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Breakup

In the north the term “breakup” refers to melting of the ice in lakes and , especially, rivers. When breakup occurs masses of ice begin melting and moving; spring soon follows,

I recently picked up a few tips that will allow me to become better at the mechanics of using 3D software to make art. Those tips are incorporated into this image; a mountain lake in spring. Sunlight reflects off trees in the distance in a more natural way that I was able to achieve previously. And I think I was able to render a fairly good approximation of ice as it appears on a lake in spring when it melts most days and then refreezes at night. And the partially-melted snow on the hills also looks natural.

I added a Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) in the foreground as they are one of the most beautiful and interesting birds in the upper left hand corner of North America. We call them screeches as that is what they do.

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a mountain lake in spring

A Mountain Lake In Spring

Cyanotic Salmon

I put my kayak, the Cyanotic Salmon (it’s blue; it “swims” up rivers), in the water as often as possible. In my opinion Cyanotic Salmon would be a great name for a tavern or rock band. Lo and behold, I found a family-oriented, though non-existent, Cyanotic Salmon Bar & Grill in Kenai, Alaska.

Sockeyes assume the familiar red coloration before spawning. They are commonly called red salmon and are sometimes referred to as bluebacks, as they have a bluish tint while living in the ocean, which fits with the blue-toned fish below. There are landlocked populations of Sockeye, known as Kokanee, in the western parts of the United States and Canada.

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the mythical cyanotic salmon bar & grill in kenai, alaska

The Cyanotic Salmon Bar & Grill

You may have noticed the line about combat fishing rest and relaxation. Salmon fishing is extremely popular in Alaska, too popular. Thousands of anglers, almost shoulder to shoulder, line both banks of the salmon streams, each trying to catch a big fish while trying to keep his line from tangling with those of everyone else. Tempers can flare.

This is what combat fishing looks like:

combat fishing in alaska

Combat Fishing In Alaska

And, lastly, this is my little blue boat, the original Cyanotic Salmon:

my blue kayak dubbed the cyanotic salmon

The Original Cyanotic Salmon

Here is a rendering of a tree-covered, rocky island off the coast of British Columbia which I saw while aboard a ferry from Alaska. I have dubbed it Salish Island though it most likely has some other name.

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salish island

Salish Island

The word “salish” is used by linguists to refer to several related languages of the indigenous residents of the US Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. The term “Salish Sea” refers to an area consisting of Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Strait of Georgia. British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, of which the island in this image is a part, are located in the Salish Sea.

A faux propaganda image featuring a rural scene from the early post-war Soviet Union. Depicts a GAZ M-20 Pobeda automobile, in front of a dacha (rural summer house). Across the upper part of the image is an “M20″ hood ornament, Cyrillic (Russian) text reading “ГАЗ” (GAZ) and a side ornament found on the vehicles featuring stylized Cyrillic text reading “Победа” (Pobeda). The image has been “aged” to suggest that it dates from the early post-war period.

Internal Soviet propaganda often tried to inform the people how good life was in the USSR. A dacha and a car to get there signified the good life. City dwellers dreamed of having a small plot of land outside the city to flee to on summer weekends, away from the heat and dirt of the city.

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russian gaz pobeda and dacha

GAZ M20 Pobeda parked near a dacha

The Pobeda, was the first automobile manufactured for the public after the end of World War. The M20 was produced 1946 to 1958. GAZ (ГАЗ is a Russian acronym for Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod – Gorsky Automobile Factory) Pobeda (Победа) is the Russian word for victory. The name was chosen because the car was first tested in 1943 when an Allied victory in World War II began to appear likely.The Pobeda was manufactured under license in Poland and a few were assembled in North Korea. The Pobeda was the first post-war Soviet-made automobile and the first Soviet vehicle to have turn signals, two electric wipers, an electric heater, and a built-in AM radio. The car came to be a symbol of postwar Soviet life and is today a popular collector’s item. A total of 235,997 Pobedas were produced. A number of M20s have been extensively customized in recent years. There are even a few “muscle car” versions on the road.

The word “dacha” originated in the 17th century from the verb “davat’” (to give), in reference to plots of land distributed by the Tsar. At the beginning of the 18th century during the reign of Peter the Great dachas became popular as summer holiday retreats. The nobility used their dachas for social and cultural gatherings, including masquerade balls and fireworks displays.

By the end of the 19th century, a house in the country was one of the necessary possessions of the rich as well as the middle class. Russian poets and playwrights (including Alexander Pushkin and Anton Chekhov) mentioned dachas in their works. Summer homes in beautifully adorned areas became a “place-to-be” for many Russian artists. Many types of goods were specially manufactured for dacha use – from lady’s accessories such as fans and hat to furniture items and even toilets.
After the 1917 Russian Revolution some dachas became “holiday homes” for workers.

