Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Walk

Rob and I took advantage of the glorious day and took the golf cart up to the golf course. He chose to hit golf balls at the range, I took a walk along the boardwalk trail with journal, camera and bins in tote. My quest was to draw the Highbush Blueberry I'd seen when walking the dogs the other day.

Luckily, I discovered a few more Blueberry bushes along the way, as the flowers on the one I had in mind were already spent. One cannot dawdle when it comes to drawing nature! As I headed back, I came upon Sweetgum flowers. I'd never seen them before. A new fascination has been born :)

My journal entry does them no justice so here is a photo along with one of the Highbush Blueberry.

Walking back, I was quite pleased with my discovery. But wait.... the day was not done blessing my nature walk! Along came a Red-shouldered Hawk that landed in a tree near the boardwalk. Just as I finished a quick sketch it flew off. I followed it then looked back at the tree. Another hawk! Woo Hoo! I'm an extra happy camper now :)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Spring!

How's this for a roost? (click to enlarge)

This is Rookery Island in Sun City, Hilton Head and is right inside the main gate. Soon it will turn from a roost into a full fledged rookery with nests filled with Egrets and Herons. All winter long, the trees look like this. This evening, the majority of birds were White Ibis. I saw about 10 Little Blue Herons, a large number of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets, a couple of Tri-colored Herons and large flocks of Black and Turkey Vultures.

The photograph was taken from the golf course side of the island.
When we play at Sun City's Okatie Creek Golf Course, the green on #3 has a great view of Rookery Island. Sometimes I'd rather stay there and have a day full of birds than play golf :) One day, though, the breeze was just right and the smell..... well let's say I was thankful to move onto the next hole.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Crepuscular Delights

They're back! Spotted my first Swallow-tailed Kite this evening about 7 p.m. It's such a beautiful raptor. So graceful in flight. Other treats this evening included a huge flock of White Ibis flying over, a Great Egret perched on a tree along the board walk trail, and..... a Barred Owl in flight. Since we moved the clocks ahead, I love being able to go out after dinner and enjoy whatever Nature brings our way.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Spring is popping all over the place :) Today's dog walk on and around the boardwalk yielded lots of sights. In just the last couple of days, a lot more tree species are starting to pop. The bare deciduous landscape is now dotted with splashes of bright yellow green, grass green, mineral green, pink and red against stands of dark pines. I found a Highbush Blueberry in bloom, saw my first Common Yellowthroat warbler, listened to the sweet murmuring of a small flock of Cowbirds high in a tree, enjoyed antics of 2 Carolina Wrens, and was scolded by a Red-winged Black Bird that chose to mark his cattail territory too close to the boardwalk!

But, best of all, was my glimpse of the first dragonfly of the season :) I'm thinking it was a Darner as it was pretty big. But, alas, the dogs and I were going in the opposite direction of this winged wonder, so even a semi-accurate ID was impossible. I'm still smiling, anyway :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday visit to Sea Pine Forest Preserve

My anticipated February visit to SPFP finally came to be.... a month late, but we got there! I was wondering how the landscape would compare to past February and early March journal entries.

Nature seemed to be in order. The red maples were starting to pop and I saw the wildflower 'Innocence' Houstonia procumbensin bloom. I also found Southern Dewberry, Rubus trivialis, a trailing vine with small thorns that has delicate 5 petal flowers white to pale pink with cranberry colored centers. (drawing to come)

I used my new set of Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils for the Lake Mary illustration and tried out the colorless blender pencil to act as a mask to help keep the whites. While it did repel most of the pigment, there is a twinge of color. Oh well, still experimenting. Saw lots of big gators swimming while I worked on this!

Though Nature was right on course, the Forest Preserve had undergone change since our last visit. The roads were in peak condition, bushes trimmed, a new benched placed in honor of a devoted birder and fisherman, and the meadow that's usually tall with dead dog fennel had been mowed. And, mysteriously, the tall grasses that are usually along the left shore from our picnic area were gone. I can't remember a time that they weren't there. Those area's are favorite hunting spots for the wading birds.

We settled into the picnic area near a little cove on the Anhinga Trail. The reflections in the cove caught my eye. I pulled out my small travel set of watercolors and gave capturing the ripples a whirl. I usually paint water from well studied photographs. I think I'll keep trying to paint it plein air. T'was fun :)

Not many birds to speak of. Just as we were leaving, I did hear a Barred Owl call. One of these days I will see the phantom. All in all, three hours of bliss. I am reenergized.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

General's Sketch & Wash Pencil

Another favorite tool in my pencil case is General's Sketch & Wash Pencil. It's water-soluble graphite. I enjoy it, as up to this point in time, I don't have the patience to create shaded pencil studies. I do love working in black and white. You can concentrate on tones versus color and in the end, these studies will help you work with color.

I drool when I look at the drawings of Debby Cotter Kaspari. They make my artist soul want to push the comfort envelope and give the 'pencil' another try. We'll see what this year brings :)

For now, though, I want to make sure you try your hand at the sketch & wash pencil. They come in a 2 pack which includes a metal pencil sharpener. This pencil will also add another shade of black to your watercolor pencils. Sometimes black is just too black and the tone of the graphite does the trick.Both the storm studies above and the trees to the left were done on watercolor paper.
The sketches of the egret were done in my AquaBee Super Delux sketch book. A fun exercise is to draw just the shaded areas of your subject. This was my quest while observing this Great Egret hunting.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Yummie Carolina Spring Day

Toady I practiced being a vegetable, soaking up the sun and enjoying what ever birds flew by. I did see 2 barn swallows, though they were using different tactics to gather insects. I always enjoy watching their flight patterns as the pluck insects from the air but today, they were both on the ground driving their bills into the sod to collect their bounty. A Great Blue Heron flew over, 2 Black Vultures glided by, and there were myriad crows, both American and Fish.

It's been so unusually cold lately, and I've been so busy, that it felt wonderful just to veg. These notes will have to suffice :)