Sunday, December 29, 2013


Until a few weeks ago, the term EcoTherapy hadn't crossed my path.  However the practice of EcoTherapy has been with me for a long, long time.  It's the main reason I promote Nature Journaling!  Get out into Nature as much as you can and sketch, make notes, paint and observe the wonder of Nature. You will bring a balance into your life that will refresh and renew your spirit.

For me, the next best thing to being out in the field is watching birds at the feeders. I do urge you to try this pleasure.  I have trouble leaving for work some mornings as I get so wrapped up in watching the birds!  Oh, to have a full day of this pleasure :)

I keep a journal just for my birdwatching.  It sits on the kitchen table or counter along with binoculars, Sibley bird guide, mini palette, waterbrush, pencil, pen and micron pen.  Pictured here is my new mini palette that is the size of a business card case.  I purchased it from Maria Coryell-Martin of  Expeditionary Art.  I'm using limited palette colors by M. Graham that include: Hansa Yellow, Azo Yellow, Quin. Rose, Naphthol Red, Anthraquinone Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Quin. Rust, Nickel Azo Yellow and Sap Green.  The journal is a Stillman and Birn, Gamma (100# ivory paper) - just delicious to work in!

How do you get your EcoTherapy?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Celebrating the Winter Solstice

Frost was on the pumpkin mid-week. Today's high 75! Silly wrabbit weather :)

Plein air practice of clouds and trees with Paper 53 app on iPad.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wishes For You

Wishing you holidays filled with joy, family, friends, love
and festivities....

May the New Year bring you
and prosperity

Peace be with you

This is the upper half of our Christmas tree, recreated on my iPad using the Paper 53 app.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Quick Watercolor Sketch

I have a great office at work.  It's actually a converted two bedroom cottage.  There is a small kitchen and an all purpose dining living area that's now used for meetings.  The bedrooms are offices. My desk is in one and our Landscape Ecologist (LE) has the other.  The cottage is off and away from the flurry of the Nature Center that houses the rest of our staff.

Another bonus for me is Karl's (LE) love of vegetation, be it grasses, trees, shrubs or flowers.  He's a native plant aficionado and always shares information about what's in bloom on the island where we work.

Now that the members are back and we are in high season, work days are quite busy.  The other day Karl came in with some beautifully colored leaves.  "I decided to bring some fall color into our space since we can't get out to enjoy it" says he.

Big trouble..... I've deadlines but so need to paint this lovely surprise! I'm happy to say I accomplished both :)  While my lunch was heating up on the stove, I sketched with my waterbrush and tiny travel palette that contains six pigments: aliz. crimson, aureoline yellow, quin gold, ultramarine blue, peacock blue and opera in my Stillman & Birn Epsilon journal.  Took a break to eat then back to paint. Total page time: 15 minutes.  So great to start the afternoon fresh from an art and lunch break :) 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Autumn Smiles

Every Autumn when Bradford Pear tree leaves start to turn, it's automatic smile time for me.  They have such great designs!

This still-life was painted one year ago today. How time doth flee!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bird Feeder Joys and Wild Turkeys

I'm so excited!  Our feeders are once again in place and the birds have found them. We are coming up on our second winter in this house.  I didn't want one more to go by without the joy of watching birds right outside of our window.

I've designated a Stillman and Birn Gamma Series Journal to record feeder notes and sketches.  I'm in heaven :)  Every spare moment I have on the weekends is spent at the kitchen table, looking out the window observing bird antics and sketching.  Sketching supplies include a pencil, Micron pen, waterbrush, watercolor pencils, a Sibley bird guide and binoculars. 
To read my notes, please click image to enlarge - this will work for all of them.
 So much nature happening at my window.  All I have to do is sit back and watch :)
In early October, Rocky Raccoon discovered the feeders.  He finally figured out how to shimmy up the pole and raid the feeders.  Now, every evening I bring them in.  In the morning the birds hover at the window, looking into the kitchen.  I'm in big trouble.  They are hungry and it's not even winter yet!  Cha-ching, cha-ching!