Dachas became very popular after the end of World War. For some it was not just a weekend getaway. A dacha with a small plot of land let people save their tiny incomes. Here they could plant their own vegetables. They stored potatoes in cellars, pickled cucumbers and made jams out of apples and pears in order to have some food reserves to last through the cold Russian winter. Some people grew fruits and vegetables not only for their own consumption, but to sell as well.

In many areas the plots of land for dachas were limited to 0.06 hectares (about .15 acres). A plot of that size was too small for most people to live on permanently; authorities needed to keep workers in the big cities and were not interested in the restoration of private farming on a wider scale. The concession of the “zero point zero six of a hectare” was necessary because the country could not provide its people with enough food. As a result many dacha settlements sprang up with small houses standing right next to each another.

There were legal size restrictions for dacha houses. They had to have not more than 25 m² (269 square feet) of living area and be only one storey tall. That’s why they usually had a Mansard roof with a small second storey room, which was considered by authorities as just a big garret or attic, not a second storey. Dachas built since the dissolution of the Soviet Union tend to be rather larger.

A typical plot of land was surrounded by berry trees and shrubs. There was a small house (in many cases – with no conveniences at all) and a hut for storing garden tools. Around the house there were rows of plants and vegetables. In the areas around Moscow potatoes, tomatoes, and cucumbers were the main crops. However, the owners’ fantasies about what to plant knew no boundaries. A row of strawberries became “a must” for many (strawberries usually ripen faster than everything else). In the south beans and even melons were grown, while in Siberia many dacha lovers liked to plant sakura (Japanese cherries). At the beginning of the 1960s the number of fruit trees that could be planted was heavily regulated by the rules of the dacha settlement. The aim of this measure was to make the area visually pleasing. Later all these quotas were lifted. The same was true for the size of the plot – if you wanted a bigger plot you could simply buy your neighbor’s land or find another plot somewhere else.

In the 1980s, due to the shortage of goods in stores, farming at dachas became a massive phenomenon. For some it was more necessity then pleasure, as modern farming tools were not readily available. But others took their dacha trials as a hobby. They took pride in inventing something unique for their flowers and vegetables, such as greenhouses or unique water-spraying devices. Still others tried to think of ways to fertilize the ground not just with manure, but other additives. Many unnecessary items from city apartments could easily be turned into useful gadgets for the dacha. For example, if you had too many empty cola bottles you could cut them in half and use the bottom part to protect young plants from cold spring nights.

The harvest was a special pride for many people – some sold their produce, while others gave it away to their neighbors and friends. It was common to share the seeds of rare plants with others. Real fans think about their dacha all year long. In winter they plant tomato, cucumber, pepper and eggplant seeds in small pots that they keep on the window sills of their apartments – and at the beginning of May they re-plant them at their dachas.
Many dacha lovers chose to live on their plots of land. They built good houses with all the necessary facilities, including heating and electrical systems. Having a banya (a small bath house) at your dacha is not a luxury any more. At the beginning of 1990s some Russian “nouveau riches” made “fortresses” out of their dachas. A few even bred exotic animals – like iguanas and crocodiles.

It is said that the dacha is a way of “returning to paradise lost” – a source of temporary harmony away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

The Cruiser Aurora

A digital image of the Tsarist-era Russian Navy cruiser Aurora (Russian: Аврoра) which served as an iconic symbol of the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, moored in the Neva River at St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Russian Navy cruiser Aurora

The Aurora

The Aurora’s keel was laid down at the “New Admiralty” shipyard in St.Petersburg on 23 May 1897. She was one of three Pallarda-class cruisers, built for service in the Pacific Far East. All three ships of this class served during the Russo-Japanese War. The cruiser was launched on 11 May 1900 and joined the Navy of Russia in July 1903. The ship measures 126.8 meters (418 feet 5 inches) in length, 16.8 meters (55 feet 5 inches) in width and weighs a staggering 7,600 tons. Maintaining a speed of 20 knots (23.3 miles per hour) it can travel independently for up to 1,440 sea miles.

Soon after entering service, in November 1903, Aurora was ordered to sail with a group of reinforcements to the Russian Pacific Fleet. However, she suffered from repeated mechanical failures and had to be repaired at several ports along the way. When word was received of the start of the Russo-Japanese War while at Djibouti, she was detached from the reinforcement fleet and sent back to the Baltic. After refitting, Aurora was ordered back to Asia as part of the Russian 2nd Pacific Squadron, a collection formed from the Russian Baltic Fleet, under the command of Vice-Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvenski. On the way to the Far East, Aurora was involved in the Dogger Bank incident when Russian vessels mistook British trawlers for Japanese warships in the North Sea and fired on them. Russian vessels also fired on each other. The Aurora sustained slight damage during this incident and her captain was killed. The crew used part of the Aurora’s penetrated armor to frame Captain Yegoryev’s photograph.

