Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Understanding Water Quality in the Low Country

Those who have followed my blog for a while know that when we moved to South Carolina, I studied to become a Master Naturalist in the low country.  I wanted to know what made this area tick.  Now, one of my joys is sharing the often overlooked natural wonders that surround us here.

Beaufort County is over 50% water!  Visitors to the area want to move here and enjoy this environment.  We all must be stewards to the land and water.  Every little bit we can do, will help.

Here is a great series of short videos produced by our local paper 'The Island Packet.'  Please give it a look, you'll view everyday life differently :)  Water quality in the low country of South Carolina.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sea Pine Forest Preserve Field Trip

Great fun today at the Forest Preserve.  The weather, while not as warm as predicted, was real good.  A bit of a breeze that kept our sweaters on, and high thin clouds that made for cooler temps but, after the unusually cold winter we had it was soooooo nice to see the wild flowers and trees popping.  Yellow pollen is everywhere!  Usually at this time of year, the wild flower field is full of poppies.  We saw only 3 or 4 plants.


Here are some images of our day.  The first is my demo as we sat above the wild flower field. The ink sketch of everyone (thank goodness you don't know any of these people 'cause they don't look like this! :) is at our second location.


Over looking wildflower field, looking toward bridge



Gator sunning along the pine pollen covered shoreline and water


Our second location along Lake Mary shoreline


Pine pollen makes everything yellow this time of year.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Nature Joys

Today  was wildlife day. We had beautiful 80 degree, sunny weather and saw an eagle, red-shouldered hawk, laughing gulls, pie-billed grebe, common moorhen, lots of cardinals and blue birds and..... dragon flies - the first of the season for me.  One was a Saddlebag, the others perhaps Emeralds.

About a month ago, I met a couple on the Cypress Boardwalk, while walking the dogs.  They asked if I'd seen a blue jay hanging around.  Actually, I'd never seen one along the trail.  Apparently, this jay was quite friendly and would visit with them and sit on their shoulders! They called him Charlie.

Tonight, on the sidewalk just before the trail, I heard a load squawk and looked up into a cut-back Crepe Myrtle tree and saw a blue jay!  It kept talking to me and I realized this must be Charlie.  As soon as I said its name he flew to a branch right by my head!  The dogs were good and Charlie and I chatted :)  What a treat!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Full Worm Moon • Full Crow Moon

Just a slight red/orange halo around the full moon this evening.

The Farmer's Almanac had wonderful information about March's full moon.

Besides being know as the Full Worm Moon and the Full Crow Moon, another Native American name is Full Crust Moon as the snow would thaw by day, then freeze overnight forming a crust.

One more name..... Full Sap Moon. Yes! It's time to tap the Maple Trees :) Isn't this a lovely time of year? :)

Early settlers also called it a Lenten Moon, the last full moon of winter.

I tried Canson Edition paper recommended by Ann of Blue Bird Hill.  Thanks, Ann.  I really like the soft feel and it accepts watercolor very well.  I shall be purchasing more for sure.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Look

Blogger has introduced new page designs.  I've been wanting to incorporate my own artwork into the banner design for quite a while.  Why not do both??


Need your input, though.  I'm not sure if the banner is toooooo large now.  Perhaps it's just because I'm used to the older, smaller page design.  I've got a large screen though, so it works on my computer.  How about yours?


Thanks for your input!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Great Blue Heron & Derwent Watercolor Pencils

Great Blue Heron Portrait
I photographed this elegant heron a couple of years ago when visiting Sea Pines Forest Preserve on Hilton Head Island (SC).

I decided to use the photo, a couple of weeks ago, in a Watercolor Pencil Techniques Workshop I gave in Beaufort, SC at Coastal Art Supply.

First, I had everyone take their pencils out for a spin. I too, did a color chart in the latest sketchbook I've been trying out: Pentalic's Nature Sketch.

I love introducing watercolor pencils this way. Not only do the students get to see how many more colors they can get by mixing, but it's also a good way to get used to the Niji Waterbrush.

I demonstrated several techniques, then handed out a variety of photos for the students to chose from.  Big Blue was the one chosen for a demo.  I didn't get a chance to finish this piece in the workshop but did get the head and neck area done.

I am really quite pleased with the Pentalic sketchbook.  The paper, to me, is just as nice as the AquaBee sketchbook that I've enjoyed for many years.  There is a different tooth to the paper and it is a natural white, but still very pleasing.

