Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spring's Color Song ~ I

So many colors popping, so
little time....

Join me as I build this journal page.

This is the start to my salute to Spring.

Saturday, on the early evening dog walk down the cart path on 10, I saw Yellow Jessamine and Sweet Gum trees starting to pop. It was beautiful. The last rays of the sun were hitting the trees.  It was the perfect time to sketch.... Drat. Dogs to walk, dinner to make.... rain in the forecast for Sunday.

I was up and out at 7 a.m. on Sunday. The ground was wet but I caught a break between showers. I wanted to have plenty of time before the golfers made the swing to 10. It was so windy that I had to put the chin strap down on my Tilly so it wouldn't fly off my head! I made a bee-line to the Jessamine then on the way back to sketch the Sweet Gum buds, my eye caught a Sparkleberry bush with new leaves just beginning to pop. This tardily deciduous shrub like tree still had old leaves and a few berries hanging on.

The wind really started to whoop it up - usually a sign that the rain is about to come - so I snipped a Sweet Gum bud and headed for home.  Once in the door, I quickly deposited my sketch bag, harnessed the dogs and out we went for their morning constitution. We maybe made it 10 yards from the house and the rain hit. Basenji's hate the rain. It was a real quick walk :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It's Been A Good Year For Press

I am honored and blushing... Hilton Head Monthly has this article in their March 'green' issue.  Thank you HHM!!

 Capturing nature: A Bluffton woman teaches the art of nature journaling

E-mail Print
Artist Pam Johnson Brickell teaches workshops in nature journaling as a means of remembering ‘time spent in places you love, soaking up the slower side of life.Artist Pam Johnson Brickell teaches workshops in nature journaling as a means of remembering ‘time spent in places you love, soaking up the slower side of life.
A group of budding artists sets up its chairs in the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, paper and watercolor pencils in hand. But though the work they produce will be works of art, these aren’t experienced artists — just people drawing and creating nature journals for themselves, and the joy of it.

Artist Pam Johnson Brickell, a Clemson University-certified master naturalist, teaches a series of nature journal workshops at the Society of Bluffton Artists Gallery and at Coastal Art Supply in Beaufort. Creating a nature journal is a way to capture the bounty of the world, she says, a way to relax and take in the essence of the environment, a means by which you can record and hold onto images that inspire.

“Imagine, years from now, pulling a sketchbook from the shelf and knowing that it will reveal your intimate experiences with nature, time spent in places you love, soaking up the slower side of life,” Brickell says. “Any given page will transport you back in time, enabling you to feel the breeze on your skin, smell the aromas of the salt marsh or recapture the awe you felt when an egret blessed you with a close encounter.”

Brickell stresses that students who take her workshops aren’t professionals — just regular folks drawing for themselves. They begin by taking watercolor pencil techniques or sketching techniques workshops and move on to field trips in places such as Sea Pines Forest Preserve, the Church of the Cross, Fish Haul Creek Park or Jarvis Creek Park.

Student Harriett Selva lives in Lexington, Ky., but spends several weeks a year on Hilton Head. A veteran of several workshops, she says Brickell “makes us believe that we all have some worthy ability to create. Through Pam’s instruction I’ve learned to see colors, shapes, and shadows that I never noticed before.”
Artist Pam Johnson Brickell teaches workshops in nature journaling as a means of remembering ‘time spent in places you love, soaking up the slower side of life.’Selva says one of her favorite field trips was to Fish Haul Creek on a foggy morning. “We sat on the beach and painted a scene looking out on Port Royal Sound with large rocks in the foreground. Pam helped us to see colors and shapes in all of that gray,” she says.

On field trips “the only things you need are a chair, watercolor pencils and paper,” says Brickell. Students can choose what they wish to sketch or paint, which can be anything from a broad landscape to a single plant. Throughout the field trip, Brickell will offer advice and tips on technique, but more important, she says, is that her students learn to see and appreciate the natural world.

“You find that you totally lose yourself in the environment. Everything around you disappears and you forget the stresses of the day,” said Brickell. “The world opens up its bounty when you learn to see. A tree, plant or animal that’s long been named and cataloged can still be discovered for the first time.”

Thank you, Sally!!  This is beautifully written :)
Harriett.... you are terrific! Keep journaling!
Allison, great photography!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Snow Moon

As stated in my previous post, I was a tad excited to capture the full moon rise but horizon clouds got in the way. I had a perfect spot by the marsh picked out and it was close enough that I could walk from our condo.

