Tuesday, September 29, 2009

National Parks • Ken Burns • PBS

You may be watching this series already but if not, try to catch it this evening - It began on our PBS station Sunday evening at 8 p.m. and there is an episode every night this week.  I've linked the title of this post to the PBS website that will give you more information.

The series is aptly titled "National Parks - America's Best Idea," and is true Ken Burns genius.  A must see!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Setting Up To Paint Cheraw


This is my painting area in the garden room.  I normally don't have my computer here, but decided it would be great to view the images, I want to use as references, on the screen versus printing them out.  They have so much more dimension on the LCD screen.


Yes, it's time to start the painting for the Cheraw State Park Aritist in Residence Program. Well, I'll be honest - it's way over due!  I hauled all my art supplies to NY hoping to have finished it and the painting for the dog sitter (we bartered). If you've been following this blog you know I barely had time to sketch!


I've decided to focus on Lake Juniper. The piece will be 16 x 20 and have a multi-image theme and include calligraphy like my Birders Journal Series paintings. Cheraw State Park has so many beautiful areas to paint, I just couldn't settle on one image :)



 Here is the general layout. I try to have somewhat of a design in place before I begin to paint. I know there will be twists and turns once I begin to put paint to paper but, that's OK. Then there is always the big question. Do I start with the large background image or play with the small fussy insets? The insets won.  



I've already made a change in the original layout.  I decided to let one of the Yellow Trumpet Pitcher-plant fall over into another inset. I've no idea at the moment how I will handle the area behind the plant....... It's rather like writing a book. The outline serves as a jumping off point. Books and paintings take on a life of their own. I hang on for the wild ride :)





Thursday, September 24, 2009


Here is my final draft for the All Art is Local column for the upcoming issue of ArtNews magazine.  You can click on the image for a larger view.

The painting for the artist in residency piece  for Cheraw State Park has been designed.  It's ready for paint :)  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Tools of Discovery


The theme of the next issue of ArtNews, the Arts Council of Beaufort County's quarterly publication, is Innovation: Science, Technology & the Arts.

I have been invited to author the All Art is Local column.  I love the theme.  It's a natural fit with my love of nature journaling.  I'm very honored to partake!

This is one of the images I will use to show how I innovate with science.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another Side of Wasps



Ah yes, wasps can strike instant fear into our hearts. I can remember my first experience of being stung by a wasp and that was many, many moons ago.  So what's this other side???

Like Heidi Van Impe's story about the Bald-faced Hornet, there are many species in the Hymenoptera order that are non-aggressive, some even do not sting!  The long, intimidating "tails" of some wasps are not stingers but egg-laying organs called ovipositors.

Potter Wasps, also known as a Mason Wasps, are solitary and can sting we humans, but this rarely happens as they do not defend their nests.

The females do sting and paralyze caterpillars that they drop into the urns before they deposit a single egg into each container.  The wasp larvae will eat up to 12 caterpillars before it breaks out of it's chamber!

When sketching the pots, I wondered why one was open.  Was it waiting for the female to lay an egg?  Not!  My research tells me that the larvae has matured and left it's home!

By the by, the female Potter Wasp builds the urns all by herself!!  Go girl!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Looking Forward to Fall Workshops


We're heading home to SC. Just in time to enjoy the cooler temps and the long relaxed slide into Autumn.

These two sketches were workshop demo's on saving whites when working with watercolor pencils. On the left image, I used a colorless blender pencil (normally used with colored pencils) to save the trunks of the trees. It works fairly well but needs to be reapplied after each wash. The right sketch tree trunks were masked.

I'm looking forward to fall workshops. I'll be conducting intro's to watercolor pencils, nature journaling, and plein air painting with wc pencils for the Sun City Art Club in September and October. My schedule for SOBA has not been finalized as yet, but it will include some Saturday morning classes.

I'll be off-line for a few days while we travel. Our normal 16 hour straight routine is not in the cards. But we will get to enjoy a stop over with our good friends in Charlotte :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mature Climbing Nightshade

What a difference a few weeks makes! The once green plant with small purple flowers and green berries is now an eerie looking purple leaved woody branch with a few red berries. Very Halloween - Sleepy Hollow looking! If I knew nothing about this plant other than my field observations, my heart would tell me that you don't want to ingest any part of it!

Found an interesting site from the University of PA. At the bottom of the page it has 'Tox Factoid' info about potatoes (also in the nightshade family). It says....... ordinary potatoes, if grown too close to the soil surface, will develop a green skin due to sun exposure. The green skin (in addition to young sprouts) can contain harmful glycoalkaloids. Green tissue should be removed from potatoes before eating.

Egads! I've purchased bags of 'taters from time to time that had green spuds in them. Didn't like the looks of them either but, I do think I peeled all the green away.... I hope........

Sunday, September 6, 2009

October Clouds in a September Sky

I started this watercolor sketch a few days ago. The dark bottomed clouds, big and full. So full of Fall.

The last few nights, flocks of Canada Geese have been flying in. Such sweet music to my ears.