Our neighborhood has a flock of turkeys.  Actually, the flock consists of a hen and 17 poults.  They visited the back yard off and on over the summer.  The poults are as big as the hen now and they, too, have discovered the feeders. They can certainly make a mess out of the mulch. 

They are brazen..... coming right up to the sliding door.
Our Dudley is not quite sure about the whole thing :)

Today, I was able to sketch while standing right at the window.  This requires patience as the birds are always moving.  Up to this point in my life I haven't had many dealings with wild turkeys, especially this close.  As I sketched, I noticed that they have a protrusion on their head between the eyes.  What's that called?  What is loose skin on their neck called?  Why do some have more feathers (very short but there) on their heads and necks?  I so love questions raised by looking close at a subject when sketching.  Off I went to my collection of bird books.  Please click on my journal pages to get the answers :)

I urge you to get your sketch books out and sit close to a feeder.  You'll come away quite refreshed and peaceful.  Great food for the soul.  And, remember.... this is your journal.  This is where you practice observation and trying to recreate what you see.  Accurate sketches may not happen right away, but over time you will see your progress.  One of my goals is to practice the camera technique.  That's when you view a bird pose, close your eyes and don't open them up until you turn your head to face your sketch book.  Then sketch what you saw from memory.  I'm having a bit of trouble with this.  Most of my trouble comes from not trusting myself.  The tufted titmouse on the first image is sketched using this technique.  'Oh well!'  Next time :)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lovebugs Everywhere!

I love keeping track of Nature's seasonal changes in my journal. 

Just last week, the Spartina started to take on raw sienna coloring in places.  I love the autumn colors of the marsh grass, but am not quite ready for the neon green to go!  It saddened me.

Another sign of seasonal change is the flurry of Lovebugs that emerge in the fall and spring. They are harmless, but smashed Lovebugs on your car can really do a number on the paint finish, not to mention they can clog the grill of your car and cause the engine to overheat!

What signs of change are you seeing in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

2013 HHI Celebrity Golf Tournament

golf event illustration, golf event illustrator, celebtity golf tournament
Back in 1979 an annual Labor Day celebrity charity golf event was established on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It matched amateur golfers with celebrities and best of all, the monies raised helps lowcountry children's charities! 33 years and 3.9 million donated dollars later... the tournament lives on!

Rob and I have had the opportunity to go to a few of these tournaments.  I saw singer, song writer Paul Williams one year, and thanked him for all he's done over his career.  He was walking by when I let this roll out.  I'll always remember him stopping short and turning around to thank me for my words :)

I arrived at Wexford Golf Club around noon last Saturday.  I'd never seen this private course and didn't quite know the best place to be.  The folks in the Pro Shop were quite helpful and one of them even chauffeured me out in a golf cart to 18th green/#10 tee area :)   Guess I must have sounded official when I said I was there to illustrate the tournament, and could they help me with the best location :)

I found some shade on the back tee box that separated me enough from the designated player's tees. I began to sketch and paint the scene.  Group upon group teed off.  Before I knew it, the tournament was over.   Celebrities were right in front of me and I didn't see a one!  Upon leaving, I did glimpse Dennis Haysbert walking down the club house stairs.  Too far away to speak with him, though.

It's great to see mankind reaching out to help one another.  There are now 20 children's charities that receive funds from the HHI Celebrity Golf Tournament! A hearty thank you to the all the folks that make this happen!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Beaching It

We don't get to the beach often, but when we do.... we have fun :)

Love the way the watercolors stay so vibrant on the Stillman & Birn Alpha paper.  One day I'll be able to photograph the pages in this journal so they look the same as they do in person...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wood Storks and Vultures

Last Sunday morning's weather was perfect!!! At 9 a.m. it was 72 degrees with no humidity..... in SC.... in August!!! Really? Yes, indeed!

