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Posts Tagged ‘toad’

July is World Watercolor Month. I was inspired by that celebration two years ago and, after gathering a bunch of supplies, I finally put brush to paper and made my first little watercolor paintings. They were not very good, but the experience was a lot of fun and I documented it in a posting called Jumping into Watercolor. I produced a few more small paintings during the summer of 2018, but somehow my interest waned.

I spent three weeks last November in Paris and brought along some art materials. Paris reignited my desire to play with watercolor and I was inspired enough to produce some more little paintings that you can see in the posting Playing with watercolor in Paris. My skill level had improved marginally and I eventually painted a few more times before I left Paris.

Alas, I did not continue with watercolors, although I kept buying supplies and watching lots of YouTube videos. A few days ago, I downloaded the list of daily prompts for World Watercolor Month and decided I would try to paint something on as many days as I could this July. I chose to paint in a relatively small watercolor journal that is 5.5 x 8 inches (14 X 20 cm) so I would not feel intimidated by a big sheet of blank paper.

So here are my paintings for the first four days of July in reverse order. The prompt for 4 July was “Quiet” and as I though about it, my mind transported me back to an early morning last November when I watched the sun rise slowly over the Seine River.

The prompt for 3 July was “Playful” and I chose to reprise a painting style and subject that I had used once before. I used a style based on Chinese ink painting (sumi-e) that emphasizes using a minimum number of strokes to capture the essence of the subject, in this cases some frogs and dragonflies.

The prompt for 2 July was “Texture” and I decided to try to paint a wart-covered toad that I had photographed earlier this year. The prompt for 1 July was “Rejoice” and I painted a chubby little bird that was singing.

It is both rewarding and humbling to post these paintings. I feel like a little kid who is excited about producing something with his own hands and this posting serves as a virtual refrigerator door on which I can display my art. Of course I realize that my current skill level is pretty low, but was one video that I watched recently emphasized, “there is no shame in being a beginner.”

I am confident that if I can carve out some time each day to paint this month, I am sure to improve. Most importantly, I am having fun. I was chatting recently with a friend who is an accomplished watercolor artist. She confessed it is a little tougher for her to have fun, because she is a perfectionist. As our skill levels increase in any area, I think there is a danger that we may lose our initial sense of joy and wonder. I consciously try to remain on guard against that danger when it comes to my photography.

If you want to learn more about World Watercolor Month, click on this link or go directly to doodlewash.com. In addition to raising awareness and interest about watercolor painting, World Watercolor Month raises support for The Dreaming Zebra Foundation, a charity providing support so that children and young adults are given an equal opportunity to explore and develop their creativity in the arts.

 

Quiet

Playful

Texture

Rejoice

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Last Tuesday I spotted this cute little toad—I think it may be a Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri)—while exploring the wilds of Fairfax County. The toad was just chilling (or more accurately may have been warming itself) on a rock ledge with a bumpy texture and mottled coloration that matched those of the toad pretty well.

It is hard to know what the frog was thinking, but it appeared to be in deep contemplation. “I think, therefore I am.”

Fowler's Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When you truly love someone, you love them warts and all (and as the second image shows, American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus) have lots of warts). I spotted these amorous amphibians earlier this week at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia.

American Toads

American Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was walking along the Potomac River one day last month, I came upon this large toad, which I think might be a Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri). I was really struck by the way that the light and shadows helped to emphasize the very bumpy texture of the toad’s skin.

Fowler's Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The single American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus) inched closer and closer to the couple, looking like he wanted to cut in. Growing impatent, he decided that the only way to dislodge his rival was to take action.  With a big splash, he jumped right onto the other male’s back.

Was the maneuver successful? Well, I think he separated the couple, but I couldn’t tell which of the males ended up with the female.

American Toad

American Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I usually think of seeing toads on dry land, but when it’s breeding time, they head to shallow pools of water. These Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) were swimming around this past Friday at Huntley Meadows Park in Northern Virginia.

Some of the toads were graceful swimmers, effortlessly skimming across the water. Others, however, seemed to have problems coordinating the actions of their limbs and floundered and splashed around a lot. The toads seemed to use a variety of strokes, though almost all of them used a variant of the frog kick with their rear legs.

How did the frogs get the naming rights for the kick? It could just as easily have been the “toad kick.” Perhaps marketing is a bit more difficult when you have as many warts as the average toad.

Eastern American Toad

Eastern American Toad

Eastern American Toad

Eastern American Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The marsh at Huntley Meadows Park is alive with the sound of frogs and toads—it’s the start of the breeding season.

Yesterday, I captured this shot of an Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) as he was calling out to females. It’s amazing how long the toad is able to hold that long, high-pitched trill, as much as 20 to 30 seconds according to the Virginia Herpetological Society.

His expanded pouch (officially called a dewlap) reminds me of my childhood days, when I would attempt to blow large bubbles with the ever present bright pink bubble gum. One of my favorite gums was called Bazooka and the individually wrapped pieces of gum included a comic strip starring Bazooka Joe. (For more information about Bazooka, check out this Wikipedia article.)

I’ve decided I want to call this little guy Bazooka Joe and my unofficial name for the Eastern American Toad is the Bubble Gum Toad. As a side note, fellow photographer and blogger Walter Sanford has given nicknames to several of my lenses and he calls my Tamron 150-600mm lens Bazooka Joe. This, of course, is more a reference to the anti-tank rocket launcher than to the bubble gum—the size and length of the lens brings to mind a bazooka. (If you are not familiar with this weapon, check out this Wikipedia article.)

In case you are curious, I captured this image of Bazooka Joe with Bazooka Joe.

Eastern American Toad

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was thrilled to capture a shot of a frog on a lily pad, but in her newest posting, fellow blogger Ginny Alfano features a whole variety of frogs, including an amazing shot of five little frogs perched on a single lily pad. Check it out!

Maple Flats

Fourth of July came and went quite uneventfully which is how we like it.  As I was weeding my squash garden, I noticed some little tiny “frogs” that were the size of my pinky finger nail. I had seen them before, but wasn’t really sure what kind they were.  Upon further study on Sunday, I realized that they are not frogs at all, but baby American Toads!!  Just when I think I know so much about nature, I find that I don’t know anything at all.  It’s a continual learning process.  I think that’s why I love nature so much – it always keeps me thinking.  So, following are a small collection of the frogs and toad I have come across in my area.

PICKEREL FROG – THE MASTER OF DISGUISE!

HIDING FROM PREY & SECRETLY LOOKING FOR FOOD

SPRING PEEPER – THE HARBINGER OF SPRING

BABY AMERICAN TOAD

MINK…

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It had been years (and maybe even decades) since I had last seen a toad and somehow I had forgotten that they have lots of warts and bumps, unlike the smooth-skinned frogs that I am used to seeing.

I encountered this brown toad, which I think is an Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus americanus), at a garden in Maryland. According to Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, there are only two types of true toads in the state, so my changes of being correct are pretty good. The other toad is a Fowler’s Toad.

Apparently, you can distinguish between the two types by the number of warts per dark spot on their backs. Maybe you can tell them apart—I wouldn’t even know where to start counting.

toad_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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