Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Bit of Architecture

This is the last sketch I did during the Around-the-Town Sketching Workshop I conducted recently in Beaufort, SC.

We were making our way back to Coastal Art Supply and decided to see if anything on Craven Street spoke to us.  This church steeple did it for me.  The sun was out but storm clouds were to the north.  So dramatic!

I've often said sketching with pen is terrifyingly freeing and so it was while I sketched this subject that's not at all nature related.  I kept telling myself to be bold and trust that I'd get the perspective correct.  I'm pleased :)

This is an amazing church. The architect and builders really added some wonderfully unusual details. I must get back and explore this building in more detail.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Around-the-Town Sketching Workshop

The first Friday and Saturday in October found me in Beaufort conducting a workshop at Coastal Art Supply.

Around-the-Town Sketching is one of my favorite workshop formats. Participants gain experience with fast sketching, sketching with pen, plein air watercolor sketching and lettering. We spend the mornings sauntering around the streets of Beaufort and sketching. Sometimes sketching with pen and adding color later in the comfort of the classroom and other times, we find a comfy spot to sit and sketch and paint plein air.
I used a Stillman & Birn Alpha Series hardbound journal during the workshop. The paper takes watercolor washes beautifully and is smooth enough to write with an 01 Micron pen.  The paper is opaque enough not to show images from the previous page.  A winner!

The workshop ran for two days, with the option of attending only one day. I am embarrassed to say that I didn't remember to take photos on the first day and two of my students are left out of the montage :( 




Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Ink and Exercise Challenge

I'm trying out yet another Stillman and Birn Journal.... this time the Epsilon Series that has paper suited for pen and ink.

This is my first entry and I've got to say writing on this paper with a Micron pen is dreamy. The greys were created with grey and black Pentel Sign Pens that I hit the tip of with a waterbrush, then added the ink to the page.  The water/ink combo spread like butter.

One thing I really like about using a waterbrush is that it dispenses just enough water to get the job done.  This is very useful when the paper being used is not necessarily meant for washes.

This journal has two purposes. The first being to get me off of my desk chair and moving about. That's a challenge in itself as I get lost in my work and time goes sailing by. The second, and most fun, is to explore ink.

I'm glad the journal has many pages as there are so many inks waiting to be tried :) Which leads me to the back of my journal where I create color test pages......
click to enlarge
I'm keeping this journal in my desk drawer, easily at hand.  I've been sitting too long again... time to catch lunch and take a stroll with my journal and pens :)




Saturday, October 20, 2012

Beaching It.... Again!

I don't mean to flaunt :) Actually for someone who only lives 15 miles from the beach, this is only the fourth time we've been this year!  Very sad, really!

This spread is the second in my new Stillman & Birn hardbound, Beta Series journal.  I've officially decided to designate it for all things water related.  This morning, upon waking, I was composing the title page in my mind. I will take my time to create it.  I want this page to be just right, no pressure to create,  and I want it to just ooze with the love I feel when around water; be it marsh, stream, river, lake or ocean and all the flora and fauna that lives in these environs.

Painting at the beach has its challenges. My skin doesn't handle a lot of sun exposure well, so when not walking the shoreline, I'm hugging the shade under the umbrella.  I'll just get deep into painting and the sun will have moved enough so the chairs need to relocated.  Then, working on you lap can be awkward... the threat of sand in your paint and on your brush, surrounds you! 

