Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Skies and Devotion

Last Saturday I was driving home from a show, tired and weary. I kept glancing up and saw a spring sky that kept developing into a luscious cloudscape of blues, violets, sienna, and yellow. Try as I might, I couldn't stop looking and finally at 5:15 pm I pulled off the road and did some sketches.

This is the first spring sky I've noticed; my favorite skies of the whole year and the perfect backdrop for the momma osprey I've been visiting at a favorite haunt of mine. She is a gorgeous bird and a devoted mom. I watch the father fish nearby and fly back and forth from the nest. I could stay there all day, entranced by this pair of love birds.

This is rather large for me, 9 X 17, and I must admit I loved working bigger. Hmmmmmmmmm. It's going to frame out to a 16 X 24. I will use it as my centerpiece for my solo show, Between Heaven and Earth, at the end of April.

Copyright E.M. Corsa

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Never-ending Story

Logo Copyright E.M. Corsa 
This Between Heaven and Earth series has really wrapped itself tightly around me. Wondering where it evolved from, I think it germinated with my fascination of the night sky years ago and has been growing in my mind ever since. I am always looking upwards, both physically and emotionally; the eternal optimist I guess. Then the clouds began to infiltrate my thoughts a few years back so I was drawn to my plein air cloudscapes.

I continue to produce new paintings and have done a selection of altered watercolor tins along this theme. I have found myself writing essays covering my thoughts and ideas. And recently I designed a logo which I am applying to every piece from this series; a small, one inch size stamp. Now I'd like to share another project I am currently working on - a handmade book. For some reason all the other things just weren't enough. I need to express my feelings on this subject in a book format.

I designed this book using a gorgeous crimson-colored cover from a book that was published in the 1800s. It is constructed with watercolor paper in a format allowing it to unfold and stand on a table or fold back into itself.

showing the first section of the book

This is the cover of my book. I added an illustration from an antique greeting card.

Here is the inside cover and title page. 
The bird is an original watercolor from a sketch I did 
of a little sparrow looking heavenward. But what is he so entranced with? 
Is he pondering the same thoughts I am?

My beloved Brown Thrasher perches in the wild cherry tree singing a joyous melody of celebration . He sings throughout the day until the gloaming sets in.

What do the birds see while occupying that sacred space?
 Do they gaze upon my rosemary bush in bloom,
 my pink mimosa blossoms and trumpet vine flowers? 

Oh to have feathers and wings and soar into a new perspective on the world.

But there are perils in that space too in the form of weather and birds of prey. And there are perils for us bound to the earth. This page holds an antique postcard of Prometheus who ultimately led to Pandora opening her box of woe. 
But without the troubles would we truly
 relish and be grateful for the joy we experience? 
For we are definitely offered joy every day, 
in the small things in the present moments.

I am about halfway through this book. 
I want to cover dreams and grace and gratitude 
and a few more topics. I'm also planning two more books using 
one cover from the 1950s and one on bird migration dated 1916. 
Will this series ever end? 

All artwork is Copyrighted by E.M. Corsa 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Difference of Doves

I get a lot of questions asking about the difference between our Eurasian Collared Doves and our Mourning Doves. So this morning I saw both of them perched in the mimosa tree just begging for a pic.

The Mourning Dove is smaller in size and has deeper shades of brown. Its tail is pointed.

The Eurasian Collared Dove which has worked its way northward from the Caribbean, is a larger bird and is lighter in color. It also sports a red eye and black collar around the back of its neck. It sports a square cut tail.

Both of them frequent my feeders and the collared doves have a huge flock numbering in the 20s.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy little bluebirds fly...

I have always wished to see bluebirds at The Crooked Little House but so far, nary a blue feather except for my gorgeous jays. But just this morning, I spotted one sitting on a stop sign one block away. It must be a sign don't you think?

Copyright E.M. Corsa

Monday, March 23, 2015

Morning Ablutions

The birdbath was crowded today and water was flying. Buddha and Erb spent their morning watching one bird after another dip and shake. Cardinals, sparrows, mockingbirds and more used up all the water so I had to refill it this afternoon. Ah Spring!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Day is Done

A few days back, my mockingbird perched in the cherry tree and sang a song announcing the day's end. The neighborhood was still and the haunting melody filled the evening air. I managed a quick cloudscape while he sang along with a sketch for positioning and a couple of camera shots. I finished the painting this afternoon. When I look at it I still hear the clear notes echoing across everyone's yards. The sounds of the season have returned.