You can click on the color study for a larger view.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Testing Pentel Sign Pen


Testing Pentel Sign Pen
Originally uploaded by PJBee
Jennifer, at Coastal Art Supply in Beaufort, found a water-soluble felt tip marker for me. It's a Pentel Sign Pen. I took it out for a spin today.

It has a hard tip that's very easy to write with. I like that with just a few marks on the paper, I can get a lot gray to black shades. I see great possibilities for fast sketching.

I also like that when I applied the waterbrush to the lettering, the letters stayed crisp.  Please click on the image for a larger view.

I say this pen gets the yummy award!  The pad is the Pentalic Nature Sketch sketchbook discussed in my previous post.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Watercolor Pencil and Paper Tests - Kimberly and Artist Loft Brand

I have a new sketchbook to test.  It's made by Pentalic and they donate a percentage of the book sales to the American Wildlife Foundation.  Pentalic is based in Beaverton, Oregon.  Locally, you can purchase them at Coastal Art Supply in Beaufort. 843-542-2887, 812 Port Republic Street.

The paper is natural white in color and accepts pencil, charcoal, pen & ink, acrylics, pastels and watercolors.

I have found the 130 lb (212gsm) paper quite nice to work on with watercolor pencils using a waterbrush.

The paper's color is creamy compared to my favorite AquaBee Sketch Book but it really lends a favorable quality to a couple of sketches I'm currently working on.

My favorite thing to do when trying out new paper is a color chart.  Today I tried out a new package of 12 Kimberly wc pencils...... Also, made in the USA!!

I like the Kimberly brand.  They are soft and it's easy to lay down a lot of pigment without the lead breaking. They also sharpen well.  Here is my test page.  I do wish the set included raw sienna.  I'd gladly give up the pink pencil :)
This set of 12 KImberly Watercolor Pencils was reasonably priced at 11.99 in Michael's Art's & Crafts store.  Derwent's brand of wc pencils was offered at $21!

While roaming around Michael's yesterday, I ran across a new brand of art supplies they just started to carry.  I'm not sure if it's their house brand or just a new manufacturer.... Artist's Loft is the name.
There were colored pencils, wax pastels and watercolor pencils.  The wc pencils were offered at $4.99 for a set of 24 pencils!!

Okay, at that price I'll give them a whorl - especially as I had a 40% off-your-entire-purchase coupon :)
I wasn't expecting too much. Good thing.  Sorry Michael's, but I wouldn't recommend these wc pencils to anyone.  The leads broke and they were nearly impossible to sharpen.

Check out the pencils on the left side of the image below.  I didn't use the white pencil.  See how small the yellow, brown and green pencils are - I can't get them sharpened without the leads breaking. The dark green pencil actually split.

Just remember, you do get what you pay for.  Not much pigment, broken leads, split wood.  Way too much frustration even for $4.99!

Please click the images for a larger view.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Marsh Tacky Run and Cup



Last Sunday we had perfect weather for the 2nd annual Marsh Tacky Race. This is such a great promotional event to try and save the South Carolina Marsh Tacky breed.

They are a rare, small, colonial Spanish horse breed unique to South Carolina. My favorite fact is that these sure footed, agile horses, that were left by the Spanish explorers 500 years ago and survived in the low country's swampy terrain, were the mounts used by General Francis Marion, aka The Swamp Fox, in victorious battles against the British troops who rode larger European horses.
The 'Swamp Fox' was one of my favorite Disney programs when growing up. I had such a crush on the actor that played Francis Marion.

To see these proud little horses in the flesh was such a treat. They range from 13 to 15 hands tall. The way the newspapers spoke about these small horses, I expected to see them at 12 hands high tops (15 hands isn't that small). My brother's Palomino, we had growing up on the farm, was 16 hands. That was a good-sized horse. The Marsh Tacky horses we saw at the race didn't look that much smaller.

I began the above painting (ATC size 2.5" x 3.5") at the end of the preliminary heats. The announcer said that the horses had to rest before the final race. I was able to paint the sky and beach when all of a sudden the horses were racing!!! What kind of rest was that?? I finished up the painting in my studio.

I'm disappointed with the scan. I've so much more detail in the darks. Oh well, not much time these days for fussing.

Here are some short videos of the activities. Finally a beautiful spring day. It was a tease as Monday once again turned cold and windy.

This is Blue Duck winning one of the heats.

Here is Molly winning the mare heat. I thought she would win the final race and almost did!


