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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)

My biggest event of the year at Amelia SanJon Gallery is always the same weekend as the Concours d' Elegance Car Show.  This year I have invited one of Jacksonville's finest artists, Leigh Murphy, American Watercolor Society Signature member, to show a mix of her subjects and media.  Below is an example, a watercolor, -nearly unbelievable in the detailed reflections and convincing "chrome" highlights, you just have to see for yourself!  

She is equally at home painting classic cars and airplanes, as well as motorcycles, which she is often found repairing the motor on her own ride. Having studied marine biology and being an avid gardener her other favorite subjects are sea shells and plants.

Yes, Saturday, March 10, is a special night, Artrageous Art Walk and our artist reception all rolled into one.  We hope to see you all there, starting at 5:30 and lasting until around 8:30.

Spring continues to burst forth in full swing.  The squirrels were having quite a romp in my Jasmine vines, playing like little children in a fast moving game of tag.

The butterflies have also created quite a drama here.  I was thinking I was nearing the end of them, when I went by the History Museum to collect a few sprigs of Butterfly Weed.  To my shock I found one of the volunteers, deciding to tidy up the yard, had pruned all the butterfly weed cutting it back to the ground.  I was horrified.  I collected all the clippings which had been cut the day before to try to revive it enough to feed my remaining caterpillars.  I also found several caterpillars on the cut plants still alive along with several which had been crushed with the "bush whacking".  These I rescued and added to my already full house.

  With Caterpillars stacked two to a leaf I was getting desperate for "good weed", butterfly weed that is.  A few days later I picked up my friend Anne for some girl time telling her we were going on a mission of mercy, a caterpillar rescue.  As I drove away I looked down and one of the caterpillars from the museum's cuttings was crawling across my console.  This made it even more vital to find caterpillar food fast.  We headed to Ace Hardware the only possible source of plants left locally.  Karen the gardening specialist and former worker with a butterfly garden, knew what I was after when she saw the caterpillar crawling up my arm.  She had four plants left, she had tucked back which were pretty frost bitten from a cold front we had a few days earlier, but they would give me some relief.  Seeing the damage to her plants I became fearful for the remaining caterpillars at the History Museum.  We were in full caterpillar mode at this point with our own weed collection safely tucked in the back of the van.  Reaching the Museum my worst fears had been realized.  There were no edible leaves left, the caterpillars resorting to eating stems.  We began gathering them up and placing them on the plants in our Mobile "Cat" Rescue Clinic so they could start eating.  It was our first adventure rustling caterpillars.

It became a challenge trying to locate enough Weed to feed the now burgeoning caterpillar collection.  Over-crowding led to several causalities back in the terrarium.  Jockeying for position led to caterpillars being dislodged from feeding and worse still knocked down, caterpillars in the very delicate "J" pre-chrysalis stage, or new Chrysalis.  That is the story on this fellow which we laying on the bottom of the terrarium.  Although it seemed to be OK one side was slightly flat.  We managed with a pair of hemostats to attach it and hang it in the proper position to finish developing.  This was the day we would find out if it was going to be alright.   

Not long now as we wait for the wings to unfurl and straighten out.

Everything seemed to be OK except the front edge of one wing was curled around in an unnatural way.

We hoped it would straighten but it did not.  After enough time passed we took him outside.  At the end of the day he had not flown away so he was brought back inside.  We brought some blooming flowers inside so he could eat.  Next day we had several others so we put them all outside but it had turned cold and none of them flew away.  They were all brought back inside to the dining room holding area with blooming flower pots.  A friend had, in the mean time, brought me a spiral butterfly tent for raising butterflies.  I decided to put all four of them inside the tent to prevent them from hurting themselves by flying into a wall. The next morning with warmer temperatures I returned them to the outdoors.  As I was replacing the weed for the caterpillars now in the tent, I found one butterfly lying still on the bottom of the tent.  I thought it was dead.  When I got it out I realized that it was the one with the bent wing.  He has since been named Crinkle Wing.  I quickly mixed up some sugar water and got the syringe out and managed to get him to drink some.  In about 10 minutes he revived.  He had just run out of gas having not eaten anything for a couple of days.

Between hunting weed, feeding our now adoptee, Crinkle, I barely made getting my entries into the Tennessee Watercolor Society for their 2012 show.  These are the two I entered.  This one I had painted after working on the sea turtle for the Turtle Trot painting and wanted to do something a bit looser.

The second entry was the one which had recently won the Silver Medal at the Jacksonville Watercolor Society.  So we will see how it all comes down.  They only have a show every other year and last show I did not get my entry accepted.  Being a past President of the society I just hate to not be represented in the show.

Last week my knee had acted up after I let my prescription lapse on my anti-inflammatory.  Wow, that stuff must really work.  In about 4 days it was back in bad shape and since I was 3 months past time that I could get another cortisone shot I decided to go see Dr. Shirley again.  I apologized for forgetting to shave my leg for him and he apologized for not shaving his face for me.  He is a fun guy.  He is attempting to grow a beard.  On the way back I stopped by one of the parks on the way home on Little Talbot Island.  I have put off trying to access a big sand flat which is always full of birds because the tidal creek between it is too wide to cross with high tide.

