Milam County Courthouse

Judy and I went on a field trip to Cameron, Texas, to check out the Milam County Courthouse. It was completed in 1892 in the Renaissance Revival style. The courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. And the clock works!

The Milam County Courthouse, facing west

Milam County Courthouse, west view

South view of the Milam County Courthouse, with lots of trees

South View

We could see lots of birds flying around the statue (Justice), but this is as close as I could get with my lens. From where we were, and considering the size of the statue, they looked like gnats.

The statue on top of the Milam County Courthouse, with lots of little birds flying around it

Darn gnats!

A Tall One

Now that’s a tall tree, next to Judy.

A very tall tree next to the old Milam County Jail in Cameron, Texas

In Cameron, Texas, next to the old Milam County Jail

Exotic Game Ranch

As part of the annual Creedmoor Oktoberfest, Texas Disposal Systems opens up their exotic game ranch for tours. TDS provides a home for more than 2,000 animals (100-plus species) with many of them on them endangered species list. Hunting is not allowed on the TDS Exotic Game Ranch.

Last year I showed up too late in the day at Oktoberfest and missed the tour. This year I made sure I was on the first bus, camera in hand. It’s an abbreviated tour and we didn’t get to see all the areas or all the animals, but there were plenty of exotic game in the pastures we drove through.
A Blackbuck antelope, from the Indian subcontinent.

Blackbuck Antelope

Blackbuck Antelope


Common Eland bull.



Eld’s deer.

Eld's Deer

Eld’s Deer


Scimitar Horned Oryx. Our TDS guide, Wayne, said that none of these animals live in Africa anymore; they’ve been hunted to extinction there.

Scimitar Horned Oryx

Scimitar Horned Oryx

Red Pear in Charcoal

It took me a long time after starting art classes to try it sketching at home: about seven months, elapsed time (calendar time was longer, but with some breaks). In class, I struggled — and continue to struggle — with line drawings and tone. I finished the line drawing and tone courses and went on to the beginning oil painting course. One effort there and I knew I wasn’t ready, so I chose to return to the drawing and tone courses.

I could understand what my instructor explained when going over the steps: identify the tones, sketch large to small, triangulate, review and correct as necessary. Yes, I understood as long as she was demonstrating these aspects at my station, but as soon as she went to help another student . . . Poof! My understanding evaporated and back I went to sketching loopy dark globs. For a while I considered not even trying to accurately represent an object, but to announce that I was following in the footsteps of Salvador Dali or Picasso (in his Cubism phase). I am pretty sure neither of them would have been happy to hear that, so I continue my efforts to learn what my instructor teaches.

A plastic red pear as my sketching subject in what I call my home studio: the corner of my dining room

Red pear at my home “studio:” the corner of my dining room

First sketch of the red pear

Red pear, sketch 1

How many times did she tell me that a cast shadow cannot be all one tone? I don’t know and I’m pretty sure she’s not finished reminding me. (Oh sure, I can remember that when I’m writing . . . )

Once I went back to charcoal sketching, I knew it was time to start sketching at home. Scary stuff. About this time, I came across the OneDrawingDaily blog, and I was inspired. I haven’t done one drawing a day, but I’m working on it.

The red pear and sketch together in a photograph.  The sketch mostly looks like the red pear, but not totally.

My sketch mostly looks like the pear

My first pear sketch was okay, but something was off. I couldn’t figure out what to correct, so I tried it again.

The red pear again, for my second sketch

Practically deja vu

My second effort at sketching the red pear.  A better result.

Sketch #2, better

Red pear and sketch #2 together to see how I did.  Sketch #2 is much better, I think.

All together now

Even in the few sketches that I’ve done (two pumpkin sketches, two red pear sketches), I think I’m starting to understand tone and line. And I can believe that as long I don’t show the sketches to my instructor, right?

Fiction Friday: Parallel Universe

Friday Fictioneer Challenge: Write a 100-word story based on the photo prompt.

Friday Fictioneer photo prompt.  Copyright Douglas M MacIlroy

Friday Fictioneer photo prompt. Copyright Douglas M MacIlroy

“What’s all this?” Sheila asked. “Oh, Tim started his collection when we drove to the California coast. He always had bulging pockets while we were there,” Nancy said. Sheila grew up in Montana, never traveled past the mountains and considered the oceans part of a parallel universe, but not hers.

She slipped the striped shell into her pocket, not knowing why she didn’t ask for it; Nancy would have given it to her, she knew that. At home, Sheila put the seashell up to her ear, gasping when she heard the ocean’s roar calling her name.


To read other stories based on this photo, select the smiley blue frog.


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