This is another heat with Blue Duck as the winner. His owner/rider is William Green. I wish I could say that this was the final race, but I couldn't get to my camera fast enough. Blue Duck, the final winner, is one competitive horse :) Only Molly challenged him. (way to go girl :) )

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sunshine Award!


Woo hoo!!  Maree Clarkson, the lovely, ever so talented, inspirational artist and blogging buddy has honored me with the SUNSHINE AWARD for "Creativity and Positivity in Blogging." I'm blushing, Maree!!  Thank you so very much!

If one accepts the reward ~ try and take it back, Maree :) ~ it must be passed on to 12 others.  One must also let them know that they are nominated. Everything must be linked to everyone.

Here is my list of creative and positive bloggers who inspire and give joy to others.  Please follow their links so you can meet these outstanding artists!

Elizabeth Smith
Joan Sicignano
Ann Thompson Nemcosky
Catriona Andrews
Liz Steel
Dave Linder
All the amazing artists at WaterMarks Blog
Laure Ferlita
Lisa Holtzman
Rene Tomczak
Aldolfo Arranz
Dominique Eichi

It is very tough to stop at 12 and I so wish my Flickr buddies all had blogs.  Please enjoy these blogs as I surely do :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Full Snow Moon

I'm so happy that the day's cloudy sky cleared and I was able to continue my full moon series :)

The bonus was going to our friends, Kate & Don's, house for dinner.  Love the moonlight on the May River!!

Kate and I dressed for the wind/cold and sat out on their dock for a half hour while I captured the scene.  I used my old book light to help me see the paints in my small travel palette.  This really made a difference.

The night sky was so much darker than the other full moon nights.  Perhaps the lack of clouds and the angle of the moon?

I missed January's full moon due to rain.  I did get a photo of rain drops on our front tree's limbs.  Not quite what I had in mind though :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring and Red-shouldered Hawks

At last, a beautifully warm day with sun shine.  Low 60's and not much of a NE breeze.

A perfect day for Rob to try out a golf swing....... the first since last summer's back surgery.  I chose to journal, especially when I heard a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks calling in the air.

I'm happy to say Rob felt no more pain.  He appeared much more fluid in his swing.  He didn't feel the fusion what so ever.

A happy day :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Yellow-rumped Warbler


Early yesterday morning I went out to photograph our highly unusual snow fall. As a bonus, I got a close up shot of a warbler. When walking the dogs, I always see them flitting around in the Wax Myrtle shrubs but, they are far to fast for me to clearly see any field markings.

I was on the sidewalk looking at the slightly elevated hedge of wax myrtles and began 'pishing'. There I stood, hoping no one came along to hear me saying "pish, pish,........pish, pish,.........pish, pish. To my joy, the warblers came in close to see what the 'pishing' was all about :)

Back to the warmth of our home I went, husband and dogs still tucked warmly in bed. Photographs were downloaded and at long last, I was able to I.D. this little one.

Yellow-rumped Warblers, Dendroica coronata, love open brushy habitats and especially fruited trees. The small loose flocks that I always see, in the winter, are eating the wax myrtle berries. No wonder they are the most common warbler of our winters. Wax myrtle's are everywhere and are always loaded with berries.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Snow! In the Low Country!!


Uncle, uncle, Mother Nature!
No more will I whimper that it's been too cold in the low country. Be feeling blah and grumbling about gray skies while other places are really getting hit with substantial winter weather.

Thank you, though, for having a forgiving heart and only sending 2 inches that was gone by 1 p.m.

Friday, 11 p.m.


Saturday 8:30 a.m.

Hilton Head Island didn't receive any snow.

Monday, February 1, 2010

January Low Country Day


Dog Walk Highlights
It has been such an unusually long, cold winter in the low country that I've not done any plein air journaling in several weeks.  In my semi-frustration with the weather (can't get too frustrated when I see what the rest of the country is experiencing) I decided the bleak winter landscaped must offer something that would spark my interest.  The camera was put into my pocket

We drove the golf cart (sides down of course - the dogs hate the cold) up to the golf course.  Rob headed to the practice green, the dogs and I made our way down to the boardwalk trail.  The swamp is so dismal this time of year.  I beefed up the colors :)

Song birds were flitting about in the wooded area before the swamp.  Titmouse, Carolina Wrens, Cardinals, and very quick Warblers.  I 'pished' for a bit to see if any birds would come in closer but, as good as the dogs were, my feathered friends decided to ignore me.