Labor Day Weekend, the lake is buzzing with activity. The last hurrah. Next week, lots of docks will be pulled out, cottages winterized. I'm glad we're heading south. I hate to see summer end.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Summer Color Moods

Our time in New York is almost at an end. When we arrived in July, I had envisioned a lot more time on the boat taking in the evening colors. Silly puddin'!

Between nursing Rob through back surgery/recovery, keeping the dogs from eating my in-laws newspapers, mail, food, cat food, litter (this house is not Basenji proof!) elder care, cooking and cleaning......... Whew! I need a vacation :) Some days I've felt like Goldie Hawn in Overboard after she's cleaned up the house and kids and all she can do is sit with a dazed expression and say 'Buh, buh, buh, buh, buh.' My hand is raised, I am there!

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to find some time to journal! It has so saved my sanity!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mystery Plant Solved!

Back in mid-August I came upon a wildflower I'd not encountered before. I sketched it in my small Moleskine, and because I had failed to pack my wildflower guides for our NY trip, I asked my blogging friends to help me out with it's I.D. Here's the 'Mystery Solved' completed journal page.

I've been wanting to create a larger page to celebrate my new find and finally, yesterday, I managed to escape to the creek. I remembered to bring a towel to sit on (grass stains on white pants last time) and there I sat for an hour, in the late afternoon sun, watercolor pencils laid out in front of me on my tote bag, sketchbook in my lap.

This time there were only a few flowers in bloom and most were at the end of the plant's stems. Lantern shaped casings covered most of the plant. They had grown quite a bit since my first sketch and I could feel the small fruit inside.

My internet research on Groundcherry provided interesting facts and I wanted to include 'Faunal Associations' on my page. That's where I started and worked the illustrations around this type block. First, I split one of the casings in order to get a good look at the fruit. There was a loose dried up piece of plant in the casing - part of the flower? I was hoping the berry would be larger and I'm assuming they will grow more as this fruit was green. When ripe they can be yellow or red in color and the casing turns brown.

I wrote and sketched with a .005 Micron pen that kept wanting to dry up. I had to retrace some letters - not always a fun thing to do. I finished drawing just before 5 p.m. and then was attacked by skeeters! Coloring waited until after dinner.

It's funny. A lot of time lapsed between the initial sketch and yesterday's. Plenty of time for me to think about page design for my next entry. HA! Working in the field can oft times take you on a different ride. While initially disappointed in my endeavor (crooked type and date block, light ink on words....) today, when I photographed the page, I felt like it was fresh and immediate - just as it should be for field work.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Watching Water Patterns

Last evening the lighting on the water was beautiful. Watching the patterns of moving water reminds me of classical music. Even better, I liken it to composing music. There are so many color layers (instruments), each adding their beauty to the whole. I try to watch each color, it's movement, in hopes of being able to recreate water's melody to flat paper.

I thought if I shot a short video of what I was so carefully studying, I could save this moment in time. So, imagine my surprise when I first re-played the below clip, that not only did I capture the water's patterns but Dudley halfheartedly singing to MASH's theme song in the background!


Just for the fun of it, one day I'll post a clip of our dog's full-hearted duet to MASH. One of life's joys :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Old Town Bluffton - An Illustrated, Hand-built Journal


In May of 2009, Old Town Bluffton was celebrated by plein air artists taking part in the Bravo Event 'Art in the Park. For one week, artists were found around Old Town painting different scenes.

I chose to create an illustrated, hand-built book. The May River was my main theme for this watercolor journal. I was able to paint plein air for two of the spreads. Due to rain, the other two (Boundary Street and Calhoun Street) were created in my studio. I worked from photographs displayed on my computer monitor.

The finished Concertina Book is bound with a hardcover featuring hand-painted paper in the colors and design of water. The inside covers feature the same acrylic ink and pattern used for the cover. Two sets of pages have their edges bound with embroidery floss to match the colors of the cover. For the closure I used hand-painted thread elastic and 2 shell buttons.

While the majority of the book was painted in May, I just finished assembly last week. I wasn't quite sure what to use as a closure. The original plan was to use ribbons but, I knew I'd get the chance to peruse JoAnn fabrics when in NY. I couldn't believe it when I came upon shell buttons that matched my colors!! I'm glad I waited :)

As an extra special touch, I included a pocket in the back of the book that holds a small written journal containing notes I kept while painting plein air.

The book can be displayed as a sculptural piece as it is sprayed with Krylon's UV protectant. The ultimate would be to display it under a small plexi-glass cube. This one-of-a-kind 'child' of mine is looking for home. For more information, please contact me at pjbartstudio-at-hargray-dot-com.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

3 Second Poses of our Doodle Bear, a.k.a. Dudley

Dudley sat still for the longest time. That is until I reached for my Moleskine. Then he really put me to work with 3 second poses. Finally I grabbed the camera :)

Here are our sweet fur kids enjoying the back of the docked pontoon boat. It was a picture perfect evening.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nightshade & Jewelweed





















Thanks to blogging friend, Carol, I have names for my wildflowers/plants and...... a finished journal page! My heart is happy :)
Thanks, Carol :)

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

Waiting

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!"