Interpretive Panels are Up at Black Lake Canyon Preserve!

On April 27, 2019 I was excited to attend the grand opening of Kathleen’s Canyon Overlook to see my interpretive panel artwork installed! The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County threw a great party with a mariachi band and taco truck. It was a fantastic experience to see Black Lake Canyon and Kathleen’s Canyon Overlook in person for the first time and meet Lindsey Roddick and Jamie Creath for the first time after working with them over the past year and a half! It was also lovely to talk about the panels with all of the enthusiastic LCSLO supporters who attended the opening.

Text and graphic design on the panels are by Jamie Creath of LCSLO.

sm Habitats and Me

sm Flyers and Viewers

sm Birds and Mesm Monarch Photosm Invasives Photo

My Upcoming Lecture and Hike with Tuleyome

In March, as part of Tuleyome‘s Nature and You Events, I am pleased to be guiding a field sketching hike and separate evening lecture focused on Stebbins Cold Canyon.

On March 9, I will lead a field sketching workshop at Stebbins from 8:00 to noon, where I will offer demonstrations, exercises, individual exploration and discussion. These will be designed to help participants enjoy the reserve and practice taking our nature observations to a deeper level. More information is available here.

Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 10.46.45 PM

On March 28, I will be presenting a lecture at the Mary L. Stephens, Davis Branch Library at 6:00 pm. The lecture will describe my ongoing project documenting Stebbins after the fire, showing in drawings the reserve’s response to the fire. I’ll be giving an overview of how I approach field sketching and talking in depth about the idea of using sketching to pay close attention to a place and its inhabitants and observe changes over time. More information is available here.

Screen Shot 2019-02-19 at 10.47.10 PM

Three Years after the Wragg Fire at Stebbins Cold Canyon

In December, I visited Stebbins along with two UC Davis Natural Reserves directors: Jeffrey Clary (Associate Director) and Sarah Oktay (Director of Strategic Engagement and Stebbins Cold Canyon Director).  They graciously agreed to walk some of the creek trail with me to tell me about how the fire response at the reserve has compared to expectations and answer the questions that I’ve had over the last few years of site visits.

Following are pages from my sketchbook outlining our discussion, written and illustrated after the fact.  At the end of this post, I’ve included the field notes I made during our walk.

illustratednotes1_2018dec12 2

Text from page 1:

1. The fire follower whispering bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora) was out in large numbers after the fire and hadn’t been seen at the reserve since the last fire 30 years ago.

2. Seedlings of buckbrush (Ceanothus cuneatus) were only seen this last spring (2018), which was three springs after the fire.  It may be that they had reseeded/germinated earlier, but only just became noticeable.

3. Hairy-leaf ceanothus (C. oliganthus) should also be in the reserve.  It may be up in the high draws and less obvious.

4. It is unclear how the manzanitas in the reserve are doing – there has not been a lot of resprouting or reseeding (parry manzanita, Arctostaphylos parryana).

5. Red ribbons (Clarkia concinna) can be seen regularly in the reserve, but never before in the numbers in which it was present the two springs after the fire.  It is usually only up on the slopes and showed up both on the slopes and in the canyon after the fire.

6. The interior live oaks (Quercus wislizeni) in the canyon are doing pretty well with resprouting but it is not as clear how well the blue oaks (Q. douglasii) uphill are doing.  Blue oaks tend to grow on the hillsides and live oaks in the canyon – blue oaks have a higher tolerance for low water conditions than do live oaks.

illustratednotes2_2018dec12 2

Text from page 2:

7. Many of the gray pines (Pinus sabiniana) were completely killed by the fire.  Gray pines are relatively intolerant to fire but return to the area easily in between fires.

8. American robins (Turdus migratorius) come in all at once and eat the berries off of the toyons (Heteromeles arbutifolia) over a couple of days.

9. Species composition in the reserve is back to about 80% of what it was before the fire.  The habitat structure is still very different, with much more understory and much less canopy.  Some cover has come back by now, though, and wildflowers were already much less numerous last spring than in the first two springs after the fire.

10. Chaparral currant (Ribes malvaceum) will be blooming soon.

11. The perennial vines in the reserve (wild cucumber – Marah fabaceus; western morning glory – Calystegia occidentalis; pipestem clematis – Clematis lasianthus) are less numerous in the mature community than they have been in the years right after the fire, when there has been abundant light and climbing support in the form of bare branches.

12. Yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum) seeds germinate readily after fire and can also resprout after fire.

 

Here are the field notes I took while we walked (color added later):

fieldnotesall_2018dec12

On my work table, 11.09.2018

For greater freedom and confidence with watercolor, I’ve been working on small studies using watercolor directly on the page, without any drawing in pencil or pen beforehand.  This has been illuminating: while the spontaneity can of course lead to disasters, I am also often much happier with the way that I am able to capture light on form especially.

Here are some examples:

rainbeetledirectwc.jpg

GullDirectWC

orcasrocksdirectwc.jpg

CountyFireDirectWC

 

Stebbins Cold Canyon Interpretive Sign

My interpretive sign has been placed at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve. The sign is posted at a small creek overlook along the Homestead Trail.

I developed the sign to highlight how plants and animals make use of a seasonal stream in both wet and dry times of year. To illustrate the concept, I selected a set of organisms that represent a wide variety of strategies for coping with fluctuations in water availability in different seasons. Given a two-color design constraint, I used the colors to help emphasize the species and the changes in their environment.

IMG_1142

Here is the sign alone:

ColdCreekSeasonalStreamPoster_sm

And here are sketches that show my design process:

ColdCreekSignRoughSketch_sm

IMG_0461

IMG_0459

IMG_0460

On my work table, 06.07.2018

I finished the first of two paintings that will be used to make spring toys for a playground to be constructed by the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County at Kathleen’s Canyon Overlook in the Black Lake Canyon Preserve.  This one is a California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) and the second will be an Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna).

Here’s a trip backwards through four stages of the work in progress:

IMG_9432

IMG_9383

IMG_9381

IMG_9333

Updates posted on Wildfire to Wildflowers

I have been catching up on adding color to the drawings I made at Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve last fall and posting them on Wildfire to Wildflowers.  Every six months I draw the view into the canyon from the old trailhead:

IMG_9167

In September, I also focused on a blue oak that was blown down in high winds early in the month.  The oak had survived the fire and had new leaves growing, but was weak enough that it was unable to withstand the wind.

IMG_9185

IMG_9186