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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)

I am being very slow this year getting out my stories, but I just can't seem to get caught up.  I know that by the time you get this our turtle season will have evolved into another stage, but "it is what it is".  I love writing the stories, giving me purpose when it comes to my photography.  I also think that someday my children might actually read them, and think about me, and the life I have led because they are very much like my diary.  I ordinarily only show the happy things which is not always the case, and my life is not always quite as perfect as it seems in the stories.  The past month has been a nightmare of back pain for me.  I have a reoccurring muscle spasm in my back, which for over 20 years has caused me to lose quality of life for periods of time.  This past month has been the worst I have ever had, and instead of losing a few days out of my life I have lost weeks.  Unfortunately sitting at the computer can be one of the worst things I can do for it.  I have been able, although not pain free, to sit and do my paintings, which has been a blessing.  Thank God for heating pads and pain pills, although I am not sure whether the pain pills help or hinder the quality of the end result.  I was able to meet deadline on the 2012 Turtle Trot Painting, "Exhale, Green Style".  You can see in the drawing there were several choices on placement of the flippers and even more evolution as the painting went forward as to width of the back degree of reflections, etc.

I have painted like a manic this month because of needing to get the turtle trot painting finished on schedule but also because I have been trying to get enough paintings done to have a museum show down in Daytona Beach at the Art League of Daytona Beach during August and September (To be delivered Thursday morn).  Deadlines are the most inspiring thing an artist has to get them going.  Above you see some of the stages I went through in deciding what I wanted and the execution of the new Turtle Trot Painting.  Maybe I should call it The Happy Green because he seems to be smiling.

I have always painted the Loggerheads because they are our most prevalant nesting turtle on our beaches.  Lately we have been getting more and more Green Sea Turtles, and last year after watching the juveniles pop their heads up at Cape Canaveral as they searched for food I decided that would be what I wanted to paint. I think the Green Turtle's head is one of the most beautiful of all the turtles.  I am still second guessing myself as to whether I should have just showed a close up of the head, or the whole turtle, which is what I eventually decided to do. They are a more endangered turtle than the Loggerhead, but are having a great comeback, with last year being the best year they have had since they started collecting data.  Those are stats you probably won't get from the environment agencies who only focus on the gloom and doom items they use to inspire more donations.

Recently my sister and I decided to spend the day with her granddaughter and my great niece, Reagan.  We took her to breakfast, then fishing, and to the beach for more fishing.  We took her to the deck of the now defunct Spankies Restaurant to see the resident alligator in the pond below.  He and the turtles came as soon as they saw us, expecting a handout.  Usually I would not do that, but this alligator has been trapped in this pool for a long while, especially since someone has removed the ramp that he could once use to exit the straight up sides, so a little extra treat in his life is an OK thing I think.  A biscuit from Barbara Jean's was appreciated, but I wasn't sure the turtles weren't going to be included on the menu when they appeared to get their share of the biscuits.

The nests have continued to come in breaking all our records even with the season not over yet.  (Footnote and update:  With it now being the middle of the month of August laying has all but stopped)

Sister Susan still helps me out some mornings when I call and bounce her out of her night's slumber, telling her I have some nests, and I, and my back would love her assistance in marking them.  She is a good sport and is ready to help her older sister out.

An especially nice morning surprise was the flotilla of submarine and escorts which came in just as we reached the river beach.  I don't think even the families were expecting this one as we were their only welcoming committee.  A beautiful sight with the sun highlighting the event in all its splendor, the Sub-Tenders, Black Powder and Westwing, the Coast Guard tug, and the gun boats, making for quite an impressive parade.  Unlike a real parade these fellows had guns loaded and ready for action.

The Shrimp Boats have been busy, and to the delight of the gulls who follow them in, they throw overboard all the "by catch" that gets caught in their nets.  I suspect this was one of that category.  A new creature for me.  I think it was some type of shrimp, but what kind I have no idea.  I did not think it was still living, although I did put it back in the water just in case...very fresh though.