I love observing waves. The Uniball Signo broad tip white pen really helped me capture the movement of white water.  Not to mention the white trim on the umbrella!  I tried to leave the white of the paper but it was too much.  This is strictly a watercolor sketch... no pencil lines and keeping the shapes of the umbrella's panels and wire supports got away from me.  Much easier to paint it all blue, add shading and when dry, the white trim and support struts :)

I really like the quality of paper this journal offers.  I was able to lift the blue of the water to make room for the umbrella's pole without damaging the surface. It handles layering of colors well and is smooth enough to use a Micron 01 pen.  I used pan watercolors and a waterbrush.  My next adventure will be to use traditional watercolor brushes and see how the paper holds up to more water.  I've not painted pleir air with anything but a waterbrush so this will be fun!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Beach Day with my Stillman and Birn Journal

Last month I entered a drawing on Stillman and Birn's FaceBook page to win one of their hardbound journals that feature 180 lb. watercolor paper.  I was one of 10 lucky artists to win  :)

Two Sundays ago, I had the perfect opportunity to take it for a spin.  We treated ourselves to beach chairs and an umbrella and that's where I sat as I broke the journal in, carefully opening it in the center and bending the covers back until they touched.  I followed Jamie Grossman's instructions to the letter.  Thanks, Jamie!

I started with the sky. If you look real close at the photo above, you can see my travel palette on the right.  My brush was a large Pentel waterbrush.
Unfortunately, or fortunately as it turns out, my left margin listed to the right.  On one of our beach walks, we happened upon a new treasure. It turned out to be the tail of a horseshoe crab. And, as journal keeping goes, I celebrated this serendipitous find and drew in into the most perfect spot on my page :)  The part of the tail that connects to the crab was spooky looking. It reminded me of a Halloween goblin.... ooga booga!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Broad Strokes

Today, Spring Island's Landscape Ecologist, whom I share office space with, asked if I wanted to visit one of our resident's garden... I grabbed my sketch bag before he even finished his sentence :)

I've been hearing about Ann's garden for two years.  It is incredible. Loaded with native plants and in one small area she has a butterfly garden that does have a few non-natives.

As we approached, the Joe Pye Weed and Thoroughwort plants caught my eye.  I could go no further.

We visited during lunch and didn't have a lot of time, so I concentrated on capturing the shapes and colors that initially caught my eye.  This can sometimes tear at me as I do love the details of plants... But, lunch is lunch and I hadn't eaten yet!

The majority of this page was painted within 20 minutes.  I penciled in the names of the plants, but not in the position you see them now.... just scratched them in as reference.  Upon returning to the office, I wrote the plant names on a separate sheet of paper, erased my pencil notes, then began the lettering.  But, there was an awkward empty spot near the bottom of the page.... hmmm.  A perfect spot for Otto!  I had taken a few photos of butterflies during our time there.  Otto made it into one of them.  I'm glad I had a reference image of him!

I must go back to Ann's garden.  The majority of wildflowers are getting ready to bloom... Autumn in the lowcounty is a wildflower delight!



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New Item in Sketch Bag

Click to Enlarge

This page started off to feature the new addition to my plein air supplies, but then the page took on a life of its own :) 

Often, when painting the full moon, I get frustrated with the drying time of watercolors, especially in the summer months when the humidity and mosquitoes are fierce.  I just don't have the luxury of waiting for paint to dry and often have to finish the page upon returning home.

I've been looking for small fans that would fit in my bag, not weigh too much and have some decent reviews written about them.  The size of this little Coleman personal fan is perfect.  It's 4 inches tall, 1 3/8 inches wide and 3/4 deep. It weighs 4 oz. with 2 AA batteries inserted and puts out quite a breeze!  The reviews were mixed and averaged 3 out of 5 - 5 being excellent. I ordered it on Amazon and since there were already enough items in my cart to qualify for free shipping, I took a chance on the this ever so expensive (ha, ha) $5.27 fan!

Now for the opportunity to try it out!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blue Moon Celebration... Goodbye Neil

We've had soooo many storms all week that I was thrilled when the Weather Channel said our chances for rain would be 30% at moonrise Friday.  I was still worried that a thunderstorm might pop up.  Usually a 30% chance of rain in the lowcountry means zero rain..... but lately, that truth is being rubbed out! I'm happy to say there was nary a cloud in the eastern sky come moonrise :) 

Before I left the house, I used masking fluid to spell out Blue Moon on a couple of journal pages. The nib was a little too broad on my first attempt, but my second writing, using a smaller nib, was the look I had in mind.  I used Daniel Smith masking fluid.  I like their offering as they provide you with several nib attachments that you can tailor to suit your own needs.

