Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Rest of the Story.....

Now that this South Carolina elf finished the "project" and it's been safely delivered and opened by my dear, dear friends in NY, I can share the rest of the story :)

When Rob and I lived in western NY, we made close friends with our neighbors, Mary Jo, Dave and their three children, Shannon, Bridget and Jesse.  Jesse was just a wee tyke when we first moved there. Not having children of our own, it was so much fun to watch the kids as they grew.

Our moving away didn't set well with any of us and I promised the kids we'd always stay in touch. Each Christmas I find great joy in creating special ornaments for Shannon, Bridget and Jesse. Perhaps one year, I may even get them delivered before Christmas!!

This year I chose to send a bit of the SC lowcounty to them. I got to thinking about the longevity of the pine cone ornaments - would they stand up to the test of time? I also wanted to let the kids know about the natural items I chose for their ornaments. Okay, how about a nature journal card to go with the ornament? Realize now, that the clock is ticking and we're well into December when the project is finally starting to take shape...... no pressure here :)
click to enlarge

Here's how they turned out....

And here's what makes my heart sing!

Thanks for the great note, MJ! I'm soooo happy the kids like their ornaments!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Full Moon, Winter Solstice and oh by the way... a Total Lunar Eclipse!

I swear, ever since I started my Full Moon Series, the most wonderful celestial events have occurred :)

The weather report looked good. On the cold side, though (okay.... cool for you folks in the north) . I knew I'd have to be wearing my gloves. At least I could get away with the thinly lined Isotoners.

I set the alarm for 2 a.m., but like all times when I have to get up unusually early, I really didn't get any sleep - I was up and out by 2! 

I was soooo excited, I decided to somewhatly  plan my journal page. This is a first for me and I must say from now on, I'm just going to let the page just happen. I selected Fabriano soft press - new to me.
I laid out my supplies, had all my clothes ready to go, along with camera, monopod and bins.

Ahhhhhh! Clouds! Cottonball puffs all over the place! But, at least there was some space between them and by 2:30 they dissipated.

The eclipse was well underway - just about a quarter of the moon was visible.  There was a colorful ring around it, too. I decided to used the upper left of the page for the initial view.

I really liked how the paints and water were reacting on the paper. The cold temps (37 degrees) seemed to make the paint take longer to dry so I painted the blue box to be ready for the final show.  Then, I moved onto a Fabriano HP sheet -  also new to me. I love painting on a HP finish.
It's very immediate and there's very little you can do as far as corrections are concerned. It encourages freedom! I did three vignettes, working from left to right.  You can see my stop and start marks. This brand of HP is a bit softer than Arches. I'm going to really enjoy working with it.

I added the dark blue box today so that Orion could have a home :)

I was back in bed by 3:30 with a huge smile on my face :)

Now, why would I rather just let the page happen versus planning the design before I get to the event to paint?  Total loss of freedom -  on site and later on when adding the type. The first piece was a total design challenge. Thank goodness for tissue paper!   I went through several drafts while deciding where to say what :)

I hope you, too, were able to enjoy this glorious celestial event!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sneak Peak at New Project

And, that's all I'm saying :)
........Stay tuned!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Chilled Visitor - Thankfully!!

Imagine my surprise when my dog did a big straight up leap on the sidewalk outside of our house...... "What are you doing, you silly boy?"  Y I K E S!

Luckily, we were coming back from our afternoon walk. I brought the dogs into the house, ran for the camera and decided on a yard stick to pick up this wee feisty one.

When I got close to it, the snake reared up, it's head looking triangular.....  mouth open.....

Great, a small viper on my door step.  Thank you, Lord for cold temperatures making for a slow, very small snake... Here I'd been thinking all the snakes were safely tucked away for the winter.
I didn't have too much trouble getting it to balance on the yardstick.  See it's triangular head?  I couldn't wait to deposit this guy in the thick grasses along the marsh so I could run back to the house and get out the Reptiles and Amphibians guide book.