Today the tide was low and the large number of birds didn't seem too far away.  I wasn't by myself.  This group of gals were heading out to do some fishing as they had a seine net and a bucket.  Maybe collecting minnows from the tidal creek.  However they were not first timers like I was and knew the long route was the best one.

From the bridge these birds had looked quite close, but as I walked across the sand I found the flat perspective was very distorted with the distance about three times further than I figured and much more difficult with soft sand which sank down like a new snow.  It didn't take long to realize I could not make it to the birds and settle for this distant shot.  Then I headed back to make my way across the sand hoping I had done my knee no further harm.

Underneath the bridge you can see the navy ships across the river at Mayport.

Crinkle Wing has continued to live his life developing his own personality as much as a butterfly can do.  He has to be fed thusly twice a day.  To feed a butterfly they have to be willing to eat.  They must uncurl their proboscis which is like having your very on soda straw with which to sip the sweet sugar water nectar prepared for him.  I have perfected feeding him with one hand while I do other things with the other like put my make up on, eat my toast, sip a glass of wine and any number of other things one can do one handed.

The curl of his wing has left him "aerodynamically challenged".  

In this close up you can clearly see his proboscis down in the sugar water.   He uses it with the flexibility you would have using your pointer finger to feel around and find the best spot.  In the beginning he just takes a very long drink, then once he has satisfied his hunger he starts playing with his food.  He will start poking around very fast in the liquid.  But he does continue to eat because I can see the liquid go down, as I carefully try not to give the both of us a sugar bath as I keep the tip full.

With so many responsibilities at home, I have missed many gorgeous sunsets.  When I saw this glowing easterly cloud before me as it caught the glow from the western setting sun, I had to at least run by the beach and get an uninterrupted view minus the power lines.  The light seemed to radiate from inside the big billowing cloud.

By going this route home I was able to check on the progress of a new house that is going up on this beach front property, which belongs to one of my favorite authors.  I love a good complicated detective story.  This is the guest house or maybe a writing studio.  A swimming pool will be positioned to the right of this in the open space.

The main house is to the right of that area.  A nice place built on two ocean front lots.  Lets hope they will want local art to decorate their house.

A new piece of art work I just finished is this one.  I like to do something loose and fun after I finish the tighter commission pieces.

Crink has developed his own idyocyncricies.  He has decided he wants to fly a while before he will eat.  With his wing he can only fly in a downward spiral.  I hold him up and he launches himself and can somewhat control his flight, sometimes almost straight, as long as it is downward.  

Once on the kitchen floor he does his whirling dervish exercises to work up his appetite.  A couple of times and he is ready to settle down and spend about 30 minutes sipping his meal.  Crink is now about 20 days old which means he has reached a fairly old age, with a live expectancy of 2 to 6 weeks.
Another commission piece for me is starting.

 This is day 1. This painting is 3 ft by 5 ft and will be a view from the surface of the water where you see above and below the surface.  A sunrise will be coming up above, while below the surface sea creatures will be swimming around.  To get myself started I used paint I had left from another painting I was working to put some color on the surface.  There is nothing scarier than a white canvas staring you in the face.

After some searching through my photos I choose some of my sunrise photos as a starting point for this sunrise and with that part firmly in mind along with how I want to show the divide between sea and sky I begin the painting.  I am just not sure what all will be included in the under sea part but I know that I want it to look wet and watery.  To get starting on that feeling I take the colors left at the end of the day and brush them on the middle portion of the canvas and spray it with water from a spray bottle letting it run downward.  Just getting the canvas covered with color is a good leg up.  The rest will come.  I know a sea turtle will be one critter of course, but knowing that Atlantic fish are not quite as colorful as the Pacific Ocean ones it will be a bit more challenging to make it interesting.

A close up cropped version of the sunrise, which will change, I'm sure, but it is a good start in the direction I want to head.

With butterfly season coming to a halt, not for the butterflies but for me, I will put my efforts (after I get past preparing my taxes and Art Walk) toward planting all the cuttings I have been rooting and seeds I have started with the goal of having the best gol-derned butterfly friendly garden around.  No more searching the highways and by-ways for weed.  
On a sad not the end of caterpillar herding has come abruptly for me on Sunday as I found all my approximately 10 caterpillars laying dead underneath the two beautiful plants I had just bought for them the day before.  Evidently the new plants had been sprayed with some sort of insecticide, a big no-no for plants that attract butterflies.  I still have 14 more Chrysalis waiting to emerge, and of course I still have Crink to feed until his life span is complete.  Then I will focus on providing a good outdoor habitat and not try to save them all inside.  I have found that many things can go wrong inside in a protected environment also.

Rumor has it that a baby squirrel is on the way to be dropped off on the gallery doorstep sometime today.   Just when I thought I could see a break ahead...  I see another wild ride into the animal world shaping up.  I remember finding the paper with instructions for raising a young squirrel in my office just last night.  Was that prophetic or not???

(Please take a moment to consider:
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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