Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


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My explorations…

A few months ago my stirling husband became so disgusted at the way our old iPad was working (as in slow and not responding) he decided to upgrade the device. His solution was to buy me a new one so he could remove all the photography apps from the old one. His goal was not to have them interfere with his reading and playing Sudoku. It worked for him and worked for me because I now have a new iPad Pro and Apple pencil. I have been blissfully happy trying to improve my skills. Here are my first excursions into the world of the Procreate App. What I liked about the process was taking photos from events years ago and reusing them. It was like I had a secret memory embedded in the images.

This was the oldest image that I took when I first retired. We were on a road trip and stopped to visit my lovely niece in Eugene, Oregon and she took us over to the Cascades Raptor Center. They have a beautiful Eurasian Eagle Owl and in my new version he got a new collaged background.

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This image was from our last trip to Venice. It is a lesser known dome taken as we passed by on the vaporetto.IMG_0090

This was an altered image from a museum visit combined with some embroidery by an outsider artist that I took the first time I visited the Biennale in Venice. The peacock I photographed during my 50th high school reunion two years ago that took place at the Arcadia Arboretum. It was a challenge to get all the elements to fit but I learned a lot at I worked on it.IMG_0121

Of course, an image from Morro Bay and some lowly old pigeons…IMG_0110

An animatronic toy from a toy museum in a castle near Stresa, Italy. IMG_0079

I was trying hard to learn how to use the Procreate App with its amazing abilities. I am a long way from mastering it but totally enjoying the process of trying. Other apps used in these images are Brushstroke App, Repix App, and Over App (for letters).


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Down by the dock of the bay…

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Last weekend was the annual Bird Festival in Morro Bay, California, and we spent five days on the Central Coast enjoying, for the most part, lovely weather. Saturday it was smooth as glass as we glided on the Bay.

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Sunday, however, there were record swells over the breakwater (although the surfers did not mind) and a certain stormy-ness to the environment.

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Terry was off on a field trip somewhere and I wandered. The weather forecast was for rain for the rest of the time and I thought I might miss my “morning sunrise with coffee” in front of the rock because of it. I suspected I needed to walk any opportunity there was when it was clear, because otherwise I would get drenched. I set off…

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I had hoped I could collect items as I beach combed so I could compose small still-lifes in the sand. It turned out, however, that the tide had been extremely high but was now on its way out. It left a thin line of debris at it highest point that you can see behind the gull above. Lots of feathers were mixed in with shards of seaweed and all I had to do was bend over and take pictures of what pleased my eye.

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Goats…!

The Chianti Cashmere Goat Farm was on our agenda of visiting places while in Tuscany. A wildlife-friendly farm with 300 goats and 12 large, white Pyrenees-type dogs protecting the herd from wolves.

Listen up, I am in charge here...

Listen up, I am in charge here…

Oh, I do not think so...

Oh, I do not think so…

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The goats are grazed on these hills of neighboring farms supporting the organic nature of the vineyards…

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There is a retail store with yarn, soaps, and woven items…

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The owner, Marcie’s friend, Nora, told us about the processing of the cashmere. (Of great interest to me, a former spinner and weaver. I even used to teach my art students how to spin wool using a knitting needle and a russet potato as a drop spindle.)

This was a very nice excursion.

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And the doves were nice, too.


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Under the Tuscan sun…

Terry and I, with the support and help of our friend Marcie Beyatte, are making plans for a sojourn in the Tuscan countryside (25 minutes from Florence) next September. If you would like more information or to join us, Marcie has posted information on her blog site here: http://prontomarcella.com/2014/04/11/join-me-in-italy-in-september-2015-for-nature-and-art/

She includes pictures and descriptions of accommodations, activities, and excursions as well as contact information.

Very exciting!

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Success at last…

Many times in these posts I have mentioned visiting the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. In particular, the butterflies have held my interest. Last week we made a swift visit and had a few moments to see them again because I am always in hope of capturing a photo of the Blue Morpho. I have been successful with birds…

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Other butterflies…

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The Blue Morpho closed up…

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But usually it is…

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I was in despair until there was one quick moment this time (thanks Terry for spotting it)…

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At long last, success!!


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The Rock, the Tide, and Sea Friends on the Bay…

IMG_8917 After our sunrise and coffee on the beach, our last scheduled event of the 2015 Morro Bay Bird Festival was a cruise on the bay. You will notice in these photos, as our skipper pointed out, that it was a king tide. He mentioned how it gave a sense of what it will be like when the seas rise. No parking lot around the rock, evidently. We headed in the direction of the rock, spying sea friends and enjoying the sunshine. IMG_8928 IMG_8938_2 IMG_8942_2 IMG_8956_2 IMG_8959_2 The rock actually has two pairs of peregrine falcons that nest on it. One pair on each side and it is highly unusual for them to be so close to each other. However, when they fly off the rock for hunting they have very specific territories. We could see the ones on this side of the rock as we floated. IMG_1793IMG_8985_2IMG_8969_2 IMG_8982_2 IMG_8971_2IMG_8996_2 IMG_9004_2 IMG_8998_2 Once we got out toward the breakwater and the exit to the open sea, we turned around and went back down the channel through the marina. IMG_1855 and saw more wild-life friends. IMG_1813IMG_1871 IMG_1875 IMG_1873 Once we left the boat, our time in Morro Bay was finished and we packed up and headed south.  For lunch we stopped in Pismo Beach and then drove to Camarillo for a visit with my mother. Definitely going back to the Bird Festival next year. IMG_9020_2


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The Rock, the Gulls, and the Sunrise…

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Monday morning was our last chance to do the best thing ever. We had nothing scheduled until 9:00 am so at 6:30 we left the motel in search of java and made it down to the sand next to the Rock to watch the sun rise. This is absolutely my favorite thing to do if I am in Morro Bay. The light is gorgeous starting out grey and then gradually taking on other hues.