You can click on the images for a larger view.
Look Ma, no hands!  What a show off.  I love how it's tail curls around it's body.
Ooops, it fell off the yardstick and immediately wanted to fight. Nice mouth, huh?
There you go, little feisty one. Slide down into the dense grass and get warm!

I looked at the guidebook under venomous snakes but I couldn't make a clear i.d. I thought perhaps it was a young cottonmouth but the tail coloring was all wrong for it's age.

I sent an email to my friend and Lowcountry Institute's education director, Tony Mills.
He loves snakes and reptiles and knows them cold!

Let me introduce you to a non-venomous, young
Yellow Rat Snake, Elaphe ovsoleta quadrivittata!  Thanks, Toni!

My guide book says it a common and characteristic snake of the great river swamps of the south. Also that when cornered in the field, many of these snakes literally stand up and fight, with the fore portion of the body reared upward, the head drawn back in an S-curve, and the mouth held open in readiness to strike!  Yup, this little guy had these mannerisms down pat!

Amazing how one can ignore the cold at times like these :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pentel Sign Pen Test

Pentel Sign Pen Test
Originally uploaded by PJBee
Ooooooh, new art supplies :) Jennifer, owner of Coastal Art Supply, gifted me a set of Pentel Sign Pens.... colors!!!!

I took them out for a spin in the Pentalic Nature Sketch Book.

Back in March, I asked Jennifer if she could locate a black water soluble marker. She introduced me to the Pentel Sign Pen.  You may remember this test page. I love the cool gray color you get when you wet the marks.
Depending on how much you rinse your brush, you can achieve many shades of gray.

How excited I was to see that these pens came in colors!! All the pen tests in this post have been done in the Pentalic Nature Sketch sketchbook that contains 130# creamy paper.

Now, what subject to choose to really take these markers out for a spin? Is it possible to blend them like watercolors?

In good Pamela fashion, I chose what turned out to be a very challenging test. Go ahead. Jump right in, get your feet wet :)

I recently found a Sparkleberry, Vaccinium arboreum, shrub in my neighborhood. I love these shrub/small trees. This little specimen looked more like a small tree as there were no branches close to the ground. Sparkleberry (don't you just love the name?) has lovely little white flowers in the spring, that remind me of Lily of the Valley. The branches are crooked and twisted - catching my calligraphic eye. The leaves are tardily deciduous and in the fall turn a lovely redish purple that graces the glossy green leaves. And, the berries....... well, they truly sparkle!

Okay, I'm in love with this plant! Adoration is very important when trying to sketch or paint. Whatever it is that you are trying to capture on paper or canvas, must speak to you. Why? Because when your medium of choice challenges you, your love for the subject will drive you on to the completion. L O V E...... conquers all. Gets you through the rough times and makes your soul sing! Hmmmmm, even in art!

 Here is my first attempt. I enjoy creating quick watercolor sketches of plants and flowers. This rendition was anything but quick! I found that the marker ink soaked right into the paper and if I didn't add water quickly, color blending was very difficult.

Leaf by leaf I laid down a bit of green, raw sienna, red, pink, yellow and sometimes purple. Then I blended these strokes with a waterbrush. The trick was figuring out the placement of the marks. I didn't want the effect of outlined leaves. What worked best was putting the colors (2 or 3 at a time) at the base of the leaves then using the waterbrush to lift the ink and spread it into a leaf shape. And, just like watercolors, allowing the paint to dry between layers, was very important.

All in all, a bit more controlled than I like to be when painting. Sometimes, the paper would fuzz up - like when you scrub a bit too hard. But then when the paper dried, that effect seemed to disappear! I wasn't able to hold the lights. I also got a bit impatient.... see that dark blob in the center?

I used a brown Micron pen for the very fine branches and also for adding vein lines and shading in the leaves.

The classy vase is an old jelly jar/glass from Welches.

I want to try this subject again using hot press watercolor paper and Canson Edition paper. Love is driving me on :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Sketchbook Project

Is there anything quite like a deadline to help push some folks along?

