Saturday, August 27, 2011

Red Sky at Night Lesson For Me

It seems Nature wanted to let me know that there are many meanings to the old folklore saying of "Red sky at night, sailor's delight." This was our western sky the eve before Hurricane Irene's arrival. All I could think was.... so much for the red sky at night theory!

While I would not have wanted to be out on the water yesterday with the severity of riptides and ocean swell, the storm we experienced from Irene's far-reaching bands was relatively mild. At least in my patch of the low country!

This is my poster boy, Dudley. His cuteness saved his life during puppyhood. Now he's my very good, very spoiled boy, and I'm a well trained human!

In preparation for Irene's arrival, I took all  the porch furniture cushions into the house, leaving just one dog bed for... his highness. He was okay with that as it frequently occurs for thunder storm prep.

Around 3 pm, Dudley became quite agitated. I saw him bouncing around out on the porch. He started twirling... a true sign he's upset. Then, he came into my studio and actually pawed at me, wanting to climb up and sit on my lap. I was perched high up on my drafting chair, in front of the computer, trying to get work done for Spring Island.

As you can see, Dudley is not a fluffy, ragdoll type of lap dog. He weighs 21 lbs., and has a bony little bottom!  When he sits on your lap, he has no concept of lying across your legs or curling up in a ball..... On no, he sits in the pictured position with his front paw nails digging into your legs.  The poor boy was shaking like a leaf and then.... Irene arrived. It's so amazing what animals know!

Prior to becoming blind, his sister, Grizz, always let us know it was going to rain. She'd find me and pace, eat/chew anything she wasn't supposed to, just to get my attention that it was time to go out for a walk NOW!  Her radar was about a half to an hour out from the time of rainfall. As I became a better trained human, she didn't get the opportunity to eat/chew so many off limit things :)

Back to Irene..
The rain was quite heavy at times, but I've experienced more winds during some of our severe thunderstorms. It would pour, then nothing. During one of the nothings I took the dogs out for a quick trip but.... we had to race back to the house very shortly after leaving it!  That outburst lasted about an hour and we haven't seen rain since.

Oh, but the sky around sunset...
Look at these cloud bands..... This is the view to the east, and below, the western sky.

click to enlarge all images
So, my lesson from Nature is to learn to read her signs and trust she knows what she's talking about :)  Overall, our day was a sailors delight given what it could have been.

My heart and prayers are with all of you who are caught in this huge storm. Stay safe, be wise and know you will make it out to the other side.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sparkleberry, May Day and A Journey of Discovery

Click image to enlarge
This page has been a long time in the making! Truly a perfect example that you don't have to finish a journal page in one sitting.

I started this page on May 1st and while I put the finishing touches on it a couple of days ago, my journey of discovery is still going strong.

On April 30th, I caught a quick glimpse of flowering trees tucked in along the tree line on the cart path of our neighborhood's golf course. It was almost dark and I decided it'd be best to make a clear ID the next day, which happened to be May Day!

Perfect for celebrating, the day was adorned with a Carolina blue sky, plenty of sunshine and the heat and humidity were trying to creep in but a soft breeze kept it comfortable, especially in the shade. The challenge was to time our trek to the fourth hole so we didn't interfere with golfers... Finally, in the early afternoon there was a lull in play. I had my camera and sketching supplies ready to go and couldn't get there fast enough!

We arrived to find a mass of Sparkleberry trees
glowing in filtered sunlight that streamed through the
upper canopy trees. It was glorious!  I'd never seen so many Sparkleberry trees grouped together. Some were shrub like, others dainty trees.

I didn't want to leave, but since the golf course was still being used, we had to move on. I knew of another Sparkleberry tree that I could sketch and off we went.

Here is the plein air sketch.

Spring is such a happy time, trees bud, flowers bloom and everyone/thing feels so alive. A line from Camelot kept running through my mind... 'The lusty month of May.'

I wanted to celebrate May Day and the Sparkleberry Tree together. Something was driving me to take my time in planning how I wanted to finish this spread.

Click to enlarge
A tissue paper overlay is a great way to experiment with the placement of other elements you may want to add to your page. It keeps the paper from being compromised from too much erasing.
Click to enlarge

I started research on May Day and here's where my journey of discovery began.

The traditions of dancing around the Maypole and the making of May Baskets are familiar to me, but when digging deeper in my research, I found out that May Day is a Cross-Quarter Day.

Cross-Quarter Day?

Ancient mankind was very attuned to solar, earth and lunar cycles. The Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes and Summer and Winter Solstices were major days for marking of length of daylight versus darkness, distance between the earth and sun and for celebrations to honor the four seasons.

