Sunday, December 28, 2014

My fabulous new hex sign to keep me safe.
Holidays are not my thing. I thrive on the everyday aspects of my life; no disruptions, getting to paint almost daily, a quiet house. But this year I was so fortunate to have my brother and his wife, my youngest son and his wife and my oldest son all present for a number of days. The gifts were lovely and well thought out, and I even got a new hex sign for The Crooked Little House. And there was more food than I've had in the house for a month.

My brother John and his wife Sharon.
But I do believe one of the most enjoyable activities we all shared was going through the box of old photographs. You know the one; it sits in a closet, stuffed to the brim with pics, report cards, attendance awards, newspaper clippings, and rarely sees a sliver of light. We pulled piles of black and white photos with the scalloped edges out, as well as the old color ones from when the boys were young. We tried to remember all the people staring back at us. Laughter ensued and memories were released into the air, wrapping around us like hugs from those long gone.

Zach and Denise had to leave first. So the rest of us spent the remainder of the holiday break in the wild; celebrating the gorgeous weather and wildlife. So here's some pics from my family Christmas for you to see before I get back to the routine of my quiet life.

Pea Island
Sandy Run Park
Coquina Beach
Bodie Island
Nags Head Woods
Bodie Island
Sandy Run Park

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is here, blanketing the world with magic and enchantment, encouraging one to contemplate the beginning of the winter season and the rebirth of the sun. On this, the oldest celebration known to man and the longest night of the year, I wish you all a cozy night filled with peace and a dusting of magic.

Copyright E.M. Corsa 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Packed and Ready

Summer is so busy on this island that I don't make the time to go out and explore my favorite haunts. But now that things have slowed up for me, I can once again venture to Pea Island or Alligator River and do some sketching. So I thought it might be fun to show you what I take with me in my pack.

Two sketchbooks. One is handmade and I use this one for tree studies. The rubber band comes in handy when it's windy and I need to keep the pages from ruffling.

I bring an assortment of pens and pencils; none too valuable so if I lose one, no big deal. My friend Lola turned me on to these Crayola Twistable colored pencils. I LOVE these - vivid pigment and never needs sharpening. They layer beautifully too.

I took an old vintage Prang watercolor tin and outfitted it with my own colors and a couple of beat up old brushes. Once again, if I misplace one or a squirrel runs away with it, not a problem. I also throw in some paper towels, a plastic cap to hold water and a water bottle.

And it all goes into this fabulous thrift store pack I found that has a zillion pockets. I also sling a Walkstool (best folding seat on earth) over my arm and don a hat for paper blindness.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Uninvited Guest

Yesterday, a Sharp-shinned hawk came for breakfast. His deep red eyes searched the feeders for a tasty morsel, but this time, the smaller birds were too quick and eluded the agile hawk.

Sharp-shinned hawks are the smallest hawk in North America and often show up at my feeder throughout the winter months. They are a beautiful bird. At first I thought it was a Merlin that had been here before but the red eyes were a help in identifying it.

Does it bother me that I feed the smaller birds which encourages the larger ones to swoop in? No. The hawks must feed too. But I was happy to see everyone escape this time. I managed to get a few blurry pics and do this sketch while the hawk perched in the mimosa tree before lifting off in search of somthing to fill his stomach on this cold morning.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Guess what I'm doing this weekend?

Copyright E.M. Corsa 2014
Just like many of you, this time of year I lug out the flour, colored sugars and decorations in preparation for baking my holiday cookies. Ever since my boys were little, I have made Santa head cookies - a lemony sugar cookie decorated with red sugars, marshmallows, raisins, coconut and those red cinnamon candies that can break a tooth if you're not careful. My boys are grown now but I think they would be disappointed if these treats didn't make an appearance.

And because I live on an island where blue crabs are a favorite food, I also make my Blue Crab Christmas cookies, covered in blue sugars and those darn red candies for eyes. They are large and difficult to make successfully since I always lose a few claws in the process. But I just tuck those away for me to munch on later with a glass of milk and a Christmas movie.

Happy Baking to all and to all...a diet in January.

Friday, December 12, 2014

All I want for Christmas is a nuthatch!

I think my favorite winter bird has always been the nuthatch. Each year I would eagerly await their arrival. What attracts me to this feathered comedian is the antics and the fact that they become quite tame once they get used to you. Whenever I would go out to fill up the feeder, one or two of them would sit on the pergola, just above my head, and squeak to me like a pair of mice. They had no fear. and as soon as I rehung the feeder they would hop on the perch or my hand and begin working the sunflower seeds.