Back in October, I found out about the Sketchbook Project from a friend and fellow blogger, Quiltin' Mama.  What fun, I thought! I signed up immediately.  The sketchbook showed up very timely with instructions that said it's a good idea to make the sketchbook sturdy as it will be looked at often. The sketchbook also contains the same type of paper that's in my only moleskine journal that I really don't care for.... very thin and see through.

So, these are my excuses for not starting this project sooner... How to fortify the cover and shore up the thin weight of the paper pages, and I'm sticking to them :)

Given that I live in the lowcountry of SC and alligators love it here, and pink is the color used to celebrate breast cancer awareness and survivors..... Well, what better material to use than faux pink alligator vinyl??  I'm multi-purposing an Estee Lauder zipper tote that would have otherwise gone into the trash.

Stay tuned..... cover construction and page fortification to begin real soon.  I think I've got it figured out :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Celebration

Our Thanksgiving Celebration
Originally uploaded by PJBee
Rob and I have lived away from our families a lot. We were able to travel to them a good part of the time but when we couldn't we kept the Thanksgiving tradition alive and well in our own home.

This year I decided to record the way we spend our celebration.  What really prompted me to try this was the pumpkin pie.  I baked it Wednesday and it looked soooo yummy when it came out of the oven.  I used my favorite pie plate made in western NY by the Wizard of Clay. I've had this pie plate for years and every pie I've ever made comes out extra stunning. It must be the way the clay reacts to the oven heat.

The fruit cup, sweet potatoes and butternut squash were already cooked but, I decided it would be better to leave them in their raw form. Thankfully, the turkey must rest for 30 minutes before carving.... plenty of time for a sketch :)

I finished up the page today, choosing the font for the title and recording our day's activities around the border. To me, this looks as warm and happy as our day.  I hope your celebrations brought great joy and blessings, too!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dahoon Holly Sprig

Dahoon Holly Sprig
Originally uploaded by PJBee
I love this time of year when the Holly trees sport their fruit. I discovered this variety of Ilex right outside my door, after I read Elizabeth Smith's Dahoon post.

The pen illustration with watercolor shadows of the sprig was done as a demo for my last workshop at Coastal Art Supply.  I used Canson Edition paper. It's become a favorite of mine.

I let the illustration hang around in my studio for a couple of weeks. I like the meditative process of finishing a page. I find, after a fashion, a line of communication opens between me and the initial sketch. Last Sunday, I laid in the watercolor on the leaves and berries. Monday, I played with the lettering on a tracing paper overlay. I used watercolor pencils for the calligraphy. Yesterday the final piece of the design puzzle came into place..... I added information about the tree and treated it as a border. Done!

The joy of discovery is captured forever in my heart :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Enjoying a bit of the warm afternoon....

Had time for a quick watercolor sketch yesterday. I sat on a bench at the driving range while Rob hit some golf balls.

Such a beauty of a day. 73 degrees, soft, warm air. Yum!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chechessee Creek Marsh

Chechessee Creek Marsh
Originally uploaded by PJBee
A stupendous day in the SC lowcountry! No wind to speak of and soft, warm autumn air. It was a joy to sit and sketch this scene of the Chechesse Creek Marsh.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Travel Journaling Workshop

A few weeks ago I conducted a 3-day Travel Journal Workshop at Coastal Art Supply in Beaufort.  We made 2 simple practice journals. One from a sheet of 18 x 24 Strathmore drawing paper, the other from a half sheet of Canson Edition paper. I wanted my students to feel less intimidated about making marks in their designated 'travel journals.' Practice, after all, is a wonderful thing. What better way to prepare making journal entries than in a journal - even one with just a few pages! 

Beaufort is such a great town to vacation. Water everywhere, beaches nearby, historic buildings galore, buggy ride tours, great specialty shops, lots of galleries and restaurants. By the end of the 3 days, we felt like we had been on vacation and we only went across the street from CAS to The Beaufort Inn and then to downtown's Waterfront Park, barely scratching the surface of the sights :)

The image above is my demo from the last day. We were behind the Inn in the gardens. The assignment was to live on the wild side and sketch with pen. Yikes, pen? No pencil? I then said I was going to be their impatient travel companion and they only had 10 minutes to sketch their subject, then it was time to move on..... More groans :)

I explained sketching with pen is terrifyingly freeing.  That they'd love it..... Teacher doesn't lie :)

They did a series of 3 - 10 minute sketches, then they worked on each sketch an additional 10 minutes adding color. Later that day, in the comfort of the classroom, they added type to complete their pages.

