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

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

click to enlarge

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

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

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mother's Day Celebration Dinner

One of the best things about eating out on Hilton Head Island are the many restaurants that offer outside dining.

We chose Skull Creek BoatHouse to celebrate Mother's Day.  It was a perfect evening to dine al fresco.

What entree do we recommend?  Why the Coco Seared Sea Scallops Coconut butter, pineapple salsa, yukon gold smashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.  Then, be real bad and split a decadent, over-the-top chocolate dessert with vanilla ice cream!  Yum!   

 I didn't get much painted at the restaurant, but with the aid of my phone's camera, the bounty of food was safely stored :)

We highly recommend this dining establishment. It's one of our favorites!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Full Stawberry Moon 2012

As the moon rose over the trees, it resembled the great pumpkin!  I love it when the tide is high and coincides with the full moon.  Water reflections.... yum :)

We've had no humidity for the last four days.... unheard of in June!  In fact, most of the month of May had beautiful days with low humidity.

I say keep it coming.  But, please keep the rain coming. We are in such a drought!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Daily Journal

Dudley tucked under my arm as I sketch.
This year I purchased a lovely yearly planner by artist Jeanette Jobson. A painting graces the cover and there's one at the start of each month. The weekly pages have good sized daily spaces to record whatever you like.

I'm tired of the days sailing by without even a notation. This year I wanted to start a new leaf. Mind you, I didn't even know Jeanette was selling the planners until late January, but that didn't deter me from making one mine :) 

I love having just a bit of space to make a daily note. Sometimes, if the mood strikes, I'll sketch the dogs.

Working in my illustrated journal isn't a daily event. The pages in that journal soothe my painter's soul. I don't have time to create large works of art lately, so I keep my 'hand' active with mini journal paintings.  It truly has helped me to not have to reinvent the wheel when I do break out a canvas.  However, having a separate place to record and celebrate the day's happenings gives me comfort.  Each day is such a gift, I want to honor it in some small way.

Lately, there's been a lot of talk about the Stillman and Birn sketchbooks.  They're getting rave reviews.  Perhaps I'm headed in a direction that combines daily scratchings with my illustrated journal.  The one thing that's stopping me is the ability to scan my pages.  Hmmm... research is in order :)

The fur kids are enjoying the sun spots our new home offers. The sun comes through the sliders from about noon till four.... They don't move for anything!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Around-the-Town Sketching

Back in April, I conducted an Around-the-Town Sketching Workshop in Beaufort for Coastal Art Supply.

On the first day, we started by drawing small boxes of various sizes on a page in our sketchbooks.  Then we headed outside with just our Micron pens, pencils and sketchbooks. 

My goals for the students included learning how to sketch quickly, how to make color notes and in the end, completing their pages with color and decorative lettering.  We started filling the boxes with 30 second and 1 minute sketches.  Sometimes we splurged and stayed in one spot for 5 minutes.

After lunch we'd work in the studio and finish our morning sketches using watercolors or watercolor pencils.  Check out these results!

The second day, we approached our journal pages differently. We used multiple images to create  flowing vignettes on a single page.  I picked the subjects and taught them how to decide where to position each item on the page.
This is my demonstration page.  The first item drawn was the metal palm tree sculpture on the right side of the page. I chose that spot because of the strong design of the fronds that pointed to the left - and into the center of my page.  The second element was the umbrella with the people.  Note that the shape of the umbrella points into the center of my page.  And the people are facing right, into the page.
The third element was the cafe sign.  I made it a size to tie into what was already on my page.  The type was added back in the studio.  The page was screaming for a border.... type is perfect for that.

After lunch we hit the streets again with another page of boxes - they were a big hit and perfect for quick sketches.... and, what a flavor of Beaufort we captured!!

Here is the colorized version of my top b&w page:

If a blank journal page puts you off.... try a page of boxes.  They don't have to all be filled in the same day... perhaps one a day? They are perfect for the travel sketcher.  Or even keeping tract of your gardens growth.  The possibilities go on and on :)   Enjoy!  That's what it's all about :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Day Three - 2012 RBC Heritage Golf Tournament

The shadow on the number three tee box caught my eye.  Another beautiful day on the links. We stayed here throughout day and watched all the players come through.

