Monday, October 19, 2020

Celebrating Autumn in the Lowcountry - Creating a Journal Page


Last week was our local SketchCrawl. We are still holding them virtually - sketch where you are and post work to the group’s FB site.  

Autumn in the Lowcountry is staring to bloom. I could get lost in the textures of the grasses and other plants that are changing. It’s a great time for wildflowers, too.  I managed to spare an hour or so for a plein air, direct watercolor sketch of roadside plants just outside of my neighborhood. 

Most of the time was spent carefully drawing the danglepod with my waterbrush and different shades of greens.  A lot of folks dislike this ruderal plant. I love it as to me, it’s a great contender for a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Just a season off in timing, is all. 

I wanted to add the names of the plants to the page along with a blurb about how the beauty of Lowcountry colors tug at my heart.  I knew about goldenrod and dogfennel, but had a devil of a time finding the name of the tree-like plant.  My friend and Ecologist a work came to the rescue. I love learning about plants!  Both the goldenrod and dogfennel are in the Asteraceae Family, the danglepod in the pea / Fabaceae Family. 

When I have a lot of text to add to a page, and time to think about it, I love to explore possibilities.  I added a photo of the journal page into the app Procreate. I can then play with different ideas without making a mess of the original journal page.  Here is a short time lapse video of the process.

From here, I penciled in the copy on the journal page they went over it with a Faber Castell Pitt pen, making final tweaks as I went along.  The Procreate App is a fantastic tool to add to your art supplies! 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Looking Toward Bay Point Island

We checked out Fish Haul Beach Park on Hilton Head Island this weekend.  Of course I had my trusty 3" x 5" Stillman and Birn Alpha Journal with me : )  Mostly overcast, the blue sky patches were trying to gain strength.  The cooler weather feels sooooo goood!  The park beach overlooks the Port Royal Sound.  

The land on the far shore is Bay Point Island.  There is a lot of public concern for this undeveloped barrier island.  A developer out of Bangkok, Thailand submitted their special use application to Beaufort County to build / operate what they are calling an ecotourism resort.  That would be a big hit to this environmentally sensitive, erosional barrier island, not to mention Beaufort Country residents having to shoulder the costs, through taxes, for any beach nourishment and damage caused to infrastructure from severe storms. 

The island is a designated Important Bird Area.  In the winter, there can be 5,000 to 8,000 shorebirds on this island.  In the summer loggerhead turtles nest there. Since the island is only reachable by boat or air, it's a rare untouched sanctuary for wildlife in the lowcountry.

The Coastal Conservation League has an intensive article about this proposed development that you can read here.  The Audubon South Carolina further explains the importance to shorebirds in this article.

There was a county zoning board meeting on September 24th, but I cannot locate any information about what transpired.  My fingers, toes, eyes and soul are crossed for the correct environmental outcome to prevail. 

Yes, the Girls were with us.  They love weekend adventures.  Annie, is not real keen about getting near the water, but sunbathing is mighty fine : )  Lots of folks were enjoying their Sunday on the beach.  Fish Haul Beach Park is open to the public and just a short walk from the parking lot to the sand.  It's one of the few beaches that isn't manicured.  Wrack is everywhere.  (last year's spartina).  It's a haven for beach critters.  This beach is fabulous for nature journal exploration.  Be careful if you are walking barefoot on the sand area untouched by water, though.  Sand spurs are lurking. Those little devils hurt!


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Sunday Funday Painting

 Wow, is life going at warp speed for you, too?
It’s just way too full right now. If you are in the same boat, I feel your frustration.  
How do you stay balanced?

I turn to my sketchbook, and most of the time, with Nature as my subject. 
Even with just 10 to 30 minutes of concentrated study, be it sketching and / or
painting,  I find myself back at center, ready to take action.   I’ve also determined that
 I work much better (translate to doing home chores or tasks at work) when 
I’ve first given myself the carrot of creation.  Holding the carrot off until
 things get accomplished just doesn’t work one little bit for me. 

I’ve been crushing on this live oak for a while. I love the way it stretches 
up and over everything underneath its strong limbs.  Sunday was the day 
to capture this beauty in my journal!  It was also the day for our
girls’ outing. They love going different places to walk.  They are also really 
good and just hanging out while I paint - at least until another dog passes by : )

Yep, I really enjoy Art Tookit palettes!

This is a 3x5 Stillman and Birn Alpha journal. Just the right size for a quick
direct watercolor sketch when you have just a wee bit of time.
Dogs are happy. I am happy 😊 

Let me know how you stay balanced!

Happy October!
Peace and health be with you. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Ten-Minute Tuesday - Catch as Catch Can

 It’s official...  The bird feeder station is my shiny bobble.  Making breakfast?  What birds are feeding?  Doing dishes?  Who’s visiting under the feeder?  Making dinner? Surely I have time to check the bird feeders out! 

Quick fountain pen captures as I view the feeders through a scope from the kitchen window... shiny bobble all the way!

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Trying Out New Palette Colors

For our recent Virtual Bluffton Sketckcrawl, my husband, our dogs and I visited
Jarvis Creek Park on Hilton Head Island.  There is a lovely walk around a good sized
pond and trails are cut through the wooded areas.  Lots of places to picnic. 
Wading birds and osprey come and go.  Gators can be seen swimming
or sunning on the pond's bank.  If you are visiting HHI, check it out!

I wanted to try out some new colors with a rather limited palette.
Winsor Newton: green gold, gold ochre, light red. indian yellow
Holbein: peacock gouache

I hadn't played at all with these colors and didn't know how they would mix together. 
I see a pattern here - I also try new recipes when we have guests for
dinner (pre-covid).  An adventurer at heart I guess : )

The view in front of me.  I love not having to paint everything!