Then, after a time, days that fell halfway between Equinoxes and Solstices were used to mark additional seasonal/agricultural changes. Enter... Cross-Quarter Days! Many religious holidays can trace their roots to these early agricultural origins! In fact, today, our yearly calendar notes three out of the four Cross-'Quarter' Days.  Are you ready? I've noted ancient names in parentheses.

Ground Hog Day (Candlemas/Imbolic), May Day (Beltane) and Halloween (Samhain/All Saints Day)! The only C-QD that, for the most part, gets ignored by modern man is August 1st (Lammas/Lughnasa). There are some regions that celebrate this time of harvest but mostly we, in the 21st century, haven't a clue it exists.

I also want to note that February 2nd, May 1st, August 1st and October 31st are rather generic versions of the exact timing of a Cross-Quarter Day. Some of the information I pulled up on the internet got quite involved. One source spoke of C-Q days as 'movable feasts,' another referred to them as a 'window of time' and yet another related these special days to the phases of the moon. I can go on and on but I really must finish this post!

Somewhere in my research I learned that May Day was associated with honoring trees. This made me smile as I wanted to celebrate the Sparkleberry!

Wow, all this information and I have a journal spread that measures 7.5 x 11 inches! I really needed time to think this all through.  Then, that evening, it was announced that Osama bin Ladin was dead. Mercy, that horrible feeling from 9-11 came rolling through me. I saw Americans celebrating his demise while I could feel only sorrow for our fallen and our country. Too little, too late, now what lies ahead?  A few days later I heard that both Hitler and bin Ladin share May Day as the time their deaths were announced to the world. Too weird for me.

On a happier note, in July, a poem by E. E. Cummings that perfectly describes my feelings as I sketched the Sparkleberry, found it's way to me by chance. Ah, all my journal page pieces are in place... I can finish my page.

Patience. A wonderful thing!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Workshop

I just can't contain myself and must share the fun :)

Being offered this Fall at 
Coastal Art Supply in Beaufort, SC

Painting NightScapes Plein Air - The Hunter's Moon
November 8 − 10, 2011
Tues: 1 − 4 pm
Wed and Thurs 4:30 − 7:30 pm
For the workshop description, please click here

Monday, August 15, 2011

Waning Sturgeon Moon

How to start your day? I highly recommend plein air painting in the cool air of the morning with the sun's warm glow touching the landscape before you.

I had written off recording the Full Moon this month. Thunderstorms popped up on the eve and day of this August Moon.

But, at 6:45 this morning as I was waving goodbye to my love from the front porch, he said "Look, the Moon is still up!"  Thank you. Sweetie :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Day at the Beach and Whitelines Paper

Being at the beach on Hilton Head Island in August can make you feel like a sardine packed in oil, in a very small can. The word 'crowded' just doesn't fit the bill.

Rob and I found this out back in 2007, our first full year back in the low country since the mid '80s. We decided to celebrate his early August birthday at the beach. We've enjoyed Hilton Head beaches a lot over the the last 25 years... but our vacations usually fell between September and May.

Just for the heck of it we tried a summer visit again in 2009. What were we thinking??

Ahhh, but yesterday we were a lot smarter with our planning. Instead of a mid-week beach visit, we chose Saturday.... the day of check out/check in for vacationers. While everyone else was stuck in traffic on Route 278, we and a decent amount of people were enjoying a beautiful day at the beach :)

On the technical side...
I made this journal entry in a new journal by WHITELINES. This is a Swedish company that makes a toned paper using white for lines. They also offer paper with grids (squared), isometric lined notepads and perspective lined notepads. There are many choices of binding: hard covered spiral, soft covered flexible and glued pads.

The paper has a nice feel. I estimate it to be about 24# in weight. I've been using Pentel energel and Signo uniball ballpoint pens on it and have experienced no smudging. The ink in these pens is water soluble. Micron pens remain waterproof on it's surface.

I used watercolor pencils on the page above with minimal water using a Niji waterbrush. The paper did buckle but that was no surprise. I think colored pencils would really work well on this surface, perhaps even pan pastels. When you turn the page over you can see a little bleed through, but not nearly as much as you do with Moleskine's regular journal paper.

WHITELINES claims that when pages are copied or scanned the white lines and toned background will disappear.
As you can see above, that was not the case when I scanned the page at my scanners normal settings. I had to lighten the overall exposure of the original scan, lost some subtle tones but the page on the right is a lot cleaner looking.

I do like how the ink really stands out on the paper. And the toned surface is easier on your eyes versus looking at dark lines on a white surface. I liked working on a paper with grids. My type lines remained square to the page :)

Overall, I like the paper. I will continue to use this particular hard covered spiral bound book for my research into moon lore... but that's fun info for future posts :)