Jobs well done!  See, you can sketch quickly with pen and what great results!

Below is day one's demo.  A view of The Beaufort Inn and some of the garden's plants.  Sometimes it's a hit or miss experience when doing a demo. This time I didn't get the proper proportions on the inn. Only very small people can enter this inn..... the first floor is way too short :)  So, I make light of the ooobooo and move on.

Here is a quick building vignette of a favorite restaurant 'Plums.'

October was sooooo crazy busy that I was ever so grateful to be outside sketching.  It was the first outdoor time I had since early in the month. Nothing soothes the nerves like plein air sketching :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Five Minutes with....

I made the newspaper today :)  Front page of the Lowcountry Life section in the Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette no less!  Thank you, Justin Paprocki for your call and interview!

The article is entitled "Five Minutes with Pam Johnson Brickell"

Such fun spreading the word of illustrated journaling :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

High noon on the May River in Bluffton, SC.  The marsh is singing it's autumn song.

Have a joyful and safe celebration!

Monday, October 11, 2010

10•10•10 A Celebration

Sunday was the third to the last time in the 21st century when month, day, year (abbreviated) will be the same number.  Next time it will be 11.11.11 and then 12.12.12...... 

I caught onto these special days a tad late in the game. Well, to be honest, I can't remember prior to 09.09.09 if I even paid attention, but I do know that, prior to last year, I didn't make a record of these special days.  What a shame.

Yesterday, Rob and I took a short trip up to Walterboro, SC to visit the town's Great Swamp Sactuary.  What a delightful nature walk!  And, it's handicapped accessible! While I didn't make a single journal entry, I surely took lots of photographs. 

Here are a couple of images of water patterns created by water-striders. My paint brush is eager to explore the abstracts of water.  Hmmmm, a new series of paintings is in the wind :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Celebrating the Harvest Moon and Autumnal Equinox II

Ofttimes, when I choose a subject or specimen to paint in my journal, the journey to the completed page takes many roads. Journal...... journey....
Hmmmmmm. Kind of goes hand in hand, don't you think?

I wanted to paint this unique Harvest Moon at a very special location. Spring Island immediately came to mind.
It's a 3000 acre nature preserve and residential community in the heart of the SC low country.

I'm very partial to this little piece of heaven on earth. I first visited the island, in 2007, as a visiting artist, teaching nature journaling. It is also where I studied to be a SC Master Naturalist. In 2009 I was fortunate to be invited back to conduct a second workshop. This past spring, I was asked and became the Spring Island Trust's Visiting Artists Program Coordinator. Pinch me, I think I'm in heaven :) We are entering the busy season for events - thus my blog postings aren't as numerous.  Somehow, as you age, the days get shorter and shorter :)

The above scene is the view from the 18th fairway. Rob and I were wondering if the clouds were going to break open enough to view the moon's rise. It was a lovely evening. The long shadows were sliding over the marsh grass. A sailboat was out on the Chechessee River heading toward Port Royal Sound. Clouds were turning this amazing shade of orange! And, flocks and flocks of White Ibis and quite a few Wood Storks flew over, heading to the Island's rookery.