A little farther down the boardwalk I happened to catch site of a wee bird landing on top of a nearby dead tree.  It climbed around to the back side and as I made my way along the boardwalk I was able to see it quickly duck into a hole.  I never did see the entire bird again.  It was busy making room in its new nest.  I'm thinking it's a Brown-headed Nuthatch but I'll need to visit the trail again to confirm.

I usually see Resurrection Ferns growing on Live Oak branches, but lately I've noticed they will grow in the most amazing places.  Today I saw them on a dead tree that still had some bark left on it.  The bark was moss laden and the ferns were starting to dry up.  If I went back today, I'd see 

them 'resurrected' in full glory.  We've had lots of rain... just what they require to come back to life.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

For Animal Lovers

Below is a National Geographic 4 minute documentary about a hound dog and and Orangutan.  You've got to see this joy!
http://video.aol.com/video-detail/the-orangutan-and-the-hound/1356710375


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hooked on Phoebe


Hooked on Phoebe
Originally uploaded by PJBee

Oh, Vickie, what did you start :)
But, really, thank you so for bringing Phoebe to our attention!! (Please click on image for larger view)

Life's been crazy of late and I haven't had time to really finish a journal page. I began sketching this sweet Allens Hummingbird, on the 19th, using a light grey color pencil.  Then on the 22nd, sketched the chicks and noted their amazing instinct of putting there butts up on the edge of the nest when they had a b.m.

I've seen parent birds clean nests of their babies bm's, but never witnessed newborns with these instincts.  Perhaps it's because Mom basically is doing everything herself.  Dad-o-Dad just mates and off he goes.

Today, I got tough with life and said enough! I'm at least going to paint today's sketch :) I put the web cam on pause and lost my self in sketching and painting her.  The other sketches were done live from the webcam.  Luckily, Phoebe strikes repeated poses :)

Ahhhh, peace!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eagle Web Cam

Hey, why not....... web cams from Hummingbirds to Eagles :)  Oh, and let's not forget our very own Hilton Head Island Osprey cam - but they haven't returned to the nest just yet. Look for the Osprey toward the beginning of February.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Live Allen's Hummingbird Web Cam

Vickie Henderson posted wonderful sketches of Phoboe Allens, an Allens hummingbird that is incubating 2 eggs that are about to hatch.  Please check out her post and here is the link to the live cam.

Can't wait to have time to sketch this beauty myself!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ornaments for 2009


Ornaments for 2009
Originally uploaded by PJBee

Every year I try to make special ornaments for Shannon, Bridget & Jessie. They lived next to us in NY. How I loved watching them grow. I miss them a lot and try to stay close.

I was a bit late with my Christmas inspiration and these didn't get mailed until after the holiday. Just as I popped the package into the mail slot I realized I hadn't photographed them! Ahhhh!

Luckily they were up for a photo shoot. Their mom, Mary Jo, is super. She not only had the kids hold them but also provided closed ups :) I played with photoshop and made a collage.

The ornaments are 3" squares of 300 CP watercolor paper. I used acrylic inks and sprayed them with UV spray. To see a larger view, please click on the image.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a Blue Moon New Year's Eve

Once in a Blue Moon New Year's Eve 2009 It was a balmy 59 degrees this evening when I did this plein air watercolor of the Blue Moon. I even heard a few peepers!! They better hunker down as the temps are to plummet come Saturday.

Just a few clouds around the moon and a partial ring of yellow and red.

The eve's celebrations were starting. I heard the sound of far off fireworks at 7:30 pm!

Happy New Year one and all!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sketching in Nature Blog Won An Award!!

Woo Hoo!! The Sketching in Nature blog, of which I am a contributor, won Katherine Tyrrell's (of the renowned Making a Mark blog) "Going Greener Gong" award for 2009! Katherine states: The Going Greener Gong is for the art blog which I've found most stimulating in relation to getting us in touch with nature and the environment.

Congrats fellow contributors and thank you once again, Cathy (Kate) Johnson, for inviting me to add my nature study contributions!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Blue Moon Reminder

December 31st brings the second full moon of the month..... aka:  A Blue Moon.  I'm hoping for clear skies for my plein air watercolor sketch.  Think it'll be a tad on the chilly side though.....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Banana Tree Flower


Banana Flower
Originally uploaded by PJBee
My friend cut off this amazing banana tree flower/fruit/heart for me to sketch. It's another of nature's architectural wonders.