After dinner, the moon was just rising over the trees out front.  It was way to dark for me to toddle off to my spot by the marsh so I parked my folding chair on the front walk way. A snippet of the first condo building made for a good left corner frame. The buildings have green metal roofs.  When the moon is high overhead the roofs have a wonderful shine.

The name Snow Moon was given to the February moon by Native American tribes in the northeast. Rightfully so, as February is the time of the most snow. I also learned that it's sometimes referred to as Full Hunger Moon.

My quest to find what southeastern tribes called this moon took some digging. The Cherokee tribes territory in Georgia, North and South Carolina didn't really encompass the Coastal Plain of SC. But, they called the February full moon the Bone Moon and held a yearly ceremony to honor the dead. The native tribes of this area were called the Yemassee. Hopefully I'll have more info on them another time.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February Colors and Observations

This page started as a memory sketch and ended with a plein air watercolor sketch while waiting for full moon to rise on the 18th.

 I've been so taken lately with the contrast of colors in this mid-February and mid-winter landscape. The grasses; both lawn and marsh have reached their most dead and dull coloration. The blue of the water on sunny, blue sky days is absolutely brilliant and such a shock to your eyes. Red maples started to pop a few weeks ago so I splattered some red on the page :)  It will mean nothing to someone who may  thumb through my journal in years to come, but I will know :)

It was a beautiful day on the 18th, in the low 70's... a real tease. I was looking forward to painting the rise of the full moon. The dogs and I went for our afternoon walk around 5. I heard peepers!!! Woo Hoo!

I arrived at my chosen location to capture moonrise a tad early. Luckily it was just a bit away from the condo and when horizon clouds were too thick to see the actual rise, I gave in and return home to fix dinner. I'd much rather paint! I kept going outside to make sure I wasn't missing the moonrise. No....  We ended up eating dinner, cleaning up and then I went outside to paint.  By 8 pm the moon was hanging over the trees on the near horizon. The temperature was in the mid 50's. It was so nice to finally not fight the cold while painting. The image you ask?  It's coming... Another day, another blog post :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine's Message For You








































To all my 'Sisters' of the heart and all my art 'Sisters and Brothers'... Happy Valentines Day!

It was glorious here today.  A tad chilly this morning but by 11 a.m. all I needed was a sweater vest as my jacket. It was breezy but soooooo sunny.  This was our day off and we played outside as much as we could. While Rob practiced hitting golf balls on the range I took a walk with my plein air purse to sketch 'The Sisters' once again. This time plein air and this time for me :)  At 2:30 it was 70 degrees!!

I hope love has, in some way, touched your heart today :)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guess what?

Said to the chant 'The Red Coats are coming......'

The Red Maples are blooming, the Red Maples are blooming!  And, early, too!!   :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Sketchbook Project - Final Update

Here are the final pages. I had to clean these up quite a bit from the original scans. The wrinkled paper and the difficulty I had getting the book to lay flat on the scan bed was a real treat.... Especially at 2 am in the morning :)

click all images to enlarge
It was late on January 17th when I finished painting/writing. I then had to scan the last pages so that come daylight and a little sleep, I could bind the book into it's pink cover and send it on it's way.... deadline met.

My last words are from the heart after a very long journey.......


And, in it's entirety.......



Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Sketchbook Project Update IV - Trees

Please click all images to enlarge.
It's time to celebrate trees :)

Walk with us to the 10th hole. It's
423 yards from the back tee to the green. The cart path runs along the edge of the woods.

Now that it's winter and much of the greenery has died back, I can see standing water not too far into the woods. This, along with the variety of trees found in a mere 423 yard stretch of land is a clear sign that this section of the neighborhood can be classified as a Bottomland Hardwood forest.

This type of forest usually borders a swamp and may be temporarily flooded should we get a whopper of a hurricane and the river reaches flood stage (not a warm and fuzzy thought!)

Here are all the trees I've identified so far. The illustrations are of two 'new-to-me' trees. I feel like such an explorer when I find a new flower, shrub, vine or tree. I don't care that Carl Linnaeus, or another botanist, may have named named it long ago - it's my discovery :) That's what I sooooo love about nature journaling! Even better is now that I've drawn it, it's mine.... forever in my heart :)

I never would have guessed Witchhazel comes from a tree! I always imagined witchhazel to be an herbaceous plant. A student of nature, that's what I am :)

These trees live on or near the 10th hole.




