Whoosh! Like dust in the West Texas wind, the past 18 months have blown past us, stifling our actions and clouding our memories. Forced into confinement by the prevailing tempests of uncertainty, we adapted to the gale by filling each day with gratitude and reflection. Accentuating how blessed we have been as we move forward, we found joy in the small things and cherished every moment we had with our family and friends.
Emerging on this side of the pandemic still healthy, we are keen for the coming months to get here. Trips to the Susan K. Black Artist Workshop in Dubois, WY, a “Sherry Show” in Dallas, a Class Reunion in my hometown of Venice, FL, and football games will keep us rolling this Fall. And, filling my head with anticipation, my “Sherry Steele Safari” to Tanzania is full and has been re-set for February 2022.
Wait! Did I mention there is no Fall Cottonwood?!! No more shows in 2021? With only one in the last 18 months, it’s time to do something about that. We miss seeing you. You put the magic in my art and the joy in our lives.
Never ones to passively sit idle, we are putting things in motion for our own private exhibits. With Cottonwood postponed for another eight months, the first “Sherry Show” will be staged at the Marriott Courtyard in Richardson on the traditional Fall Cottonwood Weekend (October 2nd). The second will be mid-December at the La Quinta Southwest here in Austin. Watch your mailbox and on my Facebook page for updates.
With this year dragging on, it seems the only things going at full speed have been my pens. Tapping away at my table, they keep rushing toward the end of one piece only to reach for the beginning of the next. Free to follow the impulse of the creatures pushing for their turn, my pens have taken on a life of their own. Eager to keep apace (and busy) Chuck has welcomed the challenge of framing each new image in beautiful style.
As if in a marathon, our native North American creatures are in a sprint across my drawing table before my head and heart turn back toward Africa. This is their chance to push to the lead while I jealously guard those images of Africa still awaiting their turn. Keep watching for the nearly finished Whitetail Doe with her twin fawns. Collected here are some of my newest images and their stories.
“Headed for Home”
Shimmering in the light, the cicada was held high as he dashed home with his trophy. The distinctive slash of orange and turquoise behind his eyes glowed with pride as he raced past me. Legs churning in classic “Beep, Beep” style, the sunlight illuminated the green iridescence along his back. The twisting arms of a euphorbia plant had failed to conceal the hapless cicada from his determined stalker. Daily encounters with our pair of neighborhood Road Runners make my morning walks a game of “spot and speed”. As the day wears on they often streak past my studio window in constant search for geckos and insects for their brood. As is the case with species that mate for life, both wear the same plumage and I can only identify the larger female when they are together. Wily Coyote never had a chance against these clever birds.
Smaller and lighter in color than their better-known cousins the Rocky Mountain Big Horn, Desert Bighorn sheep are making a comeback from the “Sensitive” status across the Southwest. Always intrigued, but rarely close enough to gather my own reference sketches, my friend and Survival Specialist, Peter Kummerfeldt, generously shared photos from his recent encounters. The purity of the black & white Scratchboard added power to the image. Thank you, Peter!
“Shelter in Place”
Even my subject matter took a cue from the current circumstances. With my daydreaming of Africa suspended by reality, our resident family of Carolina Wrens took center stage. Choosing a gourd hanging in the shelter of our eaves as home, they busily gleaned our yard for insects to raise their brood. Grape vines twisting around the gourd shielded the entrance from our prying eyes. With constant movement and cheerful chirps of encouragement to one another, they kept us entertained as the five babes finally fledged and took flight.
“Tension in the Air”
Just when we thought the Serengeti had given us all she had, there was one more moment to capture. There, poised above us on a mound was a solitary Cheetah starting his hunt. Eyeing the herds of Wildebeest and Zebras beneath him, he weighed his chances for a meal. Seeing their reaction to his presence, he decided to nonchalantly stroll down for a drink as they scattered away from him. Feigning indifference while they gathered in vigilant clusters on the opposite side of the waterhole, his focus on their presence never faltered. Dinner and Danger are ever present on the Serengeti.
“Guardian and Guide”
Full of the exuberance and innocence of Youth, the tiny Elephant Calf reaches for her Mother for reassurance. Her ears and hide still tinged with pink reveal just how young she is. Exuberant with the joy of discovery and fearless in their innocence, the antics of Elephant Calves always leave us laughing as they explore the world under the watchful eyes of their families. The unbroken bond of Trust and Wisdom between Mother and Child is undeniable as the herd’s Matriarch gently guides her Babe along the path of Life.
“Just a Shadow of Herself”
Leopard & her Cub- 1,509 spots (plus or minus a few) and 9 years deciding how to best capture it on paper. It is rare to observe a secretive Leopard with her Cubs, much less have them within feet of us. While on our 2013 safari this extraordinary scene occurred as she strolled out of the Serengeti grasses and between our trucks with her pair of 3-month-old cubs. Pausing at a solitary sausage tree to check its scent markings and to leave her own message, she casually led them back into the grass. Vanishing before our eyes, their camouflage markings quickly concealed their movement and left us in wonder.