But last year was the year of loss. No frogs, spiders, glass lizards or other creatures appeared that I had begun to know during the warmer months. And then winter arrived and not one nuthatch appeared. Some experts say it was the weather conditions that caused all the disruption. I have my own theories. But I'm hoping this winter, a nuthatch will return to make friends.

Copyright E.M. Corsa  2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Who doesn't love peanut butter?

There's nothing better on a cold December morning than a slathering of peanut butter on the deck rail.

Photos Copyright E.M. Corsa

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Between Heaven and Earth

As I explore my own feelings regarding spirituality, I find myself drawn to the beings that inhabit that space between heaven and earth. There are more than just birds that stretch upward; bees and other assorted insects, spiders that cast their lines, flying fish and trees that reach their arms heavenward for their own purposes. I'm working on finding mine.

Here's two paintings from my new series called, Heaven and Earth.

Copyright E.M. Corsa 2014

Copyright E.M. Corsa 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Deck the...mantle

I don't have halls to deck so I content myself with decorating the mantle and table tops. And my
subjects of choice are trees. I am addicted to funky, old Christmas trees and place them everywhere there's space. Some are quite old, some a bit tattered, but all are loved and share equal billing around the holidays.

As much as I love a real Christmas tree and have fond memories of cutting one down each year when the boys were young (I'm from New England after all), now that it's just me I've given in to a long-held desire for a vintage silver Christmas tree.

So this past weekend while the wind and rain beat at the windows and doors, I unpacked all my little trees and put up the big one. I went to bed last night and slept uneasily, waiting to hear a crash when Erb tried to climb the tree. But to my surprise, this morning brought a tree still standing with all the ornaments intact.

Wishing everyone the most joyous holiday season.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Back to the Field

Now that things have slowed down a bit, I've been able to get back to my favorite studio - the field - where I can observe nature at its finest. Here's a couple of recent entries from my sketchbook.

the "tunnel" at Pea Island

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Do you believe in magic?

Look carefully. When you see a lizard make his home in a horn among the bare trumpet vines, you have to believe there's magic all around!

Night Magic

December 6, 2014   1:15 am   SSW   O
I never can sleep when a full moon is perched overhead. And last night offered a beauty, surrounded by a golden blush of a halo and dusty clouds drifting by. Last week I had decided to craft a sketchbook made from an old hardbound cover entitled, America's Explorers of Space, which would be devoted entirely to nightscapes. This was the perfect moon for my first entry.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Comfort and Joy

In a past life, I was a professional writer. As time went by I realized I couldn't continue to do both art
and writing full time. I chose my art because I think I am a better painter than writer. But my passion for words has stayed with me. I am a voracious reader, mostly non-fiction since I find truth more exciting than fiction.

I'm thinking many of you have guessed by reading my bio that I am a spiritual person. Many years ago I went through a life changing experience, and when I was alone and needed comfort, I turned to my favorite quotes and prayers to ease my soul. I feel this is the perfect time of year to share my
Book of Comfort, a collection of thoughts, prayers from all religions, and quotations, along with my own illustrations. This has turned out to be the perfect prescription when I need a little comfort.

One of my favorites:

God made my cathedral
Under the stars;
He gave my cathedral
Trees for its spires;
He hewed me an altar
In the depth of a hill
He gave for a hymnal
A rock-bedded rill;
He voiced me a sermon
Of heavenly light
In the beauty around me-
The calmness of night;
And I felt as I knelt
On the velvet-like sod
I had supped of the Spirit
In the Temple of God.

                         - Ruth Furbeeg

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

One of Those Nights

Every so often, I just can't focus on my work. I stare blankly at the paper, pencil in hand, brushes nearby, and nothing. Tonight was one of those nights.

This is where keeping a sketchbook comes in handy. I can justify moving over to my sketchbook because I'm still working only in a different format. My freshest drawings and paintings appear in this book because the pressure is off. No one will see the sketches unless I choose to share them.

So tonight I worked on a study of my messy work table. The perspective is all off and the shadows aren't quite right but it was challenging and fun to do. I feel like I accomplished something; maybe not what I had intended but it's still art nonetheless.

from the sketchbook of E.M. Corsa  copyright 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014

Morning, Afternoon and Evening Performances

We had a nice crop of berries on the American Beauty Berry bush, holly bushes and chokeberry
bushes so I delayed putting out the bird feeders this year. But as the weather turned colder and the bushes became bare, I finally hung the feeders.

Buddha and Erb have front row seats to all the antics of the finches, jays, Eurasian Collared doves, chickadees, wrens, and others that now swarm the feeders. I have also begun slathering the deck rail with offerings of peanut butter. The wrens just love gobbling it up.

The cats are amused for hours on end and I have subjects to sketch all day long.