As sunsets do, all the colors in the sky disappeared and boom, the Harvest Moon in all its glory peeked out! There were soooo many clouds moving quickly that I decided to do three vignettes - all in 8 minutes! 
Sketching was cut short as the sprinklers on the fairway were starting to cycle.  Fortunately, at that moment, not near us! We decided to move farther into the waste bunker - surely they wouldn't water there.....  I dropped my paint tin, upside     down,   in   the    sand.  Thank goodness, no sand collected in the colors I was using :)

I love it when Rob is with me on these outings.  He's the photographer in the family.  RIT graduate with a photo science degree - and he still remembers all the technical stuff!  Oh, to have half of his memory capacity :) At first, he felt a tad encumbered with my totally automatic camera. He'd much rather have his larger SLR and big lens, set on manual no less! He made it work and I've got some great reference shots to finish these sketches with.
At 7:45 p.m. the mosquitoes were about to fly away with us.  No bites, the bug spray was holding, but our arms were very busy swishing them away from our faces. An evening well spent. Journaling always makes me feel like I've been away on a vacation. Refreshed once again :)

I first learned this year's Harvest Moon and Autumnal Equinox were to coincide a couple of weeks ago. Wow! How special and what a treat for my Full Moon Series! Here are links to some very interesting information.

Astronomer Ed Murphy from UVa discusses the Autumanl Equinox and how leap days came into being.


Wikipedia - Equinox info

Christian Science Monitor  article about moon on fall equinox

Seasons & Dates for 2010

Sun and Moon rise/set dates

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Celebrating the Harvest Moon and Autumnal Equinox I

What a treat to celebrate this special event!

I made special painting plans for the 23rd but couldn't ignore the 22nd.  This is the same location that I painted from during last month's full moon.

You can truly say the Harvest Moon lights up the sky.  Mate it with the Autumnal Equinox and holy cow! Very scientific, huh?  :)

I did 3 quick watercolor sketches at this location. I added the calligraphic type today.  

The clouds, while not many, were changing shapes quickly.  The second sketch isn't really accurate as the moon was much higher in the sky. I do love the shape of the clouds, though :)  

The third sketch......... well, the mosquitoes were attacking at full force. Here is what I managed to get down on page.

Please click on the image so that you may read the copy.

I put more definition in the moon's face and added the yellows in the clouds later that evening.... from the comfort of my front porch. No bugs, thank you very much!

Today was finish journal pages day.  A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon - all quiet and meditative in my studio. Husband and dogs fast asleep on the sofa. The golf tournament that he soooo wanted to see on the television...... He did wake up for the finish.  That's what's important.  Yeah, Jimmy!  Great win!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Full Moon and Eqiunoxes


There's something special happening next week! According to, an event that takes place every fifteen years or so!  Drum roll.............. A Full Moon on the Equinox

You all know I love watercolor sketching full moons.  What a treat this will be!  Mark your calendars, be there or be square :)  Thursday, September 23rd.  Dance in the moonlight and celebrate the Autumnal Equinox and the Full Harvest Moon!

Yes, that's right.... The Harvest Moon.  The Farmer's Almanac says that the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox is the Harvest Moon.  In fact, two years out of three the Harvest Moon is in September.  Last year it was in October and pictured to the left is a snippet from the sketch I did overlooking the May River.

What location to choose for next week's sketch?  Hmmmmmmm....... Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Blog News!

I've three new items to share.  One you may have already checked out, but just in case......

I decided it was high time to take advantage of the tab feature that Blogger offers.  Just under my banner are three tabs: Home, Field Trips and Workshops.  Home is the page you are on right now and features blog posts on the left and lots of info in the right column.

The Field Trips tab takes you to a page that has images of past field trips my workshop students and I have gone on and during the fall, winter & spring months, will list upcoming trips to register for.  Remember, you must be a past student in order to sign up.

Workshops - you guessed it, information about the workshops I offer.  I'm very excited about the new 'On Demand' Illustrated Journaling Workshops.  If you're planning a trip to Hilton Head Island or the Beaufort area, we can design an art vacation for you!  I have listed two possible workshop themes as a starting point.  We can customize!

Last, but not least, I've a new card shoppe!

When you scroll down the right panel of this blog page, you will come across a widget that says PJBee's Card Shoppe.  Just click the yellow 'Buy Cards' tab and away you'll go to my shoppe at Greeting Card Universe.  I'm very new at this.  If you, too, are interest in selling cards, check them out.

I currently have 12 card designs in my shoppe.  Most are blank notes but I do have a 'Thinking of You' card and a Christmas card.  More to come!

