Little Birdies wishing every one a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

First, Cathy and Calvin Cardinal flew in to say they are hoping every one will enjoy taking time out to think about loved ones in this Christmas season. They are grateful to have beautiful feathers to keep them warm and lots of berries and seeds to snack on for the winter. The Cardinals are wishing the same for every one here. May your Christmas be filled with snuggles and snow. May your branches be sturdy and strong to hold you up and give you a nice perch from which to sing. And may the New Year give something to sing about.

Then the Chickadees showed up! Not to be out done by the Cardinals, Cindy and Charley Chickadee came to chatter about all the hopeful blessings they are wishing for every one through Christmas and into New Years. The Chickadees are excited for all the things they have to chatter about and especially loved ones and snow. What could be better than hanging out in the trees with loved ones, watching the snow spread its peaceful white blanket over the forest? The Chickadees are hoping every one will have lots of beautiful things to chatter about in the coming year.

Henry and Harriet Hummingbird send their best from the Florida Keys. They have never understood what all the fuss is about with stockings hanging from the mantle over the fireplace. Henry, Harriet and all the little Hummers hang their stockings from the branches of a poinciana tree. They insist that Santa can easily fly his sleigh right to the top of the tree and slide down the trunk to where the stockings were so carefully hung among the beautiful flowers of bright orange and red. The Hummer family is wishing every one plenty of bright sunshiny days with lots of sweet smelling flowers in the coming year.

Finally, Billy and Betty Bluebird are just happy to see Christmas arrive. They are hoping the same for every one else. Billy and Betty have decided that they will not be singing the blues this Christmas or for the coming New Year. They will be singing a love song to each and every one filled with joy, hope and happiness. In the Bluebird house for 2021, they have decided to start each day in the New Year with a song of happy hearts. Billy and Betty are wishing every one will have days filled with plenty of rain to bring out an abundance of juicy worms to be plucked up and fed to lots of little mouths.

So from the Cardinals, Chickadees, Hummingbirds and Bluebirds, we wish every one a hope-filled Christmas with lots of joy for the coming New Year.

Col0rful Fridays-Transparently beautiful Healing White

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“The first of all colors is white … We shall set down white as the representation of light, without which no color can be seen; yellow for earth, green for water, blue for air, red for fire; and black for total darkness.”Leonardo Da Vinci(

Many artists’ paints must be used with caution because of the potentially toxic properties of the pigments. Not so with Zinc White. Not only is Zinc White not toxic, should you happen to get poison ivy while out doing a little plein air painting, you can reach into your paint box and pull out your handy tube of Zinc White. Slather it on and continue painting. Suppose the sun is beating down but just a few more minutes and the painting will be complete. A little Zinc White on the nose for sun protection and carry on. And that Zinc White comes in mighty handy if you are looking for transparent lightening of the paint without the heaviness and chalkiness of Titanium.

Winsor Newtonstates Zinc White is “cold white” in appearance and “is particularly suitable for mixtures with cool colors and for glazing and scumbling techniques as it does not over power other hues.” Golden Paintsstates Zinc White has “1/10ththe tinting power of titanium white,” and “Zinc White is the best choice for use with the highly transparent hues”. Golden Paints also states, “with Zinc White you have more control.” Zinc White won’t take over the paint and turn it into a pastel quite so quickly as the much stronger Titanium white.

Artist’s experiments have concluded much the same thing. A Blog Related to Artfinds Zinc White has a cooler and bluer effect on paint mixes with greater transparency and states, “you can more easily make small adjustments to a paint’s lightness without accidently making it too light.” On her blog,Lezley Davidsonsays, “skin tones are great ideas for Zinc Oxide when you need a white.”SamanthaDasilvamakes a comparison of Zinc White and Titanium and concludes Zinc White “slightly effects the value of the color” and is “highly transparent” and “great for glazing.”

With Zinc White, the tinting is mild and won’t affect the basic value of the paint. It is excellent for transparency and glazing, particularly with the effects of skin tones. Zinc White is the best choice for light airy whites and those with a bluer or cooler look. Zinc White won’t give that thick opaque look that Titanium White is well known for. If you don’t want to overpower your work with white, then go for the Zinc. And if not, you can always add it to your First Aid Kit. Along with poison ivy and sunburn, Zinc White is great on that diaper rash you got after wading through the poison ivy to reach that sunny spot you sweltered in all day while painting your fabulous plein air creation. The things we do for art!

