Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mystery Plant # 3

Crazy weather made for fast sketching. Glad I didn't attempt to camp out in front of this plant with supplies spread all over. Soon as I finished the right page, the rain came down hard - the first of many quick storms we've had today.

Okay, need another name. Quiltin' Mama, are you up for this one too? I hope, I hope :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Forgot to pack my Wildflower Guide!

I can remember the moment clearly. I was packing our suitcase and thinking I must not forget to throw my Roger Tory Peterson Wildflower guide in with my art supplies........ Really miss my scanner too.

So....... this is my unfinished journal page for today. Slightly out of focus with poor lighting. Grumble, grumble, grumble...

I had a lovely 2 hour nature break! The creek, which is usually dry this time of year, was gurgling away. How I love water music!
I see these flowers daily when I walk the dogs. I've one more plant to draw. It's a beauty so it'll get it's own page :)

Do you by chance know common and latin names of these plants? (you can get a slightly bigger, blurry image if you click on it) If so, please share. In the meantime, I'll try rephotographing and post a better image :) Many thanks!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Western NY Summer Colors

Since arriving in NY I've been dying to get out and paint these roadside beauties. Chicory lines the rural roadsides. I'd love to see it cultivated in rows. It would be the Finger Lakes version of the wonderful lavender fields of France.

Queen Ann's Lace is so abundant I'm tempted to paint a scene similar to Monet's poppy fields and title it Monet's QAL :) Time for this girl to be silly...

The yellow wildflower/weed is a mystery to me. It has a dandelion like flower, multiple flowers on the tall stems and I've seen different plant structures. Need to get home to my reference library.

I did this quick watercolor sketch in my Auwabee sketch book. The paper wrinkled a bit, thus the dull uneven colored background. I don't have my scanner with me and I'm winging it with a small digital camera.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sketching in Nature Blog

Woo Hoo!!! I'm pleased to announce that I've been invited by Cathy Johnson(Kate) to be a correspondent for Sketching in Nature, a group blog of international nature artists who enjoy working and learning in nature.

You'll want to have a peek :) There is also a Flickr group pool by the same name that you can join if you are a plein air nature artist.

Here's my introduction and first entry.

Hello Everyone! I'm Pam Johnson Brickell, a born and raised New England farm girl, currently living in and loving the low country of South Carolina.

As a youngster, I knew art had to be a big part of my life. In my early teens, my folks fostered this passion by letting me study pastel painting with a local artist, and then didn't bat an eye when I announced I didn't want to attend a traditional college but desired to apply to the School of the Worcester Art Museum. Luckily, SWAM accepted this determined girl :) After college, I sought full time jobs that kept me close to creative 'types' - I worked my way up to positions in photographic lab management and then advertising production and traffic management. My personal creativity ebbed and flowed as time allowed.

In 1990, I left the corporate world and focused full time on my art career. At that time I was heavily into weaving, but in 2000, when we moved from NC to western NY, my focus returned to watercolors. I became enthralled with birds, especially raptors and water-birds. I've always sketched in journals, but I attribute the loooong, cold, gray winters of the finger lakes region the catalyst that made me fine tune my nature journaling skills. The dogs and I would bundle up and head out for our daily walks. I'd look for and record any signs of life; migrating waterfowl, geese, raptors, animal tracks, and come March - tiny signs of spring...... Nature journaling was my religion, my link to sanity during the gray days!

I think I own every 'how-to' nature sketch/journal book ever published by Kate, Hannah Hinchman, Clare Walker Leslie, Claudia Nice and Irene Brady. How honored I am to have Kate invite me to participate in this blog. Wow! I'm still smiling :)

My family, (husband and various fur kids over the years) have lived in MA, NC (2x), AZ, NY (2x), TN and now, our second time in SC. My moto ~ have husband, will travel ~ It's been fun to experience different parts of the country but for me, it's time to stay put and actually get a chance to settle in. Living in the south is sooooo different than the northeast. My days of wandering off into the woods to explore halted. Why? Primarily snakes and insects, the latter having a field day with me in manicured landscapes. I could only imagine my fate in the southern woods!