On 27 and 28 May (May 14–15 in the Julian calendar then in used by Russia) 1905, Aurora took part in the Battle of Tsushima Strait (between Korea and southern Japan), along with the rest of the Russian squadron. During the battle, her captain, Captain 1st rank Eugene R. Yegoryev was killed, along with 14 crewmen. The executive officer, Captain 2nd rank Arkadiy Konstantinovich Nebolsine, though wounded himself took command. After that Aurora, covering other, much slower Russian vessels, became the flagship of Rear-Admiral Oskar Enkvist, and with two other Russian cruisers broke through to neutral Manila, where she was interned by American authorities from June 6, 1905 until the end of the war.

In 1906, Aurora returned to the Baltic to become a cadet training ship. From 1906 until 1912 the cruiser visited many foreign ports; in November 1911 the ship was in Bangkok as part of the celebrations in honoring the newly-crowned King of Siam.

During World War I Aurora operated in the Baltic Sea performing patrols and shore bombardment tasks. In 1915, her armament was changed to fourteen 152 mm (6 in) guns. At the end of 1916, she was moved to Petrograd (renamed St. Petersburg) for major overhaul. The city was brimming with revolutionary ferment and part of her crew joined the 1917 February Revolution. A revolutionary committee was created on the ship, with Aleksandr Belyshev elected as captain. Most of the crew joined the Bolsheviks, who were preparing for a Communist revolution.

At 9.45 p.m on 25 October 1917 (Old Style – Julian calendar) a blank shot from her forecastle gun signaled the start of the assault on the Winter Palace (then the residence of the Provisional Government), signaling the beginning of the October Revolution. In summer 1918, she was relocated to Kronstadt and placed into reserve.
In 1922, Aurora was brought to service again as a training vessel. Assigned to the Baltic Fleet, from 1923, she repeatedly visited the Baltic Sea countries, including Norway in 1924, 1925, 1928 and 1930, Germany in 1929 and Sweden in 1925 and 1928. Until 1940 students of Naval colleges did practical work on the cruiser. The Aurora again visited several foreign ports. In 1924 the cruiser was awarded the Red Banner of the USSR Central Committee and in 1927 decorated with the order of Red Banner.

During the Second World War, the guns were taken from the ship and used in the land defense of Leningrad. During the siege (1941-44) the Aurora was moored at a pier in the Oranienbaum port (the town of Lomonosov) . Constantly shelled and bombed the hull was holed, and Aurora on September 30, 1941. In July 1944 the ship was raised and taken into a dock for repair. The ship herself was docked at Oranienbaum, and was repeatedly shelled and bombed.

In 1948 the Aurora was moored at the Petrogradskaya embankment of Leningrad and served as a training vessel until 1956 when she became a museum (a branch of the Central Naval Museum). Over the years since the Aurora been visited by more than 28 million people from 160 countries. In 1968 the Aurora was decorated with the Order of the October Revolution. In July 1992 the Saint Andrew Naval Banner – the symbol of Russian naval power – was raised over the ship again.

Aurora stands today as the oldest commissioned ship of the Russian Navy, still flying the naval ensign under which she was commissioned, but now under the care of the Central Naval Museum. She is still manned by an active service crew commanded by a Captain of the 1st Rank. The Aurora is now maintained by cadets from the nearby Nakhimov Navy School

In January, 2013, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoygu announced plans to recommission Aurora and make it the symbol of the Russian Navy due to its historical and cultural importance.

Sunrise on Lake Pend Oreille. I went down to the waterfront one morning to watch the sun rise. Both clouds and smoke from forest fires in the region contributed to the redness of the sky. There was a very liquid feel that morning with the weather and that fact that the sun reflected off not only the water but the underside of the cloud layer, so I made this image a bit “out of focus.”

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A very red sun rise on Lake Pend Oreille

A very red sun rise on Lake Pend Oreille

Busy with another project I almost let a month go by without posting something.

Here is a simple image I made a few years ago; two bull caribou strive for dominance, with the sun setting in the background. More of a study than a finished piece, though it does appear on a few items at my Zaazzle store. I like the colors and one of these day I will make a more polished version.

Click on the image for a full-size view.

two bull caribou strive for dominance

Caribou Duel

Moroz

A dark night in Siberia – bringing in a bit of wood for the fire, conifer needles are covered in frost. Moroz (мороз) is the Russian word for frost.

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frost siberian night

Mороз

Whales With Spears

A traditional travel poster-style image of two male narwhal “tusking,” crossing their tusks, with sea ice and the mainland of Greenland in the background.

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narwhals

Narwhal Off The Coast Of Greenland

“Kalaallit Nunaat” is what Greenlanders call their island The purpose of tusking, a common activity during warmer parts of the year, is unknown. It may be a friendly greeting or a way to remove lice that typically infest the base of the tusk. Even the ultimate purpose of the spiraled tusk is not known for sure. It may serve the same purpose as deer and moose antlers, the peacock’s tail feathers, or a lion’s mane – to attract a mate. Some researchers believe it may serve as a sensory organ. Perhaps it serves more than one purpose.

As usual, this image is available at my Zazzle store.

Fall Camp

Before the land was covered with shopping malls, golf courses and highways.

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teepee, native american and horse

Fall Camp

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