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My assistant holding the coffee…

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and as the light lifts, we are joined by other humans…

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Have I mentioned fish already?

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Surfers start to arrive for the waves…

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Some pinks start to mix with the lavenders and greys…

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and, of course, our ever present gull friends…(Western Gull?)

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A link to an article that discusses the issues for a small town like Morro Bay…

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It is all so gradual, yet, so insistent…another day is here…now!


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The Rock, the Gulls, and Fish from the Sea…

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We spent January’s MLK Weekend at the Morro Bay Bird Festival. We used to be faithful participants, but for the last two years we had not attended. This year we registered early, got all the workshops we wanted, and were set to enjoy beautiful weather (in the 70’s and clear as a bell…January, no less!). Friday we arrived in time for Terry’s 3:00 workshop on identifying seagulls…the whole weekend he kept showing me his knowledge (evidently, they are tricky to identify because there are so many different kinds of them.) Then we enjoyed a lovely dinner at the Bay Cafe soaking in the old sights, the smell of the sea, and having the first of many meals featuring fish. Oh, and there was a sunset.

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The next morning, Terry was off early to a field trip looking for Golden Eagles (successful) and I strolled through Morro Bay’s commercial district (about three blocks of that). After lunch, I went to my workshop on drawing birds while Terry went kayaking on the bay.

I walked into the Natural History Museum for my class and the sky looked like this:

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Drew for a few hours…

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and when I came out four hours later, the sky had turned to this…

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What a place! The next morning, we were both up and on field trips by 7:45. I don’t know what Terry saw, but I birded with a group that went toward Turri Road and over to parts of Los Osos. The Central Coast was looking so good…

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I met my old friend, Kathy, who lives in Atascadero, for lunch and we drove up to Cayucos for some fabulous salmon tacos. Couldn’t walk on the pier, though, as it is under construction.

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Ahh, the hours I spent on that beach in my youth… That evening we ate at The Galley (more fish) and had another spectacular sunset to enjoy…

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This is the Townsend’s Warbler that I drew in my class and the block print I made from it when I got home…

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I definitely would not mind looking at that kind of sky every day…


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Looking back, looking forward…

Even though my middle name was chaos these last few weeks, I was able to make an iMovie compilation of my year in pictures. When I got it together, I was struck by how many birds there were because of all our field trips. It turned out I even forgot to take pictures of my classmates at my high school reunion…just got the peacock strolling the grounds. I am glad I took the time to do this movie because, except for a sad thing near the end, it was a very good year. Although I am a little belated, Happy New Year to you and may your 2015 be stellar!!

Don’t forget you can watch the movie full-screen by clicking the small box on the lower right hand corner…


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Prisoner Ai Weiwei…

The art that drew us to Alcatraz…an exhibition of the work of the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei.IMG_7860

From the catalog: “At first blush, @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, a major exhibition that pairs a politically charged Chinese contemporary artist with a landmark American national park, seems just as incongruous. Ai, a superstar in the international art world who helped design the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is currently forbidden by the authorities to leave China. Alcatraz—over the years the site of a Civil War-era fortress, a military prison, a notorious federal penitentiary, and a momentous Native American rights protest—is now a popular national park site and refuge for waterbirds. But it is exactly the pairing’s intrinsic conditions of contradiction that bring the two parts together-and make for the possibility of soul-stirring art.”

After arriving at the dock, we walked up to the New Industries Building which was originally a laundry and manufacturing facility.

“Both delicate and fearsome, the traditional Chinese dragon kite embodies a mythical symbol of power. Ai Weiwei unfurls a spectacular contemporary version of this age-old art form inside the New Industries Building: a sculptural installation with an enormous dragon’s head and a body made up of smaller kites. The sparrow-shaped and hexagonal kites scattered throughout the room feature stylized renderings of birds and flowers—natural forms that allude to a stark human reality: many are symbols of nations with serious records of restricting their citizens’ rights and civil liberties. The work references some thirty countries, including Cameroon, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan.

…By confining the work inside a building once used for prison labor, the artist suggests powerful contradictions between freedom and restriction, creativity and repression, cultural pride and national shame. He also offers a poetic response to the multi-layered nature of Alcatraz as a former penitentiary that is now an important bird habitat and a site of thriving gardens.”

With Wind (Installation, 2014. Handmade kites made of paper, silk, and bamboo)

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Somebody I know was looking for birds out those windows and admiring the view to the Golden Gate…

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In the next large room:

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Trace (Installation, 2014. LEGO plastic building blocks)

“The viewer is confronted with a field of colorful images laid out flat across the expansive floor: portraits of over 170 people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled due to their beliefs or affiliations, most of whom were still incarcerated as of June 2014.”

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“From the New Industries Building’s lower gun gallery, where armed guards once monitored prisoners at work, visitors peer through cracked and rusted windows to glimpse an enormous, multifaceted metal wing on the floor below. Its design is based on close observation of the structure of real bird’s wings, but in place of feathers, the artwork bristles with reflective metal panels originally used on Tibetan solar cookers…this piece uses imagery of flight to evoke the tension between freedom—be it physical, political, or creative—and confinement.

Refraction (Installation, 2014. Tibetan solar panels, steel)

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We walked through lush gardens up to the Cellhouse.

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Inside was Blossom (Installation, 2014, Porcelain, hospital fixtures)

Fixtures in hospital ward cells and medical offices are transformed into fantastical, fragile porcelain bouquets.

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There were other parts to the exhibit inside but it was time for use to go look for birds in earnest…

Now I have run out of episodes with titles I can use the word “prisoner” in, so now I must bring this chapter to a close…