nature

Fall at the Japanese Garden

Fall in Spokane is such a beautiful time. The leaves turn brilliant colors and I try to get out to enjoy the blue skies, crisp air, and flaming trees as much as possible. Soon we're going to be buried under a pile of snow!

So many people suggested the Japanese Garden at Manito to me as a place to sketch, especially in the fall and they were totally right. It is breathtaking. Get over there before it is too late. The Japanese Garden closes for the season November 1. Last year, the foliage was so spectacular, the Manito staff decided to leave the garden open an extra week or two, but don't count on that. Get over there!

I just LOVE the color behind this stone lantern. Absolutely GORGEOUS and so much fun to paint! This is the most recent sketch I did at the garden and the foliage is really at its peak!

I just LOVE the color behind this stone lantern. Absolutely GORGEOUS and so much fun to paint! This is the most recent sketch I did at the garden and the foliage is really at its peak!

This sketch was completed on an overcast day before the foliage really exploded into full color. The evergreen shrubs and trees really set off the red maples well!

This sketch was completed on an overcast day before the foliage really exploded into full color. The evergreen shrubs and trees really set off the red maples well!

On the day that I sketched this, there were only a few visitors standing on the bridge, but when I returned to paint the stone lantern above, the bridge was crowded with people taking photos!

On the day that I sketched this, there were only a few visitors standing on the bridge, but when I returned to paint the stone lantern above, the bridge was crowded with people taking photos!

To paint this stone pagoda, I balanced precariously on a rock along the walk way, trying to stay out of the way of passersby. 

To paint this stone pagoda, I balanced precariously on a rock along the walk way, trying to stay out of the way of passersby. 

As I was walking into the garden, I saw this view. The gold at the end of the path along the outside garden fence caught my eye and when I needed a break from over 2 hours of sketching on a chilly day, I got into my car, cranked on the heat, and painted this!

As I was walking into the garden, I saw this view. The gold at the end of the path along the outside garden fence caught my eye and when I needed a break from over 2 hours of sketching on a chilly day, I got into my car, cranked on the heat, and painted this!

Manito Park

Manito Park was one of the first places that I got introduced to in Spokane when I came here for college. 90 acres of gardens, trails, and grassy areas for ponds (not to mention the duck pond and the incredible Gaiser Conservatory) make it a landmark destination, worth visiting over and over again. I have picnicked in the lilac gardens in Spring, admired the flaming maple foliage of the Japanese Garden in the fall and strolled the formal pathways of the Duncan Gardens in the summer. I think my favorite garden is the Joel E. Ferris Perennial Garden. There is such a wide variety of plants that there is always something new to look at and I admit to doing bit of window shopping, "Ooo! Could I grow that in my yard?". Luckily the Friends of Manito Park have their twice yearly plant sale in June and September where you can buy many of the plants found in the garden. 

One of the beds in the Joel E. Ferris garden. So many different foliage shapes!

One of the beds in the Joel E. Ferris garden. So many different foliage shapes!

Subjects that are back lit are always fun to paint!

Subjects that are back lit are always fun to paint!

The Gaiser Conservatory is a favorite refuge of mine during the colder months of the year. I get desperate to see living things and wandering through the tropical jungle and dry desert areas under the conservatory glass are just the boost of warmth and light I need on a gray, cold, February day. 

The Gaiser Conservatory is a favorite refuge of mine during the colder months of the year. I get desperate to see living things and wandering through the tropical jungle and dry desert areas under the conservatory glass are just the boost of warmth and light I need on a gray, cold, February day. 

I stared up toward the roof of the conservatory to sketch this tall tree.

I stared up toward the roof of the conservatory to sketch this tall tree.

You can see the shade cloth the staff put over the conservatory to keep the plants from frying in the hot Spokane summers. It is very pleasant inside even when temperatures outside climb.

You can see the shade cloth the staff put over the conservatory to keep the plants from frying in the hot Spokane summers. It is very pleasant inside even when temperatures outside climb.

A wall of orchids!

A wall of orchids!

The dry, desert side of the conservatory. I love the large cacti and agave!

The dry, desert side of the conservatory. I love the large cacti and agave!

Here, the garden is still slightly shaded in the morning light.

Here, the garden is still slightly shaded in the morning light.

The Duncan Garden is laid out geometrically, a formal sunken garden. Planted in a "carpet bedding" style, the overall effect is of a dramatic abstract painting, masses of color offset by the repetition of green hedging and embellished with a fountain and rotunda.

The Duncan Garden is laid out geometrically, a formal sunken garden. Planted in a "carpet bedding" style, the overall effect is of a dramatic abstract painting, masses of color offset by the repetition of green hedging and embellished with a fountain and rotunda.

My pen sketch of the garden before adding paint. I used a Pentel Pocket brush pen, which I am madly involved with.

My pen sketch of the garden before adding paint. I used a Pentel Pocket brush pen, which I am madly involved with.

