Friday, October 16, 2009

Inktense Watercolor Pencils


Oh goodie, new wc pencils :)

A few weeks back, when I went to the Art Material Trade Show at SCAD, I came home with 2 new sets of watercolor pencils. I've been wanting to try out Derwent's Inktense brand, but kept holding off, trying to be conservative in my spending. The prices on all products at the trade show were incredibly discounted! I'm saving all my $$ so I can bulk up at next year's event!!

This is a test of the pencils in my AquaBee Super Deluxe Sketchbook.

The second test is on Arches Hot Press Paper.  I'm not sure if I will like them on this paper.  I need to get out in the field and really put them to the test.

Oh..... I purchased two Faber-Castell Pitt Calligraphy pens too :)  Cranberry and Black.  They are markers versus 'pens' but, I'm enjoying playing with them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cheraw Painting Update


The insets are finished! Now I have the challenge of protecting them and completing the 16 x 20 painting. I must admit, it's been a while since I worked this large in watercolors - not to mention Arches HP paper. If you hear a scream, it just me :)

I usually use 'extra tack' frisket film by Grafix for masking large areas. However, the last time I used it, there was some leakage due to poor contact on cold press paper. I'm sure I'd get good adhesion on the hot press paper, but.... once burned, twice shy or something like that :)

I did see a great masking tip on Sarah Wimperis' blog Muddy Red Shoes. She cuts her masking film a tad smaller than the area to be covered and then uses liquid masking fluid to both finish the edge and totally adhere the edge of the frisket.


I didn't see the point of using the expensive extra tack frisket for this so used a role of low tack.

Here it is in place....

Time to go paint :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Off to Sea Pines



It was more than time to soak up the ocean air. While our quick trip to the beach was just a couple of hours long, it sure was a shot in the arm. We saw large pods of dolphin, 2 Osprey displaying stealth hunting tactics, a few Royal Terns, and my favorite..... Brown Pelicans. I so love how they skim the water when they glide.

I decided to decorate the corners of the illustration box with Sanderlings. We only saw four. There has been a dramatic decline of shorebirds on the island's beaches as Hilton Head has become a vacation mecca. Too, as dogs do not, during the fall/winter seasons, need to be leashed on the beaches, shore birds no longer have access to their once undisturbed habitat during this crowded time period. Although our local Audubon chapter does its level best to inform and educate, the vacationing masses seemingly don't give a hoot.

The above was my view to the right.  Reality to the left




Sunday, October 4, 2009

Shine On, You Harvest Moon

Here I thought I'd be plein air sketching the Harvest Moon in my own yard, but instead Rob and I were able to spend a lovely evening with our friends, Kate and Don, at their home on the May River.

Kate and I sat on the swing that hangs under a giant pine while I did initial sketches with my micron pen.  It was rather like blind contour drawing, as the shade of the pine blocked out a lot of the moon's glow. First we tried to catch the view from their dock, but the no-see-ums were thick - couldn't run back to shore fast enough!

I made two sketches from this location then added watercolor washes while we sat on their porch, enjoyed good company and fruit of the vine. The river glowed with moonlight.


There was not much light on the porch when I added color so I tweaked both sketches today. Here are the before and after sketches.










Thank you, friends!  As always, we so enjoyed our time with you!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Discombobulated Day

October 1st: the plan........ Paint!

Well, after a morning and early afternoon of urgent matters taking over, I ended up feeling quite discombobulated!  Enough!  I have to go clear my head. Off to the tree line behind our house I went, sketchbook and wc pencils in tote.

I've been wanting to sketch the peppervine with it's berries that are turning black.  I wandered, trying to settle down.  Then I came upon a piece of a twig not more than 8-10 inches long suspended by peppervine. This is it!  This is where I will lose myself and become centered once again.

My insides were so wound up. I soon realized I had started my sketch with the wrong color pen. Well, okay, so it's brown ink.  I continued, only to realize I didn't plan very well and was running out of page for the suspended twig!!  I had to finish the twig on the upper right side of the paper!!  Then, I didn't allow enough room for the words 'Dangling Twig' and had to hyphenate!  And just to top things off, (I hope your giggling at this point) I misspelled hyphenate.  Are you sure there is an e and not an o? (I didn't find this little bit of information out until just now when spell check gave me the ol' red dotted underline...........sigh.)

Meanwhile, a little bee-like insect kept trying to land on my left hand as I stood in front of the peppervine.  I finally got a good look at it's face and decided it was some type of fly.  Sure enough... A Flower Fly that's in the Wasp mimic group.

I flipped this page over and decided I surely must have worked out all my internal kinks.  What else could I find?  A little further down I discovered that the small grouping of mist flowers were still blooming.  I started a new page.  I'm happy to say it's coming along.  My plein air sketch in now waiting to be colored and my research on the plant added with some sort of calligraphy.

I too am back to my centered self.  Thank you Nature!

P.S.  Don't forget...... Tonight is the Harvest Moon!  Music to celebrate this is by Leon Redbone.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Inset Update - Cheraw


Making slow progress on my painting with my crazy out-of-the-studio schedule.  I should have a full day tomorrow, though.  I'll be able to finish the boardwalk into the woods and hopefully the third inset which is another view of Lake Juniper, this time from the golf course's 18th fairway.

Friday.......  it's off to Savannah College of Art & Design as it's time for their annual Art Material Trade Show.  Yummy!  Yes, I'm braving a trip into Savannah.  Rob's driving and I've got my my mapquest directions - you know I always get lost in that city!

P.S. The addition of music to this blog is to celebrate the upcoming Harvest Moon :)

Reminder.... It's Harvest Moon Time

Yes, this Saturday, October 3rd. Be there or be square :)  Can't wait to see it rise over my palm tree horizon.  Yes, I plan to do a crepuscular sketch :)

Just for the fun of it I Googled 'songs about the moon' - gracious!  55,900,000 entries! Here's a link to Moon Songs and Lyrics, the first site on the google page.  Kind of neat, they have a moon for the curser!

I couldn't help myself, I had to add moon songs to the blog for this occasion :)  Neil Young and Leon Redbone sing about the Harvest Moon.  I wanted to get Van Morrison's Moondance, but that wasn't on the play list........ bummer.

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.