Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Friday....Painting Day at Cheraw

Yes, a day off to golf helped me decide on a subject, and I became a painting machine! Lake Cherokee stole my heart. A number of views were screaming to be painted but, since the temperature was climbing into the 90's and the humidity rising, a shady spot next to the lake's outlet won.

We arrived at the chosen spot, just below the 14th green, around 10:15. There was a wonderful breeze off the lake (well, really it's a pond) and the shade was divine.

I decided to do two studies of shoreline reflections, at the same time, using traditional watercolors. One on Kilimanjaro 140# cold press wc paper, the other on Arches 140# hot press. It was helpful to work this way, as while one was drying I'd work on the other. Sometimes, I can get a little itchy waiting for watercolors to dry. This was a great solution.

The paintings are on 5.5 x 7.5 sheets. After a bit of working on both, I put most of my energy into the Kilimanjaro CP paper study. The hot press just didn't have the same glow.

After our picnic lunch, Rob decided he'd had enough heat, so I drove him back to the cabin. Upon returning to the same location, the shade was greatly reduced and the reflections weren't nearly as captivating. But, the far shoreline of Lake Cherokee was glowing. I found enough shade, and even though the breeze had died down, I quickly became ensconced along a narrow piece of shaded shoreline.

There was a local golf tournament being played and I had lots of golf traffic coming by this otherwise peaceful setting. Only a few stopped to ask questions. This time I focused on one painting, as my subject matter demanded much more attention. It probably would have been faster to work larger but I often enjoy the challenge of working small. It took about 2.5 hours for painting and drying time between layers but, I'm one happy camper with the results :)

We journeyed out again after dinner. I was high from the day and exhausted by the heat. That's the excuse I'm using for this next sketch :) Yuck! An experiment that I'm embarrassed to show but, I like the subject and am happy with the perspective acheived. Using this particular toned paper with General's sketch and wash pencil and watercolor pencils just didn't work.

Before I forget again.... Everyday we've had the pleasure of Eastern Kingbirds, Tyrannus tyrannus. By far the most seen bird in our travels. This sketch is from our first evening at the park when we were checking out Lake Juniper.

Corinna, the park's Natural Resource manager, was to contact me about taking us down to the cypress swamp on Saturday. She has a boat with a small motor. You can kayak or canoe there but, it takes one hour each way. Not something we wanted to tackle in this heat! When she called, Corinna apologized for not being able to accommodate us but, did have an arial map of trails we could take a golf cart on, that would get us to Lake Juniper's headwaters and cypress swamp. I double check about golf cart worthiness :) Woo Hoo! Cypress Swamp here we come....... tomorrow!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thursday at Cheraw.....Golf Day

The prior three days at Cheraw State Park have been filled with explorations, photographing this beautiful area, and making a few sketches and journal entries. My mind was whirling. Where do I want to paint? Many area's were pulling at me, along with the pressure of only a few days left.

Let's clear our heads! Time for a game of golf on the park's lovely course. Off to the club house we went to pay for our round and get some practice balls for the range. Once again, the red carpet treatment. AIR's do not have to pay for golf. Thank you!!!!!
Here are a few images of the sights, the first being a Common Buckeye butterfly.

This was the warmest day so far. Luckily, for the first nine holes, we had overcast skies. But the back nine brought sunny skies along with some very long yardage on the par fours from the women's tee's - at least for my game. I was more than ready to get back into the artist saddle and paint :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday at Cheraw

Up and out by 6:30 a.m. I wanted to catch early morning light on Lake Juniper. It really is a lovely time of day.

Returned to the cabin for breakfast with my love, then we picked up the golf cart. Because it's the golf course's slow time, we were given full run :) I love golf course scenery.

The park's literature said beavers lived along the right side of the 15th fairway so we checked it out.
We walked in the woods off the right side and came upon a tree with colorful fungus and fungus beetles!

Then, Beaver sign!

We walked back to the fairway and down closer to the green. Off to the right was another small pond with a Cypress stand

Upon closer inspection, we found Beaver houses!

I could resist capturing #15 green on paper. This is watercolor pencils in my Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketch Book. All in all a great morning. Ooooo, and yes, a picnic lunch next to the lake :)

In the afternoon, Rob took a vacation nap and I did more exploring. I love the growth stages of Longleaf Pines. The grass stage reminds me of cousin It on the Adams family :)

And, how about these beauties! Yellow Trumpet Pitcher-plants, Sarracenia flava L. These are begging to be painted!

This journal page contains Wednesday and Thursday sketches. At the very top are a family of Wood Ducks I observed Thursday evening around 7 pm. 10 ducklings! Dad was preening while the kids lead Mom all the way across Lake Juniper. They were feisty little guys and cut a pretty wake across the calm lake.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tuesday Adventures at Cheraw

A substantial thunder storm saved us having to get up at the crack of dawn. Ranger Rick Smith advised me that just after dawn is a good time to view the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. I think, no, I know that's why I'm partial to raptors and wading birds. They keep my kind of hours :)

I had asked Rick if he thought we could take the golf cart on the nature trail to get to the nesting area. I really didn't want to tote my pack etc. very far. The words 'out of shape' apply....... A pensive look came over his face but then he said yes, that should be fine.

