Tuesday, September 30, 2008

California Fuchsia

Living in the desert makes one appreciate the beauty of plants that have adapted to hot, dry climates. Drought tolerant and native plants are becoming more popular as they are easier to grow and require less water. We've been going through a drought for a while and so many people complain that they want their "colorful" flowers and plants, the ones which require lots of maintenance and water. But what they don't know is that there is a world of plants that provide lots of color yet are more adaptive to our desert conditions. And yes, Southern California is a desert. All of Southern California. Not just where I live. If it hadn't been for L.A. stealing the Owens Lake, they'd be dry like we are. This native fuchsia, "California Fuchsia" was in full bloom in Santa Barbara this past weekend. It's bright red-orange flowers cover the bush and paint the hills with a warm glow. Think about your choices the next time you plant your garden. Native plants are beautiful and provide lots of color.

"California Fuchsia" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008


This lovely butterfly was busy in my friend's garden today and at first glance we thought it was a "Spotted Lady" butterfly. They are probably the most common butterfly in the world and in the spring when they migrate through the Coachella Valley we are inundated with them. But since this isn't spring I felt we had a different species here. I did some research and discovered this is actually a small Monarch Butterfly. I'm used to seeing the beautiful, large ones so common near Pacific Grove, California where they hang in huge clusters in eucalyptus trees. We don't get that many in this area so it was a treat to watch this one enjoying a snack.

"Monarch" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Busy Bee

Yesterday before visiting the Art Festival in Santa Barbara my friend and I decided to check out the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden which was just a few miles further down the road from the festival grounds. This is a wonderful treasure hidden up in a canyon. It's primary focus is native plants and they've done a super job of keeping the site looking natural. There is a stream trickling through the canyon and the big sycamores, a grove of redwood trees, a dam built but the Native Indians in 1807 under the guidance of the mission priests and the flume that takes the water to the mission. Thjere are trails to wander and it's a great place to take the kids. The Native fuscia and goldenrods were in bloom and even though this is a dry year for Southern California, it was a beautiful sight. Equally busy were the bees collecting pollen. This guy had a pretty full load on his hind legs and didn't mind my taking his picture.

"Busy Bee" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

French Onion Soup

I came to Santa Barbara this weekend to check out an art festival. I always like to do that before signing on to be a participant. Luckily, a very dear friend has a place near Lake Cachuma and we have fun enjoying the coastal weather and checking out the sights. Last night we attended an opening reception for the festival at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. They are the benefactors of the show and definitely a worthy cause. Afterwards, we had dinner in an historic house turned restaurant next to the bird sanctuary. I had eaten too many appetizers at the reception that I only had room for the "French Onion Soup". It reminded of the wonderful soup I had when I was in Paris. This wasn't as good but delightful none-the-less. This picture is the "real" French Onion Soup.

"French Onion Soup" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Silver Dragonfly

Many years ago my mother gave me a silver lapel pin in the shape of a dragonfly. I've had it for a long time and don't wear it very often so when I spotted this beauty taking a rest in the Van Dussen Gardens in Victoria, B.C. it reminded me of that beautiful pin.

"Silver Dragonfly" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Afternoon in the Park

Whenever I'm in the Pasadena area I make it a point to visit Descanso Gardens. Located in La Canada, 10 minutes West of Pasadena, this lovely garden was once a private residence to a local newspaper publisher. Known for its rose and iris gardens, it also has a huge Camellia forest and a newly planted lilac area. It's a pleasant spot to spend an afternoon relaxing. I spotted this couple sitting on a bench, enjoying the day. My idea of a great way to unwind and smell the flowers.

"Afternoon in the Park" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Angel's Trumpet

I recently saw the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the San Diego Art Museum and remembered that one of her favorite subjects to paint was Jimson Weed, otherwise known as Datura. This beautiful flower, commonly called Angel's Trumpet, is in the same family as Datura, however, it grows on a large, woody bush and all the flowers hang downward, like bells in the steeple, waiting to be rung. In the evening when the sun goes down, they emit a fragrant smell that is delightful.