Someone who has lived here longer than me may be able to enlighten me as to what I have found.  There is always some new creature waiting in the wings when you think you have seen it all.

Our ongoing, good natured competition with the Kregers who patrol the area South of the park continues.  I had a nest which was just past the sign which we have always used as the boundary marker.  This turtle had actually laid after the Kreger's patrol had checked the beach, they are out at the butt crack of dawn, and I am about an hour later.  After checking the actual boundary I realized it was not the sign, but the small white stake way back on the dune, so I "staked my claim".  With compass in hand I determined that #30 was actually on park property, which means that the one with red stakes is also on park property, but being good sports we relinquished our claim.  We have a lot of fun with our friendly competition.

After several weeks of building a new nest, after they lost all their babies to Beryl, the Ospreys, Little Girl and Alpha, have forsaken their efforts to nest again this year.  I see lots of Osprey activities on the river.  Most mornings one will be sitting on the river marker and another will be sitting atop this larger marker just off the point of the channel.  There is a big discussion making the rounds of the "Pole Watchers" group, who keep check on the nest, and we are learning more about Ospreys: their mating, nesting and even migratory patterns.  We have learned that they are not as mated for life as we thought, with a female sometimes choosing another mate if she finds one who can provide her with more of the good things in life, such as a better house and dining experiences.  Sound familiar??

The Horseshoe Crabs continue their mating, but not as frequently as in the Spring.  I am always on watch to find them and get them back on track and into the water.

Sometimes I find a gull who has managed to get a broken wing.  Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to help.  They don't last very long in this condition.  Eagles often attack them breaking their wings or sometimes they break a wing diving into the water.  Bird bones are very fragile, being hollow so they can be light enough for flight.  A comedian wrote "I can levitate birds, but no one seems to care".  Thought that was kind of funny.

If you think you are seeing a familiar painting, you kind of are.   When I did the last two watercolor Turtle Trot paintings I did a similar composition at the same time, utilizing the drawing I had already done, for the purpose of trying another composition where I could experiment with the painting, doing it in a much looser style, totally different painting technique, using two separate kinds of paper, and in liquid acrylics instead of watercolor.  This is the first of the completed paintings although I was working on them at the same time, but one on a rougher "cold press" paper and one on a slick "hot press" paper.  The technique I was trying did not work as well as I had hoped on this rough paper, so instead it resulted in a painting that looked more like the "Caretta Caretta" painting, but with more color, looser style, more seaweed, and funkier shells.

This one from taken from drawings from the previous year, and done on the smoother paper was a more successful result of the experiment as I had envisioned the result should be. The result of this technique looks almost like a batik and is what I was hoping for.  Both of these are on exhibit in The Cafe at The Ritz Carlton, replacing the two which they recently sold for me.

I am getting ready for a show at the Art League at Daytona Beach, so have been painting fast and furiously.  This one is on canvas and is acrylic, square in shape.

This is a very interesting piece since it is painted on a 12" x 2" piece of wood I found in the dumpster next door at the lumber yard a few years back. I think it had been used underneath a miter saw hence all its cuts.   I hung onto it, finally pulling it out to turn it into a work of art, instead of a piece of junk.  When I first saw it I saw a sunset over the marsh, and that is what I think I managed to achieve.

Another new painting is a landscape, but more of an overhead view, but definitely a seaside town with waterfront and boat slips.

Now this is definitely not the way one wants a hot date to end up, with both of you on your backs, unable to get your feet on the ground.  It leads to a very boring evening out on the town and little romance.

It is definitely shrimp season with Shrimp Boats usually out in the sound as I head out to do Turtle Patrol.  Nice to see them still working.

