Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Danger, alligators, and other subhuman visitors

I think tonight I will write about landscape painting and animal visitors., Personally I hate animals, but they do show up and I want to talk about dealing with them. I believe I will do this as a bulleted list. Everybody seems to like those and they make an orderly presentation.
  • Alligators, evidently they rarely eat people and when they do the people are in the water with them. They prefer Pomeranians and other small yippy dogs. I saw a 120 foot alligator today. I like them best as luggage. You can put a Pomeranian in a suitcase and still get it back later.
  • Dogs, In my experience a dog won't bite a painting man, but a goose will. I had a dog eat a tube of thalo green once, it survived.
  • Cows, are harmless but they are curious and will gather around your easel and make it impossible to work. They also may lick your palette, I have seen that. Try explaining that to a farmer, I wonder if thalo shows up in their milk?
  • Bulls, A subcategory of cows, nasty and dangerous. Don't cross people's fences without permission. Find out if the bull is in the field with the cows before you enter. Always close gates behind you. Always.
  • Snakes, I have a pair of snake boots from Cabelas. I bought them for trips to West Texas. The last time I was in Texas they were running a special on pit vipers. Having those boots made it possible not to obsess over the snakes. They have changed the recommendations on snakebite treatment, and I suggest that if you are in snaky country you research the recommendations for your area. In short, get to the hospital for anti-venom.
  • Javelinas, I hate these too. Feral marauders that travel in packs, I have contended with them in West Texas. They will rifle through your belongings looking for food. They will, I believe attack a person if they get the nerve. Disgusting vermin. Possibly related to Hippopotomi , they can eat a prickly pear, spines and all. They could make short work of a foot no doubt
  • Scorpions, more Texas fare. Shake out your boots and keep your hands out of nooks and crannies in rocks etc. Their bite won't kill you but is unpleasant. There are evidently scorpions whose bite is lethal, but not in the states.
  • Bees, unless you are allergic to them they are just a nuisance. If you are allergic to them, you should carry the medical remedy and probably already do.I had one sting me last year for no good reason. Eat more honey, deprive their young of food.
  • Blackflies, if you paint in Maine in the early summer you know about these, they bite a big hole in you. It may leave a scar that will take a year or more to disappear. They are fond of elbows and forearms. I wear insect repugnant containing Deet. They don't find it repellent but repugnant. They will still bite you, thats their nature, however they enjoy it somewhat less. Best removed from paintings after the painting has dried. Then they will brush out.
  • Mosquitos, be glad they aren't blackflies. I think Deepwoods Off in a spray can works well.
  • Ticks, It is recommended that you tuck your pants into your socks. I just can't bring myself to do it though.I try to stay out of the brush and high grass. I do spray Deepwoods Off on my ankles whenever a go out in the summer, in a place that they are likely to be. Lyme disease is serious, I don't know why I, of all people haven't contracted it. I even paint in Lyme occasionally.
  • Bears, I almost ran over a grizzly in Yellowstone, it was the size of an SUV and ran out right in front of me. I hit the brakes and missed it by inches. When painting in bear country you carry bear spray, which is a pepper spray in a can the size of a small fire extinguisher. I am sure it must work, I think. Black bears here in New England are rarely a problem, I don't worry much about them. They will generally avoid you.
  • Fire ants, they have them all over the south, don't set up on their mounds.
  • Piranha, never seen one. Let me know. Same for lemurs and anteaters.
My friend Scott Moore and I are opening a show March 5th at the Ella Walton Richardson Gallery on Broad street in Charleston South Carolina. If you are in the area please come. I would love to meet you.

I will be announcing a workshop in June at the inn up in the White mountains again, I will have the details for you in a couple of days. Lay down with your arms at your sides and I will get back to you.


Jeanne Levasseur said...

I could hardly read this cuz I was laughing so hard.

Billy Guffey said...

You left out a couple for those folks in the south, Stape.

Chiggers...ugh. Little buggers that attack and burrow into your skin and itch like nothing else. You can paint each bite with fingernail polish to get some relief. And to pretty them up a bit.

The next I experienced for the first time last year.