So much color! It was a joy to paint!

So much color! It was a joy to paint!

While sketching at the park, I had to stop in at the Rose garden to admire all of the different rose varieties in bloom. On weekends it is a popular place for weddings.

While sketching at the park, I had to stop in at the Rose garden to admire all of the different rose varieties in bloom. On weekends it is a popular place for weddings.

This rose was leaning on a pillar of the white arbor that is so popular for wedding and prom photos.

This rose was leaning on a pillar of the white arbor that is so popular for wedding and prom photos.

I love the broken color on this flower.

I love the broken color on this flower.

A path going away, tempting me to see what is around the corner.

A path going away, tempting me to see what is around the corner.

Instead I resisted and made this painting!

Instead I resisted and made this painting!

Painting and sketching in Manito was a delightful way to spend the morning. I envy the people who make walking in the park part of their daily routine. It is so beautiful and there is such variety among the gardens and landscape that there is always something new to see! I need to return and do some painting in oils soon!

Spring Wildflowers at Dishman Hills Conservancy

One of my favorite places to visit in spring time is the Dishman Hills Conservation District. The first time I drove out there, I was surprised by the nearness of the car dealerships on Sprague, skeptical that a wonderland of hiking trails could actually exist cheek by jowl with the rows and rows of shiny SUVS. Luckily I was wrong. Once I strode up the trail, away from the parking lot, it was like I had stepped through the wardrobe and into Narnia-dappled sunlight under tall trees, enormous boulders, deep glades, and most of all-wildflowers. Arrow leaf balsamroot being my favorite. They look like yellow daisies with a large arrow shaped (hence the name) soft leaves. They covered the hills and fanned out along the trails. So now, every spring, I got to Dishman Hills to spend some time with my favorite wildflowers. Having such a beautiful area so close to the center of Spokane is a treasure. Get out there and explore!

If you'd like to learn more about the Dishman Hills Conservancy and their worthy cause, check out their website http://www.dishmanhills.org/. They have regular expert led hikes covering topics such as butterflies, geology, and  yes, wildflowers. Hiking and trail information is on the website. 

Hiking trails in the Dishman Hills are winding and exploratory.

Hiking trails in the Dishman Hills are winding and exploratory.

dishmantrailsketch
Hiking trails in the Dishman Hills are winding and exploratory.

Hiking trails in the Dishman Hills are winding and exploratory.

wildflower close up
arrowleaf balsamroot
wildflowers
wildflowers

Costa Rican Rainforest Adventures

Well, it may not seem to make much sense, starting off a blog called "Artist's Eye on Spokane" with a post about a trip to Costa Rica, but I'm doing it anyway. A test run to make sure that everything is working (Is this on? Can anybody hear me?) and it is the most exciting thing to have happened to me recently. Plus, who doesn't like pictures of exotic places?

So! To start off, I'm Megan Perkins, artist and explorer extraordinaire (Hey, I'm writing this, that means I get to style myself however I like!). Last October I was on my way back to a trip to Hawaii when I did a quick painting of an Alaska Airlines airplane while waiting for my flight to board.

AlaskaAirlinesPlanesketch

 

Long story short, when I got home, I put this picture up on social media and Alaska Airlines found it. They shared it on their Instagram account where it became one of the top nine most liked images for 2016. An Alaska Airlines representative emailed me to ask for my address because they'd like to send me something. "Sure," I told them, thinking "Alaska Airlines totebag!"

Guys, it was two round trip tickets to anywhere Alaska flies!!! OH MY GOSH, I was SO excited. Costa Rica stood out for obvious reasons (WARM, TROPICAL, and I've never been there!). I immediately began planning and we left mid-April for 10 days in the (nearly) equatorial country, exploring volcanic national parks, rain forests, rivers, and cloud forests.

Guys, I know this may come as a surprise, but it is WET and misty in a cloud forest!

Guys, I know this may come as a surprise, but it is WET and misty in a cloud forest!

There are a lot of exotic looking plants. Some were familiar, house plants where we live. Others, I had no idea what there were!

 

tropicalflower
Strangler fig wrapping this tree

Strangler fig wrapping this tree

coffeeplant
I had some time to sketch the view into the rain forest canopy. So much green!

I had some time to sketch the view into the rain forest canopy. So much green!

I drew some of the plants we saw often with notes about what I learned about them.

I drew some of the plants we saw often with notes about what I learned about them.

Orchids were also common and super impressive!

Orchids were also common and super impressive!

Let's end with a picture of the beautiful Quetzal. Worshiped as a god by the Aztecs, they are colorful birds with stunningly long tail feathers and slightly mournful call. As a child, I had an A to Z Animal Pop Up Book and, you guessed it, Q was for Quetzal. I never thought I would actually see this magnificent bird in person, but now I can say that I have and what an experience it was.

 

quetzal