The bananas are not edible from this particular plant and they are only about 3" long. I put this wonder on top of my dryer in the laundry room until I had time to sketch it. There was a peculiar oder for a few days the cut stem leaked a bit of sticky liquid.

I used a micron pen and wc pencils in my small Moleskine.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tree Swallows


For the last two years, migratory Tree Swallows have graced my neighborhood.  Today was extra special as they were flying over my yard :)  What fun! Merry Christmas to me :)









Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!


American Holly
Originally uploaded by PJBee
May this Season of Miracles bring you love, joy, forgiveness, health and wisdom.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fall November Colors - Waxmyrtle Fruit


This is page 3 and 4 of my autumn journal. I can't resist featuring the fruits of autumn. I originally planned on having 3 different sprigs of plants with fruits on this page but the Waxmyrtle took over :) One never knows how things will turn out. I love how journal pages take on a life of their own.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cheraw Painting Finished and Delivered!

Cheraw State Park Artist in Residence piece
Please click on image for a larger view.

This poor painting had way too many interruptions, but it finally made it to it's home at Cheraw State Park.

Rob and I drove up to the park today. Ranger Rick accepted my Artist in Residence piece at the golf course club house. I also presented a CD containing a poster sized image and note cards that they can easily print.

I know State Park funding can sometimes take a back seat. I hope I can add to Cheraw's bottom line with the sales of these two items.

Thank you, Ranger Rick Smith and your staff for a wonderful week. It will be in my heart always!

Thank you, Mark Davies, at Oconee State Park for spear heading the SC State Park's Artist in Residence program, and the Placement Committee for granting me this wonderful opportunity!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Full Cold Moon Eve 12.01.09

Full Cold Moon Eve 12.1.09 Rain is in the forecast this evening for the first of December's full moons. I did a quick watercolor sketch of last nights moon just before total cloud cover. It was a hazy sky with barely any definition around the moon's edges.

The 2nd full moon in December is on the 31st. It's know as 'Blue Moon' - the traditional name given to the second full moon occurring in the same month. The last Blue Moon was in May of 2007!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fall November Colors

Fall Mini Journal Spread Here are the first two pages of an 8 page mini journal dedicated to the Low Country's November Fall Colors. Please click on the image for a larger view.

We don't see the over all color noted in the North East or the Appalachian Mountains but, the Low Country doesn't lack for wonderful patches of striking pigments. To me, Sweet Gum trees are the most colorful. Sumac's are a deep crimson, Swamp Maples - a combo of yellows and reds, and then there's the Ash that takes your breath away with it's brilliant yellow orange leaves when surrounded by greens of pines and live and water oaks.

I can't wait to paint all the other beauties and share them with you :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bald Cypress - Fall Colors Journal

bald cypress Last Saturday, I took time out to capture the Bald Cypress in our back yard. These wonderfully lacy trees are a favorite of mine. In the fall, their green leaves turn russet closest to the trunks while the ends of the branches struggle to remain green.

I used both Derwent watercolor and metallic pencils along with brown Micron pens. The yellow metallic #86 was the perfect color for the yellow green leaves. Other metallic colors used: copper #86 and antique gold #33. Watercolor pencils used: Copper Beach #61, Golden Brown #59, Deep Vermilion #14, Orange Chroma #10, Grass Green #10 and Prussian Blue #35. And a titch of General's Sketch & wash pencil on the trunk.

I'm taking Cathy (Kate) Johnson's 'Keeping an Artist's Journal' online course and have decided to make a small journal containing November's Low Country Colors. I'm using a piece of Arches HP watercolor paper sized to 11 x 17 inches. I folded it in half, lengthwise, then in half width wise and then into quarters. Then I hand tore 3/4 of the lengthwise fold. journal paper This is what it looks like once folded together journal folded

Arches HP paper cracks when it's folded. This is another reason why I chose to hand tear the paper. Now all sides of the book have an uneven edge. I will probably use some embroidery floss to stitch together the center fold.

Here is the mock-up I made using 11 x 17 copy paper. Dudley had to check it out :) Mock Journal A

Friday, November 20, 2009

Just For The Fun Of It....... Basenji Song

Here is a 35 second video of our singing pups.  Enjoy!  We sure do :)

Dudley starts singing in the background - he didn't want to be filmed..... Grizz took over from her extra comfy bed. She can really get into it :)