When the weather cleared we picked up the golf cart at the course and made our way to the nature trail.
We entered the trail and found it was indeed wide enough for the cart. That is, until we came upon a narrow wood plank bridge type structure that went over a not too deep depression. Hmmmmm. I really didn't want to turn back. Rob got out and walked ahead of the cart guiding me as I drove across the bridge. It wasn't real long. Perhaps 15 feet. It's just that the half the width of the golf cart tires hung off each side of the bridge! Very tricky as there was a bit of a bend to the bridge.

We made it over and off we went. Here are some images of the Longleaf Pines that these woodpeckers make nesting cavities in. They choose trees that are over 60 years old as there will be sufficient heartwood for a cavity free of sap. Plus, many mature trees are infected with red heart fungus that softens the heartwood - making it easier to excavate!
Trees marked with white bands have nesting cavities. Another neat tidbit is that the woodpeckers will scale the outer bark off the trees above and below the cavity entrance and chip many holes around the cavity. This creates a run of sap/resin around the hole and down the tree. The resin coats the tree and helps keep predators like Rat snakes from climbing the trees.

Didn't see one woodpecker! We did feel like midgets among the longleaf pines though :)

We headed back, wondering if we could navigate the 'bridge' again. This time Rob was driving, I got out to direct him.
Things were fine until about 3' from the end, then the right back tire slipped off the bridge. We tried swinging off the right front tire in hopes of a tilted escape but the ground was a tad too low............ Stuck and embarrassed!

We were rescued. The cart was fine. But, just to make us really laugh, the rescuers nudged a small tree with their cart when backing up and it fell on them! I couldn't resist the photo opp!

I finished off the afternoon back a Lake Juniper. This time I played with Neocolor II water-soluble wax pastels on Yupo paper.

Monday at Cheraw

We arrived at Cheraw State Park around 2 p.m. on the 15th. It took a little over 3 hours, mostly on Rt. 95, then at exit 164, we headed west on Rt 52.

Living in Beaufort County, we really get an unrealistic view of South Carolina. Now I understand why our county is last on the state's list for school and other funding. We traveled through some towns that have been hit very hard in this down economy. Quite sobering.

The long drive to the park office had me itching to be unpacked and out exploring. The staff at the park rolled out the red carpet. This is my first experience as an Artist-in-Residence. I hope to have more opportunities, but I will tell you, the bar has been set!

Rob and I settled into cabin #8. That's our trusty mode of transport, compliments of the state park's golf club. We could pick up a cart each morning as early as 6 a.m., and then needed to return it by 8 p.m. Never did make it there at 6 a.m. but got pretty close a couple of days :)

Our cabin was cute. On the right side was a cement pad with a picnic table and grill that was sheltered by a live oak. The cabin had a screened porch with 2 rockers, inside we found a decent sized living/dining area that included a queen-size Murphy bed, a very small kitchen (I was so glad I made salads to take with us), a bedroom with twin beds and a mini, and I do mean mini, bathroom. All in all, we were very comfy and air conditioned.... satellite TV too!
We spent the evening down by Lake Juniper. Don't you just love that name? There are a small grouping of Cypress trees along the far shore. I understand that the head waters of Lake Juniper are loaded with Cypress.

For Tuesday, we planned to explore the Red-cockaded Woodpecker's nesting area. Stay tuned :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Packing for Cheraw

What to bring? So far, the Soltek Easel, various sized watercolor blocks, Aquabee Super Delux Sketchbooks, small Holbein watercolor travel set and a somewhat larger ArtBin case with palette filled with Holbein colors, Derwent and Faber Castel watercolor pencils, Derwent Pastel Pencils, Niji WaterBrushes, Micron pens, masking fluid, white artist tape, gator board, Carand'Ache neocolor II watersoluble wax pastels, hand-made journal filled with Arches CP and HP papers, Strathmore Imperial & Gemini CP, HP, and rough papers. plus some colored charcoal papers. Thought I'd experiment :)

Not seen are the acrylic supplies and a few canvases, camera's, my friends spotting scope and tripod. Next is the kitchen sink :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cheraw State Park Artist-in-Residence

On Monday, June 15th, Rob and I head for Cheraw State Park where I am honored to be their Artist-in-Residence for 1 week. There were 65 applicants, of which 10 artists were chosen.

The South Carolina State Park Service offers this program to painters, photographers, potters, sculptors, weavers and other artists that they may capture the natural and hisotorical resources of the parks. Applications are available from mid June and must be postmarked no later than October 31st. You can obtain information by calling 864-638-5353 or email; oconeestatepark-at-scprt-dot-com.

Last year, artists had 10 parks to choose from. While most were upstate, my top three picks (Cheraw, Givhans Ferry and Poinsett) offered the opportunity to further my current low country theme.