"Angel's Trumpet" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Standing Guard

I'm not sure which one is standing guard. The lion or the pigeon on top of his head. Everywhere I went in Italy there were pigeons on tops of statues. Better to spot food from up on high. This lion was near the piazza in Volterra, Italy. This small hilltop town is the home of alabaster and all those wonderful items such as lamp shades, bowls,vases and other accessories they carve from it. A very translucent, semi soft mineral, alabaster takes many shapes and comes in many colors.

"Standing Guard" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Under Construction

This is the best looking construction signage I've seen in a long time. The San Diego Art Museum is undergoing and expansion program and they have these neat signs covering the construction zone. It's nice to see creativity at an art museum.

"Under Construction" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Everything But the Kitchen Sink

I was sitting on my tour bus in Naples, Italy, waiting for everyone to board, when I noticed this car in the nearby ferry lines. The ferries travel to many interesting ports, Corsica, Sardinia and Tunisia so it's natural that people load up (so to speak) when they come to Italy. My first thought when I spotted this heavily loaded car was to say "They've got everything on there but the kitchen sink". WRONG!!! They even have that too. Look closely. I'm surprised the tires didn't pop with all that weight. I don't even want to know how they managed to get all that stuff up there.

"Everything But the Kitchen Sink" © Kathy Dunham 2008k"

Friday, September 19, 2008

Morning Light

Early morning light is a photographer's delight and I wasn't disappointed when I arrived for breakfast at the French old farmhouse where we were staying. It certainly brightened my morning and got my day off to a great start.

"Morning Light" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Guatemalan Street Vendor

When I'm in a foreign country I usually ask permission when taking pictures of the locals. Some want payment, some feel their souls will be spirited away by the "black box". Either way, I don't want to offend. I was standing inside the earthquake ruined cathedral in Antigua, Guatemala when this vendor walked by. I saw her through the open door of the entry and being a long distance away decided to take the shot with my telephoto figuring she wouldn't even know. Well, one look on that face and I think I've been "had". She was gone by the time I came out but I love the shot.

"Guatemalan Street Vendor" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Gold Coins

Purple is my favorite color and when I spotted this scarf in Gibraltar I couldn't resist. Like any woman, I love the jingle the coins make when they move. I thought I had purchased something unique until the ship landed in Miami and I found many more like this in Coconut Grove. It now graces the easel in my studio.

"Gold Coins" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All Lined Up

Living in the desert and being an artist who paints flowers presents a unique challenge..... finding subject matter locally. Excluding what the gardeners think we should grow here, I'm always searching for unique and interesting flowers. We had a reasonable rain this past winter and spring, enough at the right time to bring the desert alive with flowers. When this happens it's wonderful. Blankets of flowers cover the desert floor and hills. That's when I jump in the car and hit the road. For this shot I visited Joshua Tree National Park, about an hour's drive. I almost missed these little beauties. They are no bigger than the nail on my pinky finger. I mean, they are tiny!. Normally they grow in a clump but this group were so nicely lined up I thought they were qued up for something.

"All Lined Up" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

See the Face?

The new Chinese garden at the Huntington Library in San Marino is a must see. Beautiful mosaic walks, pagados, lotus flowers in the pond, stone bridges and statues. I've seen this particular shape in various Chinese gardens but have no idea if it has a special meaning. But it wasn't until I was looking through my photos that I realized the angle of this shot gave it the look of a cartoonish face. See the funny little hat, two eyes and mouth? I'll never look at this the same way again.

"See the Face" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Orange Sherbet

I often name my floral paintings after food. I'm not sure why. I love good food and there must be an unconscious hunger when I look at a potential subject. I've painted several hibiscus and the double variety appeals to me with it's flowing petals. They remind me of a ballerina's skirt, swirling as she dances.

