Thursday, May 22, 2008

May Workshop at Coastal Discovery Museum's Honey Horn Plantation

I can't believe a week's gone by since my last workshop!  Honey Horn Plantation is a gem!  I've linked the post title to CDM's site so you may check this out for yourself.  Honey Horn is a must see when you are on Hilton Head Island.

Our weather was perfect.  The first day, I chose to set up in the Mary Ann Peeples Pavilion.  It is a covered, open air, elegantly rustic structure with an enormous fireplace at one end.  A perfect spot to set up tables, lay out reference materials, and begin introduction exercises into the wonderful world of nature journaling.  A cardinal joyously sang to us all afternoon :)

I led a group of four, all of who professed they couldn't draw.                        
I loved watching their progress as we explored tried and true 'right brain' drawing exercises.  At the end of my intro sessions, I always get to say, "Lier, lier, pants of fire!  You can draw!"  It just makes my day, not to mention theirs as they proudly look at their creations! 

Our next bit of fun was working with watercolor pencils and a waterbrush.  As you know from my previous posts, these are two of my favorite journaling supplies.   First they tried every color to see what each looked like dry and then wet.  This exercise gave them a good feel for working with the waterbrush also.  Next, we mixed greens.  The Derwent watercolor pencil sets of 12 come with a light and dark green... boring!  I introduced them to the wonderful world of mixing colors.  It went over big.  But, all to soon it was the end of the day.  I promised that the next day, they'd put into practice all they had learned in this session.

On day two, we made our way to Fiddler Crab Cove Boardwalk for some in-the-field training.  I could spend everyday here, watching time go by on the marsh.  There is a wonderful Live Oak that drapes its branches over the seating area at the end of the boardwalk.  Toooo perfect!
To the left is the southern view from the seating area.  A camera never quite captures what you see.  To me that's the greatest reason to nature journal.  Your personal interpretation of the scene, combined with your written thoughts, is the finest way I know to capture the true essence of the moment.  It's your heart and soul come to life on a journal page.  Now that's priceless :)                                          
I chose to concentrate this day's study on how to create a landscape.  When students are rediscovering how to draw, and there is limited time to work in-the-field, I find it most useful if we work on a complex subject together.  

Piece by piece, we built our landscapes.  They learned how to use their pencils as a tool to measure proportions and as guides for angles within the landscape.  Once we had a basic sketch in place,  we worked on laying in the color, paying special attention to the lights and darks of our subject matter.  While we drew, we enjoyed fly-bys from Snowy and Great Egrets, a Tri-colored Heron, and a Great Blue Heron.  We heard a Red-tailed Hawk call but, never could locate it.  

Meet my rightfully proud student's  with their landscape drawings.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Meet Fetterbush!

Back in April, when I was in the midst of Master Naturalist study, I discovered a new plant - well, new to me :)
The dogs and I were on an afternoon walk around our neighborhood. Our female, Grizzie, has a favorite 15' wide swatch of grass, at an end of a cul-de-dac, just before an area of woods. I stand in the street, waiting for her to do her thing, and look at the vegetation. Low and behold I noticed a lovely, low growing, shrub type plant with pretty flowers. Luckily, it was on the edge of the woods and I was able to clip off an end of a branch. The challenge was to find a pocket that wouldn't crush it, and sorry to say...... remembering it once I got home from the dog walk! I'm happy to say that once home, I remembered to take it out of my pocket and put it in a zip lock bag with a few drops of water.

The zip lock bag trick is a great way to put off today what you can do tomorrow! But, you must also clear space in the frig to store your goodie! My husband, Rob, sometimes has to trash through many bags of plants to find his favorite jelly!

It was 4 weeks before I had the opportunity to sketch my Fetterbush 'find' into my journal. Yes, the sample lasted this long! However, once the flowers were exposed to the air for an hour, they began to turn brown. I had viewed my sample so many times during those 4 weeks that I had their coloring down cold :)

Now, I'm looking forward to viewing seasonal changes to the Fetterbush. Nature is so fun!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Nature Journaling - My Favorite art supplies

