Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Missing Artist Spotted in New Orleans!

And amid wild animals, trudging through swamps, and voraciously downing multiple Beignets, Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, and Crawfish Ettoufee!!!

Aren't these little fellows adorable. I love them (as long as they aren't living in my home!) I went to a photo shoot in Sandstone, MN, just up the road from where I live and spent 3 days photographing and watching the antics of animals running free from cages and bars. I actually got to hold a racoon, a coyote, a wolf, and a lovely little fox. I did decline the porcupine though. ;-)

These are just a tiny sample of the experience of walking with and experiencing the wild creatures we were so fortunate to spend time with.

This owl is not alive- it is a beautiful woodcarving at one of the carving shows I attended and helped to judge. Some of these carvings are phenomenal to see. Just astounding what can be done with a piece of wood, a few tools, and alot of knowledge, work, and yes- talent. But I do want to stress "work and knowledge". These carvers spend years developing and learning their art. It does not come easy, it comes at great cost of time and sometimes even sleep!

The swamps and bayous are just beautiful. Alot of areas are so very haunting. Filled with life of all sorts. Fish constantly jumping to catch a meal, birds and herons and bald eagles in multiples. What a grand sight to see a pair of bald eagles flying above us as we boated down the bayou to a friends "camp". The ease and grace of the great blue and white herons, the funny little galinule running across the lily pads. We kept a sharp eye out and saw a number of large and small alligators, several kingfishers, white ibis. After a wonderful afternoon of wildness in the bayous we spent an evening over some good Cajun food with some dear, wonderful friends, a glass of wine and good old "catching-up" chatter.

We spotted four of these little guys- 6-8 week old baby alligators. Mama must have been nearby, but all we could find were alligator trails.

We spent a couple of days learning more about the backgrounds of the Acadians, the history of the area, and touring an Acadian "village". We became very aware of the way homes were built in a very similar fashion for many years afterward. As we drive now we see the same basic plan, altho larger in back, but looking very much as the historical cabins did from the front.

I am fascinated by spiders (in the wild, not in my basement!) We found several rather interesting specimens. These seemed to be very common and we saw many of them. They are quite large and easy to spot hanging in the center of their webs between trees.

This beautiful plantation home was not nearly as large as it appears. It is just 6 rooms, 3 up, 3 down, and even though it is a Greek Revival exterior now, it was a Creole home. The original home was actually only 3 rooms with just storage below because of flooding issues. They also often slept on the porch (can you imagine the mosquito issues?!) The porch went all the way around. No hallway, doors simply opened from each room onto the porches. Now the back porch is enclosed as a long room/hallway.
Do you know what makes a "plantation"? We often think of them as the huge, beautiful antebellum mansions, but all plantations did not have that distinction. A plantation means it derives it's income from one main cash crop, rather than a farm which may have multiple crops. This home still had an original row of the majestic live oaks (foreground) and all 22 of the original slave quarters. We learned alot of very interesting history, and I have a book or 2 in mind I want to purchase to learn more.

We spent a day in New Orleans enjoying the French Market, beignets at Cafe du Monde, walking around Jackson Square and chatting with the artists there. Dinner of a multitude of Cajun favorites, an fun stroll up and down Bourbon St. Then the next day we drove around looking at and photographing some of the cute little historical homes in the area near New Orleans. Perhaps I'll try and paint a few of them someday.

More of the local wildlife scene. Several days spent with more old friends motorcycling and touring through sugar cane plantations, swampy areas, etc. Down to Grand Isle, a big Cajun family dinner of white beans and fried shrimp. Heaven...

I hope you enjoyed this tiny bit of our past month. I'll try and post a few more in a week or 2. Time to catch up at home and then get back to the easel! Until next time, be well my friends.


James F. Smith said...

How about a bunch of great photos to paint with!!!! The Racoons are great!! Looking forward to see the painting!!

Educated Loser said...

Is the cougar picture an actual picture or a painting? I would think it would be really hard to spot one AND get such a good picture. Looks like you were really successful with your wildlife spotting and photographing.

The Celtic American said...

What a great trip and fantastic photographs! I'll bet we see some miniatures that were inspired by these wonderful sites.

Carol Andre' said...

Yes, I hope to use some of my photos for future painting reference. Educated Loser (what a funny name!)- this was a special place just for being able to photograph these animals. I'll tell you more about it in my next blog entry.

DEB said...

How beautiful! And look at all the fabulous photos you took...They are sure to inspire you for a long time to come!

Megan said...

Those photos are amazing Carol! To get so up close, wonderful!

Carol Andre' said...

Hi, Megan. Yes, it was a great time. I feel badly that I haven't had time to post a new post, nor check out other blogs as I'd hoped/planned to. Life has just gone "out of control" for a bit here... Perhaps next week I'll have something more to post. Until then, be well.