Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nature Journaling Expanded Workshop

I had three students for my inaugural Nature Journaling Expanded Workshop at the Society of Bluffton Artist's Gallery (SOBA).
What fun we had!

We began by creating custom journals that included covering two boards, cutting down full sheets of watercolor paper and punching holes so we could assemble our books. Learning page design elements was next, then we moved onto the basic techniques of calligraphy. They practiced italics with #2 and #4 brushes and with tape nibs using gouache paint. Then Kate, Sharon and Marilyn learned how to build type fonts by hand and adding color as needed. I use this technique a lot when I create my own journal pages.

We continued calligraphy practice on day two. Then it was time to put new ideas to work. Assignment: create a journal page around specimen insects that I handed out: dragon fly, moth & butterfly. Identify the insects by using a guide book, design the journal page, create a calligraphic title , add informational body copy about the insect, then sign and date the page.

I can't get enough of teaching nature journaling! I love introducing techniques and then watching each person create their interpretations. Here are their journal pages. They worked real hard, I'm so proud of the results! (some said their eyes had a hard time focusing on their food at dinner time..... Oh no! Teacher overloaded students!) Make sure you click on this image to get a better view :)

Despite their tired eyes, come day three, we were all anxious to go out in-the-field and create another journal page. Luckily we didn't have to travel real far. About 10 steps away from SOBA's back door was a lovely Beauty-berry loaded with wonderful magenta berries - my favorite!

I did a watercolor pencil demo, then let Marilyn, Sharon & Kate get to work. Bruiser, a hound/shepherd mix came by for a visit. He's so cute and loving. Luckily he didn't have the 'wet dog' odor he was sporting the other day!

After lunch we covered how to paint clouds, practiced techniques for painting marsh grass, palmetto trees and spanish moss.
Whew! A full three days :)

Well, here it is, the graduation photo :) Thank you, Sharon, Kate & Marilyn! I so enjoyed our time together. Keep journaling!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fall Equinox

I decided to enter a painting into the SC State Fair. I've not done this before but, all that was involved was a trip to Columbia. Gas prices being what they are, my friend, Kate, thought it would be nice to augment the 2+ hour drive (each way) with some fun. Bless you, Kate, for suggesting Congaree National Park! My Master Naturalist class had an overnight field trip to the Congaree that I wasn't able to attend. I had no idea that the park was so close to the fair grounds :) I jumped at the chance to visit, even if for a short time!

We decided to take the self guided tour of the 2.5 mile boardwalk trail. The weather was perfect. The morning had been cool and cloudy but the afternoon on the boardwalk was lovely. We actually had to shed our sweaters! I'm in big trouble if we ever have to move back up north - cool to me now is low 70's.........

The skeeters were active so we had to move right along, though I did manage to get a quick sketch of a tupelo tree. Today, I found a tree poem and added it onto my journal page. What a lovely place to spend the first day of fall :) You can click the image for a larger view.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A 'Carolina' Perfect Day

If a sensory dictionary existed and you could look up and feel a perfect Carolina day....... today would be there :)

We finally had a break from the unusually high heat and humidity that's been with us for most of September. Yesterday was actually cloudy and in the mid 70's. That was a shock! And today... well, it's why soooo many people choose to live in the Carolinas :)

For me, it was nature journaling day, and off to Oldfield we went, arriving at the Duck Pond just before 10 a.m. I was in heaven. Almost every kind of wading bird was along the far shore: Woodstorks, White Ibis, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, juvi Little Blue Herons, a juvi Black-crowned Night Heron. Not to mention Anhingas, an Osprey and a Great Blue Heron nearby along the banks of the Okatie River.

What to draw first? A Great Egret caught my attention. It appeared to have just caught a fish and was having a bit of a time getting it down the hatch. The bird would arch its neck then pick a foot up and scratch its throat. I watched the egret for a long time through my bins. Sure wished I had brought my scope. I like viewing my subject through the scope and sketching it at the same time. I managed to do it with the bins but 'twas a bit awkward. Two hours pasted but, it felt like 5 minutes. Luckily I was able to take lots of photographs.

Love Bugs were everywhere! Rob and I noticed a few on Monday when we golfed, but yesterday and today there were thousands. Oh goodie. Extra work now washing the dead ones off of our cars. Their body chemistry corrodes auto paint! Not to mention if you sit on them you can not get the stain out of your clothing..... I'm on my third try at getting their stain out of my golf shorts.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The time of the long shadows...

