Friday, May 30, 2014

More Sketching from Memory

A couple of evenings ago, we had a stellar evening.  Our favorite place to take the dogs to walk is down on hole number 17 of our neighborhood golf course.  Yes, this is the view from the spot where I'd pitch my tent and grow old.

The late day light was stunning with the sun warming up last year's very dead spartina.  New grow is making great progress, but still, when the tide is at its highest point, just the old spartina rises above the water.

I have so many shots of this spot with many variances in lighting.  I'm saving them up for painting references.  But wait!  I don't have to worry about getting enough time to break out the canvas..... I can start the process on my iPad! 

Yes, this image is created on my iPad using the Paper by 53 app. Done in one hour while watching television.  I'm so liking this app!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Enjoying the Shade of Cypress Trees

Ahhhhh, nothing finer than to be outside in the shade with warmer temps and a light breeze.

I had the opportunity to do this on Saturday. The shade was courtesy of a couple of cypress trees with  knees galore. The far shore view of a small pond enticed me with the colors of new and old vegetation.  This is one of three ponds where Canada Geese breed and raise their young.  The geese were wary and stayed around the farthest pond, honking for the first half hour, then settled down.

I was sitting in our golf cart, my supplies spread out on the seat beside me. I used a combination of traditional brushes and waterbrushes.  All but the lettering was done on site.

Dragon flies and water-striders were everywhere. The call of red-winged blackbirds filled the air.
This is my first plein air sketch on the private plantation I wrote about in March.   The owners were out looking for turkey hens with their chicks.  They are very concerned for the turkeys, as we're in a dry spell and the insects that the chicks need to survive are not hatching without the rain.  I saw a total of 3 hens and 5 chicks.  There has already been mortality among the chicks......  Water is so very precious in all its forms.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

iPad/Paper 53 and Watercolor Workshop continued

Again, we worked from a photograph, using the iPad / Paper 53 app, to learn how to feather colors into each other like when creating a wash in watercolor.

Oooooo, I'm really liking the new skills I'm learning using the Paper 53 :)

Step two.... create a painting from the sketch.  This exercise was on the third day of the workshop.  I didn't finish, and on day four, we started a new project.

Although I will finish this piece, I'm not real thrilled about it.  I've muddied the marsh grass near the horizon and that's all I can see.  However, there are advantages to having already written this piece off.  When I proceed to work on the pluff mud and foreground marsh grasses, I can do so with abandon.  The pressure is off - this is now a large single page of my journal.  A place to learn and grow.  Stay tuned for the result  :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

New Ideas, New Work.... Great Workshop with David Rankin!

One of my artistic goals this year is to further my inspiration and learn new painting processes and techniques. I'm off to a great start!

David taught us how our iPads and the Paper by 53 app are invaluable tools to have in our artist's quiver.

In our first exercise we worked from a photograph of a marsh scene that was shot with afternoon light. The sun rises over the marsh past these trees. Our mission was to create a sketch of the scene on our iPad, but to change the lighting by adding the sun and shadows to make it an early morning scene.

In the next step, we used this rough sketch as our inspiration to create a watercolor.
We worked on rough watercolor paper using a one-inch flat brush - both totally new for me.  I'm a hot press paper girl.  I'm liking rough paper, not to mention the Steven Quiller one-inch brush!

David took us step by step.  He showed us how to paint the sky, cutting around the sun.... off we went, back to our work stations to paint.  Then he demoed the marsh and trees....  I love watching instructors paint and find I learn best with this method.

I'm very pleased with the end result! Working on rough paper with a flat brush offers the opportunity to paint quickly by using specific brush strokes to create different textural effects.

Stay tuned..... more to follow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Workshop Wednesday

I'm taking a workshop with David Rankin. We are sketching on iPads using the Paper 53 app, then using this image to create a traditional watercolor painting. 
Yee ha!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stewardia malecodendron

My coworker has this southern native tree/shrub growing on his property and brought a cutting to work for me.  It sat on my desk several days before I had the opportunity to make a sketch.  So long so that it was now or never, as the blossoms were starting to fade.  I decided to use a Pentel brush pen for the line work.  I love the calligraphic marks this tool makes. I added watercolor to the finished line work.

I love this addition to my Stillman & Birn journal that I've dubbed 'my book of trees'.

Did you know:
• Stewardia or Silky Camelia is a small understory tree/shrub mostly found growing along the coastal plain from Virginia down to Florida and over to Louisiana and even into east Texas.
• It's an uncommon tree but has a large range
• Favorite growing conditions include rich wooded bluffs, ravine slopes and creek banks

For more information about the Stewardia, please click here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Turtle Tuesday - Eastern Box

I arrived at the office this morning to find this sweet little Box Turtle in a dishpan on the conference table.  My co-worker wasn't in the office at the time, but he was on campus.  He must be the reason this little one is visiting.