Turkey mites...Like chiggers on steroids. They're kind of like crabs or lice. I supposedly got them by standing and painting where the wild turkeys flopped around on the dry, dusty ground to shake them off. Good excuse for the wife, huh? (I might have gotten them from a toilet seat though...) You can barely see the tiny things, and each one bites 10 or 15 times, in a cluster. Had 100's of bites after one outing last year. Made me never want to paint outside again. I got over it.

Mary Bullock said...

I had a dog that ate a big tube of Prussian Blue once. She pooped blue poo all over the back yard. But she survived.

Nita Leger Casey said...

You forgot a good one ,one summer ,my friends and I wanted to paint a sun set looking over the bay of Fundy in Lubec , we were chased by a skunk !
remedy to that ,is run as fast as you can !
Have a good workshop!

James Gunter said...

Alligators and pomeranians, don't set up on a fire ant mound, lemurs and anteaters - great list! It took me a while to get through it, though, because I was laughing so hard.

One of my favorite places to paint is an out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere place along the Sevier River in central Utah. It's an area of scattered juniper trees and sagebrush where one might expect to see elk, coyote, snakes, cattle, and other western critters. But I was surprised one day when a dozen llamas showed up! I hadn't expected llamas! They didn't get too close, but my mind started doing funny things. I began to feel like I was somewhere in Argentina or Chile, and the distant snow covered mountains were part of the Andes, instead of the Wasatch. Cool!

Any advice about llamas?

Honor Bradley said...

Thanks for one of the best laughs I have had in a while.

Richard J. Luschek II said...

I particularly dislike bees because they seem to be intent on making you look like you are crazy.
There you are out in the wide open, painting away, and all of sudden you go into a fit, flailing around your arms running in circles and yelling nonsensical curse words. If someone saw this event from a distance, they might think painters are insane.

You forgot the most insidious of animals, the human animal with it's annoying habit of walking up and asking "Did you paint that?"

Manatee Writers said...

Too funny - I stepped on a fire ant mound years ago when we lived in Florida - never forget those little buggers! I also had to rework a painting after it was attacked by black flies, I guess I should have let it dry first, next time.

Any problem with flying monkeys?

mariandioguardi.com said...

Good Morning Stapleton;
For God it is! Good advice.

This was a really helpful column and good feed back from the blog readers as I have been agonizing over my new cat's jump into a pile of......yes,Pthalo Green!Cleaned her up with a lot of vegetable oil.That cat was not a pretty sight.

As for the two legged beasts; pretend earphones/ear buds in your ears greatly discourages people's idle chatter. Do this at your own peril because I have often sold the work I am doing on the easel to casual passer by's.

Any wild horse/pony herd suggestions? I ran into that problem in Iceland.

Plein Air Gal said...

Great post! Add chipmunks ... they will steal your lunch or snack and run across your palette!
While in Charleston you may want to visit a native Derry boy with his own gallery there ... Robert Lange Studios (dot com for the website) at 2 Queen Street. I watched Robbie grow up over summers at the beach club where he would spend almost every spare minute drawing. Great to see him enjoying success - and I'm sure he'd get a kick out of a visit from someone from home!
Sharon A

Christopher O'Handley said...

Good list! Living in the frozen north, we have fewer "nasties" to deal with (no poisonous snakes, scorpions, alligators...)...but we've had our encounters with other critters. While painting at a beach we had a seagull walk up and start munching on someone's palette...it got a big glob of partially congealed liquin stuck to its beak. We managed to grab him and clean it off...also have had people get "pooped" on by birds (an often-forgotten risk of standing under trees!). Another time at a pond one of our group was swarmed by dragonflies...I think they were attracted to the white paint because they kept landing on her palette...they'd get covered with the stuff and then be unable to fly. Not really dangerous (to us, anyway) but interesting (and kind of sad to see all those paint covered dragonflies struggling to fly).

Other than black flies and horse flies, the two-legged visitors are the most troublesome...most other critters are fairly predictable in their behavior, but you never know with the humanoids - especially the ones that suddenly appear out of the bushes at 9 am, beer in hand...

jeff said...

This is a cautionary tale.

Many years ago I was painting in Vermont with a group of friends.
One of them, who should have known better because he grew up on a farm, went out into a field behind the house we were staying at.