My goal to become settled in the low country led me to enroll in Clemson University's Master Naturalist Program. It's an intensive, 12 week study of the low country's environs. My classmates and I tromped through woods, held snakes (thankfully a friendly corn snake for me), walked tidal flats and waded in shallow tidewaters finding all sorts of goodies and some oogie slimy critters..... While I love being a constant student of nature, I definitely like to focus on trees, wildflowers, raptors and water-birds :)

I show my nature inspired acrylic and watercolor paintings at galleries, attend a few fine art fairs a year, and accept commissions. But mostly, I enjoy teaching nature sketching/journaling with watercolor pencils and Niji waterbrushes and share my knowledge of the low country with other transplants. Many people are moving to the area, building is out of control, and we need to protect the fragile ecosystem of the marshes and rivers. Like my role models listed above, I hope to help my students see with new eyes and hopefully they will get involved in the quest to save this place we now call home.

You can view my paintings at my website and follow my low country discoveries at my blog. I'm also on Flickr.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

10 Minutes for Geese


Surgery day for Rob. There was the sweetest tree outside the window of the surgical center's waiting area. I was so happy I brought my sketchbook. Thought I'd have lots of time to work on my sketch while they prepped Rob. Not! I barely finished the ink sketch. I added the color while Rob and I waited for the surgeon. Could have painted a forest then......... Had a three hour wait. In desperation, I sketched Rob's feet and lower legs. They put heavy duty white knee socks on, then the cute sock booties you always get in the hospital. I won't embarrass him by posting that sketch :) Needless to say, I titled it "Nice Socks!"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Conesus Sunset

Monday was the first real warm day this summer for the area. It was beautiful though a tad windy during the day on the lake. After dinner the wind calmed down. We enjoyed a colorful sunset. Two flocks of Canada Geese flew by and a couple of bats flew over the water near shore. I love to watch them hunt.

It was a perfect evening for a fire - a warm day but the damp evening air soon settled in after sunset. I know, we've become used to southern heat already. We're not hardy northerners anymore :)

Rob and I enjoyed the fire till midnight, making plans for how good he's going to feel after back surgery. The poor guy couldn't have any food from 8 pm on. His surgery was scheduled for 2 pm on Tuesday. They took him in a 4, I saw him again at 10. Long day but, all seems to be well. Now for recovery. A few days in the hospital and then I get to be nurse Johnson :)

Thanks to all for your prayers and support!! They mean so much!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Sketches Between Rain showers

Crazy weather today. Started off partly cloudy, warm and a tad muggy. Then around 3:30 the skies turned real dark. A little rain fell but certainly not much for how threatening the sky looked. The sun graced us once again, then another quick shower.

I can't believe how much I've been sketching the last few days. Perhaps it's because I finally purchased a Moleskin. I chose a 3 x 5 with regular sketch paper. I think I'm wishing I had purchased the watercolor paper Moleskin, as the paper is a tad thin. But, it is holding up well with watercolor pencils and the Niji waterbrush. I love the way the Micron pen ink flows across the surface. I'm only working on one side of the paper, though, as I think images will show through the back side.

I'm designing a purse/sketch supply carry bag. If I could figure out how not to carry a purse I would. I've always hated having to tote one.

I have some old jean material at home to work thru my design. Then, once snags are worked out, I'm thinking of using a cordova type fabric for the back/bottom (waterproof) and ultra suede for the front (so it can look halfway feminine). I've some scraps of handwoven material, from my weaving days, tucked away too. Perhaps I can utilize some for the purse/tote flap.

This will be my fall project as we will be in NY most likely through Labor Day. Rob's having back surgery Tuesday. Probably another reason for so many sketches. As I mentioned before - it's the best way I know how to chill :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Canada Goose

This afternoon I noticed a lone Canada Goose sitting two docks over. Very unusual sight. This evening after dinner, it was still there. I got the scope out and managed to catch it preening. I think it has a wounded wing. It's chosen a safe dock for refuge.