Now far be it from me to ignore the opportunity to sketch a turtle on a Tuesday!  I chose to sketch it using the Paper 53 app, as next week David Rankin will be on the island conducting a workshop in which we will use the iPad/Paper 53 app in the morning and then create a watercolor from our sketch in the afternoon.  Can't wait!

Did you know:
• There are two species in the United States; Eastern & Western (Terrapene ornata)
• A key characteristic of box turtles is their hinged plastron (bottom of the shell) that can be shut completely to exclude predators.
• The Eastern Box Turtle is the only land turtle found in the state of North Carolina and is the 'state' turtle

For more information on this turtle, please click the link on 'did you know' above.

Atamasco lily

I keep a journal at work.  Sadly, it doesn't get a lot of use. I ran across it the other day and found that I'd not posted this quick sketch made of the atamasco lily. 

I remember sketching the lilies in the field and then adding color and lettering back at the office.

Sepia Micron pen and watercolor pencils in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon journal.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Field Sketch Friday - Mayapple

At long last, spring weather has arrived!

Last Friday, I made my way to a special area on Spring Island called the Trillium Garden.  It's an amazing piece of property where spotted trillium, atamasco lilies, bloodroot and mayapples, Podophyllum peltatum, naturally decorate the landscape. This year, as part of my job, I will be illustrating the plants found here and creating a map of the area.  My illustrations will be used to create outdoor signage and a brochure about the area.

I must say my field sketch looks more botanical than sketchy.  It took 10 minutes for the pencil sketch and I was finished with the watercolor portion in 35 minutes.  I'm not a fast painter by any means.  I paint a bit, wait for that to dry, look off into the wilds and relish in the moment, and then pick up the brush again.  I was in the zone for sure.  How could you not be sitting amongst the atamasco lillies with the soft breeze filling the air with their lily scent?? 

This is a squirrel's eyes view of a mayapple.  Yup, I was on the ground for this one.  Not an easy thing in the lowcountry given the chiggers and ticks!  I have an old vinyl table cloth that I carry with me to lay on the ground.  I spray it with Off.  My pants are tucked into my socks and my shirt into my pants.  I spray Off around the tops of my socks and waist band.  It's called war......

This piece is not finished yet.  I want to add a 'crow's eye view of the mayapple to the page.
You'd never know that this plant even had a flower when standing above it.  They have 2 wonderfully shaped, large leaves. I took photos so I may finish this indoors, as I brushed one tick off of my arm (they fall from the trees) while painting this. I then found another under my shirt when I returned to the office! 

I love sketching and painting plein air - even with the challenge of bugs.  I don't always have the time to complete a piece, but if I can at least sketch it live, and then add color from a reference photo, I still feel the magic of the plein air moment as I work within my original pencil marks.

Did you know:
• Native Americans had many uses for the mayapple.  However, only the very ripe fruit is safe to eat.  All other parts of the plant are poisonous. The ripe, egg shaped fruit will be yellow and kind of wrinkly.
• Other 'local' names for the mayapple include: wild lemon, hog apple, Indian apple, duck’s foot, umbrella leaf, and wild mandrake though it is not related to the old world mandrake, Mandragora officinarum.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Azaleas

I so love when weather and time cooperate so Rob and I can go off to do what we love most.... he, golf.  I know..... hard to guess my passion isn't it :)  On the other side of the trees is the golf practice range where Rob is happily wearing himself out.

Here are images showing the process.  This spread is in my 5x7 Stillman & Birn, Zeta Series journal that I call 'My Book of Trees'.

I added a few darks and descriptive copy once I returned home.

We are thick into pollen season.  For you in the North... hang tight.  Spring weather will arrive!

Monday, March 31, 2014


Sunday, I found a Dogwood to sketch.  What caught my eye as I stood beneath the tree was how the sunlit blossoms looked against the Carolina blue sky.  I love how delicate and wispy the branches are that reach up for the sky.  The white flowers are not really flowers, but are called 'bracts' that come out of the tiny cluster of yellow flowers. The bracts are four large petals-like objects.  Today they were dancing around in the 20-30 mph wind gusts.  Luckily, I was in a somewhat sheltered spot. 

I stood while sketching the branch with a Pentel Brush Pen, then sat below the tree to add color to the sky and leaves.  I stood once again to see the subtle shading on the flowers.  This page is part of my Journal of Trees - a Zeta Series Stillman and Birn journal.  Love this paper!

Did you know:
• The Flowering Dogwood is an understory tree which means it grows beneath taller trees.
• The fruit of the dogwood is called a 'drupe' - a fleshy fruit with a single seed.  They are shiny red and can grow up to a half inch long.
• Many birds and animals eat the fruit.