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 :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Sketchbook Project

Is there anything quite like a deadline to help push some folks along?

Back in October, I found out about the Sketchbook Project from a friend and fellow blogger, Quiltin' Mama.  What fun, I thought! I signed up immediately.  The sketchbook showed up very timely with instructions that said it's a good idea to make the sketchbook sturdy as it will be looked at often. The sketchbook also contains the same type of paper that's in my only moleskine journal that I really don't care for.... very thin and see through.

So, these are my excuses for not starting this project sooner... How to fortify the cover and shore up the thin weight of the paper pages, and I'm sticking to them :)

Given that I live in the lowcountry of SC and alligators love it here, and pink is the color used to celebrate breast cancer awareness and survivors..... Well, what better material to use than faux pink alligator vinyl??  I'm multi-purposing an Estee Lauder zipper tote that would have otherwise gone into the trash.

Stay tuned..... cover construction and page fortification to begin real soon.  I think I've got it figured out :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our Thanksgiving Celebration

Our Thanksgiving Celebration
Originally uploaded by PJBee
Rob and I have lived away from our families a lot. We were able to travel to them a good part of the time but when we couldn't we kept the Thanksgiving tradition alive and well in our own home.

This year I decided to record the way we spend our celebration.  What really prompted me to try this was the pumpkin pie.  I baked it Wednesday and it looked soooo yummy when it came out of the oven.  I used my favorite pie plate made in western NY by the Wizard of Clay. I've had this pie plate for years and every pie I've ever made comes out extra stunning. It must be the way the clay reacts to the oven heat.

The fruit cup, sweet potatoes and butternut squash were already cooked but, I decided it would be better to leave them in their raw form. Thankfully, the turkey must rest for 30 minutes before carving.... plenty of time for a sketch :)

I finished up the page today, choosing the font for the title and recording our day's activities around the border. To me, this looks as warm and happy as our day.  I hope your celebrations brought great joy and blessings, too!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dahoon Holly Sprig

Dahoon Holly Sprig
Originally uploaded by PJBee
I love this time of year when the Holly trees sport their fruit. I discovered this variety of Ilex right outside my door, after I read Elizabeth Smith's Dahoon post.

The pen illustration with watercolor shadows of the sprig was done as a demo for my last workshop at Coastal Art Supply.  I used Canson Edition paper. It's become a favorite of mine.

I let the illustration hang around in my studio for a couple of weeks. I like the meditative process of finishing a page. I find, after a fashion, a line of communication opens between me and the initial sketch. Last Sunday, I laid in the watercolor on the leaves and berries. Monday, I played with the lettering on a tracing paper overlay. I used watercolor pencils for the calligraphy. Yesterday the final piece of the design puzzle came into place..... I added information about the tree and treated it as a border. Done!

The joy of discovery is captured forever in my heart :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Enjoying a bit of the warm afternoon....

Had time for a quick watercolor sketch yesterday. I sat on a bench at the driving range while Rob hit some golf balls.

Such a beauty of a day. 73 degrees, soft, warm air. Yum!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chechessee Creek Marsh

Chechessee Creek Marsh
Originally uploaded by PJBee
A stupendous day in the SC lowcountry! No wind to speak of and soft, warm autumn air. It was a joy to sit and sketch this scene of the Chechesse Creek Marsh.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Travel Journaling Workshop

A few weeks ago I conducted a 3-day Travel Journal Workshop at Coastal Art Supply in Beaufort.  We made 2 simple practice journals. One from a sheet of 18 x 24 Strathmore drawing paper, the other from a half sheet of Canson Edition paper. I wanted my students to feel less intimidated about making marks in their designated 'travel journals.' Practice, after all, is a wonderful thing. What better way to prepare making journal entries than in a journal - even one with just a few pages! 

Beaufort is such a great town to vacation. Water everywhere, beaches nearby, historic buildings galore, buggy ride tours, great specialty shops, lots of galleries and restaurants. By the end of the 3 days, we felt like we had been on vacation and we only went across the street from CAS to The Beaufort Inn and then to downtown's Waterfront Park, barely scratching the surface of the sights :)

The image above is my demo from the last day. We were behind the Inn in the gardens. The assignment was to live on the wild side and sketch with pen. Yikes, pen? No pencil? I then said I was going to be their impatient travel companion and they only had 10 minutes to sketch their subject, then it was time to move on..... More groans :)

I explained sketching with pen is terrifyingly freeing.  That they'd love it..... Teacher doesn't lie :)

They did a series of 3 - 10 minute sketches, then they worked on each sketch an additional 10 minutes adding color. Later that day, in the comfort of the classroom, they added type to complete their pages.

Jobs well done!  See, you can sketch quickly with pen and what great results!

Below is day one's demo.  A view of The Beaufort Inn and some of the garden's plants.  Sometimes it's a hit or miss experience when doing a demo. This time I didn't get the proper proportions on the inn. Only very small people can enter this inn..... the first floor is way too short :)  So, I make light of the ooobooo and move on.

Here is a quick building vignette of a favorite restaurant 'Plums.'

October was sooooo crazy busy that I was ever so grateful to be outside sketching.  It was the first outdoor time I had since early in the month. Nothing soothes the nerves like plein air sketching :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Five Minutes with....