Copyright E.M. Corsa

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Triple Header

Copyright E.M. Corsa
Exciting events taking place today, and it's a triple header. There is a new moon, an eclipse, and it's the Spring Equinox. For those of you who believe as I do that magic still abounds all around us, now is your time to make that wish and set your intentions.

Eclipses happen 4 or 5 times a year and used to be considered a bad omen. The sky would grow dark and animals would behave strangely furthering the old beliefs. But the truth is, this is a wonderful time. New moons are the perfect time to begin new ventures and with the eclipse and equinox who knows what magic can enter your life. This is the time of year when light triumphs over darkness, and new growth occurs everywhere from the buds on the trees to new life being born.

So be still, set your intentions and believe. Anything is ALWAYS possible.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Another Offering of Tins

As I further delve into this theme of Between Heaven and Earth, I find my fingers twitching to do more than just hold a paint brush. Altered art has always struck a chord with me especially when it incorporates a little bit of magic.
Copyright E.M. Corsa 2015 

Every so often I will take one or two of my vintage watercolor tins and work with them, adding papers and text and original paintings as well as vintage bits and pieces of jewels. They take a bit of time to complete but I find them quite rewarding. The tins are not readily available but I have a large collection to pull from. I am fortunate I have clients that eagerly scoop them up when I release them.

So to add another element to a solo show this May featuring my Between Heaven and Earth watercolor series, I have been working diligently on these vintage watercolor tins along the same theme. Some incorporate an original watercolor, some have vintage text and illustration from an 1873 bible that was given to me to use. There are crystals and feathers and all things wondrous to please the eye and encourage the imagination. And of course they all celebrate that spiritual plane that birds and butterflies and all creatures with wings know so well.

If you'd like additional info, send me an email at ofcorsa3@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign!

Soon after I wake in the morning, after I feed the kitties of course, I step out on the deck, take a cleansing, deep breath and look for anything nature has decided to offer me. I especially take notice of things that are a bit unusual - a rarely seen bird, feathers at my door, or as this morning, a broken egg shell on my doormat. It has to have some significance don't you think? Eggs can symbolize rebirth, especially this time of year, as well as the beginning of new things, fertile ideas blossoming. My season is just beginning, and I have many new ventures in the works. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Within a few seconds of picking up the egg shell, two crows appeared, one flying and the other settling at the top of the pine tree. They cawed at me and just as quickly as they appeared, flew away. I tried to capture what I remembered with a quick sketch shown here. It's not accurate so please don't judge too harshly, but I was more concerned with getting what I felt down in my book. Crows are known to be prophetic and represent the presence of magical and creative potential all around us at all times. Well, I knew that! They also can symbolize aspects of a past live.

I have always enjoyed this poem about crows, one of my favorite birds. It was originally written about magpies. Next time you see a crow or two or three, remember this old English counting rhyme.

from the sketchbook of E.M. Corsa

One is for sorrow,
Two is for mirth,
Three is a wedding,
Four is a birth,
Five is for riches,
Six is a thief,
Seven is a journey,
Eight is for grief,
Nine is a secret,
Ten is for sorrow,
Eleven is for love,
Twelve is for joy tomorrow.

* Crow augury, based in Tibetan tradition, is a way of diving the future based on the cries, time of day and direction the crows are moving.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Finally Finished

I apologize for the long, drawn out process. Hope this finished painting was worth the wait!

Copyright E.M. Corsa   2015

Friday, March 13, 2015

Step Five

Step Five shows the pencil work on the robin. I'll post the finished painting tomorrow.

Copyright E.M. Corsa 2015

Step Four

Though it looks simple enough, this part took quite a bit of time to get the colors right. The wild cherry tree has beautiful bark, intricate colorization. I had to build up numerous layers and add accents.
Here's Step Four. Only two more to go.

Copyright E.M. Corsa 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Step Three

Next I wanted to work on the main tree trunks with pencil. This creates a rich texture.

So Here is Step Three.

Copyright E.M. Corsa

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Step 2

Since I prefer to work from "life" I brought in some branches from the wild cherry tree. The leaves are just beginning to open up with their brilliant greens lined in crimson. I decided to enlarge the leaves in the drawing a bit to show them off. I wanted to complete these branches before the leaves began to open more or wilt while being in the house.
Here's Step 2
Copyright E.M. Corsa

Harbingers of Spring

Yesterday offered the first sky of the year that I felt compelled to paint. So out the door I went lugging my paints and paper. When I was finished capturing the fleeting clouds, I noticed a very chunky robin perched in my wild cherry tree amid some soon-to-unfurl leaves. So of course I had to put these two harbingers of spring together for my series, Between Heaven and Earth.