The romance of late summer evenings has arrived in the low country. Even though our day time highs are in the 90's, the early evenings cool right down. No haze remains from the heat and the warm yellow light of the setting sun is absolutely beautiful. It's the time of the long shadows.

This was my parents favorite time of evening. After the cows were milked and chores finished, we'd sometimes take a country road ride to the Dresser Hill Dairy Farm. It was a good size farm who's owners decided it would be a great spot to have a homemade ice cream stand. Folks from Dudley, Charlton, Southbridge, and other nearby rural areas would flock in. The ice cream was top shelf and the lines were long.

Now I too, hold this time of year and time of day close to my heart. Rob and I will take the dogs for their golf cart ride in a little bit. I will smile as I gaze upon the long shadows and will continue down my memory lane's journey :) Good evening!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Boardwalk Sights

Great night on the boardwalk. It's been so quite of late, barely a song bird! But, tonight... actually around 7:30 p.m, we made our way along the boardwalk and saw a doe with her fawn! The fawn had remnants of it's white spots and the light hair around it's eyes, just like Mom. A green heron flew to a nearby tree while the deer and I were conversing. I'm still smiling :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Learning Html • Beauty Berry

This is a test to see if I might have figured out how to place images wherever I want them. Yeeha! Can the girl do it?? I need to peak at Preview now and see......

Not enough body copy yet, all the type is still above the image. So, I'm adding more body copy below the Html code to see where it will go - perhaps it will be to the side of the image where I want it, but when I peak at Preview will it be below the image? Let's see.....

Woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!! Success :) This is one happy camper!

Oh, by the by - Beauty Berry berries are starting to appear :)
Don't you just love their color?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ode to a Wildflower

At long last, I've finished my journal page devoted to the Passion Flower, aka Maypops!  I wish everyone could view this flower in real time.  I've never seen such an, for a lack of a better term..... architectural wonder!

When we moved here, I purchased a SC wildflower guide book. I perused through to see what goodies I might find in my neck of the low country.  Maypops made the top of my list to see.

 If not for a brief glance to my right as I was leaving my favorite Oldfield trail, I may have surely missed it!  

There I was, out of time to frolic, and my 'quest flower' is right beside me.  Oh...my... God!  So, in good 'Johnson' fashion (my family is noted for having their own time clock) I threw my schedule to the wind, grabbed onto the serendipitous moment and took as many photographs as I could :)

The flowers only last for three days!  Two days later, I took Rob over to show him this gem of the wildflower world..........  Not a bloom in sight!  Three times I tried to have him see them.  Oh well, I did get one more view.  I slipped in a quick visit to the trail and lucked out :)  This time I saw green fruit, which was large and round.  My wildflower book by Richard D. Porcher and Douglas A Rayner says that the fruit is edible raw but, even better when made into jelly.  Yum!

The flowers will bloom May through September (thus the Maypops name?) and the fruit will yellow when ripe (June through October).  The common name; passion-flower comes from the resemblance of the floral parts to the story of Christ's Passion.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Recent Low Country Observations

Well, life's been a tad crazy, busy lately!  September starts the fall season for my nature journaling workshops and local outdoor art festivals.  I've paintings to create, workshops to promote, teaching materials to gather and commission jobs to finish.  This leaves little time to draw in my journal, scan journal pages and post to the blog.  Usually, I will have one sleepless night every now and then and I get tons of work done.  Why hasn't this happened lately?? 

Time for nature observations has been narrowed down catching all I can while walking the dogs. Thank goodness we have dogs!!  There's no ignoring the great outdoors when you have them - no matter the weather!  Just one more reason to love them :)

The neighborhood Red-shouldered hawks have started to call again.  Haven't seen them yet, though.  The trees in the my neighborhood's wetland are starting to change color - seems early for the south.  Mocking birds are back to singing.  We have one that loves to sit on our neighbors roof and rattle off every birdsong melody known.  Then it will fly straight up about 10 feet, then back down and continue on with it's song.  I do love them.

The other day there was a family of crows harassing something.  I'm thinking hawk or owl. What a racket!  I was grilling dinner and the sound was tremendous.  There had to be at least twenty crows.  Then I saw a man walking down the sidewalk between my house and the woods where the crows were whooping it up.  Surely he would look in their direction........  Not! 
That always amazes me.  People have such blinders on.  Wake up!  Look around!  Amazing things are happening!  Sigh......

 A friend sent me a link to Planet Earth the Secret. Have a look.  I wish all peoples could see this.  Enjoy!  Peace to you and yours!