So many trees, not enough pages :) There are only two more spreads left in the sketchbook and I have other goodies to share. So, to all the trees that didn't make it into this book..... Patience, I'm working on it :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Sketchbook Project - Update III - Ibis and Crows

Click image to enlarge
I love the crows in this spread :)

I had no idea that crows would hang with Ibis.  I see this all the time - in trees, feeding on the fairway..... never fighting over territory.

Certainly can bring a smile!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sketchbook Project Update #3.... Marsh & Birds

Click all images to enlarge

One of my favorite places to walk  with the dogs are golf holes 17 and 18. This page celebrates #17 - which has, by far, the most bird activity. Big birds! And, wonderful views of the marsh.

There's quite a lot to read here and it's not one of my favorite spreads.... but, the info is pertinent to the theme of the book.
I love this spread. Wood Storks are one of my favorite wading birds. Some may think they are homely with their bald, wrinkly black heads, but they have such charm to me. I love watching them wade through shallow water, their beaks open and in the water, doing a stomp-their-feet-dance to stir up the the water and mud to catch their food.

I laughed when I finished sketching the two closest birds.  I must have been holding the book at an angle as they are listing to the left! Oh well, this kind of thing can happen when you're in a hurry and sketching with pen :)


As written, the Storks are not always around in these numbers. I've learned to carry my camera every time I take the dogs out. I know that these special treats wont' wait for me to get the dogs home and rush back to photograph.

The dogs have become quite patient while I photograph. However, the tri-color (Grizz) insists on a treat for being such a good girl.....  as in she won't move! I am such a well trained human!

Stay tuned to learn more about Crows and Ibis hanging out together!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sketchbook Project Update #2


Click to enlarge
This is the copy that runs around the outside of this spread...

We have lived in this neighborhood since May 2010. It borders a tidal creek and there is a golf course. It's such a treat to walk the cart path on holes 17 & 18 as the marsh borders these holes. Every day brings something wonderful to see and experience.

Please walk with us. I want to show you my favorite sights. I want to show you the things that fill me with wonder - it's like being a child all over again for me.

Nature. There is nothing like it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sketchbook Project Update #1

I finished making the cover back in December.  I was about to bind the sketchbook, got delayed, and am so grateful for the delay as I realized the book pages would be much easier to scan.

I decided sewing a few pages together would make them sturdier.  There are two benefits to this. Thicker pages and...... less pages to fill :) Good thing too, as there was under 2 weeks to get it finished and postmarked by January 15th!  Nothing like a deadline :)



I love the design the zig-zag stitches made on the edges of the pages.

Outside of the cover and end pages, I now had 12 spreads to fill.

Another reason I'm happy I sewed the pages is that the back half of the book has perforated sheets!  It made for a bit of a challenge when sewing, as the pages started to tear out. I ended up using clear archival tape to secure the pages in the book. Okay.... ready to start filling this baby!

The theme is 'Down Your Street' - which I decided meant my street. I thought it would be fun to share the sights I see on my daily dog walks. Here's the start....




The thin paper has a slick finish that, to me, is difficult to use watercolor on. I do love how my Micron pen glides across the surface, though.

Given that I've waited until the last minute to complete this project, I made the executive decision to live dangerously free and sketch with the Micron pen. No time for careful planning.... just have at it!

That decision helped me choose the type of calligraphic marks to use for titles, etc..  By the by, I didn't plan for my maiden name to have such a downward twist - that's compliments of writing with pen and running out of room :)  See what fun you can have when your marks are committed? I don't know if I could have thought of making my name so fun if I tried to design it this way. Serendipity!  Love that word!





I was 3 spreads from finished on the 13th and knew an all-nighter would be in order. On the 14th, Art House Coop sent an email out changing the deadline to January 18th. Trust me, I was dancing around the studio after I read that email :) It seems bad weather everywhere was interfering with participants getting to the post office/delivery services and those companies getting packages delivered!

About 2 hours after reading the email, I could feel my body start to crash. I had been in such a Wonder Woman mode for so many days, running on sheer determination, I didn't realize just how tired I really was. After the holidays is was wake up, walk the dogs, work the day job, work on a current freelance job, walk the dogs, make dinner, paint and sketch at night - try to fit a load of laundry in, try and spend some quality time with Rob on his days off.... Clean? Take down Christmas decorations? Nope.  I went off to bed that night knowing I would be able to get the book totally finished and bound. Such a good feeling :)  

Yesterday, the 18th, book in hand, I made it to the post office by 3 pm and sent my child off to Brooklyn, NY. My finished pieces of art become my children. They certainly carry a chunk of my soul.  Anyone else feel this way about your creations?

