Friday, October 29, 2010

Jackrabbits and cottontails

Here in the high desert near Joshua Tree, California, we have both cottontail rabbits and black-tailed jackrabbits.  I have done paintings of both species, and have noticed that many people don't know the difference between the two.  If you have spent hours and hours watching them, like Mr. Pono the dog and I have, you can see one of the main differences between them is size.  The jackrabbit (lepus californicus) is a much bigger creature than the desert cottontail (sylvilagus audubonii.)  The black-tailed jack rabbit is in fact a hare, rather than a rabbit.  Both species have large ears, to alert them to the sound of predators and to help cool them in the hot summer months.  However, the jack rabbit's ears are substantially more impressive, in my humble opinion.
The desert cottontail.
Black-Tailed jackrabbit, seen from the side.  Note the longer tail.

The black-tailed jack rabbits do not dig a burrow underground to bear their young.  Rather, the female will find a safe place, often under a shrub or other cover, and give birth to her young, called leverets.  The leverets are born with their eyes open and fully furred.  They are mobile within minutes of birth.  The female jack will then move each leveret to a different location, so that if  a predator discovers the young, it will not get the entire litter.  This is in contrast to the desert cottontail.  The cottontail does dig a nest, lines it with fur from her belly, and gives birth to hairless, blind babies.  (Some of you may recall an earlier post, when Pono dug up a cottontail nest in our front yard.  You can read about that here and here.)
Here they are, side by side.  The cottontail is on the left, jack on the right.

Like their name, the cottontail has a round, white tail that acts as a warning.  When chased by a predator, the  tail of the cottontail goes straight up, alerting other cottontails nearby.  Although the desert cottontail does not live in colonies like its European counterpart, it does tolerate other cottontails nearby more than the jackrabbit will.  The black-tailed jackrabbit has a longer tail that is buff colored underneath and has black stripes on either side.  The black-tailed jack also has black-tipped ears. 

Although I love both the cottontail and the jackrabbit, very much, I must admit a certain partiality to the jackrabbit.  Those ears really GET me, every time I see them.  They are quite a bit more skittish than the cottontails, and they are big enough that every now and then I think I am seeing a coyote, when I glimpse them out of the corner of my eye.  SO COOL.  Or maybe my fondness comes from the fact that I grew up seeing cottontail rabbits, whereas the jackrabbit is a creature that I hadn't seen until moving here, to Joshua Tree.  I guess the jackrabbit just equals the desert, for me.

I leave you with a recent painting of the black-tailed jackrabbit, called Juicy Jack.  This oil painting measures 20 x 16 inches.   This painting is still available.  If you are interested, please email me.
"Juicy Jack."  Oil on canvas, 20x 16 inches.  ©k.swenson2010
I have passed 30,000 visitors to my blog!!!  I actually think I have had more visitors than that, but I didn't start counting until after I had already been blogging for a while.  I am pretty excited about it, and I am planning a giveaway next week.  Be sure to stay tuned for it!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The visit

Last week, we had a visit from a mangy young coyote pup.  I was able to quickly snap one shot of its head before it turned and trotted off.  It went around the corner of the patio, and then decided to take one last look at the girl with camera.    
It's kind of hard to get an idea of how big he was in these photos.  He was maybe about 2 to 2 1/2 feet.  It was most likely a male, since females will often stay with the pack at this age. 

The temperatures have warmed back up to a more normal fall level.  (about 85- 90 degrees F during the day.)  I am happy about that!  The mornings are cooler, making for pleasant walks with Pono.

I told myself that yesterday was my last day to paint, so that I could focus on getting everything framed, priced and ready to go to Ventura, CA this weekend.  However, I just can't seem to stay out of the studio!  I would much rather paint than FRAME, of course.  I need to be more disciplined, or I will be suffering the consequences later this week.  I will be heading out for Ventura on Friday.  The festival, Arts in the Park, starts Saturday at 1 pm and ends at 9 pm Saturday night.  On Sunday, the hours are noon to 5 pm.  If you are interested in visiting my booth there, we will be downtown Ventura in Plaza Park, located on Santa Clara Street.  My booth is number 16. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cold Spell

We had a sudden cold spell here in Joshua Tree.  Many of you know that I am not a lover of the cold, and so the change in temperature has left me a bit grumpy.  Or maybe it's the fact that I am now in the midst of framing hell.  I really don't like framing.  At all.  I might even go so far as to say I hate framing.  I hate framing even more than I hate cold weather!

I had actuallystopped using my favorite medium, pastel, because it has to be framed in order to be displayed or transported safely.  I had not worked in pastel for 2 years.  Now I have a stack of new pastel paintings of the Joshua Tree, and I am trying to work up the courage to frame them.  But I wasn't quite ready for that just yet, today.  So I thought I would put frames on some of my oil paintings.  I have done a few paintings on board and they needed frames.  That should be easy, right?  I don't want to go into detail, but suffice to say that I am not encouraged by my lack of framing progress.  At this rate, I will never be ready for the two upcoming shows!  eeeeeeeeeek!

I did want to share with you some photos from the marvelous sunrises we had last week, when we had some storms roll in and bless us with rain.  I was out early, in my pj's, tripping over cacti, clicking away with my camera.  (I was not the only one, I've discovered.  A like minded friend in Yucca Valley had the same impulse...great minds DO think alike.)

You don't get to see all the photos I took, because I plan to turn many of them into paintings.  I am not sure the photos capture the magnificence of that sunrise.  It seemed like every where I looked, there was something amazing to see.  It just kept getting better and better and then the sun exploded over the top of the mountains - I almost heard it!  Really.

I thank you all for stopping over to read this oft-neglected blog.  I DO plan to post more, once these two shows are over.  For my fellow bloggers, I would like to get a chance to catch up with you, and I hope to do that again, soon!