Rob, the dogs and I piled into the golf cart and made our way down to the 17th hole of the golf course to enjoy a walk along the cart path before golfers invaded.

It was glorious.  There was a good breeze, and in the air, Vultures and a couple of Wood Storks were riding the thermals.  As we neared the green, all the birds landed in a dead, Spanish Moss draped tree. Luckily Rob had his camera and was able to capture the moment.  Once home, I painted the scene in my Stillman & Birn Alpha journal.

This little pond and tree area that sits between the 17th and 18th holes at The Crescent Golf Club course is a favorite hangout for Wood Storks, Vultures, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Osprey, Night Herons and Ibis. The salt marsh flanks the right side of the golf course along these two holes.  This is where I could pitch my tent and stay forever :)  What a great way to start the day!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August Blue Moon

Created with Paper 53 app on my iPad, plein air between 7:45 and 8:15 pm last evening.

Lucked out with having the moon appear between two thunderheads, which eventually swallowed up the moon.

Thanks, to friends  Lee Kline and Ann Thompson Nemcosky for letting me know that this was a Blue Moon of the 'seasonal kind'....  Here is my amended page:

Monday, August 12, 2013

95th PGA Championship Sketches

Rob and I were fortunate to have tickets to Thursday's and Saturday's rounds of the tournament. The weather was Western NY summertime perfect.

Thursday, we parked ourselves under a tree with a good view of the 6th green and the 7th tee. Met some nice folks enjoying the day.  Couldn't believe the crowds.... a sea of humanity,  especially when Tiger arrived in our area. 

After Phil came through, we made our way to the 16th tee box so we could stay ahead of his crowd and then follow him up to 18.  I was determined to get his autograph :)  .... Well, I got Rory's, Justin Rose's and Woody Austin's, but the rain came and we left.  Luckily, Phil made the cut!

We so lucked out picking Thursday and Saturday as our days to attend.  Friday was filled with rain.

On Saturday we made our way to the 13th tee box.  Rob camped there while I went on a bit farther to a spot just down from the 4th tee. I saw this scene on Thursday and was eager to capture it in my journal.  It was mid-morning and the crowds weren't strong yet.

Once I finished this watercolor sketch, I went back to 13 and we stayed there until Phil came through.  Then again, made our way to the 16th tee box.  Once Phil showed up, I walked up to the clubhouse area.  I was determined to get Phil's John Hancock!

I'm ever so happy to say that I was successful :)

I have blotted out the actual  autographs with a Photoshop tool, as I'm unsure of the possible online ramifications.... better safe in this electronic world than sorry.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Turtle Tuesday - Florida Softshell

A new series is born!

While I can't promise turtle postings every week, Tuesday's will be Turtle Day for this blog :)

I saw my first Softshell a little over a year ago and was amazed at its size.  It had to be a female. This species' females can grow to 24 3/4 inches!!!

 A deliveryman spotted the turtle crossing the street and was making sure this amazing creature made it safely across. Of course I had to stop, too :)  He tried to pick it up and the turtle was having nothing to do with that.  It gathered its legs underneath and lunged into the air each time he tried to grab it... feisty one!

When trying to help a turtle, it's best to stand back and just direct traffic.  Turtles know where they are going and always have a purpose connected to their walk.  If you do pick one up, when you set it down, make sure you point it in its original direction.

Last week was Camp Spring Island at work.  For three days, the grandchildren of Spring Island members get immersed in a nature camp.  Tony Mills, our Education Director, brought in several species of turtles for one of the programs.  When I spotted the softshell, I knew I'd be staying late to sketch :)

She wasn't too bad of a model.  Every now and then she'd get curious and lift her head a bit. Equally as feisty as the one I encountered before.... Do not touch my shell!  Apparently, their neck is so long, they can reach around very easily and bite whoever is trying to pick them up from behind.....  now that gives me pause!

