Monday, November 24, 2014

A Mini Urban Sketching Workshop with James Richards

Urban sketching for this nature girl?  Oh yes :)  One of my goals is to add people into my sketches and I've been practicing for over a year now. 

When Kip Bradly at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, GA announced Jim was coming to town to give a three hour workshop, I jumped at the chance to study with him.
Jim has a great way of explaining how to sketch people.  His new book  Freehand Drawing and Discovery: Urban Sketching and Concept Drawing for Designers sounds a bit complex, but after working with Jim for for just 3 hours,  I believe his easy and concise manner of reducing a complex subject into easy to understand pieces will be present in this book.

A different view on each page from Johnson Square, Savannah, GA

 Here is Jim giving a critique of my journal page done at City Square.

It was great to meet fellow sketchers that I know from online art groups!  I love the online art world :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

October Beach Day 2

It's a funny thing about going to the beach.  Once you start you can't stop :)

We were lucky to be there two Saturday's in a row. 

The top sketch was painted just after we arrived. A little later on, I photographed Grizz enjoying her walk along the water's edge.  Once we were seated back under the beach umbrella, I used the photo on my phone for  reference.  There's a challenge... try to see an image on a phone with the bright sun at the beach!

Watercolors, Stillman and Birn Alpha journal, Micron pen.

Monday, November 10, 2014

October Beach Day 1

Plein air watercolor sketch in a Stillman & Birn Beta Journal, watercolors, micron pen.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Trillium Garden Project

I'm delighted to be working on a project as part of my job on Spring Island.  There is a lovely piece of property that is amazingly flush with trillium, atamasco lily, red buckeye, bloodroot, mayapple and indian pink.  The project involves me making illustrations of the plants for outdoor signage and a tri-fold brochure. 

Needless to say, my spare time is nil, so over the next few weeks, I'll be posting mostly images and very little copy. 

This post offers a peak at some of the major illustrations and their beginnings.  The mayapple started with a toads viewpoint.  I painted this plein air sitting among atamasco lilies and mayapples.... perfect day!

I started the spotted trillium plein air, but time was cut short.  The final piece was painted in the studio from photographs taken that day.  Same with the red buckeye.

Stayed tuned for more....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Journaling to Heal

We had to say goodbye to our Dudley today.  Sad times, but now he has no more earthly troubles and I know he's running and playing with friends long since passed.

Art always soothes my soul.  The night sketch was created Sunday.  I knew our days together were numbered and I so wanted to document our wee-hour pee trip walks.  Despite the lack of sleep these trips caused, like everything with our Dudley, there was always a gift attached.  In this case some amazing night skies.  Maybe in the days to come when I get up in the middle of the night for my own trip, I'll muster up the energy to take a walk outside in honor of my sweet boy, Dudley.

I completed the rest of this page today, after saying goodbye to our boy.  Taking loving care with it, just as I did with him, helped to bring a peace to me.

We love you, Dudley.  You'll always, always be in our hearts.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Journaling a Road Trip

Don't you just love the words..... Road Trip?  'My love' drove the entire way so I could document our day :)

It was a tad difficult trying to letter as we drove along.....  I finished the page as we pulled in the driveway!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Botany by Golf Cart

Botany by Golf Cart???  Indeed!  On Spring Island is a Jack Nicholas designed golf course called Old Tabby Links.  A couple of years ago it received a face lift, so to speak.  Jack was in charge of renovations.  The course was closed for a whole season.  Part of the plans included the use of native plants to dress the course. Our landscape ecologist worked hand in hand with the golf course superintendent to make this happen.

Here is a page I sketched while on a brief tour (via a golf cart) of the golf course.

Stayed tuned for more Botany by Golf Cart..... we have a staff outing for a longer tour coming up the last week in August.  I love staff play days :)

Friday, May 30, 2014

More Sketching from Memory

A couple of evenings ago, we had a stellar evening.  Our favorite place to take the dogs to walk is down on hole number 17 of our neighborhood golf course.  Yes, this is the view from the spot where I'd pitch my tent and grow old.

The late day light was stunning with the sun warming up last year's very dead spartina.  New grow is making great progress, but still, when the tide is at its highest point, just the old spartina rises above the water.

I have so many shots of this spot with many variances in lighting.  I'm saving them up for painting references.  But wait!  I don't have to worry about getting enough time to break out the canvas..... I can start the process on my iPad! 