Some of you have told me you enjoy seeing my process from beginning to end so here is Step One. Be patient with me though; I've got a lot going on right now with the upcoming show. I'll try to post each day but no promises.

Copyright E.M. Corsa 2015

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Houdini Cat

How can one little kitty with only one working front leg open every cabinet and cupboard door in the house? This is what awaited me when I went to grab a new sketchbook from my studio hutch.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring has officially landed.

Here at The Crooked Little House, spring has officially moved in. It was announced by my mockingbird today, rather loudly, from the top of the cherry tree. I spent the morning puttering outside; a little pruning and transplanting a holly bush. Winter has definitely tagged out and spring has entered the arena.

My poor quince had flowered early only to be smacked by a week of icy cold fingers grabbing at the blossoms and leaves. I thought I had lost the plant for sure. But today I noticed tiny vermilion-colored buds and itty bitty leaves. I do believe it will make a comeback.

My chickadees have selected this house for themselves this season, the cheapest one in the yard. They began building today and when they went out scouting for more nesting material, I saw a couple of sparrows getting ready to move in. This should be interesting. I have six bird houses out and only one is taken so far.

I filled one of my suet cages with assorted bits and pieces of string, cat hair, and other scraps that the birds will pick through. Within five minutes of hanging it, I saw two birds poking at it.

And my beloved wild cherry tree, the most popular spot in the yard, is now 
sporting silken green buds. Within a few days, they'll begin to open.

For lo, the winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time for the singing of the birds has come.

from The Song of Solomon

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Natural Reboot

Cormorants   Copyright E.M. Corsa
Have you ever had one of those perfect days? I mean the kind that if you scripted it, it couldn't get any better? Well, today was that day for me and a friend. Even the air was laced with spring and I couldn't help gulping it in. The sun-filled day lured us off the beach to wander among woodland trails with feathered friends and frogs providing a sound track.

Goose Creek State Park on the mainland in Beaufort County, a new place to explore for me, offered us a Red-Headed Woodpecker as well as my first sighting this year of an Osprey building a nest. The air rose and fell with bird chatter, song and magic, and I would not have been a bit surprised to see a fairy or elf pop out from behind the gigantic tree roots. Druids would be quite happy here.

Later, we headed to a favorite spot of mine, Lake Mattamuskeet, where we inched through large groups of  American Coot, a duck-like bird with a glossy white bill. Geese, a couple of Northern Harriers, Swans and Cormorants kept us entertained for the rest of the afternoon. On the way home, deer fed at the edge of the woods and herons appeared along the canals, guiding us home to the sea and sand.

This was a day filled with inspiration and illumination, friendship and shared passion. It was a day filled with gratitude when everything aligned perfectly.

Cormorant drying his wings.   Copyright E.M. Corsa

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tea and Cake

Copyright E.M. Corsa
ANOTHER dreary day. This ongoing winter hasn't allowed me much time to get outside to sketch so consequently I don't have a lot to share at the moment. So for a little cheer, I'm meeting some friends this afternoon for a spot of tea and maybe a sweet treat.

Copyright E.M. Corsa

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A wee bit of warmth.

After days and days of gray and rain, the sun has appeared this morning and a little warmth is seeping in. These are the days I begin thinking about my garden and making plans. In reality, I will only do half of what I want to since my season is beginning, and I will be too busy to spend all my time outside. But The Crooked Little House will look beautiful through the spring season. By mid-summer, the heat will take over and I will have given up. I refuse to constantly water and drag in tons of topsoil. This is the beach after all, not suburbia. So I use native plants and lots of herbs since they can survive anything, and it makes the wildlife happy.

This wild hare is ready to set his herb garden.

Copyright E.M. Corsa 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Longest Winter

Copyright E.M. Corsa
Winter has always been one of my favorite times of year on the Outer Banks. We will sometimes get sunny days with temps in 70s which balance out the cold, windy ones. Those days, I go out exploring. It's quiet this time of year with very few people about yet still plenty of nature to observe. But this winter, just as all over the country, it's been cold, raw, windy, rainy and gray. Not one good cloud to paint and a freeze that stripped the blooms and leaves off my quince and deadened huge parts of my rosemary. I have never longed for spring more.

But I was assured this week that spring is on the way because the Cedar Waxwings have arrived. They perch in the mimosa tree and only stay for a couple of days before moving on. I've got a couple of good pics so of course they will end up in my Between Heaven and Earth series. Till winter is pushed aside, I will dream of cups of tea under the trumpet vine-covered pergola with social butterflies for company.

Copyright E.M. Corsa 2015