"Orange Sherbet" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Wedding's at 4

As I was strolling around the L.A. Arboretum looking for plant material to photograph, I came upon these chairs getting all "dolled up" for an afternoon wedding. Each chair had to be hand tied with a big pink, chiffon bow. There were three gals struggling in the heat to get them tied in time. I sure hope the bride and groom appreciate all the efforts to make this special day look it's best for them.

"The Wedding's at 4" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

After the Rain

Since Alaska's been in the news lately I remembered this rose I captured after an early morning rain in Juneau.

"After the Rain" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pigeon Hotel

Puerto Rico has lots of history and I'm sure pigeons have been there since Columbus discovered the island in 1493. And looking at the diverse variety of our feathered friends, this must be the melting pot for pigeons.

"Pigeon Hotel" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pot Bellied Planter

I love flowers and thought this was a creative use of something meant for the junk pile. This lovely beauty is in the garden of the Skagway Inn in Alaska. They have raised flower and vegetable beds that produce a wonderful a bounty of color and veggies. Stop by the next time you're in Skagway, they're on the main drag.

"Pot Bellied Planter" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pink & White

Aruba is a small, desolate island in the Southern Caribbean. Parts of the island are extremely dry and covered with cactus which makes it feel very much like the desert where I live. This shopping mall near the docks was certainly a colorful addition to the local scenery even if it was a tourist trap.

"Pink & White" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Big and Green

I love plants and flowers. I paint plants and flowers. But for the life of me, I haven't been able to figure out what kind of plant or flower this is. I spotted it in Punta Arenas, Costa Rica and loved the bright tropical colors. I've seen this in other tropical locations but none had an identifier on it. I'm still working on solving the mystery and won't give up until I do. Help anyone???

"Big and Green" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Virgin Island Mural

I live in the Coachella Valley, about 2 hours East of Los Angeles. Several cities in this area have used murals as part of an "Arts in Public Places Program". Indio has the most and they depict the history of the valley. This image was on a housing development in Charlotte Amalie in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I love flowers and thought this provided a serene setting for the white swing in front.

"Virgin Island Mural" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Unable to Hide

Last week I talked about finding unwanted things in your photos. This is a prime example of getting surprised. I was shooting sunflowers and trying different exposure settings. I was not intending to photograph a bug on the petal. It's one of those lucky shots that just happens. As they say, "I'd rather be lucky than good". Well.... I don't know. It's pretty nice to be good too.

"Unable to Hide" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sacred Datura

The roadsides abound this time of year with the Datura plant. Also known as Jimson Weed and highly toxic, Georgia O'Keefe used these flowers as subjects for many of her paintings. A morning bloomer, you won't find them in very good condition once the day warms up. Most are solid white, but occasionally you'll find some tinged with lavender.

"Sacred Datura" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cadiz Door Knocker

I don't know the attraction, but door knockers of unique design have always caught my attention. I have a collection of images I've taken in various towns and cities of the world of unusual door knockers. I'm amazed at the variety of designs. This one was in Cadiz, Spain and I thought very appropriately shaped.

"Cadiz Door Knocker" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Patriotic Taxis

While waiting to disembark from our cruise ship in Gibraltar (that small piece of land at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea), I looked over the ships' railing and spotted these taxis patiently waiting to shuttle passengers to town. I was struck by the red, white and one lone blue vehicle, neatly lined up, very orderly. So very British.

"Patriotic Taxis" © Kathy Dunham 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Little Tug That Could

It was 4:30 in the morning when I first this tug. He was pushing our cruise ship right below our port hole as we started our transit through the Panama Canal. This was an adventure I'd been waiting for. And it was worth every minute. The day was misty, no sun, but I spent a good deal of it on deck. Taking pictures from every angle. I didn't care if I got wet. That's what raincoats are for. The process is fascinating and not a minute is lost in maneuvering these huge ships through the locks. And what an engineering feat this was, building a passage through the jungle to connect two oceans. And they're expanding it to accommodate even larger vessels. I'm going through again this year and I wonder what I'll see this time.

"The Little Tug That Could" © Kathy Dunham 2008