We leave the back door cracked sometimes to let Lacy in after we call her.  Lately we have noticed that we have another squirrel (possibly two) which we call Tootsie, or our porch monkeys, who often comes inside to take advantage of the treats left for our girl.  This one is quite a fat girl and has become so comfortable with coming inside that she will even jump upon the arm of the sofa with me sitting on the other end.  Not sure how I feel about this.  I think my house is becoming a squirrel habitat.  Sometimes it can become a bit touchy when Lacy is inside and Tootsie decides she wants to come too, however so far so good--no big squirrel fights have broken out.

One morning was especially nice as I stitched together 3 different photographs to give you a view of what I was seeing.  These are the things that make my mornings and early rising worthwhile, besides the turtles of course.  You can see the off shore rain showers.

Marie and I attracted several onlookers one day as we were marking a new nest and training a new ranger who got broken in by getting to drive in the stakes and tried to determine the location of the eggs in this nest site.  It was a long one which makes pinpointing the site very difficult, since we do not dig in to find the eggs.  We have not been quite as good at predicting the egg chamber spot this year as last, and I think it is because we have had more of these elongated ones.  One I excavated yesterday was about 6 inches from the back stake.  Another was a foot outside our strings, even though we had marked it big.  The markers are just to make sure we are aware of the nest being there, and the turtles don't really care if they are properly aligned or not.  However we have been 100% in our determining it is a nest.

One Sunday I was filling in for one of the rangers, and as I rounded the point at the pier I was shocked to see the whole beach littered with large chunks of Styrofoam for as far as you could see down the beach-the whole island was affected.  I thought to myself that there was no way I could possibly pick up all that Styrofoam from the Park beach, but one piece at a time I was able to finally collect all the large pieces and get them packed into the buggy.  This shows part of what I collected.  Of course my back has been a problem ever since but I don't think this is the reason.  Oh, by the way, the reason for the Styrofoam was a Shrimp Boat off the South end of the island caught on fire and sank, and also a sailboat had broken up causing a huge influx of Styrofoam and all kinds of pieces of wood.

We have had a Green Sea Turtle attempting to lay but so far nothing has happened.  She even went so far as to dig two egg chambers in one attempt and still didn't lay.  They are often late layers so there is still the chance she will come back.

More fun jewelry which is "new" old stock, all glass beads from the 60's and 70's, very glitzy and fun jewelry, but never been worn (stored in a warehoues all these years).  The bright blue style I really liked and I have it in black and multi-pastel-colored.

Also new at our house and the gallery is a small package delivered to my house by mistake I'm sure.  His name is Peanut and this was the day he arrived wrapped in swaddling clothes.  He is growing and becoming more alert as each day passes.  I know, I swore no more squirrels but he is such a cutie.  I only took him in because I had the idea that I could slip him into the nest box we built for Lacy, who abandoned it, but which has then been taken over by another squirrel, who had her own litter of little ones about this same age.  My plan was to slip it into the nest, but then I chickened out, fearing that the mother would kill him instead after researching and reading that they will seldom adopt a strange baby unless it is a relative.  Instead I hung a small hanging basket outside the nest with a sleeping Peanut in it.  I walked into the house straight to my bathroom, cranked out my window, which is about 4 feet away from the nest box, so that I could watch to see what she did.  No sooner than I opened the window, but a big hawk flew up right between me and the hanging basket and the baby squirrel.  It was a close call for the little guy, but it left me too afraid to try that again.  As a result he is now living with us.  He has had an interesting life so far by attending Second Saturday, working the gallery, going grocery shopping and even went to my sisters birthday party at one of the local restaurants last weekend.  At this stage they are fun and easy, the hard part comes later.

I will try to do better as I am getting some treatment for my back thanks to a friend who sent me to a chiropractor, and also to my Doctor, who has finally decided maybe I should be sent me to a pain management doctor.  Wonder why that didn't happen years ago.  I am scheduled for an MRI tomorrow morning to see if there actually might be a physical reason for my problems instead of just being a figment of my mind.  I have found that you have to be your own advocate and make requests and suggestions at the doctor's offices or you just get lost in the shuffle.  Squeaky wheel syndrome I guess.
(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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