There are bad storms to the north. Monroe Country is under a tornado warning! Here is a shot of our sky and the lovely play of light on the water.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sunset color on the lake

The Waiting Game

We've all been there. Hurry up and.... wait. Or, the medical appointment dilemma " I'm sorry, the doctor is running behind." This is when my eyes twinkle, and all the interesting plants I saw on the way into the medical building blur my brain. "How far behind?" I ask.

Despite the time snag these 'waits' can cause, I've come to enjoy new found 'down time.' I know no better way to chill than with sketch book in hand. Yesterday was bonus day. Two different 'waits' :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Daily Sketches

There hasn't been much time for sketching since arriving at the lake but, I did manage a quick sketch of the docks last evening and today, I did a quick rendition of an appreciation bouquet from my in-laws. Gray skies settled in last evening, and we had rain today.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back at Conesus

After 16 hours straight in the car I'm happy to say we arrived at our destination safe and sound - although worn out. Even though these sketches were done on the 15th, my brain really hadn't recovered from the drive, thus the date of the 16th :)

The lighting on the water was lovely yesterday. I did these studies after 7 p.m., the sun peaking through clouds from time to time. The subtle colors and patterns in the water kept me intrigued.

Today the lake is choppy and the wind brisk. It may calm down this evening. At least it's in the 80's. Our first night here the temp reached a low of 46!!!!! It's July for goodness sakes :) Great sleeping weather though.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Off to NY

It's time once more to head to NY. Hopefully it will stop raining up there and we'll bring some warm weather with us. Have my sleeveless turtleneck packed just incase :)

It will be a few days before I post again. Y'all take good care!


Okay, this is way off the nature sketch path but, I had to share :)

I love carrots: raw, steamed, sauteed, juiced with a bit of celery and apple, you name it..... Yum! Last night I was preparing chicken tacos. I like to add grated carrot as one of the toppers. Out of a brand new bag of carrots came this beauty.

Hmmmmmm, perhaps it's a sign to keep on body sculpting with Gilad on Fit TV :) The carrot has been dangled in front of me...... look at those hips! :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

For the Love of Trees

Vivien Blackburn has posted a Challenge to paint or sketch trees. The sketches must be done from life - my favorite way to sketch and paint :)

I've gathered together a few that I created. The first is the currently blooming, ever beautiful Loblolly Bay. I cut a sprig from this much loved Loblolly Bay to sketch. You can read the original post here. I don't always create decorative type for my journal pages on location but, can surely say the following tree images are all plein air studies.

I can't wait to see everyone's work. This is such a celebration of trees. I must end with a quote......

The trees are God's great alphabet:
With them He writes in shining green
Across the world His thoughts serene

Leonora Speyer

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Last Day at Cheraw..... The Dancing Ladies

The weather forecast promised a hot and humid day with a heat index over 100 degrees. We picked up the cart at 7 a.m., and made our way through the woods. The alternate map, Corinna gave me, cut out the narrow bridge of the nature trail. We traversed through more longleaf pine forest. All was very quiet and luckily, our movement kept bugs away. We arrived at our destination around 7:45. The trail ended on a narrow elevated piece of land. Lake Juniper on our left and wetlands on our right. There was a bench in a little clearing. If you deviated from this clearing, horse flies came from every direction! As Rhonda in the park office said, "Oh, they might lick your applied bug spray before they bite....." So true!!

I set my supplies on the bench seat and then stood behind the bench, resting my watercolor paper, small palette and water container on the flat top of the back rest. Great bench design for painting!

The morning sunlight and the humid air muted the colors of the cypress landscape. It would have been great fun to canoe through these dancing ladies........

I managed to get two paintings done before the heat became intolerable. Took lots of photographs :)

It's sad that the week went so quickly. I'm grateful the heat wave didn't arrive until the end of the week. I've a lot of images to cull through when I return home. My plein air work will help me re-capture 'the day' back in the studio. I've photographed so many scenes I want to paint. It may be difficult to pick which painting to give to the park :)

Thank you to all the Cheraw State Park staff! You're so lucky to spend each day in this wonderful location. The park will forever be a part of my heart.

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.