I made the newspaper today :)  Front page of the Lowcountry Life section in the Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette no less!  Thank you, Justin Paprocki for your call and interview!

The article is entitled "Five Minutes with Pam Johnson Brickell"

Such fun spreading the word of illustrated journaling :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

High noon on the May River in Bluffton, SC.  The marsh is singing it's autumn song.

Have a joyful and safe celebration!

Monday, October 11, 2010

10•10•10 A Celebration

Sunday was the third to the last time in the 21st century when month, day, year (abbreviated) will be the same number.  Next time it will be 11.11.11 and then 12.12.12...... 

I caught onto these special days a tad late in the game. Well, to be honest, I can't remember prior to 09.09.09 if I even paid attention, but I do know that, prior to last year, I didn't make a record of these special days.  What a shame.

Yesterday, Rob and I took a short trip up to Walterboro, SC to visit the town's Great Swamp Sactuary.  What a delightful nature walk!  And, it's handicapped accessible! While I didn't make a single journal entry, I surely took lots of photographs. 

Here are a couple of images of water patterns created by water-striders. My paint brush is eager to explore the abstracts of water.  Hmmmm, a new series of paintings is in the wind :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Celebrating the Harvest Moon and Autumnal Equinox II

Ofttimes, when I choose a subject or specimen to paint in my journal, the journey to the completed page takes many roads. Journal...... journey....
Hmmmmmm. Kind of goes hand in hand, don't you think?

I wanted to paint this unique Harvest Moon at a very special location. Spring Island immediately came to mind.
It's a 3000 acre nature preserve and residential community in the heart of the SC low country.

I'm very partial to this little piece of heaven on earth. I first visited the island, in 2007, as a visiting artist, teaching nature journaling. It is also where I studied to be a SC Master Naturalist. In 2009 I was fortunate to be invited back to conduct a second workshop. This past spring, I was asked and became the Spring Island Trust's Visiting Artists Program Coordinator. Pinch me, I think I'm in heaven :) We are entering the busy season for events - thus my blog postings aren't as numerous.  Somehow, as you age, the days get shorter and shorter :)

The above scene is the view from the 18th fairway. Rob and I were wondering if the clouds were going to break open enough to view the moon's rise. It was a lovely evening. The long shadows were sliding over the marsh grass. A sailboat was out on the Chechessee River heading toward Port Royal Sound. Clouds were turning this amazing shade of orange! And, flocks and flocks of White Ibis and quite a few Wood Storks flew over, heading to the Island's rookery.

As sunsets do, all the colors in the sky disappeared and boom, the Harvest Moon in all its glory peeked out! There were soooo many clouds moving quickly that I decided to do three vignettes - all in 8 minutes! 
Sketching was cut short as the sprinklers on the fairway were starting to cycle.  Fortunately, at that moment, not near us! We decided to move farther into the waste bunker - surely they wouldn't water there.....  I dropped my paint tin, upside     down,   in   the    sand.  Thank goodness, no sand collected in the colors I was using :)

I love it when Rob is with me on these outings.  He's the photographer in the family.  RIT graduate with a photo science degree - and he still remembers all the technical stuff!  Oh, to have half of his memory capacity :) At first, he felt a tad encumbered with my totally automatic camera. He'd much rather have his larger SLR and big lens, set on manual no less! He made it work and I've got some great reference shots to finish these sketches with.
At 7:45 p.m. the mosquitoes were about to fly away with us.  No bites, the bug spray was holding, but our arms were very busy swishing them away from our faces. An evening well spent. Journaling always makes me feel like I've been away on a vacation. Refreshed once again :)

I first learned this year's Harvest Moon and Autumnal Equinox were to coincide a couple of weeks ago. Wow! How special and what a treat for my Full Moon Series! Here are links to some very interesting information.

Astronomer Ed Murphy from UVa discusses the Autumanl Equinox and how leap days came into being.


Wikipedia - Equinox info

Christian Science Monitor  article about moon on fall equinox

Seasons & Dates for 2010

Sun and Moon rise/set dates

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Celebrating the Harvest Moon and Autumnal Equinox I

What a treat to celebrate this special event!

I made special painting plans for the 23rd but couldn't ignore the 22nd.  This is the same location that I painted from during last month's full moon.

You can truly say the Harvest Moon lights up the sky.  Mate it with the Autumnal Equinox and holy cow! Very scientific, huh?  :)

I did 3 quick watercolor sketches at this location. I added the calligraphic type today.  

The clouds, while not many, were changing shapes quickly.  The second sketch isn't really accurate as the moon was much higher in the sky. I do love the shape of the clouds, though :)  

The third sketch......... well, the mosquitoes were attacking at full force. Here is what I managed to get down on page.

Please click on the image so that you may read the copy.

I put more definition in the moon's face and added the yellows in the clouds later that evening.... from the comfort of my front porch. No bugs, thank you very much!

Today was finish journal pages day.  A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon - all quiet and meditative in my studio. Husband and dogs fast asleep on the sofa. The golf tournament that he soooo wanted to see on the television...... He did wake up for the finish.  That's what's important.  Yeah, Jimmy!  Great win!