing break.  I did not see him again after that day.
The Pen Shells are very interesting if you can get the right light on them.  When you do, the iridescence of the undercoating shines in the sunlight.
Some really interesting patterns have formed in the hard sand by small shellfish which quickly burrow underneath the sand after the surf washes over them.
A rare find for me is this whole and apparently live sand dollar, which has washed in with the waves.  Since the tide was going out I pick it up to see if it is indeed alive.
As I closely watch the little hair like surface I start to see them moving and I know it is alive.  I toss it far enough out in the waves to make sure it survives.  Too many people have taken these live ones as souvenirs of their trip, depleting their species, possible one of the reasons I rarely find one on the beach anymore.
There are a lot of Black Skimmers mixed in with the other gulls this time of the year, more so than in the summer time.
I thought this very large gull was such an elegant sight as it waded into the edge of the water with its soft gray and white feathers punctuated with the white tipped black feathers of his tail in contrast.  But most of all I thought it had eyes that just seemed to exude a quiet wisdom as it surveyed its world.
On Monday and I had a breather with the class over I was able to take a bit more time on my beach trips.  This day I saw two Gopher Tortoises near two different boardwalks.  This one had to be very old just going by his large size.
Without the fog the Prickly Pair Cactus take on a different color.  The fruit was especially pretty taking on the color of the season with the red and green.
The next day was very windy although still warm.  I could see the white caps from the boardwalk.  The wind was out of the South.
The mid morning water is washed in silver by the high sun overhead.
The still silent turtle nest starts to be filled in its dug out end with the blowing sand.
The sand stung my ankles giving me a cheap dermabrasion as it blew around them.  Maybe I should have crawled up the beach and let it give me a facial.  It was not a day that I wanted to walk very far. 
Another day I thought it was my boardwalk tortoise when I saw the vegetation moving over the side but when I peeped over the edge of the boardwalk it was an Armadillo.  When I stepped over the side to try for a photo he scurried underneath the platform and disappeared.
As  you can see the winter flock of shorebirds is quite large.  By walking slowly I can get  pretty close to them without disturbing them.
I was surprised to see an obviously "slow learner" Royal Tern still begging momma for a snack.  Usually by this time they are weaned to be independent.
It doesn't take much to startle the birds and as I had made it almost half way around them I just could not suppress a cough and off they flew but not very far before settling down to a nearby spot.
Turtle Patrol still goes forward with the last nest past 74 days now.  We did attempt to go ahead and excavate it on Wednesday only to find the eggs much more easily than we had thought.  It was very shallow and none were hatched.  We thought the had probably gotten too cold or were infertile.  We opened one up to verify that was the case.  To my great sadness it was a good egg with a live embryo inside.  It did not survive of course since it was still several days too early.  We quickly remarked the nest and piled the sand back on top to continue our waiting game.  I will keep you posted.

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These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature. Thousands of hours have been poured into them and it has even become necessary to enlist the services of a paid email service to send out the large numbers who now receive them. So, with the current economic situation if you are able to make a small donation to help ensure the continuation of the stories it would be greatly appreciated.)

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