Something I love to say is: "The longer I live, the better the art supplies become!"  I have used many different art materials over the years for journaling, but my favorites are pictured here.  They include: 12 watercolor pencils (still trying out various brands, for now Derwent is working well), Pigma Micron or Pitt archival, waterproof and light fast sketching pens, General's Sketch and Wash pencils, Niji Waterbrushes, 5mm mechanical pencils, click erasers by Staedtler or Pentel, and for my sketch pad, I just love the quality paper found in Aquabee's Super Deluxe Sketch Book.  In my Bagworks clip-on pencil case I include a pencil sharpener, small jackknife, 6" clear plastic ruler and a small piece of thin sponge (found in grocery stores, sometimes called cloth sponge).  You might think this is a lot of 'stuff ' to carry but that's the beauty of the Bagworks pencil case.  All my pencils, pens etc., fit into it, so when I head out, it's clipped to a belt loop and my sketch book is in hand.  I've eliminated the excuse that the art supplies are too cumbersome!  So, get out there and enjoy!  Sink into nature and capture the day!  Now, that's living  :)

All of the above art supplies are found at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff.  When I conduct a workshop, I order the supplies for the participants.   I like everyone to use the same materials.  I know they won't be disappointed or run into any art material 'frustration' with these carefully chosen goodies :)

Watercolor pencils are the best thing since stickie notes, and 'waterbrushes' are the greatest as you no longer have to worry about toting water and delicate watercolor brushes into the field.  I like things simple, but I also like products that give great results. In my opinion, watercolor pencils offer the freedom of exploring water-media without the frustration often associated with traditional watercolors.  

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

It's official! :)

I was born and raised in New England.  A daughter of a dairy farmer,  I grew up very close to the land and knew our 180 acres inside out.  You might say I was a tree hugger from the get go! Adulthood came, then college, and finally corporate life.  All of which took me farther and farther away from what was near and dear to my heart.  After awhile light dawned, and I began to make my way back to what really makes me tick - my love for our earth and the amazing gift of the natural world around us.  A gift that we can so easily take for granted.  To quote John Muir once again...."Most people are on this world not in it."  Well, I'm in and staying :)

For the last 12 weeks, I've been enrolled in Clemson University's 'South Carolina Master Naturalist Program.'  It has been a fun, overwhelming, more fun, hectic, consuming, and even more fun..... experience.  My training took place at the Low Country Institute on Spring Island in Beaufort County.  Chris Marsh, Tony Mills, Sarah Ernst and a host of past MN graduate volunteers led 28 of us through the wilds of the low country.  Yesterday culminated our journey to becoming Master Naturalists with an all inclusive field and written exam, a yummy pot luck lunch and..... Graduation :)

This New Englander, who would glance a wary eye into the low country woods (imagining what crawly things lurk in palmetto thickets....) can proudly say she's no longer shy about heading in. Very cautious mind you, but give me bug spray and away I go!  Still, my next big purchase will be snake boots...... just 'cause :)

Now that I have my life back, (really, if you're thinking you'd like to partake in this program, make sure you have an empty schedule!) I will be scanning and posting my field sketches.  That's after I get my studio cleaned up from 12 weeks of neglect.  I know the scanner is in there somewhere!  Master Naturalist, PJB, signing off.......

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dog Walk Nature Delights

This week the dogs and I visited a walking trail, in our neighborhood, that has a boardwalk through a swamp.  It is not a long trail but I nearly always get to see some form of wildlife.  Days are busy and I must multi-task if you will.  The majority of my nature walks involve my hands holding two flexi leashes.  Binoculars are out of the question - I long ago gave that up.  But, I can take along my little Nikon Coolpix digital camera.  Between my trained eye for observation and, when possible, a reference photo I can pretty well recreate the wonders of the day. 

Back to my story.......  We were about 20 steps onto the boardwalk, being quiet as always, when 2 Green Herons flew up out of the cattails and fallen trees.  They were perturbed, I apologized.  They are good sized when they stretch their neck out.  I especially like the bad hair day they get when their making a point.

A little farther down the boardwalk the dogs started pulling and heading for the side rails.  There must be deer!  I swear, the dogs would jump off the boardwalk and into the water (which they hate) and chase the deer if they could - chase or frolic,  I'm not sure as they love to be around horses.  I settled them down.  We were able to see 3 white tail deer :)  We observed them for a few minutes, then a deer that was very close to us decided to bolt.  Well, that stirred up all kinds of sights!  Mr. & Mrs. Wood Duck and 2 Wood Storks!  Various song birds too but they were too quick for my eye.   What a wild walk we had.  I'm still smiling about the sights :)