Yes, this image is created on my iPad using the Paper by 53 app. Done in one hour while watching television.  I'm so liking this app!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Enjoying the Shade of Cypress Trees

Ahhhhh, nothing finer than to be outside in the shade with warmer temps and a light breeze.

I had the opportunity to do this on Saturday. The shade was courtesy of a couple of cypress trees with  knees galore. The far shore view of a small pond enticed me with the colors of new and old vegetation.  This is one of three ponds where Canada Geese breed and raise their young.  The geese were wary and stayed around the farthest pond, honking for the first half hour, then settled down.

I was sitting in our golf cart, my supplies spread out on the seat beside me. I used a combination of traditional brushes and waterbrushes.  All but the lettering was done on site.

Dragon flies and water-striders were everywhere. The call of red-winged blackbirds filled the air.
This is my first plein air sketch on the private plantation I wrote about in March.   The owners were out looking for turkey hens with their chicks.  They are very concerned for the turkeys, as we're in a dry spell and the insects that the chicks need to survive are not hatching without the rain.  I saw a total of 3 hens and 5 chicks.  There has already been mortality among the chicks......  Water is so very precious in all its forms.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

iPad/Paper 53 and Watercolor Workshop continued

Again, we worked from a photograph, using the iPad / Paper 53 app, to learn how to feather colors into each other like when creating a wash in watercolor.

Oooooo, I'm really liking the new skills I'm learning using the Paper 53 :)

Step two.... create a painting from the sketch.  This exercise was on the third day of the workshop.  I didn't finish, and on day four, we started a new project.

Although I will finish this piece, I'm not real thrilled about it.  I've muddied the marsh grass near the horizon and that's all I can see.  However, there are advantages to having already written this piece off.  When I proceed to work on the pluff mud and foreground marsh grasses, I can do so with abandon.  The pressure is off - this is now a large single page of my journal.  A place to learn and grow.  Stay tuned for the result  :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

New Ideas, New Work.... Great Workshop with David Rankin!

One of my artistic goals this year is to further my inspiration and learn new painting processes and techniques. I'm off to a great start!

David taught us how our iPads and the Paper by 53 app are invaluable tools to have in our artist's quiver.

In our first exercise we worked from a photograph of a marsh scene that was shot with afternoon light. The sun rises over the marsh past these trees. Our mission was to create a sketch of the scene on our iPad, but to change the lighting by adding the sun and shadows to make it an early morning scene.

In the next step, we used this rough sketch as our inspiration to create a watercolor.
We worked on rough watercolor paper using a one-inch flat brush - both totally new for me.  I'm a hot press paper girl.  I'm liking rough paper, not to mention the Steven Quiller one-inch brush!

David took us step by step.  He showed us how to paint the sky, cutting around the sun.... off we went, back to our work stations to paint.  Then he demoed the marsh and trees....  I love watching instructors paint and find I learn best with this method.

I'm very pleased with the end result! Working on rough paper with a flat brush offers the opportunity to paint quickly by using specific brush strokes to create different textural effects.

Stay tuned..... more to follow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Workshop Wednesday

I'm taking a workshop with David Rankin. We are sketching on iPads using the Paper 53 app, then using this image to create a traditional watercolor painting. 
Yee ha!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stewardia malecodendron

My coworker has this southern native tree/shrub growing on his property and brought a cutting to work for me.  It sat on my desk several days before I had the opportunity to make a sketch.  So long so that it was now or never, as the blossoms were starting to fade.  I decided to use a Pentel brush pen for the line work.  I love the calligraphic marks this tool makes. I added watercolor to the finished line work.

I love this addition to my Stillman & Birn journal that I've dubbed 'my book of trees'.

Did you know:
• Stewardia or Silky Camelia is a small understory tree/shrub mostly found growing along the coastal plain from Virginia down to Florida and over to Louisiana and even into east Texas.
• It's an uncommon tree but has a large range
• Favorite growing conditions include rich wooded bluffs, ravine slopes and creek banks

For more information about the Stewardia, please click here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Turtle Tuesday - Eastern Box

I arrived at the office this morning to find this sweet little Box Turtle in a dishpan on the conference table.  My co-worker wasn't in the office at the time, but he was on campus.  He must be the reason this little one is visiting.

Now far be it from me to ignore the opportunity to sketch a turtle on a Tuesday!  I chose to sketch it using the Paper 53 app, as next week David Rankin will be on the island conducting a workshop in which we will use the iPad/Paper 53 app in the morning and then create a watercolor from our sketch in the afternoon.  Can't wait!