Grumbacher demonstrates mixing with Zinc White:

To buy pure zinc oxide pigment go to Amazon

Tuesday Morning Bird-Tufted Titmouse

Bird Group, oil on canvas

These funny little guys, the tufted titmice, love to flit around in the trees around my bird feeder haranguing with the chickadees and the cardinals in the winter months. They were frequently up in the trees wearing their cute little blue shoes and serenading the others at the feeder with their sweet song. One thing, I noticed about the titmice was the way they would take their seed up into the tree before they ate it. So many of the other birds would sit at the feeder gobbling up multiple seeds like little gluttons or foraging around the ground underneath picking up what others knocked out. The little titmouse would swoop down to the feeder, grab a seed and flit back up to a high branch to munch down on the newly acquired treat before breaking back into song. I wondered whether he was afraid of someone stealing his treat or was he just in a hurry to get back to his singing?

Tufted Titmouse in the snow.

The Tufted Titmouse is part of a family of titmice according to All About Birds and are most visible in the Southeastern United States. Birds and Blooms says: “The tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) is a small songbird in the tit and chickadee family (Parade).” That would explain why I always see them hanging around with the chickadees. The reason they grab a seed and fly up to the tree tops is not because they can’t wait to sing. Birds and Blooms also tells us, “they grab one seed, fly to a nearby perch, hold the food with their feet, and then pound it open with their stout, round bills.” Seems like a slow way to eat but then they aren’t particularly fat little birds so maybe that’s why! Maybe I should grab a bite then flit off somewhere to eat it before coming back for the next bite. I might be as little and energetic as a titmouse if I did that. Interesting thought but back to the Titmouse.

Tufted Titmouse in the Trees

The titmouse gets its funny name from the old Anglo-Saxon names “tit” meaning small and “mouse” referring to any small bird or rodent. I can’t see the mouse reference. They don’t look anything like Mickey to me but what do I know. Can’t quibble with those Anglo-Saxon bird namers. This information came from The Charismatic Planet. Another source, says that originally it was Titmase, the word “mase” meaning small bird. Around 500 years or so ago it was changed to mouse because of the widespread understanding of the word mouse. Tufted Titmice are such cute little guys, I hate to have them associated with scary, creepy little rodents. But then the word Titmouse is so much easier to say that titmase. Perhaps that is the real reason the name was changed. How could everybody know so much about mice when Mickey wasn’t even around then? Oh well.

Titmouse in a tree

At any rate, Tufted Titmice are so cute at the feeder and just hanging around. I love to watch them. Who couldn’t love a little bird with a sweet song wearing blue suede shoes! To invite these little singers to your house, you can find out more about how to attract them to your feeders by following the advice found on the website The sweet sound of the music the Titmouse sings is reason enough to want more of them in your neighborhood. Fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any concern about them disappearing anytime soon as says the IUCN has the tufted titmouse rated at “least concern.” Good news for a change! Maybe thats why they hang with the chickadees. Safety in groups!

Listen to the sweet sound of the tufted titmouse:

Blue Suede Shoes

Colorful Fridays-The Rosy Red Siblings

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“Red is obviously such a stimulating color, it has so many connotations.”P.J. Harvey

Quinacridone Red and its Quin siblings, Rose and Magenta, cannot call up an intriguing history. No ancient minerals or archaic farming practices discovered these beautiful bluish reds. No Old Masters can be credited with having discovered this gloriously rich red family. All the credit goes to a wonderful unknown modern-day scientist who mixed some organic chemicals up in a lab and came out with these lovely, fully transparent, lightfast, nontoxic reds. Many a twentieth century botanical artist would like to pay homage to this brilliant chemist.

Rose, watercolor

The “quins” are the colors of romance. Though rather strong, they are still the reds of orchids and carnations. The “quins” are the pinks of rose petals. They are the sunlight through a stained glass window. All of this romantic pinky, lavender, rosy color surely must come from the ground up petals of wildflowers gathered at midnight on a full moon. Wrong! They come from a boring test tube in a sterile lab located in the windowless basement of a huge chemical compound. (Actually, we don’t know where they are made today, but the windowless basement sounded pretty good).

Layering transparent glazes with the “quins,” according to Chris Cozen on his blog, “tend not to turn muddy or grey.” The Daniel Smith website states Naples Yellow can be added to Quinacridone Red to create nice peachy shades. Williamsburg Oils says Quinacridone Red can be used to make the “cleanest pinks, flesh tones and violets.” And who would want muddy pinks?? Okay, sometimes a muddy pink is needed in a painting for delicate shadows. In that case, go with the Cadmiums.

Daniel Smith demonstrates a wash with Quinacridone Red: