Sunday, June 23, 2013

Super Strawberry Moon

The weather forecast called for a thunderstorm at 8 pm but, at 7:45 the eastern sky was somewhat clear and I wasn't going to let the dark clouds building in west deter me.  There was a moonrise to paint!

I was also excited to try out my new plein air setup.
I've been wanting to paint larger pieces and on single sheets of watercolor paper.  I found this case at Staples.  It has a clip to hold paper on the outside and opens to hold more paper and whatever inside.
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I made an alteration to the cover by sticking down a clip that requires paper to have two holes punched into one side.  It's held in place with duct tape.  I tore down 2 full sheets of watercolor paper into 8.5 x 11 sheets.  I also cut a piece of acetate a bit larger than 8.5 x 11 so it would protect the paper.  White artist tape is securing the bottom of the acetate.

When I'm ready to paint, I undo the clips, lift off the acetate to get a single sheet, replace the acetate over the extra sheets, put the single sheet over the acetate and close the clip.  The right side of the container makes a great support for my palette, brushes, paper toweling and whatever else lands there.  It's very easy to hold in my lap :)

The moonrise was about the palest I've seen!  It was still quite light out and I could barely see the white moon.  Wow, white!  Our air must be very clean from all the storms we've had lately.  Usually the moon is a beautiful orange when rising. By the time I got the sky laid in, clouds half covered the moon.  It never reappeared while I sat there painting. The sky was so dull that the incoming tidal water was a dull brown green.  All the green in the foreground and up to the tree line is water!  Just a wee bit of marsh sand and black needle rush with other vegetation in the lower middle of this scene.  I felt deflated with such a pale moon and all the clouds.

Today, I'm happy with how the marsh and trees turned out.  What was your moonrise like?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Spring Tide, Super Moon and Tonic for My Soul

If the sky were completely cloudy and I had lost track of what day it was, I'd still know that either a new or full moon was about to happen.

Why?  The Spring Tide.  This is the name for the tide that occurs at the time of the full and new moon and is 20% higher than normal.  When researching a link for Spring Tide, I learned something new.  Because we are having a super moon this weekend, and today is the Summer Solstice, the tide is called Perigean Spring Tide.

 A sure sign of the Spring Tide where I live is water in this small inlet.  Normally the incoming tide never makes it into this area. 
I'm sure the Sable Palms don't appreciate the intrusion of salt water.

Last evening, we walked the dogs here, one of my favorite places in our neighborhood, the 17th hole of our golf course.

If I had my way, I'd pitch a tent right here and call it home. Walking the 17th is always tonic for my soul.
Have a happy and safe summer! Look up at night this weekend and catch the moon :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Capturing the Day

Rob had a tee time of 10:30 at Old South Golf Links.  He loves to arrive early and warmup at the driving range.

It was a beauty of a morning.  I brought my Stillman & Birn 8.5 x 11 journal and a few empty pages from my unbound journal.  While Rob warmed his golf game up, I did the same in the S&B journal.  I began a list of 'Birds of Note, tried to do a memory sketch of a Wood Stork flying over, captured a Live Oak that flanked the first tee and wrote general notes about the morning.

I decided to capture as many scenes around the course as I could and drew boxes to help me keep things simple.


Here's a shot of my setup.  The base is a piece of foam core. The clip that holds my paper is also securing the the fold in the foam core so it remains flat and sturdy.  I use the same type of clip to hold my palette to the foam core.

The front nine of this course is soooo pretty!  I'd love to have the opportunity to spend quality time on each of the holes and really do them justice.  As we made our way around the course, I honed the five sketches and mainly enjoyed the day and all the birds.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

More at the Rookery • Wood Storks, Anhinga and White Ibis

Back view of a Wood Stork tending eggs in its nest.
I treated myself and spent the good part of last Saturday at the rookery on Spring Island.  I arrived at 11 a.m. and didn't leave until 4 p.m.!

I toted my birding scope and camp stool to a wonderfully shady spot and set up my portable studio.

The scope is pointed at Wood Storks that are on the ground.   You can see the rookery area in the upper left of the image.  Those tiny white specs are storks.

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When I first arrived I made quick sketches of several different rookery birds in my 8.5 x 11 Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Journal.  The Anhinga was sketched using the 'snap shot' method and I used the blind contour technique for the White Ibis and the juvi Wood Stork.  It was quite warm and most of the birds either had their mouths open, or wings held high and wide to cool off.

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I noticed an adult Wood Stork near the top of the rookery tending eggs in its nest, its back to me. He/she would carefully nudge and rotate the eggs.  I started the above sketch using blind contour, then finished up with my favorite modified contour (you get to peek and adjust).  I so love having a birding scope.  Upon close study of this Stork, I noted the black of its wings had a wonderful dark green color mixed in with the black. I loaded the waterbrush with Holbein Royal Blue and laid it in the darkest areas of the wings, then added hookers green and burnt sienna to mix and mingle with the blue.  I love mixing colors directly on the Alpha paper.

In between sketching and painting I did a lot of observing.  I even attempted digi-scoping with my iPhone and am quite pleased with the results!  There is enough detail for me to use these photos to sketch from - please feel free to do the same!

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The storks are so odd looking that they are cute! Their feathers look down like at this stage of life.  Love their white legs, too :)  Note the closeness of the nests. And, all the while the juvi's are callling... "Wha, Wha, Wha!"
A lot of the adults kept their wings up and open like this to shield their chicks and eggs from the sun. You can see a bit of this adult's wing in teh previous photo.

The male Anhinga's breeding plumage is stunning.  What really caught my eye were the wispy golden feathers that were on its head and neck.  Of course when I settled in to sketch this beauty, he felt the need to go hunting for his charges...  I wasn't able to get a proper look at his wing patterning or his feet, so I went from memory... don't look real close :)

The Anhinga and Great Egrets all had their mouths open and their cheeks were fluttering.  I learned later that the part of their head/cheek area is call a gular and what they were doing to keep cool is gular fluttering.  Love learning new things!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spotted Eagle Ray Designs

This will be on the back of the shirt.
We are all preparing for Camp Spring Island at work.  I'm in charge of designing T shirts for the campers and volunteers.  This year we are celebrating the Spotted Eagle Ray.

I love the research process when I'm asked to drawn something totally unfamiliar.  The best and most inspirational find on Google was a set of amazing videos by ARKive.  Check them out here.

Each Spotted Eagle Ray sports unique spots.  This made me smile, as once I capture the outline shape of the ray, I made up my own spot design :)

Front left image
The front of the T shirt will have a small image on the upper left chest area.

Water bottle logo
This year, we are also going to have water bottles for the campers.  I love that I get to create art at work!