I'm especially excited that I was awarded Cheraw, as it is home to the rare Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Picoides borealis. I first saw them while studying to become a Master Naturalist. They are found in mature longleaf pine savannas and live in colonies. They will only nest in longleaf pines that are 60 plus years old, as the trees, at that age, are soft inside and make good nesting cavities. Consequently, the lack of longleaf pine, Pinus palustris, savannahs has really dwindled their population. You can click on the link to read more about these trees from an earlier post.

Cheraw is also home to cypress wetland. Another favorite. The trees remind me of dancing ladies with big hoop skirts :)

The photographs are courtesy of Cheraw State Park's website. Other links are below:
Trail Map for Cheraw State Park
Mountain Bike Trail
Cheraw State Park Map

I've been soooooo looking forward to this get-away! Gotta run, need to take my time packing my gear, as I surely don't want to forget anything :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Trip to the Mail Box.....

Sometimes, this student of nature, just can't stick with her well- intentioned daily 'to do' list. But, how often do you run across a brave anole, that could give a rip about you being a zillion times bigger than he is, and just continues hunting bugs 2 inches from your toes? I ask you!?!

He was even good enough to stick around while I dropped the mail off in the house and grabbed my sketching supplies! There I was, sitting on the concrete driveway, trying to capture the essence of this lizard. I'd talk to him (yes, it's a male - he flashed his substantial throat fan, bobbed his head and did push-ups during this territorial dispute. They also display their throat fan during courtship.... no, I wasn't wearing my lizard outfit! Sorry, couldn't resist sick nature humor!)

This whole sketching exercise lasted 5 - 10 minutes. He moved far to quickly to stick with pencil and pen. Out came the waterbrush and travel set of watercolors. I'd load the waterbrush up with color and try to capture his body in one stroke. The legs were a bit problematic; he didn't seem to get the concept of the word 'stay!'

Of course, I had the best observations of the anole on my initial trip to the mail box. I think it's time to purchase a very small moleskin sketchbook to keep in my pocket!

Today, June 8th, is the inaugural World Ocean Day!

I just discovered that last year the United Nations General Assembly declared that beginning today, World Ocean Day is to always be celebrated on June 8th!

Katherine Tyrrell, a very talented artist and information guru has posted an intensive, interesting blog post regarding World Ocean Day, that will knock your socks off. Please, please take a look. This year's theme is Our Oceans, Our Responsibility.

Thank you, Katherine, for all your research!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

It's that time!

For the last week I've been noticing the Beauty-berry shrubs, Callicarpa americana L., are sporting their tiny flowers :) Hopefully, this summer, we'll have enough rain so the wonderfully, beautiful Beauty-berries will mature! Can you tell their one of my favorites?

By the by, we had a great time at Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge for our nature journaling field trip. We did such a righteous meander along the path to Ibis Pond that we ran out of time to sketch there! Too bad, as Ibis Pond was teaming with activity. Ibis, of course, black-crowned night herons (adult & juvi) Tri-colored Herons, Little Blue Herons, Great Egrets......... on and on. So many birds, so little time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge Field Trip

Tomorrow, I lead past nature journaling workshop participants on a field trip to Pinckney Island. I love these 'refresher' field trips.

Workshops are a great way to introduce the joys and techniques of journaling but, they are also intense and a lot of information is consumed.

Field trips give workshop graduates a chance to utilize skills learned and get a refresher course on techniques through demonstrations. Plus, it's good for the soul being with like minds :)

The weather promises to be toasty. We will meander and sketch our way to Ibis Pond. I can't wait. Is it tomorrow yet?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cat's Claw?

Let's switch for a minute to the Southwest. My sister sent this organic sculptural ensemble from Arizona. We have always referred to the individual piece as Cat's claw. However, when I googled the plant name today, I couldn't find any images that matched the dried fruit(?). Everything referred to the thorns on the Cat Claw plant, acacia greggii.

That's our Dudley, being his nosey little self.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Sweetbay Celebration

A few Saturday's ago, I wandered down the tree line in back of the house to the multi-trunked Sweetbay, Magnolia virginiana L., in hopes that there were still fresh blooms to paint. I had my watercolor sketchbook, travel set of holbein watercolors and my NIJI waterbrush. No campstool. No pencil. I just wanted to paint! The 'ol girl is getting bolder. I also think the yearning to create an acrylic painting is surfacing, thus the desire to just lay down the paint and not fuss with drawing and wc washes.

The first image is my 30 minute wc sketch. The second image I created from a digital photo displayed on my computer monitor. I started with wc pencils but finished up with Caran D'arch Neocolor II watersoluble wax pastels. I have a small set of ten. Interesting little guys. They have a painterly feel to them. Almost like acrylics in stick form.

The rest of the Sweetbay studies utilize General's sketch and wash pencil. I did them back in 2007 when I first discovered this beauty of a tree.

These trees can reach 60' but, my tree book, Native Trees of the Southeast, says they can also be a large shrub, especially in the northern parts of its range (NC, VA, DE). My little tree (I get quite posesive when I discover a specimen) is interesting in that it has 22 branches/trunks. It either wants to be a shrub or perhaps it used to have a single trunk and was cut down. Often times, if the roots live, many saplings will sprout from the remaining trunk.