Thanks for checking out my new offerings!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Maypops - a page of many days

Click to Enlarge
Much to my delight, I found Maypops on one of our morning dog walks.  The vine was/is growing in a tree and spreading onto the ground near an uncompleted house in our neighborhood.  The vine is quite large but the flowers were not real showy.  Yes, I took a clipping :)  It seems all the vine needed was water as the blooms popped in great fashion!

The pen sketch was done on the 17th around noon.  At 3 pm one blossom started to open and fully opened by 11 pm.  Sorry, can't go to bed just yet..... I must draw and paint this architectural wonder!

I painted the vine a few days later, then as time went on, more color was added.  Saturday I finished up with the calligraphy and called it Done!

I love being able to take my time with journal pages.  They take on a life of their own.  I love the voyage :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

I Won!

I recently started following Notes from the Voodoo Cafe - A blog by Rice Freeman-Zachery.  (Sorry, Rice, I have no idea how to get the two dots above the 'e' in your first name........)

She had a giveaway on August 23rd - right up my ally no less!  The new Strathmore Visual Journals - I've been wanting to try these out.  Rice was unhappy with her results and decided to get another opinion.  Twenty-three journaling artists put names in the hat.  The drawing was today.....  

Stayed tuned for my adventures using these journals.  Testing one, two, three.....  I love trying new art supplies :)

Beautyberry Time

The golf course in my neighborhood was closed for maintenance the other day.  This means the dogs and my mid-morning walk could include the cart path where the American Beautyberry bushes line the side.  I took a small clipping from a bush so could make a watercolor sketch in the studio.  Too hot and way tooooo many mosquitoes for this girl to even think about parking herself down to sketch.

The fruit of the Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana L., is consumed by more that 40 species of songbirds!  White-tailed deer will also eat the leaves when their preferred foods are scarce.  No sign of deer munching on these bushes.  My favorite book, Forest Plants of the Southeast and Their Wildlife Uses, also notes that Bobwhite, Raccoon, Virginia Opossum and Nine-banded Armadillo also consume the fruit.

I found another new-to-me shrub/tree to sketch too.  My pockets were bulging with clippings :) Still working on that sketch :)  Till next time....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Full Sturgeon Moon

Full Sturgeon Moon
Originally uploaded by PJBee
Lots of names for this full moon! My own is Moon of Many Bugs! This is a real quick wc sketch - perhaps 10 minutes. Between the wee bugs attracted to the book light and the mosquitoes that were licking the bug spray then biting....... I finished up the written word today in the comfort of my studio :)

I had no idea what a Sturgeon looked like - wow!  They can get huge!  Very prehistoric looking, too!

The August moon was dubbed 'Sturgeon' by the Algonquian Indians, as they found these fish most readily caught during this time of year.  Some tribes also called it Full Red Moon because it looks reddish through the sultry haze.  It's surely been sultry but our moon was more yellow than red.

The English name: Grain Moon is related to harvest and the Green Corn Moon is referenced in the moon names of the Eastern Woodland and Southeast Native American Tribes for the ripening of corn crops.

There was just enough daylight left to distinguish the marsh from the trees.  The cloud cover didn't offer any moonlight!  We drove the golf cart to the 9th tee box for this view over the marsh toward the 18th.  I love the view from here and am looking forward to capturing this scene in the fall when the marsh turns a lovely orange gold.

When we returned home, the moon broke through the clouds.  Rob was able to capture this image.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dog Daze of August

In keeping with the hot weather here in the South Carolina low country I thought I'd literally bring you dogs days.

Here are some sketches of our hounds done with General's Sketch & Wash pencil.  Please pardon the scans.  These sketches are from 2005 when we were still living in NY.  The paper is very wavy and I found if I tried to get the shadows out in photoshop, that I lost a lot of the details.

I made these sketches of Grizz and Dudley  as they lounged on the pontoon boat.

 Here are the little sweeties in the flesh.  They invented the word 'spoiled.'

It's all about comfort, heat, sunshine, food, treats and lots of walks......

And, let's not forget about toys!