I was able to get the base watercolor sketch laid in on site, then moved to a different location so I could get the moon reflection in the tidal creek.  I wish I could have painted them entirely plein air, but neglected to test my light prior to leaving the house..... the battery was very dead.

Given the massive amounts of mosquitoes, I didn't get too upset with myself for not checking the light :)

It's amazing how dark it can get in 15 minutes!

As I finished the second sketch today, I knew this was the one I wanted to dedicate to Neil Armstrong. Neil, I'm sorry you've left this world, but happy that the universe lined up with your passing so that you were able to be laid to rest during a Blue Moon!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ocean Course in Sea Pines

What an incredible day in the Low Country of South Carolina! Low 80's, a breeze with cool tones, no humidity to speak of...  Is it really August in SC?

Rob and I took total advantage and enjoyed the day down in Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island.

We went to the driving range at the Sea Pines Resort.  Rob got two bags of balls to hit. I brought my favorite painting chair and parked myself so I could capture the view looking toward hole number one of the Ocean Course. We feel like we had a mini Sunday vacation :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August Duet... The Sequel

Well, these pretty flowers kept singing their song on my desk and I couldn't resist sketching another view! I must say, painting during lunch breaks is quite refreshing.

The Brown-eyed Susan is a tall plant that's covered in smaller flowers. You just feel happy when looking at it.

The Ironweed, which grows right beside the Brown-eyed Susan in the wildflower garden at work, is very tall. But, if you click on the link, you'll see a trimmed version.

The links also bring you to the Spring Island Trust Native Plant Project pages.  You'll find a wealth of plant information there.  Our next Native Plant Sale is scheduled for October 20th and is open to the public. 

The lovely illustrations you see on the Native Plant pages are by artist Katie Lee. She is a frequent visiting artist to Spring Island.  Another reason why I love my job so.... I am able to meet a variety of artists.  Inspiration abounds :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August Duet

I love the color harmony found in nature. I picked these delicate beauties from the Native Plant Garden at the Nature Center on Spring Island. 

This is a watercolor sketch.... no pencil.  I used a Micron 01 pen for the lettering and added the Ironweed's white springs with a Signo uni•ball broad tip white pen from JetPens.com

Friday, July 27, 2012

More Digital Art Fun.... Meet Otto

More digital art fun.   I started with a photo of this cutie - Otto is a 4 month old miniature Schnauzer that a co-worker brings to the office. At the time, Otto was sitting on my lap at my desk. I took a photo of him with my phone. Later, I transferred the image into iPhoto for iPad app and selected the watercolor feature, then cropped the image.  Saved the results to my camera roll so I could drop it into MyBrushes app where I painted additional background colors and gave more definition to Otto's eyes. Lastly, I signed my name in photoshop. 

Now to use this manipulated image as inspiration for an oil painting :)

Here's the original photo.

Yes, Otto is full of himself :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garden Sketching

Last year, I found the Upside•Down Patio Garden container at the store Tuesday Morning.  I thought it would be perfect for the condo we were living in at the time.  But, as silly condo rules go.... I found out I couldn't put this on the sunny front porch.

This spring we moved into a house with a sunny, private back yard.  Once the move was over and we were halfway settled in, I ran to Lowes for plants and potting soil. The bottom of the container is filled with sand. This keeps the structure quite sound.

What a joy it is to be tending a garden again.  It was planted a little too late in the season for the Beef Steak toms and peppers but the Grape toms are giving us a good crop.  The herbs on top are very happy. So many plants in one square foot of garden space! No weeding, just joy :)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Charcoal Sketching on iPad

I love the look of charcoal sketches... just not the mess associated with the medium. Now, thanks to ASKetch app for iPad, I'm not covered in black dust!  Oh, happy days :)

I've got a bit of a learning curve to tackle, but overall, I'm pleased with my first attempt.  Grizz was beside me on the sofa and when not in food mode, she's a perfect model :)

Couldn't figure out how to get a pencil stroke to write the date and sign this for my electronic journal, so I loaded the image into MyBrushes app. Oooooo, I'm feeling like such a modern girl!