I'd like to credit a Peterson Field Guild by Roger Conant and Joseph T. Collins 
for the information included on my journal page.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Super Strawberry Moon

The weather forecast called for a thunderstorm at 8 pm but, at 7:45 the eastern sky was somewhat clear and I wasn't going to let the dark clouds building in west deter me.  There was a moonrise to paint!

I was also excited to try out my new plein air setup.
I've been wanting to paint larger pieces and on single sheets of watercolor paper.  I found this case at Staples.  It has a clip to hold paper on the outside and opens to hold more paper and whatever inside.
click to enlarge
I made an alteration to the cover by sticking down a clip that requires paper to have two holes punched into one side.  It's held in place with duct tape.  I tore down 2 full sheets of watercolor paper into 8.5 x 11 sheets.  I also cut a piece of acetate a bit larger than 8.5 x 11 so it would protect the paper.  White artist tape is securing the bottom of the acetate.

When I'm ready to paint, I undo the clips, lift off the acetate to get a single sheet, replace the acetate over the extra sheets, put the single sheet over the acetate and close the clip.  The right side of the container makes a great support for my palette, brushes, paper toweling and whatever else lands there.  It's very easy to hold in my lap :)

The moonrise was about the palest I've seen!  It was still quite light out and I could barely see the white moon.  Wow, white!  Our air must be very clean from all the storms we've had lately.  Usually the moon is a beautiful orange when rising. By the time I got the sky laid in, clouds half covered the moon.  It never reappeared while I sat there painting. The sky was so dull that the incoming tidal water was a dull brown green.  All the green in the foreground and up to the tree line is water!  Just a wee bit of marsh sand and black needle rush with other vegetation in the lower middle of this scene.  I felt deflated with such a pale moon and all the clouds.

Today, I'm happy with how the marsh and trees turned out.  What was your moonrise like?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Spring Tide, Super Moon and Tonic for My Soul

If the sky were completely cloudy and I had lost track of what day it was, I'd still know that either a new or full moon was about to happen.

Why?  The Spring Tide.  This is the name for the tide that occurs at the time of the full and new moon and is 20% higher than normal.  When researching a link for Spring Tide, I learned something new.  Because we are having a super moon this weekend, and today is the Summer Solstice, the tide is called Perigean Spring Tide.

 A sure sign of the Spring Tide where I live is water in this small inlet.  Normally the incoming tide never makes it into this area. 
I'm sure the Sable Palms don't appreciate the intrusion of salt water.

Last evening, we walked the dogs here, one of my favorite places in our neighborhood, the 17th hole of our golf course.

If I had my way, I'd pitch a tent right here and call it home. Walking the 17th is always tonic for my soul.
Have a happy and safe summer! Look up at night this weekend and catch the moon :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Capturing the Day

Rob had a tee time of 10:30 at Old South Golf Links.  He loves to arrive early and warmup at the driving range.

It was a beauty of a morning.  I brought my Stillman & Birn 8.5 x 11 journal and a few empty pages from my unbound journal.  While Rob warmed his golf game up, I did the same in the S&B journal.  I began a list of 'Birds of Note, tried to do a memory sketch of a Wood Stork flying over, captured a Live Oak that flanked the first tee and wrote general notes about the morning.

I decided to capture as many scenes around the course as I could and drew boxes to help me keep things simple.

Here's a shot of my setup.  The base is a piece of foam core. The clip that holds my paper is also securing the the fold in the foam core so it remains flat and sturdy.  I use the same type of clip to hold my palette to the foam core.

The front nine of this course is soooo pretty!  I'd love to have the opportunity to spend quality time on each of the holes and really do them justice.  As we made our way around the course, I honed the five sketches and mainly enjoyed the day and all the birds.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

More at the Rookery • Wood Storks, Anhinga and White Ibis

Back view of a Wood Stork tending eggs in its nest.
I treated myself and spent the good part of last Saturday at the rookery on Spring Island.  I arrived at 11 a.m. and didn't leave until 4 p.m.!

I toted my birding scope and camp stool to a wonderfully shady spot and set up my portable studio.