Moral of this story.... don't wait to the last minute!  I know this mantra. Very well in fact! Do I pay attention? Sometimes. Then there are the times when I know I have a full plate but..... I really want to add just one more fun thing. During this whole episode my word for the new year dangles in my head..... S i m p l i f y.....  Yes, right after this one project....

The book is scanned. I need to clean up the scans a bit as the rippled paper makes for unwanted shadows :) Stayed tuned and I will show you my journey :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

A beautiful afternoon spent on Spring Island
soaking up the sights.

It was cloudy most of the day but when Rob and I settled on a place to park and paint, the sun broke through and warmed our backs. Boy the warmth of the sun sure felt good!

In the distance, fog was rolling in from Port Royal Sound on the Beaufort River.

Here is a still image. Note the large lump of fog on the right side of the image.  I managed to capture it's movement in the video.

Here is a shot of the pluff mud...... very busy feet!

I hope you enjoyed your day, too!

May you have a healthy, happy and blessed New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Rest of the Story.....

Now that this South Carolina elf finished the "project" and it's been safely delivered and opened by my dear, dear friends in NY, I can share the rest of the story :)

When Rob and I lived in western NY, we made close friends with our neighbors, Mary Jo, Dave and their three children, Shannon, Bridget and Jesse.  Jesse was just a wee tyke when we first moved there. Not having children of our own, it was so much fun to watch the kids as they grew.


Our moving away didn't set well with any of us and I promised the kids we'd always stay in touch. Each Christmas I find great joy in creating special ornaments for Shannon, Bridget and Jesse. Perhaps one year, I may even get them delivered before Christmas!!

This year I chose to send a bit of the SC lowcounty to them. I got to thinking about the longevity of the pine cone ornaments - would they stand up to the test of time? I also wanted to let the kids know about the natural items I chose for their ornaments. Okay, how about a nature journal card to go with the ornament? Realize now, that the clock is ticking and we're well into December when the project is finally starting to take shape...... no pressure here :)
click to enlarge

Here's how they turned out....






And here's what makes my heart sing!

Thanks for the great note, MJ! I'm soooo happy the kids like their ornaments!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Full Moon, Winter Solstice and oh by the way... a Total Lunar Eclipse!

I swear, ever since I started my Full Moon Series, the most wonderful celestial events have occurred :)

The weather report looked good. On the cold side, though (okay.... cool for you folks in the north) . I knew I'd have to be wearing my gloves. At least I could get away with the thinly lined Isotoners.

I set the alarm for 2 a.m., but like all times when I have to get up unusually early, I really didn't get any sleep - I was up and out by 2! 


I was soooo excited, I decided to somewhatly  plan my journal page. This is a first for me and I must say from now on, I'm just going to let the page just happen. I selected Fabriano soft press - new to me.
I laid out my supplies, had all my clothes ready to go, along with camera, monopod and bins.

Ahhhhhh! Clouds! Cottonball puffs all over the place! But, at least there was some space between them and by 2:30 they dissipated.

The eclipse was well underway - just about a quarter of the moon was visible.  There was a colorful ring around it, too. I decided to used the upper left of the page for the initial view.

I really liked how the paints and water were reacting on the paper. The cold temps (37 degrees) seemed to make the paint take longer to dry so I painted the blue box to be ready for the final show.  Then, I moved onto a Fabriano HP sheet -  also new to me. I love painting on a HP finish.
It's very immediate and there's very little you can do as far as corrections are concerned. It encourages freedom! I did three vignettes, working from left to right.  You can see my stop and start marks. This brand of HP is a bit softer than Arches. I'm going to really enjoy working with it.

I added the dark blue box today so that Orion could have a home :)

I was back in bed by 3:30 with a huge smile on my face :)

Now, why would I rather just let the page happen versus planning the design before I get to the event to paint?  Total loss of freedom -  on site and later on when adding the type. The first piece was a total design challenge. Thank goodness for tissue paper!   I went through several drafts while deciding where to say what :)

I hope you, too, were able to enjoy this glorious celestial event!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Chilled Visitor - Thankfully!!

Imagine my surprise when my dog did a big straight up leap on the sidewalk outside of our house...... "What are you doing, you silly boy?"  Y I K E S!

Luckily, we were coming back from our afternoon walk. I brought the dogs into the house, ran for the camera and decided on a yard stick to pick up this wee feisty one.