Did you know:
• There are two species in the United States; Eastern & Western (Terrapene ornata)
• A key characteristic of box turtles is their hinged plastron (bottom of the shell) that can be shut completely to exclude predators.
• The Eastern Box Turtle is the only land turtle found in the state of North Carolina and is the 'state' turtle

For more information on this turtle, please click the link on 'did you know' above.

Atamasco lily

I keep a journal at work.  Sadly, it doesn't get a lot of use. I ran across it the other day and found that I'd not posted this quick sketch made of the atamasco lily. 

I remember sketching the lilies in the field and then adding color and lettering back at the office.

Sepia Micron pen and watercolor pencils in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon journal.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Field Sketch Friday - Mayapple

At long last, spring weather has arrived!

Last Friday, I made my way to a special area on Spring Island called the Trillium Garden.  It's an amazing piece of property where spotted trillium, atamasco lilies, bloodroot and mayapples, Podophyllum peltatum, naturally decorate the landscape. This year, as part of my job, I will be illustrating the plants found here and creating a map of the area.  My illustrations will be used to create outdoor signage and a brochure about the area.

I must say my field sketch looks more botanical than sketchy.  It took 10 minutes for the pencil sketch and I was finished with the watercolor portion in 35 minutes.  I'm not a fast painter by any means.  I paint a bit, wait for that to dry, look off into the wilds and relish in the moment, and then pick up the brush again.  I was in the zone for sure.  How could you not be sitting amongst the atamasco lillies with the soft breeze filling the air with their lily scent?? 

This is a squirrel's eyes view of a mayapple.  Yup, I was on the ground for this one.  Not an easy thing in the lowcountry given the chiggers and ticks!  I have an old vinyl table cloth that I carry with me to lay on the ground.  I spray it with Off.  My pants are tucked into my socks and my shirt into my pants.  I spray Off around the tops of my socks and waist band.  It's called war......

This piece is not finished yet.  I want to add a 'crow's eye view of the mayapple to the page.
You'd never know that this plant even had a flower when standing above it.  They have 2 wonderfully shaped, large leaves. I took photos so I may finish this indoors, as I brushed one tick off of my arm (they fall from the trees) while painting this. I then found another under my shirt when I returned to the office! 

I love sketching and painting plein air - even with the challenge of bugs.  I don't always have the time to complete a piece, but if I can at least sketch it live, and then add color from a reference photo, I still feel the magic of the plein air moment as I work within my original pencil marks.

Did you know:
• Native Americans had many uses for the mayapple.  However, only the very ripe fruit is safe to eat.  All other parts of the plant are poisonous. The ripe, egg shaped fruit will be yellow and kind of wrinkly.
• Other 'local' names for the mayapple include: wild lemon, hog apple, Indian apple, duck’s foot, umbrella leaf, and wild mandrake though it is not related to the old world mandrake, Mandragora officinarum.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Azaleas

I so love when weather and time cooperate so Rob and I can go off to do what we love most.... he, golf.  I know..... hard to guess my passion isn't it :)  On the other side of the trees is the golf practice range where Rob is happily wearing himself out.

Here are images showing the process.  This spread is in my 5x7 Stillman & Birn, Zeta Series journal that I call 'My Book of Trees'.

I added a few darks and descriptive copy once I returned home.

We are thick into pollen season.  For you in the North... hang tight.  Spring weather will arrive!

Monday, March 31, 2014


Sunday, I found a Dogwood to sketch.  What caught my eye as I stood beneath the tree was how the sunlit blossoms looked against the Carolina blue sky.  I love how delicate and wispy the branches are that reach up for the sky.  The white flowers are not really flowers, but are called 'bracts' that come out of the tiny cluster of yellow flowers. The bracts are four large petals-like objects.  Today they were dancing around in the 20-30 mph wind gusts.  Luckily, I was in a somewhat sheltered spot. 

I stood while sketching the branch with a Pentel Brush Pen, then sat below the tree to add color to the sky and leaves.  I stood once again to see the subtle shading on the flowers.  This page is part of my Journal of Trees - a Zeta Series Stillman and Birn journal.  Love this paper!

Did you know:
• The Flowering Dogwood is an understory tree which means it grows beneath taller trees.
• The fruit of the dogwood is called a 'drupe' - a fleshy fruit with a single seed.  They are shiny red and can grow up to a half inch long.
• Many birds and animals eat the fruit.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Memory Sketching - Canada Geese

Saturday, Rob and I had the special treat of visiting a local private plantation.

The owners are great stewards of the land and take special pride in and care of the wild animals and birds that reside there.