The scope is pointed at Wood Storks that are on the ground.   You can see the rookery area in the upper left of the image.  Those tiny white specs are storks.

click to enlarge

When I first arrived I made quick sketches of several different rookery birds in my 8.5 x 11 Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Journal.  The Anhinga was sketched using the 'snap shot' method and I used the blind contour technique for the White Ibis and the juvi Wood Stork.  It was quite warm and most of the birds either had their mouths open, or wings held high and wide to cool off.

click to enlarge

I noticed an adult Wood Stork near the top of the rookery tending eggs in its nest, its back to me. He/she would carefully nudge and rotate the eggs.  I started the above sketch using blind contour, then finished up with my favorite modified contour (you get to peek and adjust).  I so love having a birding scope.  Upon close study of this Stork, I noted the black of its wings had a wonderful dark green color mixed in with the black. I loaded the waterbrush with Holbein Royal Blue and laid it in the darkest areas of the wings, then added hookers green and burnt sienna to mix and mingle with the blue.  I love mixing colors directly on the Alpha paper.

In between sketching and painting I did a lot of observing.  I even attempted digi-scoping with my iPhone and am quite pleased with the results!  There is enough detail for me to use these photos to sketch from - please feel free to do the same!

click to enlarge

click to enlarge
The storks are so odd looking that they are cute! Their feathers look down like at this stage of life.  Love their white legs, too :)  Note the closeness of the nests. And, all the while the juvi's are callling... "Wha, Wha, Wha!"
A lot of the adults kept their wings up and open like this to shield their chicks and eggs from the sun. You can see a bit of this adult's wing in teh previous photo.

The male Anhinga's breeding plumage is stunning.  What really caught my eye were the wispy golden feathers that were on its head and neck.  Of course when I settled in to sketch this beauty, he felt the need to go hunting for his charges...  I wasn't able to get a proper look at his wing patterning or his feet, so I went from memory... don't look real close :)

The Anhinga and Great Egrets all had their mouths open and their cheeks were fluttering.  I learned later that the part of their head/cheek area is call a gular and what they were doing to keep cool is gular fluttering.  Love learning new things!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Spotted Eagle Ray Designs

This will be on the back of the shirt.
We are all preparing for Camp Spring Island at work.  I'm in charge of designing T shirts for the campers and volunteers.  This year we are celebrating the Spotted Eagle Ray.

I love the research process when I'm asked to drawn something totally unfamiliar.  The best and most inspirational find on Google was a set of amazing videos by ARKive.  Check them out here.

Each Spotted Eagle Ray sports unique spots.  This made me smile, as once I capture the outline shape of the ray, I made up my own spot design :)

Front left image
The front of the T shirt will have a small image on the upper left chest area.

Water bottle logo
This year, we are also going to have water bottles for the campers.  I love that I get to create art at work!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Full Flower Moon... a Supermoon

Memory sketches
Last Friday evening while walking the dogs along the cart path on hole 17, the rising moon stole my heart. The high spring tide captured the reflection of this supermoon.  When we returned home, I recreated the scene on my iPad using the Paper 53 app.  I created the image on the right first, but didn't like the sky so proceeded to sketch another on the left.  The calendar called for the moon to be full the next day. To my eye it was looking full already. What I didn't know at that time was technically, the moon would be at it's fullest at 12:30 am.  Only four hours away.
Memory Sketch

The next morning, my internal alarm clock woke me at 5:30 am.  I got up and peeked out the window blinds to see this wonderful site.  I went back to bed with a smile on my face :)

That evening, the moon didn't rise over the trees until 9:15.  We were in the golf cart, and stopped on the cart bridge that leads to the 9th green.  I started this piece plein air but the bugs became too numerous to continue.

I enjoy working with the Paper 53 app. It's so easy to explore possibilities.  I'm still learning so much abut the different tools and mixing colors.  I love how I can make the moon as bright as I see it. Something that's not possible in watercolor.
Started Plein Air, finished at home.
Version II from memory, using a different treatment in the water