When I got close to it, the snake reared up, it's head looking triangular.....  mouth open.....

Great, a small viper on my door step.  Thank you, Lord for cold temperatures making for a slow, very small snake... Here I'd been thinking all the snakes were safely tucked away for the winter.
I didn't have too much trouble getting it to balance on the yardstick.  See it's triangular head?  I couldn't wait to deposit this guy in the thick grasses along the marsh so I could run back to the house and get out the Reptiles and Amphibians guide book.

You can click on the images for a larger view.
Look Ma, no hands!  What a show off.  I love how it's tail curls around it's body.
Ooops, it fell off the yardstick and immediately wanted to fight. Nice mouth, huh?
There you go, little feisty one. Slide down into the dense grass and get warm!

I looked at the guidebook under venomous snakes but I couldn't make a clear i.d. I thought perhaps it was a young cottonmouth but the tail coloring was all wrong for it's age.

I sent an email to my friend and Lowcountry Institute's education director, Tony Mills.
He loves snakes and reptiles and knows them cold!

Let me introduce you to a non-venomous, young
Yellow Rat Snake, Elaphe ovsoleta quadrivittata!  Thanks, Toni!

My guide book says it a common and characteristic snake of the great river swamps of the south. Also that when cornered in the field, many of these snakes literally stand up and fight, with the fore portion of the body reared upward, the head drawn back in an S-curve, and the mouth held open in readiness to strike!  Yup, this little guy had these mannerisms down pat!

Amazing how one can ignore the cold at times like these :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pentel Sign Pen Test


Pentel Sign Pen Test
Originally uploaded by PJBee
Ooooooh, new art supplies :) Jennifer, owner of Coastal Art Supply, gifted me a set of Pentel Sign Pens.... colors!!!!

I took them out for a spin in the Pentalic Nature Sketch Book.

Back in March, I asked Jennifer if she could locate a black water soluble marker. She introduced me to the Pentel Sign Pen.  You may remember this test page. I love the cool gray color you get when you wet the marks.
Depending on how much you rinse your brush, you can achieve many shades of gray.

How excited I was to see that these pens came in colors!! All the pen tests in this post have been done in the Pentalic Nature Sketch sketchbook that contains 130# creamy paper.

Now, what subject to choose to really take these markers out for a spin? Is it possible to blend them like watercolors?

In good Pamela fashion, I chose what turned out to be a very challenging test. Go ahead. Jump right in, get your feet wet :)

I recently found a Sparkleberry, Vaccinium arboreum, shrub in my neighborhood. I love these shrub/small trees. This little specimen looked more like a small tree as there were no branches close to the ground. Sparkleberry (don't you just love the name?) has lovely little white flowers in the spring, that remind me of Lily of the Valley. The branches are crooked and twisted - catching my calligraphic eye. The leaves are tardily deciduous and in the fall turn a lovely redish purple that graces the glossy green leaves. And, the berries....... well, they truly sparkle!

Okay, I'm in love with this plant! Adoration is very important when trying to sketch or paint. Whatever it is that you are trying to capture on paper or canvas, must speak to you. Why? Because when your medium of choice challenges you, your love for the subject will drive you on to the completion. L O V E...... conquers all. Gets you through the rough times and makes your soul sing! Hmmmmm, even in art!

 Here is my first attempt. I enjoy creating quick watercolor sketches of plants and flowers. This rendition was anything but quick! I found that the marker ink soaked right into the paper and if I didn't add water quickly, color blending was very difficult.

Leaf by leaf I laid down a bit of green, raw sienna, red, pink, yellow and sometimes purple. Then I blended these strokes with a waterbrush. The trick was figuring out the placement of the marks. I didn't want the effect of outlined leaves. What worked best was putting the colors (2 or 3 at a time) at the base of the leaves then using the waterbrush to lift the ink and spread it into a leaf shape. And, just like watercolors, allowing the paint to dry between layers, was very important.

All in all, a bit more controlled than I like to be when painting. Sometimes, the paper would fuzz up - like when you scrub a bit too hard. But then when the paper dried, that effect seemed to disappear! I wasn't able to hold the lights. I also got a bit impatient.... see that dark blob in the center?

I used a brown Micron pen for the very fine branches and also for adding vein lines and shading in the leaves.

The classy vase is an old jelly jar/glass from Welches.

I want to try this subject again using hot press watercolor paper and Canson Edition paper. Love is driving me on :)