We were treated to a tour of the plantation via a gas powered four-seat cart.  Owner Kathleen is in her golden years and a spitfire.  She hopped right in behind the wheel and off we went.  It was a gray afternoon, the temperature finally in the high 60's, but with a threat of showers.  It started to sprinkle shortly after we started, but the good Lord knew I needed to see the land and views I hope to paint in the future.  We pressed on and the rain drops subsided :)

Oh my, I am smitten with the land, marsh and wildlife we saw. The above sketch was burned into my memory and I sketched it the following day.  They have a flock of Canada Geese that return each spring (the geese must winter in Florida!), breed and raise their young.  We saw one gosling and two other nests being incubated.  When we came upon the nest above we had a good chuckle. The goose was trying it's hardest to be invisible.

I am truly blessed to have a standing invitation to return and plein air sketch and paint on this plantation.  Stay tuned for more lowcountry sights!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Field Sketching Friday

Friday, my co-worker/naturalist, Kristen Marshall Mattson and I led a nature journaling workshop for members of Spring Island.  What a great way to start the day!   Walking through the woods, examining plants, sketching our finds, adding details, learning new things both art and nature related.  YUM! None of us wanted it to end :)

Did you know.....
White flowers are pollinated by moths? (the flowers show up better at night)
The purple flowers of wild ginger is pollinated by beetles?
That a hollow tree can still live and thrive as long as the outer 'living shell' is not compromised?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Couldn't Resist

It was a lovely day in the neighborhood.  Spring bursting everywhere. Our golf course was filled with players.

I took a bike ride, it's basket filled with journaling supplies.  What would I come upon that I would just have to paint?

Along the way I found a house under construction.  I love walking through new construction.  This one drew me in as the view from the back looks over the 17th tee box and the marsh beyond. 

I toured the house. The view from what seems to be the sun room...... well, let's just say it was speaking way to loudly for me to ignore :)
It was hard to choose between this view and the one from the second floor that looks out over the same scene.  Hmmmm.  Will I trespass again?   Perhaps the owner will be more understanding if I gift them a sketch :)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Magnolia and Pines

A week ago we treated ourselves to a visit to Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island, SC.  Sea Pines is the oldest plantation on the island and the dream child of Charles Fraser.  There are three public golf courses and two private.  Of the three public courses, the most famed is Harbour Town Golf Links where the PGA's RBC Heritage Golf Tournament is played in April. 

The club house for the two adjoining public courses; The Marsh Course at Sea Pines and Heron Point, is in the process of rebuilding. They recently reopened the practice facility so we thought it would be a great Sunday excursion to check it out.  Rob brought his clubs - I, my trusty rolling art studio.... my bike; "Blue". The bike trails in Sea Pines are wonderful, and this at this time of year, uncrowded.

I had no painting destination in mind.  I just headed off on the trail that runs between the courses to gather my inspiration. That's when I came upon this lovely, eye-level magnolia branch right beside the bike path.  I viewed the possibilities, then rode on.  It called me back.

My Stillman and Birn Alpha Journal propped nicely on the bike's basket.  I clipped my Expeditionary Art Pocket Palette  to the journal and started painting - no sketching with pencil first, I just wanted to feel and capture the end of the limb with paint. I laid in shapes lightly with paint.
And, this is where Mother Nature decided to rain on our parade.  It started to sprinkle, I checked the radar on my phone and decided I'd better pack it in and took a reference photo.

Back to the practice range I went.  Of course the sprinkles let up.... so I laid in more color while Rob finished hitting golf balls on the range.  I also practiced fast sketching, trying to capture Rob's different positions.

Once home, I finished the third set of leaves.  Today, Saturday, I was able to add the formal title.

The colors in my palette are M.Graham waterolors that include warm and cool primaries plus sap green, nickel azo yellow and quin. rust.

Warm:  naphthol red, ultramarine blue and azo yellow.  Cool: quin. rose,  anthra. blue and hansa yellow

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Little Different Nature

Had the good fortune to take a portrait sketching workshop with Miriam Durkin this week.  

I've not worked with charcoal in over 30 years, nor have I spent time sketching portraits in the classical style during this time.  Miriam has a great way of teaching.  I'm pleased with my first efforts done Monday.

On Tuesday, I started working on a more challenging pose.  I called it quits at lunch - think I used all my energy and enthusiasm up on the first portrait.  Bring on the paint.  Tired of charcoal.

This is all part of my challenge to sketch more people in 2014.