He was out there painting away when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye running towards him at a good clip. It was a young bull.

Well he did not have the time to clear up his gear and run. The only thing he could do was run towards a near by tree and climb. The bull kept head butting the tree and just hung around for about 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile the cows came over to see what was up. Of course they completly trampled his easel, his painting and licked his palette clean.

Eventually the bull tired if this game and ran off with the cows, some of which had multicolored snouts. My friend waited for while until he could no longer see the bovines. He quickly gathered up his gear and pride and made a made dash for the fence.

I was bitten by a tic last summer in Ipswich. I had on a long sleeve shirt and long paints and boots.
The bugger still found a way to climb up an bite me on my inner arm, near the the triceps.
I found it within 8 hours so I was fine. If you do find one make sure you get it out and that you get to a doctor within 48 hours or so. You can avoid Lyme's disease by getting antibiotics right away.

One more note, I was not in high grass, but the salt marshes in Ipswich are full of these little critters.

Also deers don't spread them, chipmunks do, they are the main source of spreading tics. They like deers because it's easy to feast off of them due to the short fur.

McKinneyArtist said...

Lyme diease is HELL - had it in 2002. Check yourself really good when you come inside. All I did was walk around outside my house once and got a tick.

I Hate horse flies, Japanese hornets, and wolly worms. Thanks to some FOOL we now have coyotes in NC, when they yell and howl, it scares the water out of me!

Thanks for your post stape... You always make my days lighter with your wonderful humor.

Unknown said...

and the moral to this story is:

When working from life en plein air
Pay attention to what might be there
Some critters who bite
Or a bull who just might
put a dent in your own derriere.

Maybe we could feed the javalinas to the alligator?

willek said...

There once was an old guy from Derry
Who went for a ride on a ferry
But when he got there, there was no plein air
So he just went to paint OUTSIDE

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

I forgot chiggers.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I believe the dog I had did something similar.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have never had a problem with those. I see them but they ignore me.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Llamas are the first sign of gentrification. When you see them its time to find new painting sites because condos come next.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I enjoyed writing it,

Stapleton Kearns said...

I generally enjoy the people.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I hate monkeys.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I love talking to passers by. I never sell off the easel anymore though.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I might get there. I am against a very tight deadline for this show.

Stapleton Kearns said...

T can't believe you pickid a seagull. You are lucky you didn't get bit.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That was his fault. If he had asked before crossing that fence it would not have happened. I an surprised I have avoided lYmes disease so far.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Didn't the coyotes arrive on their own. With thew wolves eliminated the coyotes now occupy that slot.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Grind em all into alligator kibble.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That last line is a little flat. You need to rhyme more. Maybe John Kerry or Obama, Barry?

willek said...

The last line stands as is. I gave it a lot of thought.

Mary Beth Brath said...

I love to plein air paint. Once I watched a water snake swallow a "keeper sized" fish about 10 feet in front of my easel. Another time I had a squirrel come up to my foot and then slowly decide I was not a tree. Good Times!


Then there are the birds..yikes.. I had a parrot land and sit on the top of my canvas. After one photo, it had to go......I wasn't painting snow that day.

Deborah Lazar said...

Dearest Stapleton,
Your work is amazing. And your reputation proves that. Congratulations on a wonderful career.
I did do exactly as you recommend and got Lyme.
So I’m here today to request that you consider using permethrin on your boots. Most ticks come up from the ground or they are in tall grass. They are heat seeking and notice you moving. They walk around on you for a while before attaching and they annesthetise you do you won’t feel the bite.
If you want to make me really happy after spraying your boots you’d spray your pants too and for extra appreciation get a shirt that is treated. The clothes do not smell when dry and any tick that crawls on you will jump off.
Spring and fall are the most dangerous times because the “adult” ticks are out, some which carry multiple diseases and they are hungry.
In Vermont 50% of ticks test positive for diseases. (The tick report UMass).
Ticks are not repeld by deet, works great for mosquitoes but not ticks. I’m living proof of that. The tick that bit me went over my belt and got be in the lower back where I now have permanent nerve damage.
Be safe out there. Keep up the fine work.