Mind you, I'm ignoring the fact that the house requires Saturday chores..... they won't go away, but the quiet time to create will!  Tough choice :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Anhinga Study - Playing With Brush Pens

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I so love using minimal brush strokes to capture waterbirds.

The Anhinga, or Snake Bird, is one of my favorites.  It's very calligraphic and begs to be sketched with a brush.

I was looking through my old sketchbooks the other day and ran across this demo I did during a workshop.  The blue sketch was made with an Elmer's Watercolor Brush Pen. They come in assorted colors. You can see a few strokes of different colors above the Anhinga. The sad thing about these pens is that when the color is gone you toss the pen. 

The foreground Anhinga was sketched with a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
At JetPens (link above) it has 'for Calligraphy' tacked onto the end of the name.  At Dick Blick, that specification is left off. This brush pen comes with a refill cartridge and you can also purchases refills separately :)  I love the texture you can achieve with this brush pen - almost a dry brush look.  If you let the ink set up for a minute or so, it becomes waterproof.  Or, if you are quick, you can stroke the pigment with a waterbrush and create diluted grays.  You can view this technique here
The bulk of the Anhinga's body, neck and head were made in one stroke...  takes a bit of practice but that's all part of the fun. If I remember correctly, I began by pressing the brush into the paper to create the bird's body and then lifted up to thin out the stroke until the brush was barely touching the paper for the bill.  Practice pressure strokes with this instrument. Lots of pressure gives a bold stroke, light pressure a fine line. Have fun!

Friday, July 6, 2012

iPhoto for iPad app....Fun!

Click to enlarge
I love my iPad... it's convenient and the apps that are available are incredible.

Last week I downloaded iPhoto for iPad.  This week, I was able to play with the possibilities :)

I have lots of canvas and a set of water soluble oil paints waiting for me to dig in.  It will be fun to see how the oil paint effect translates images I want to paint. Plus, it's a great jumping off point for the look and feel I'd like to achieve.  I love what the effect did for my Midday Sun sketch!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Midday Sun

The shoreline of Conesus Lake is littered with cottages and homes. There is hardly any unpopulated land.  Our direct view across the lake is teaming with cottages... one mass of buildings, not even room for a tree between them.

However, just to the right, there are larger homes and cottonwood trees that grace the shoreline. The above house is one of our favorites. It's adorned with red clay shingles that you find on homes in the Southwest, and the afternoon sun really made the roof sing to my artistic eye.

It was a delight to be able to play again with Caran d'Ache Neo Colors in my sketchbook. They are juicy and opaque but can be transparent depending upon how much pigment you lay down. I only have 15 colors...  Time to visit the local art store and pick up a few more sticks of color :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A View of the West Side

Back at Conesus Lake. Took a break from chores to play with Caran d'Ache's Neo Colors in my AquaBee Super Deluxe Sketchbook.

All we pretty well until I didn't clean my waterbrush off quite enough... thus the dark greenish cloud in the upper right corner :)  Oh well, had a good time anyway!

Happy 4th of July!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Playing with Blue and Gray

Can you think of a better subject to practice blue and gray watercolor mixes?

Then, what shape is the heron's eye? And look at all the tones of orange in it's beak....

What may seem a bland colored waterbird from afar really is made up of such a plethora of subtle shades and tones. Oh so fun to kick back and explore with paint :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Summer!

All good wishes for you this summer 
Have happy and safe travels
Take in even the smallest of details
Breathe deep breaths of life well lived
Enjoy!


This is a water study using Caran d'Ache neo color crayons 
with a touch of white pen in an AquaBee Super Deluxe Sketchbook