This is our last day at the tournament. We always watch Sunday's round on television - a much better view of the entire action :)

While I was working on this page a man came over to me and said "You know, I came here to watch golf, but I'd rather watch you paint."  Blush.....

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Day Two - 2012 RBC Heritage Golf Tournament

A new location! Another favorite spot is the green of the 14th hole.  It's a par three and the views looking back at the tee box and the 13th green are one of my favorites.

This year the house past the green called to me.  Perhaps it was the red umbrella and the potted geraniums..

An all together happy day :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day One - 2012 RBC Heritage Golf Tournament

We made our way to the number six green.  The tree that sits just to the right of the green was calling my name :)  Later we moved our chairs to the number three tee box.  The stands face number two green. And, as always, the MetLife blimp graced the sky above.

And.... a funny.  Between the 1st and 9th fairways is a spot where vendors can set up tents.  It's always fun to walk through and see what's being offered.  This year RBC had a blue screen set up and you could get your picture taken.  This is a good laugh.  It looks like I'm going on safari :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

2012 RBC Heritage Pro Am

Back in early April, Rob and I made our annual trek to the Heritage Golf Tournament at Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island, SC.  This year we celebrate new tournament sponsors.... Royal Bank of Canada and Boeing.  A lot of work was done to secure RBC and Boeing and in turn, it keeps The Heritage alive and well.  Thank you to all who made this possible!

The tag line that goes hand in hand with the tournament is "Get Your Plaid On".  I was feeling a bit rusty at journaling and decided creating a plaid page would be just the ticket.  Besides, what a great backdrop for players autographs :)

It's so relaxing to putter with paint in my journal while sitting outside enjoying beautiful weather.  Getting autographs during the Pro Am is always a treat.  The players, for the most part, are very giving.  We chose our favorite area of the golf course to park ourselves... the intersection of holes two, three, six and seven.  I collected signatures at the third tee box. There were a couple of sets of grandparents with their granddaughters there.  After the pros hit their balls, two of the sweetest little girls would step right up with their hats in hand to be autographed.  Now who can refuse a little girl???  I stood just after them and had good success with the players I wanted to adorn my journal page :)

One last signature to go and I had to wait a bit for it.  This page is entitled 'Waiting for Paddy' - Padraig Harrington didn't pass our way until 4 pm.  Well worth the wait.... he such a leprechaun :)

This is the view of the number two green and looking back up the fairway from our seat at the 3rd tee box.

Three more day's sketches to come....

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nature News

You know I have to have no time at all when I post photographs instead of journal page sketches!

A pair of Carolina Wrens have blessed a potted plant that sits right outside of our front door to build their nest. They must be okay with Rob, the dogs and me since this door is used constantly.

They have fashioned a very cozy bird cave.... Now, how am I to going observe their babies with the side cave entrance.... The whole point, I expect :)
view from the top

I'm excited to announce that I will be a part of a Wood Stork monitoring group for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). We are very fortunate to have two nesting colonies in Beaufort County.

Monitoring happens on a weekly bases and I am so happy that the SCDNR accepted me as an alternate monitor. As crazy as life is right now with work and moving, I couldn't let this opportunity to be a part of the Wood Stork nesting cycle slip by. Rob will be able to join me. He is the best bird spotter - it has to be his type of color-blindness, as foliage doesn't hide anything from his eyes!

Our training is this Tuesday and monitoring runs from March to mid-July. And, yes.... I will be sketching along with note taking :)  I'm so looking forward to sharing what I learn about these amazing birds!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Redbuds Blooming Early!

Happy Sadie Hawkins Day!

This is the first day in a while that's been nice when Rob has it off :) We took advantage... Off to the driving range we went.  Rob with clubs, me with paints.

This little Redbud sits just over a small hill from the tree I painted last March 8th.  This year the Redbuds started blooming about 2 weeks early. The leaves on this one are already starting to pop. 

I know it's been quite a while since my last post.  Please bear with me. We are in the process of packing for a move and my job at Spring Island is incredibly busy.  It felt so good to sit a bit and take in the beauty of the day.  Every now and then it's good to go on strike!

Wait until you see the Live Oak that lives in the back yard of our new home.... a supreme beauty :)