My 'lap' plein air set up

The Girls love our plein air outings!

I decided to put swatches of the colors used on my journal page.  
You'll see on the finished page below that I added their names.  I will certainly 
use this combo again!  No pencil sketch was created.  Just carefully placed 
watercolor strokes to mark the pond edge, bank and tree line after I laid 
in the sky on wet paper.  Working wet in wet when it's so humid out makes for 
some extra waiting time.  From the sky, I worked on the water, then began
 to lay in the trees.  I learned about using watered down gouache
 for the sky from artist David Rankin.  If you have the chance to study 
with him, run toward this opportunity!  He is the master of light in my opinion.

A little sprig of fetterbush to dress the final shot.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Ten-Minute Tuesday / Muscadine Vine & Spanish Moss

Yes, I so love water soluble ink!
You can get so much bang for so few marks!
Perfect for fast sketching : )

Tools used:
Tombow Dual Tip Brush Pen - sepia 947
Zig Cocoiro Letter Pen - grey
Micron Pens, black and lt. brown
Pentel Waterbrush
Handmade accordion Discovery Journal

The lettering took it's own time.  I don't like to rush lettering, as spelling can go right out the window!

I learned about adventicious roots with this piece. 

My Discovery Journal is building...

Friday, September 11, 2020

Sketchercize Day - A 10-Minute Start


I'm very fortunate to work on a lovely private island consisting of 3,000 acres of wild lowcounty South Carolina habitat that has over 30 miles of trails. My job requires a lot of computer time.  If I'm not careful, I can spend the whole work day with minimal movement... the bad health habit taking over for smoking!  In an aim to correct my ways, what better way than to walk and sketch?  It works for me.  Clears my head, gets me moving, brings me back fresh to handle the tasks at hand...

I keep a 3x5 inch Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook in my purse along with a business card sized palette made by Art Toolkit.  I actually have several of these palettes!  They can work very big for their size - and not always with a waterbrush.

This day I briskly walked to our Native Plant Nursery to see what was blooming.  I found some scarlet hibiscus still open.  But Lordy, it was so hot and humid!  There was no way I could stand in the sun for 10 minutes for a sketch.  The hibiscus kept calling, though.  I found shade from a nearby building, but the view of the flowers became almost laughable.

Good thing I know what they look like!  I set the timer for 10 minutes and painted as fast as I could.  Dang it was hot!  When the timer sounded, I collected my things and shot this next image so I could be closer and have a better reference to finish this page from.

I closed up my journal hoping that the fairies would visit and fix all I saw that was off putting.

When I opened the journal a week later, I was less disappointed with my original marks.  Mind you, the hibiscus were very, very loosly captured - as in I'd have to tell folks what they were, but no matter.  My aim was to make this page work. 

Out came my Faber-Castell sanguine pen to help add some definition and a few more leaves. Then painted a spent bloom behind a new leaf.  Nothing like a bit of copy to tie the page together.

I'm much happier with this page now.  I'd love to know your comments!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Ten-Minute Tuesday / Building a page 10 minutes at a time

On September 2nd, my first marks on the page were of a cardinal sitting on the branch outside the kitchen window.  He kept posing, so I kept sketching.  The next morning, bunny came to visit as I was making breakfast.  It's tough to sketch when other duties call - even with the timer set to 10 minutes.  I knew I'd be a tad late for work.  It's probably good that bunny was spooked and I wasn't able to finish!

Labor Day weather was beautiful!  I went to the side garden where the horsemint, ageratum and passion flower are blooming and continued adding to this page.  Love bugs and bees were everywhere!

A thunder clap sent me inside where I added the copy for the page.  Multiple 10 minute snips of time helped me create a snapshot of our yard for the week.

I didn't set a timer when adding color.  It was a joy just to be able to paint on this holiday!

I enjoy seeing how a page takes shape. 
Lettering is a useful tool to tie elements together.


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

10-Minute Tuesday / Bunny Visits

Under our bird feeder station is a busy place for birds and critters to gather.  A couple of squirrels can be found there anytime of day, along with juvi cardinals, doves, grackles, brown thrashers and an occasional visit by an eastern towhee.  Every now and then, I'll pass by the kitchen window in the evening just in time to see our resident bunny.

This journal page features a compilation of bunny visits.  Each day's sketches were captured in under 10 minutes.  I keep the journal on the kitchen table along with a bird book, binoculars and my favorite platinum carbon fountain pen.  That way I'm always ready for a quick capture on a page.  

Last evening I picked up the journal to add a title to the page and once again saw the bunny.  This time the squirrel was edging closer and closer to the bunny.  Then all of a sudden there was a face off between the two.  The squirrel lunged at poor bunny, chasing it away.  Darn 'ol squirrel!

Happy September!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

10-Minute Tuesday / Blue Lobelia

 This has been a busy week!  In the past few weeks, my 10 minute sketch usually has taken
place well before Tuesday.  This time, Monday was the day.   

I did two 10 minute direct watercolor sketches.  The first subject was a bit complicated
for 10 minutes, especially with the so-so paper being used.  The sketch is not anywhere near
done - a lot of leaves are missing, not to mention more detail on the berry clusters. 
But it served as a warmup for painting the Blue Lobelia.  Warmups are a good thing!

This is very loose interpretation of the lobelia plant, but I'm liking it : ) 
I used a no. 12 Loew-Cornell 7000 series round brush.  The paper is heavily sized.
The paint wouldn't dry and I did feel a bit frustrated with losing the highlights
on the flowers and cluster of greenery at the top of the plant.
Moral of the story:  use paper that helps not hinders.
Experiment.  Kiss those frogs... you'll find what you like!

8" x 5"

Here is the start to the Beautyberry. 
I'll try this again, but not as a 10 minute direct watercolor piece.
And, will use better paper!