February 2, 2010
|Groundhog Bulking Up for Winter, Indiana, PA. Susan K Donley, 2009. Engraved clayboard with ink (scratchboard), 16×12 inches. ©2009 Susan K Donley. Backyard Wildlife Series|
Like all my fellow Pennsylvanians, I find it hard to ignore Groundhog Day (February 2, for those who don’t track this major holiday). This is, of course, because our state is home to the Official Groundhog Day Groundhog Punxatawney Phil. Phil slumbers all winter long waiting for his big day in the sun when he, according to legend, peeks out of his burrow to check on the progress of winter. If he sees his shadow, the legend tells us, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, well, there won’t be six more weeks of winter, but it was never clear to me whether that meant there would be less than six weeks or more than six weeks of winter!
The state lottery has capitalized on Phil’s fame to introduce us to the Second-Most Famous Groundhog in Pennsylvania named Gus. This endearing little fellow tries his best to part us from our hard-earned money by playing the lottery’s very bad odds. But Gus is cute, no doubt about it!
My groundhog is not at all famous, but he is a resident of Pennsylvania, just the same. He lives under my brother’s tool shed in Indiana County, PA. I would call him Indiana Jones, so he didn’t feel badly being a Pennsylvania groundhog without a name, but I’m suspect that name is trademarked. My painting shows him on the other side of winter from Groundhog’s Day, fattening himself up for his long fast during hibernation.
This painting is one of a series that I’ve started celebrating Backyard WIldlife. These are the critters we share our lives with everyday. Though some are considered pests, I enjoy them all, and have undertaken to do their portraits as time permits. I’ve chosen scratchboard (engraved clayboard and ink) for this series, as it excels at depicting the tiny details of these small creatures and the colors and textures of their environment. Learn more about scratchboard here.